Football

Speed Option: Arkansas State

Over the long history of the Ohio State Buckeyes there are not a lot of opponents on the national level that the Buckeyes have not played. After week two of the upcoming season, you will be able to take one of those names off as Ohio State and Arkansas State will play their first game against one another.

The Red Wolves will step up in competition during the non-league portion of their schedule for at least one game. Last season it was Washington, and over recent years teams like Georgia, Alabama, Nebraska and Miami (Fla.) have all appeared on the A-State schedule.

Big Ten Football Media Days are less than a week away and there is no better time than now to go through the Ohio State schedule, even if it is a mile-high view with so much ground left to cover between now and this week two game.

Arkansas State

All-time Series Record: Series Tied 0-0-0

Last Meeting: First Meeting

2021 Record: 2-10, 1-7 Sun Belt Conference

Returning Starters: 10 (5 Off., 5 Def.)

Head Coach: Butch Jones

Offense

Total Offense: 369.3 YPG (69th)

Rushing Offense: 82.4 YPG (128th)

Passing Offense: 313.9 YPG (11th)

Scoring Offense: 25.2 PPG (87th)

Well, Arkansas State could throw the ball last season and could not run the ball. Former Florida State QB James Blackman has been in college for the better part of a decade but due to transfer, injury and COVID seasons, he is back for one more year, his second with A-State. He won’t have Corey Rucker to throw to, and he was a No. 1 receiver for a reason. There is depth in the receiving game however and this could be a sneaky test of the Ohio State revamped pass defense.

Arkansas State could not run the ball last year but will have a back who has seen the inside of Ohio Stadium with Brian Snead playing for the road team this time around. Everyone who followed recruiting saw a lot of potential in the former four-star but they just don’t want to see too much of it on display this go-round.

Arkansas State was able to put points up in bunches against teams like Memphis but couldn’t get anything going the following week at Washington, mustering only a field goal. If Arkansas State has any ideas of shocking the world, 25 points is not going to be enough to do it.

Defense

Total Defense: 505.8 YPG (129th)

Rushing Defense: 260.9 YPG (130th)

Passing Defense: 244.8 YPG (94th)

Scoring Defense: 38.6 PPG (124th)

It remains to be seen if the bad defensive numbers were just a one-year outlier or the start of a disturbing trend as Arkansas State has generally been a better defensive team through the years.

A-State goes into this season without its three leading tacklers from a year ago, four out of five. One of the bright spots is defensive end Kivon Bennett, a former Tennessee Volunteer who recorded eight sacks last season and is flanked by a former teammate in John Mincey. These may not have been guys who A-State would have been able to land out of high school, but the portal evens a lot of things up.

In short, this defense has a lot of issues to repair from last season, but all things considered, this won’t be the worst defense that Ohio State will face this season, mark our words.

Random Musings

Arkansas State went to bowl games from 2011-2019 but has not been to one since. Year one under Butch Jones did not go according to plan but the Red Wolves made a move after the departure of Blake Anderson.

With this not being a traditional (or ever) Ohio State opponent, not a lot of notes to dig into but famous Arkansas State alumni include Al Joyner (1984 Gold Medalist), Rodger Bumpass (Voice Actor), Maurice Carthon (NFL player/coach) and Debbye Turner (Miss America – 1990).

Arkansas State is 0-10 against the Big Ten in non-conference football games. A-State’s last big Power Five win was in 2020 at Kansas State with a 35-31 win. You have to go back 10 years prior for the most next recent time, a week one win at Texas A&M, 18-14.