The Buckeyes welcome the Cornhuskers of Nebraska to the first night game in Columbus of the 2012 season. It’s Homecoming night, as most of you attending Eat Too, Brutus already know. The plan is to “Scarlet Out The Shoe,” and with Nebraska bringing their particular shade of red into town, it may prove extremely fruitful.
Buckeye Empire previews the crucial conference matchup between the Old Guard of the Big Ten and the New Kid On The Block. We’ll break down offense, defense, special teams, coaching, and intangibles to try and predict the outcome of the game. So grabh your favorite adult beverage and get comfortable as we go previewin’ vs. Nebraska.
This is quite possibly the one area where the Huskers have the advantage. As was shown last week against Michigan State, there are several areas in the defensive secondary that have been exposed as points of weakness for the Buckeyes. The Silver Bullets will attempt to limit RB Ameer Abudallah and his carries and force Taylor Martinez to beat them with his arm and unconventional delivery motion. If the linebackers and defensive backs are playing to their abilities, the short routes and long routes will be taken away, leaving only the middle of the field for “T-Magic” to operate in.
Contrast that with the one man wrecking show known as Braxton Miller. Miller, now finding himself in Meyer’s offense, has risen to #2 in the conference in rushing offense with 577 yards and 7 touchdowns to go along with his 8 touchdowns through the air. In terms of total scoring, Martinez trails Miller by only a touchdown and has only one interception on the year. With Jordan Hall out once again after re-aggravating his injury, the burden will fall to Carlos Hyde and True Freshman Bri’onte Dunn.Look for Meyer to use Hyde in the bruiser role and punish the porous run defense of Nebraska.
These two defenses are some of the best in the conference, if not the nation. Both are adept at getting to the offensive backfield, with Nebraska recording 19 sacks so far and Ohio State on the board with 12, good for #1 and #3 in the conference, respectively. Where Nebraska excels in pass defense, only giving up 188 yards per game, they falter in the rush defense, as noted above. The Black Shirts are #10 in the B1G, giving up an average of 153 yards per game. Turnovers have been a problem for the Huskers, giving them a -3 turnover margin so far compared to Ohio State’s +2 in the same statistical category.
Most figure Pelini to attack the middle of the field to test the young guns on Ohio State’s defense, particularly Bradley Roby and INSERT MIDDLE LINEBACKER HERE. Roby will have to play to his strengths, as Martinez is quite fond of the back shoulder drop in. Whether Curtis Grant or Storm Klein is in the middle, they will have to be aware of the dink off that Pelini loves to employ. The good thing is that they saw a lot of that from Michigan State’s Andrew Maxwell. The bad news is that it worked.
If T-Magic gets frisky, he may try testing Travis Howard, who leads the conference in interceptions with 3. Ohio State as a whole is second in the conference with 7 total INTs, trailing only Purdue. Howard and Roby will have to continue to be ball hawks and let Martinez have his 4-5 yards slant routes in order to prevent giving up the big play, where is where Ohio State has had issues on the season. The Buckeyes are near the bottom of the B1G when it comes to opponent’s long passing plays, giving up 45 plays of over 10 yards and 16 over 20. Nebraska, on the other hand, has limited their opponents in the passing game, but playmaker Devin Smith will look to burn the corners for another huge catch and score.
Advantage: Ohio State
The Rest (Special Teams, Coaching, Intangibles)
There really is no comparison when it comes to coaching. Until and unless Ohio State meets Texas, LSU, Oregon, or Alabama, Urban will always be the best coach on the field. The fact that Bo Pelini has an affinity for felines is neither in dispute nor a factor in this game. However, it is an endearing trait.
As far as Special Teams go, the teams are pretty evenly balanced. Both have decent return games and can harass the kickers/punters, leading to blocks. The Freak Show will look to duplicate their performance from last Saturday and block another punt. Nebraska’s kicker is 58% on the season in Field Goals, where Drew Basil is perfect so far. That Basil has only had to attempt two field goals on the season may or may not have anything to do with it.
But it may ultimately come down to are the intangibles. It’s a night game in Columbus on Homecoming night. Nebraska may want to ask Wisconsin how that worked out for them last year. The stadium will be electric from opening kickoff right up until Miller stutter steps, jukes, spins and swaggers into the endzone for the first of what should be many times.
Advantage: Ohio State
The offenses are pretty even. The special teams are pretty even. The defenses are even, but flip flopped. But Nebraska is coming into the Buckeye’s house in a highly anticipated matchup that will be the ABC primetime game with the entire nation watching. That’s why I give the edge to the home team, in this case the Buckeyes.
Final Score Prediction: OSU 31-NEB 20