2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 2 - Toledo at Ohio State
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Here's The Deal … Stunningly, considering the schools are only 150 miles apart, this is just the second matchup between the two programs, and Toledo has yet to score losing both games by a combined score of 87-0.
Ohio State came up with a nice performance in the season-opening breather against Akron, rolling to an easy 42-0 win, but with a date at Miami up next week and with Colorado and Michigan State to follow, keeping focused might be a bit tough. Jim Tressel never had a problem getting his teams to deal with the next game, and that'll be the next hurdle for Luke Fickell to overcome. His debut was great, but this will be a far tougher battle against a team good enough and talented enough to provide a big push. The Rockets are experienced, talented, and explosive, but that didn't mean much in the first two meetings with the Buckeyes.
A confident Toledo came into 2009 with a good-looking offense that scored 85 points over its first two games and blew away Colorado in a shocker. Looking to take advantage of a down Ohio State team coming off an 18-15 loss to USC, the Rockets were hoping to come up with a good performance and possibly change the program around with a monster upset, and then came a 38-0 blasting, and then both programs went on their merry way. With Boise State up next, Toledo will be on display for the next few weeks before going to Syracuse. Ohio State is always center stage.
Why Toledo Might Win: Let's try this again. Toledo really and truly does have a high-powered attack that should be good enough to keep up with anyone in America. The Rockets got everything rolling in high gear last week rolling at will with both Terrance Owens and Austin Dantin combining for 304 passing yards and five scores against New Hampshire, while the running game worked without a problem with Adonis Thomas running for 115 of the team's 278 yards. Of course New Hampshire isn't Ohio State, but Toledo has the balance, and more importantly, it has the offensive line that can handle the good Buckeye defensive front. This Toledo team, unlike the version two years ago, won't be fazed by playing on the big stage and it should come up with a solid, balanced game.
Why Ohio State Might Win: Toledo doesn't have the defense to handle the speed of Ohio State. There might not be a slew of household names on the Buckeye O, but there are plenty of NFL caliber athletes and lots of options to play around with. Toledo didn't exactly shut down UNH cole, having a few problems with the passing game and being helped out of a few jams with five takeaways, and while the defense is aggressive with the idea to make turnovers a priority, forcing OSU to screw up will be a problem. Toledo will have to sell out to get into the Ohio State backfield, and it'll have to gamble a bit too much on the short to midrange passes. If the Buckeyes can be patient – basically, play Tressel ball – and rely on the huge special teams advantage and strength on the defensive front, the game should break wide open once the Rockets start to take chances. QB Joe Bauserman has to find the right read and get the ball to his man on the move, and there should be wide open spaces past the cheating linebackers. New Hampshire didn't have the athletes to take advantage of the opportunities, but OSU does.
What To Watch Out For: The only way Toledo has a fighting shot is to generate a consistent pass rush, and that only way that happens is if T.J. Fatinikun has the game of his life. Last year he came from out of nowhere, making 20 tackles and two sacks in 2009, but the 6-2, 250-pound junior was special last year earning All-MAC honors with 51 tackles, five sacks, 13 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles. He's built like an outside linebacker, and he moves like it with tremendous quickness off the line and with pure pass rushing skills. After coming up with tackles, a sack, and two tackles for loss last week, he'll be a marked man.
OSU still has to wait a few weeks before all the suspensions are over, but a few key players are back in the mix this week, just in time for a warm-up game before Miami. Running back Jordan Hall was suspended for last week's game against Akron, but it didn't matter. Now, if he's back in everyone's good graces, he'll be the focal point of the ground game with Jaamal Brown struggling to get over a hamstring problem. The secondary will get a boost, too, with corner Travis Howard returning, and if all goes according to plan, he'll be the team's top coverman.
What Will Happen: Toledo will score. The Rockets will challenge the Buckeyes a bit and should make it interesting for at least a half, but the OSU ground game will take over to control the game in the second half. Bauserman will build on his strong performance against Akron to keep the chains moving and show that it really is business as usual in Columbus.
CFN Prediction: Ohio State 41 ... Toledo 17
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Ohio State -18 O/U: 50.5
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