Kyle McCord leads No. 6 Ohio State against WKU

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Field Level Media
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Sep 2, 2023; Bloomington, Indiana, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Kyle McCord (6) runs during the NCAA football game at Indiana University Memorial Stadium. Ohio State won 23-3.
Sep 2, 2023; Bloomington, Indiana, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Kyle McCord (6) runs during the NCAA football game at Indiana University Memorial Stadium. Ohio State won 23-3.
Image: Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Kyle McCord will get his first shot at being Ohio State's permanent starting quarterback when the No. 6 Buckeyes host Western Kentucky on Saturday in Columbus.

The junior earned the right in preseason camp to start the first two games of the season over Devin Brown, but coach Ryan Day did not make it official for the Buckeyes (2-0) for the third game until Tuesday.

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"First off, it gives Kyle peace of mind knowing that he's the starter and deserves that opportunity," Day said at his weekly press conference. "He'll get more of the reps than he has the last couple of weeks, and I think it's good for the team to know Kyle is the starter."

McCord took the snaps in eight of the first nine possessions against Indiana in the opener and six of the first seven drives vs. Youngstown State last week.

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Western Kentucky (2-0) has no concerns at QB as they relish the opportunity to showcase the program in Ohio Stadium.

"I can't think of a better place to go play a college football game. I've been in the Horseshoe several times," Hilltoppers coach Tyson Helton said. "This is something every college football player looks forward to because it's such a great place to play. I know our team will be excited to play there."

With an explosive offense featuring quarterback Austin Reed, who led the FBS in passing yards last season (4,746), and a talented group of receivers, the Hilltoppers say they won't be intimidated playing the Buckeyes in front of 100,000-plus spectators — about 25,000 more people than reside in Bowling Green, Ky., where the school is located.

"It's big to be able to play on that platform," Hilltoppers defensive back Kendrick Simpkins said. "It's huge for a lot of guys, the whole team. We get to see where we stand as a team and individually."

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Reed, who has passed for 589 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions while completing 67.5 percent of his throws this season, said facing the Buckeyes will be challenging.

"I'm not going to disregard how big a game it is, but it's not going to make or break our season," he said. "Be excited about the opportunity, but realize it's just the third game on the schedule."

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Day had been reticent to name McCord the starter after a 35-7 win over Youngstown State, but with a Sept. 23 showdown at No. 9 Notre Dame looming, the coach reviewed film the past few days and said a final decision was needed.

"We still plan on playing Devin, but we feel Kyle has really stepped up and deserves to be the starter," Day said.

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McCord threw his first three touchdown passes of the season in the first half against Youngstown State, with two going to Marvin Harrison Jr., his teammate at Philadelphia's St. Joseph's Preparatory School.

Harrison rebounded from two catches for 18 against Indiana in the opener to seven for 160 yards, all in the first half, vs. Youngstown State.

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McCord was the backup the past two seasons to C.J. Stroud, the No. 2 pick in the 2023 NFL draft by the Houston Texans. McCord started against Akron in 2021 when Stroud was out with a shoulder injury.

—Field Level Media