With new coach and QB, No. 5 Ohio State hosts FAU in opener
Florida Atlantic (5-7 last season) at No. 5 Ohio State (13-1), on Saturday at noon ET (Fox).
Line: Ohio State by 27 1/2
Series record: First meeting.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
For Ohio State, which has a new starting quarterback and four new starters on the offensive line, it’s a chance to work out the bugs before the more competitive games begin. Justin Fields could become the next great quarterback for the Buckeyes, but he needs some consistent play under his belt after being the backup at Georgia last season. Florida Atlantic coach Lane Kiffin had to replace running backs Devin Singletary and Kerrith Whyte and WR Jovon Durante. The Owls will struggle to stay with the athletically superior Buckeyes.
Ohio State QB Justin Fields vs. FAU’s defense. The dual threat Fields will test the Owls, whose defense surrendered an average of 31.8 points per game last season. Six of the unit’s top 12 tacklers from last season are gone, but there is a new coordinator and new system in place.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Florida Atlantic: QB Chris Robison. The Oklahoma transfer is expected to start at quarterback for the second-straight season. He was Co-Conference USA Freshman of the Year but was suspended from spring practice because of some off-the-field trouble.
Ohio State: RB J.K. Dobbins. He has two 1,000-yard seasons and is poised for another big year before likely departing for the NFL. Expect coach Ryan Day to lean on him early while Fields gets comfortable. A reliable backup hasn’t emerged, so look for Dobbins to carry the load.
FACTS & FIGURES
Ohio State DE Jonathon Cooper will not play Saturday with what has been reported as a leg injury. … FAU DE Tim Bonner was featured on the Netflix series “Last Chance U” when he was at East Mississippi Community College. He tied for the team lead with seven tackles-for-loss last season. … Ohio State has 10 players who already have earned degrees. … K.J. Hill needs 48 receptions to surpass David Boston for the most in school history (191). … FAU coach Lane Kiffin is 51-31 in eight seasons as a head coach with previous stops at Tennessee and USC. … FAU ranked 14th nationally in total yards last year.