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Unnecessary Football Preview – Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State is preparing to play Western Kentucky, but the Buckeye fan base and rest of the college football world is anticipating next week when the Buckeyes travel to South Bend for a tilt with Notre Dame. No doubt the coaches have been busy watching film on Notre Dame and preparing for the Fighting Irish, but there’s a game this Saturday against the Hilltoppers, so the team will have to remain focused on the task at hand.

Western Kentucky is best known for its basketball success in March Madness. The Hilltoppers haven’t made the NCAA tournament in ten years, but Western Kentucky once supplanted itself as a mid-major force to be reckoned with. From 1986 – a year after the tournament expanded to 64 teams – through 1995, the Hilltoppers made the NCAA tournament five times and advanced to the round of 32 four times. Western Kentucky reached the Sweet 16 in 1993, who picked them in their bracket?

Ohio State had no problem handling Youngstown State last week in the ‘Shoe, and the offense showed major improvement from the previous week at Indiana, more to the tune of fans’ expectations. TreVeyon Henderson is fully healed from the foot injury that hobbled him last season, and he showed flashes of brilliance in his five carries against Youngstown State. Per quarterback Kyle McCord, “A healthy TreVeyon Henderson is scary…” and I expect a heavier workload this week for Henderson against another poor run defense.

Wide receiver Marvin Harrison, Jr. is a world beater who can’t be contained by any defensive back in the country. His six catches for 160 yards and two touchdowns looked easy as he continues building a rapport with McCord, his high school teammate. Per Harrison, Jr., “…it’s the game reps that really matter and help build that connection” and I expect more of the same this week as the offense shifts into high gear tuning up for Notre Dame.

The Ohio State defense will try to stop Western Kentucky quarterback Austin Reed who got off to a great start in 2023. In two games, Reed has thrown six touchdown passes and run for two more, but not against the caliber of competition he’ll face Saturday before a hostile crowd of 100,000 fans in Ohio Stadium. Reed will have to make quick decisions against an aggressive defense and the Buckeyes hope to capitalize on some mistakes.

The Ohio State-Notre Dame matchup next week will be monumental, and both teams have easy home games this week. But the games must be played. Ohio State’s margin of victory over Western Kentucky will depend on when Coach Day pulls the starters, but the coaches will want to see the offense clicking on all cylinders before bringing in the second string. The Buckeyes beat the Hilltoppers handily 59-14.


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