No. 9 Ohio State seeks redemption at home vs. Tulsa
Ohio State looks to restart its quest for a national title when the No. 9 Buckeyes host Tulsa on Saturday.
The Buckeyes (1-1) were ranked third last week before then-No. 12 Oregon handed them a 35-28 loss in Ohio Stadium, ending the third-longest active FBS home winning streak.
It was also the first regular-season loss for Ryan Day since becoming head coach before the 2019 season.
“You find out a lot about people, find out about their true character,” Day said. “A great opportunity for our guys to learn about that and grow.”
Tulsa (0-2) gave Oklahoma State all it could handle before losing 28-23 on Saturday.
Tulsa’s tough loss last week was a better performance than the season opener when UC Davis stung the host Golden Hurricane 19-17 for their first loss to a lower-level Football Championship Subdivision team in more than 30 years.
Seventh-year Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery looks forward to the challenge of facing what should be a motivated Ohio State team.
“The good part about our football team is we played in front of a lot of big crowds and in a lot of big stadiums since I’ve been here,” he said. “It’s a special place, obviously, with all the tradition and the history that goes along with it.
“We’ve been in loud stadiums before and now it’s just about us going in and handling the environment in between the lines and executing plays.”
All the pressure is on the Buckeyes to replicate the 2014 season when they also lost the second game, at home to Virginia Teach, but went undefeated the rest of the way to win their most recent title with a victory over Oregon in the inaugural College Football Playoff championship game.
Ohio State’s turnaround must start with an improved defense that has put defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs on the hot seat.
In their first two games, the Buckeyes allowed Minnesota’s Mohamed Ibrahim to run for 163 yards, while Oregon’s CJ Verdell had 161 yards, including a 77-yard touchdown.
Day said changes in roles for the defensive staff have been discussed.
“We are looking at all those types of things,” he said. “No hard decisions have been made.”
Deneric Prince has rushed for 180 yards and two TDs in two Tulsa games and the Golden Hurricane are averaging 5.0 yards per carry.
The Buckeyes allowed Oregon’s rushers a 7.1-yard average per carry and did not have a sack for the first time since 2018, stats that give Tulsa’s Montgomery hope.
“It’s about us going up and finding ways to move the football, being unique in that part of it,” he said. “You’ve got to continue to find chain movers if you will.”
There’s no question Ohio State can move the ball. The 612 total yards vs. Oregon were its most ever in a loss. C.J. Stroud threw for 488 yards, second-most in program history, but the Buckeyes failed to score four times in the first half when they had the ball inside the Ducks’ 40.
Day doesn’t blame Stroud.
“For me to do what I need to do on offense, I need the defense to be on point,” the coach said.
— Field Level Media