Kirk Herbstreit: Ohio State more explosive than last year

The Ohio State Buckeyes are averaging 62.5 points per game to start the 2016 college football season. Based on that stat alone, it is hard to deny Urban Meyer’s team is one of the most explosive in the nation.

It is also very impressive considering the Buckeyes lost some key offensive contributors — Ezekiel Elliott, Braxton Miller, Cardale Jones and Michael Thomas — to the NFL.

But despite all of the talent that was lost, ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit actually believes this year’s Ohio State offense is more explosive than the year before. A lot of that has to do with more certainty under center, leading to a more cohesive unit.

“There were times last year that they didn’t play anybody and they never looked this explosive,” Herbstreit said on ESPN’s Mike and Mike in the Morning, via Saturday Tradition. “It has everything to do with JT Barrett. He’s in command. It’s no longer him and Cardale Jones. It’s his show and he’s surrounded by a bunch of rookies…he’s got a bunch of skill guys trying to prove themselves.

“They’re explosive, they’re electric, they’re eager so they look great in their two cupcake games at home.”

But while Herbstreit believes the Ohio State offense is more explosive than it was a year ago, he also noted the key to victory could be the Buckeye defense’s performance against Baker Mayfield and the Sooners offense.

“I can’t wait to watch the Ohio State defense matched up against Baker Mayfield, Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon,” Herbstreit said. “I think Oklahoma has a great attack. The one area if you’re an Oklahoma fan that you should be concerned about? Offensive-line play against that Ohio State defensive front.

“I think Ohio State is much better than people realize despite losing Joey Bosa. And the Oklahoma receivers, from losing Sterling Shepard, who becomes the guy? This will be a game where someone has to emerge and make plays against a very, very opportunistic Ohio State secondary. Those guys are ballhawks on the back end for the Buckeye defense.”

Don’t tell that to Oklahoma backup quarterback Austin Kendall, however, because he predicted Mayfield will “light up” a “very basic” Ohio State defense.

We’ll find out who is correct in a couple of days.

Kickoff between the Buckeyes and Sooners is set for 7:30 p.m. ET at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman on FOX.

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