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College football

Army vs Ohio State


COLUMBUS, Ohio -- After a humbling loss to Oklahoma, eighth-ranked Ohio State has to pick up the pieces and move on to prepare for a Saturday visit from Army in the second of three nonconference games at home.

That is not an easy thing to do for the Buckeyes. In a program where perfection is expected, Ohio State is not used to losing at home. Only seven times overall since the 2012 season when Urban Meyer took over as the head coach have the Buckeyes tasted defeat.

The manner in which the Buckeyes (1-1) lost makes the wound that much more painful. Oklahoma pulled away with a 28-point second half to a 31-16 victory in Ohio Stadium and exposed some issues with Ohio State's offense and defense.

Fixing those issues will be the focus this week (4:30 p.m. EDT, Fox) against the Black Knights (2-0), a 30.5-point underdog in the first meeting between the schools.

Army coach Jeff Monken offered a different perspective on Ohio State that is more positive than the venting in Columbus this week about the Buckeyes.

"As I told our team, they perhaps may be the most talented football team Army has ever faced in school history," he said Tuesday.

While much of the Ohio State fan base pointed its fingers at quarterback J.T. Barrett as being responsible for the lackluster play by the offense, Meyer took the blame. He continued to say the Buckeyes need to make more big plays and take more chances.

"The play-calling, I'm going to keep evaluating that and make sure we're doing what we're doing best," Meyer said. "But now is not the time (to change quarterbacks). And I would anticipate the whole program feels that way. It's moving forward and fixing issues."

The offense in particular stagnated against the Sooners, who rose from No. 5 to No. 2 in the Associated Press poll after the beat-down. Meyer faced questions this week about whether Barrett, who has a 27-5 record as a starter, is still his guy.

Talented redshirt freshman Dwayne Haskins has not taken a snap yet, but the backup quarterback is always a fan favorite when a team has a bad game.

"Any decisions about any personnel is strictly who gives us the best opportunity to win, whether it be right guard, quarterback," Meyer said. "And it's always been the case. And right now, it's not even a question."

Ohio State certainly will want to get its rushing attack going again after running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber combined for only 16 carries and 101 yards against Oklahoma. Weber continues to be slowed by a hamstring injury.

"That's not enough," Meyer said. "And Mike was still not quite 100 percent. You want to be in the 25 to 30 (carry) number with him, with them."

Ohio State's defensive backs were toasted by Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, who completed 27 of 35 passes for 386 yards and three touchdowns.

This week, though, the secondary won't have to worry about a prolific passing attack. Army's triple-option attack is designed to run almost exclusively. A pass is indeed a rarity -- 10 attempts, two completions in two games -- so Ohio State's run defense will be in the spotlight.

The Black Knights are somewhat of a preparation headache for an opponent's defense. They line up in a triple option and dare teams to stop them, and it is not always easy to slow down the No. 2-ranked rush offense in the country, which is averaging 417.5 yards per game.

"Very unique issues you deal with," Meyer said. "They are very good on offense. The wishbone creates its own identity of issues and unique issues."

Army rallied in the fourth quarter last week against Buffalo for a 21-17 win when fullback Darnell Woolfolk scored on two 1-yard touchdown runs.

Last season, Monken guided Army to an 8-5 record that included a bowl win while setting a school record with 46 rushing touchdowns and finishing No. 2 in the nation in rushing yards.

Monken knows the tall task awaiting his team, but he is not intimidated by it. Two years ago, Army went to Penn State and hung tough in front of a crowd of 107,000 before falling 20-14.

"We have to give our guys some hope," he said. "Nobody outside of this room is running around saying, 'Man, Army is going to beat the heck out of Ohio State.' We're 30.5-point underdogs. Everyone is saying we're going to get our butts whipped.

"We've got to look at their team and find the things we can do to be successful on offense, defense and special teams, practice them and try to go execute."


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