2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 3 - Ohio State at Miami
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Sept. 17 at Miami 24 ... Ohio State 6
CFN Analysis: COMING
(AP) MIAMI -- Ohio State interim coach Luke Fickell was hoping his team would start quickly, avoid giving up big plays and take advantage of any opportunities Miami provided.
The Buckeyes failed on all counts, and now are in danger of slipping out of the AP Top 25 for the first time in nearly seven years.
Lamar Miller ran for 184 yards -- 54 on Miami's first play from scrimmage -- and Jacory Harris threw two first-quarter touchdown passes to Allen Hurns, helping the Hurricanes top No. 17 Ohio State 24-6 on Saturday night in a matchup of teams dealing with NCAA scandals.
Miami outgained Ohio State 363-209 and held the Buckeyes to an abysmal 4 of 18, 35-yard passing performance by quarterbacks Joe Bauserman and Braxton Miller.
"We've got to do a better job all around," Fickell said. "They made a lot more plays than we did and ultimately that's what the game came down to."
Ohio State got into the red zone twice and settled for field goals. The Buckeyes allowed Miami to go 9 for 15 on third-down conversion chances, and the Hurricanes held the ball for 11:16 in the final quarter -- nine of those minutes coming after Marcus Robinson punched the ball away from Braxton Miller in Miami territory. Mike Williams recovered for the Hurricanes and the celebration started revving up right there.
"That's what Miami Hurricane football should be," Miami coach Al Golden said. "Play good defense, make some explosive plays on defense and then run the ball in the fashion that we did."
The Buckeyes have appeared in every The Associated Press poll since Nov. 28, 2004. And for the first time in exactly 23 years, the Buckeyes lost a road game to an unranked nonconference opponent -- the last time that happened was Sept. 17, 1988, a 42-10 defeat at Pittsburgh in John Cooper's first season.
Now Fickell knows how that feels. His team went three-plays-and-out on the first two possessions, got into a 14-0 hole before the game was 10 minutes old, and never got rolling. A team dealing with suspensions and injuries, at least at this point, looks nothing like Ohio State teams of recent years, the ones who owned the Big 10 and typically found their way into the national-title picture.
"We pride ourselves on not giving up big plays," Fickell said. "But the big plays hurt us."
Braxton Miller completed his last two passes on the game's final, meaningless drive -- which at least salvaged something, albeit merely in the statistical sense, for Ohio State. The four completions matched the program's worst total for any game in the last 15 years, something that happened on three other occasions.
"You just have to move on," Bauserman said. "It's a next-play mentality, whether it's a great play or a bad play."
Or in this case, a bad game.
"I'm kind of shocked," Ohio State's Carlos Hyde said. "I wasn't expecting to lose to these guys."
The win snapped a four-game slide dating to last season for the Hurricanes (1-1), who got their first win over a ranked opponent since beating Oklahoma on Oct. 3, 2009.
Miami gave up 348 yards passing in a season-opening loss at Maryland. Of the six Terrapins who caught passes that night, five finished with more yards than Ohio State had through the air as a team on Saturday, and the one who fell short had 34 yards.
"We have a lot of talent," said Miami linebacker Sean Spence, one of five Hurricanes returning from one-game suspensions for accepting extra benefits from a former booster. "As long as we continue playing with pride and passion, the sky's the limit for us."
How bad was it for the Buckeyes? Ohio State seemed to give up on the game in the final minutes, not even bothering to stop the clock with one of their three timeouts as Miami moved down the field in the final minutes with a 17-6 lead.
Mike James plunged in from the 1 with 33 seconds left, capping the scoring, as many of the 10,000 or so scarlet-clad fans began leaving in earnest.
"We lost, so apparently we didn't do a good enough job," Ohio State safety C.J. Barnett said. "I don't know what to tell you."
Harris finished 16 of 23 for 123 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for Miami, which opened a three-game homestand.
Jordan Hall had 87 yards on 14 carries for Ohio State, which got 54 more rushing yards from Hyde. Until the final seconds, the Buckeyes did not have a single pass for more than 10 yards.
Even Harris' mistakes -- two more interceptions, pushing his career total to 41 -- couldn't get cashed in by Ohio State, which struggled with Toledo at home last weekend and were kept out of the end zone entirely by the Hurricanes.
"This win feels wonderful," Harris said. "It feels great to get out there and beat a great team like Ohio State. We have much respect for them, but we made sure we came out with the 'W."
Ohio State (2-0) at Miami (0-1) Sept. 17, 7:30, ESPN/ESPN3
Here's The Deal … The rematch from the classic national championship game in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl sounds like it should be a massive showdown between two superpowers, but instead it has become the Bad Boy Bowl.
Ohio State appears to be coming out of the other side of its controversy relatively unscathed, considering the alternative could be a USC-like coma penalty for all the shenanigans going on under Jim Tressel's watch, and now it needs a big, splashy win to show that the Luke Fickell era is full steam ahead and Buckeye football is still Buckeye football.
The problem is that beating Miami now might not be a big, splashy win.
There's still a sense that Miami should be good, but it's coming off a 7-6 season and is hamstrung by suspensions from the Nevin Shapiro fiasco that's hanging like a Sword of Damocles over the program. In some ways, this might be the program's last big hurrah before everything comes to a head.
The Hurricanes aren't good enough to win the ACC title, already 0-1 in conference play after losing to Maryland in the opening weekend, and are a hundred miles away from when they ruled the college football world with a dizzying array of talent. However, if they can beat Ohio State, even an Ohio State that's treading water after dealing with suspensions and inconsistencies of its own, that might be enough to show that new head coach Al Golden might be the one who can return the program to glory … eventually.
Unless Golden has a few tricks up his sleeve, even if Miami is all back full and get over the suspensions tomorrow, it'll have a hard time making much noise this year with road games at Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Florida State, and South Florida still to go, to go along with home games against Kansas State, Georgia Tech, and Virginia. Could all the controversy and all the problems be too much for the team to overcome? If the Canes can beat Ohio State, then all the issues will be tabled for a while.
There's panic in Columbus after struggling against Toledo in a 27-22 nailbiter last week, and with Big Ten play looming after a home game against Colorado, this is when the Buckeyes have to start hitting their stride. Unlike Miami, Ohio State has the talent to challenge in its conference race, but a loss could be devastating for the confidence going forward with Michigan State, Nebraska, Illinois, and Wisconsin looming. The first half of the season will be rough if the Buckeyes really are as mediocre as they looked against Toledo. This will be their chance to prove that last week was just a stepping stone, but they have to be ready to get slugged in the mouth by a desperate Miami team.
No, these two aren't as good as they were ten years ago, but it's still Ohio State vs. Miami. It's still going to be big no matter what ends up happening.
Why Ohio State Might Win: Miami was sloppy against Maryland, shooting itself in the foot time and again with ten penalties and four turnovers, and now it has to go from being sloppy to being air tight without a tune-up game since the loss two weeks ago. Last year, Miami had the Buckeyes on the ropes and were in position time and again to take control of the game, but Jacory Harris threw four picks that killed drive after drive, and now he's been named the starter even though he's coming in cold. Ohio State might have problems on offense, and it's lacking the firepower and pop of past years, but the defense hasn't had any problems getting into the backfield so far and the offensive line has yet to allow a sack.
Miami didn't touch Maryland's Danny O'Brien, and he lit up the Cane secondary for 348 yards without a problem. On the offensive side, the Miami line is supposed to be a strength, but it was mediocre against the Terps and never established its will and wasn't a rock in pass protection. If Ohio State dominates on the lines, Miami doesn't have a chance.
Why Miami Might Win: So how did Toledo come so close to beating the Buckeyes? The Rocket secondary kept the big plays to a minimum and swarmed to bottle up a punchless OSU running game that only came up with 112 yards and two scores. Toledo didn't keep the chains moving, and it committed 14 penalties, but it had a nice pace to the offense with quarterbacks Austin Dantin and Terrance Owens pushing the ball down the field. Miami is far more athletic than Toledo and has the receiving corps to stretch the field and make big things happen on the move. If Rocket star Eric Page could catch 12 passes for 145 yards and two scores, then Miami should be able to find ways to get its speedsters to crank out yards in chunks.
The Miami lines are far, far better than they showed against Maryland. The defensive front got pushed around a bit too much, and while it wasn't gouged, it gave up 151 yards and buckled in key moments. That's not going too many more times this year, if at all. There's too much talent and too many athletes up front to not shut down a middling Buckeye ground game. On the offensive side, the Cane line has the depth and the talent to be the team's biggest strength, and the run blocking should be far, far better as the year goes on. Miami will have its moments when it powers the ball on the Buckeye front four.
What To Watch Out For: Alright, Jacory Harris, now it's time to carve out your legacy. Suspended for the opener against Maryland for his involvement in the Nevin Shapiro case, he's now he's back taking over for Stephen Morris, who was good in the opener, but not great.
Harris has to be great.
While the veteran has had his moments of greatness, highlighted by a 386-yard day in a 2009 win over Florida State, he's mostly known for throwing interceptions – and lots of them – at the worst times possible. Last year, he threw 14 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions, failing to throw a scoring pass in the final two games – both losses – and got picked off four times. When he has been the team's main quarterback, and didn't throw a pick, Miami is 7-1, but he has thrown two interceptions or more in 11 career games. This is his chance to start out his senior year by taking the team and making it his, and he has to do that by not screwing up.
For Ohio State, it needs help from the receiving corps on the outside to help tight end Jake Stoneburner and all he's been able to do in the middle. The talented pass-catching senior caught 21 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns, making three grabs in each of the last three games, but he's been needed even more this year as Joe Bauserman's safety valve. After starting out the season on first with four catches for 50 yards and three touchdowns against Akron, and he followed it up with four catches for 43 yards and a score against Toledo. Not just a chain mover, he's been the team's best offensive weapon so far.
Helping the Buckeye cause is the reinstatement of
running back Jordan Hall and corner Travis Howard,
two possible starters ready to add more pop to key
areas. These two, along with backup safety Corey Brown, were suspended for
violating NCAA rules, but they paid back the money they received from a booster, and they're expected to see time right away. Hall is a top kick returner who should ad more flash to the special teams and out of the backfield, while Howard has decent size, great speed, and can jump out of the stadium.
What Will Happen: Ohio State will win … ugly. Miami will come out blazing moving the ball up and down the field in the first half, but drive after drive will fizzle out with too many field goals early on. There will be chances to put the game away, the Canes won't do it, and it'll come back to haunt them. Slowly and methodically, Ohio State will work its way back with a few good scoring drives, and then it'll break the game open with a big play on special teams. Harris will press, Ohio State will come up with two second half picks, and the pendulum will swing and the game will open up the other way.
CFN Prediction: Ohio State 30 … Miami 19
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