Ohio State/Miami-Ohio—A Few Opening Thoughts...
Unfortunately, I'm a little bit pressed for time this week, so this isn't going to be quite as lengthy as it might have otherwise been and I do apologize for that.
I could just go with what one of my Twitter followers, Brian Murphy, posted and be done with it — after all, he may have been on to something when he posted this:
As spot-on as that tweet is likely to be, let's still go ahead and give both teams a quick look-see prior to the week one kickoff just for the heck of it, shall we?
Team Overview / Players of Note
When it comes to Miami-OH, basically all you need to know is that in 2011, the Redhawks were 14th in passing nationally, but just 120th in rushing. That likely won't change in 2012 with huge question marks on the O-line and in the backfield.
While Zac Dysert and Nick Harwell form arguably one of the country's top QB/WR combos, the Buckeyes must bring pressure against Miami's unreliable front line and get to Dysert. He was sacked 46 times last season, second most in the nation.
If he has time, Dysert has big-game potential. Last season, he threw for 3,513 yards and 23 touchdowns. Only Oklahoma's Landry Jones and USC's Matt Barkley have more career passing yards among active FBS signal-callers.
Harwell led the team with nine touchdown receptions. Nationally, he was fifth in the FBS with 1,425 yards receiving and ranked fourth with an average of 129.5 yards per game.
As a team, Miami combined for just 886 rushing yards — that translates to less than 75 yards per game. To qualify how bad that is, Buckeye QB Braxton Miller rushed for over 700 himself and Ohio State rushed for 2,485 as a team.
Despite it still being a work-in-progress for the Buckeyes, defensively, Miami is very likely to have major issues all game long against Ohio State and Urban Meyer's spread offense. The discrepancy in talent between these two teams at every position on the field, other than at QB and WR, i.e. Dysert and Harwell, will be glaringly evident.
As mentioned, the new offense and the players have come a long way since the spring, but coach Meyer and his staff aren't where they want to be yet. All apologies to Redhawk fans, but that's why teams like Ohio State schedule a couple early season games against teams such as Miami-OH — to works out the kinks.
Last year, Ohio State's offense was literally painful to watch at times, more often than not, however, Braxton Miller, (pictured at right), did show us some flashes of his future potential. That future may be upon us, now.
Miller passed for 1,159 yards and 13 touchdowns and ran for another 715 yards and seven scores last season. It's not inconceivable to believe that Braxton could come close to doubling that production under Meyer this year.
Am I really suggesting a 2,000/1,200 passing/rushing campaign for Miller as a possibility? You bet I am.
While a huge season for Miller seems likely, the Buckeyes will also have to rely on several other players to step up if the team goal of going 12-0 is to be accomplished.
In the backfield, that duty falls on starter Carlos Hyde and reserves Bri'onte Dunn and Rod Smith, as well as Jordan Hall (when he returns from off-season foot surgery). Heading into the season, Hyde seems to be the best of the bunch and while you never want to go away from the hot hand, Meyer may choose to rotate them during games to limit fatigue.
The word on the street is that Corey "Philly" Brown is going to be the guy this year for the Buckeyes at WR. He's had a few decent games but so far, he hasn't lived up to expectations. Hopefully the word is right.
Former TE Jake Stoneburner joins Brown and Devin Smith as the (three-wide) first team receivers. While Brown and Smith can both stretch defenses down the field, the 6'6 Stoneburner should make for a promising target on short and intermediate routes, particularly in the redzone.
With an average per man of 6'5 1/2", 304 pounds, this offensive line is the true definition of big uglies and should be more than serviceable despite having to replace several key guys from a year ago. Starters Corey Linsley, Jack Mewhort, Andrew Norwell, Reid Fragel and Marcus Hall each have previous game experience.
Last, but far from least, The Silver Bullets are poised to be one of the nation's top defenses in 2012.
While headlined by senior DE John Simon, (pictured at left), there are top-tier, potential future NFL draft picks at practically every position.
Joining Simon in the front four will be Johnathan Hankins, Garrett Goebel and Michael Bennett. Coach Meyer has been very vocal about how good his front four is. He should be excited about the DL reserves as well: Steve Miller, Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington, Tommy Schutt, Joel Hale, Chris Carter and JT Moore.
Ohio State always has been known for having great linebackers. Etienne Sabino leads the corp, but Ryan Shazier and Curtis Grant aren't far behind. What they lack in experience, they make for in tenacity and raw ability. I personally cannot wait to watch this unit more than any other come Saturday.
Expect the defensive backfield to be very solid with Bradley Roby, Christian Bryant, C.J. Barnett and Travis Howard all returning as starters. Doran Grant, Orhian Johnson, Corey Brown and Adam Griffin are all very capables backups as well.
Ohio State—Miami-OH History Lesson And Trends
• Ohio State is 110-8-4 all-time in home season openers.
• Ohio State is 21-1-1 in their 1st game under a new head coach.
• Ohio State is 4-0 all-time vs. Miami-OH (1904, 1911, 2000, 2005).
• Ohio State is 57-7 in Ohio Stadium since the start of the 2002 season.
• Ohio State is 16-0 vs. MAC teams since 2000, winning by an average of 25 ppg.
• Urban Meyer is the 24th head coach in Ohio State football history (1890-2012).
• Ohio State has won 33 consecutive home openers - Last loss was to PSU in 1978 .
• Ohio State's defense has allowed just nine 100-yard rushers in their last 49 games.
• Ohio State's defense has held opponent to fewer than 10 points 31 times since 2006.
• Ohio State has held 67 opponents to 21 points or less since the start of the 2005 season.
• Ohio State has won 57 consecutive regular season non-conference home games vs. unranked opponents.
• Ohio State is 179-48-15 all-time vs. in-state opponents, with their last loss coming against Oberlin in 1921.
Final Thoughts and Score Prediction
Until we actually see this new Buckeye offense in real game situations, we can only speculate about how good (or bad?) the season is going to play out. I'm an eternal optimist, and Meyer is a proven winner, especially when he has the right pieces in place.
He has many, if not all, of those pieces he requires to be successful here with Ohio State and I'm sure he plans on making a lasting impression on Buckeye Nation and to the entire nation in his first game as head coach.
There's ZERO percent chance that Ohio State loses on Saturday — I repeat, ZERO.
God love him, but this isn't your Jim Tressel-led Buckeyes anymore. Urban isn't afraid of hurting the Redhawks and their fans feelings on Saturday. He's a go for the jugular, stomp on their throats, kind of guy.
Sorry Miami, but that makes this weeks score prediction pretty much a no-brainer.
Ohio State 48
"To be a champion, you have to believe in yourself when no one else will" - Sugar Ray Robinson