2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 4 - Colorado at Ohio State
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Sept. 24 at Ohio State 37 … Colorado 17
CFN Analysis: It's just a simple home win over an awful Colorado team, and Braxton Miller only completed 5-of-13 passes for 83 yards, but all of a sudden, there appears to be a spark of life. Miller is going to make mistakes and he's not going to be razor sharp, but he's the future, and he showed he's ready to be the present with 83 rushing yards and two fantastic touchdown passes. After an awful game against Miami, the Buckeye O line came out roaring, paving the way for 226 yards and two scores. The pass rush wasn't great, and the defense wasn't a brick wall, but this was an easy blowout win just when the team needed one the most. However, next week the lines have to be even more physical against a tough Michigan State.
Colorado can't run the ball, it can't stop making mistakes, and it really can't return a kick. The team has to be good in all the little areas, and it's not with mediocre special teams, nine penalties against OSU, and two key turnovers. The defense wasn't awful, and Tyler Hansen kept pressing and spreading the ball around well, but the team can't seem to put together a consistently decent game from one outing to the next. With Pac-12 play officially kicking off next week – the game against Cal didn't count – the Buffs have to get the running game going early, and that means the offensive line has to be better, fast. The Buffs have to be more physical.
(AP) COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Even though he's just a freshman and in his first autumn on a college campus, Braxton Miller played like a grizzled upperclassman.
Miller tossed two touchdown passes to Devin Smith as Ohio State rebounded from a lopsided loss for a 37-17 victory over error-prone Colorado on Saturday, extending the Buffaloes' school-record road losing skid to 19 in a row.
"I slept pretty good," Miller said. "I really didn't have any jitters at all."
Declared the Buckeyes' starter on Thursday after Joe Bauserman's lackluster play failed to energize the offense, Miller's numbers weren't sparkling. But his direction of the offense was.
"Braxton did a good job," said Jordan Hall, who rushed for 84 yards and a TD and also had a 90-yard kickoff return to set up another score for the Buckeyes (3-1). "He was calm. He's going to be special."
The Buckeyes made the switch after one of the worst passing days in school history in a 24-6 loss at Miami last week. Bauserman was 2 of 14 for 13 yards and Miller hit on only 2 of 4 -- in the final few seconds of a lost cause -- for 22 yards with an interception.
Against Colorado, Miller completed only 5 of 13 passes for 83 yards. But he threw scoring strikes covering 32 and 17 yards to Smith and also ran for 83 yards on 17 carries.
"He gave us a lift," said Ohio State interim coach Luke Fickell. "He gave us some things we needed."
Drew Basil added 13 points, including hitting all three of his field goal attempts, and Carlos Hyde also ran for a score.
Ahead 20-7 at the half, the Buckeyes only had to drive 50 yards before Miller hit Smith with his second scoring pass. After Colorado countered with a field goal, Hall brought the kickoff back 90 yards before he was brought down from behind at the 5. Hyde then scored on a sweep on the next play to make it 34-10.
Colorado (1-3) has not won a road game since Oct. 27, 2007, at Texas Tech.
"We have a long way to go as a program," first-year coach Jon Embree said. "We have a long way to go from the standpoint of getting to where we are competing and not hoping to upset an Ohio State."
Averaging 26 points and almost 394 yards per game, the mistake-prone Buffaloes did amass 314 yards but still were never in the game.
Tyler Hansen, who threw for 474 yards and three touchdowns in an overtime loss at California, had TD passes of 11 yards to Toney Clemons and 14 yards to Tyler McCulloch. Hansen completed 22 of 39 passes for 238 yards with no interceptions.
The Buffaloes, with just one turnover in their first three games, lost two fumbles in the first half while falling behind by two touchdowns. They also had nine penalties and several other mistakes.
After their first possession, Darragh O'Neill shanked a punt that covered just 20 yards and put the Buckeyes in control at the Buffaloes 43. Seven plays later, Hall vaulted up the middle for the touchdown.
Tailback Rodney Stewart and Hansen miscommunicated on a handoff with no defender around after the ensuing kickoff, the ball coming free with Ohio State's Adam Bellamy falling on it at the Colorado 22. Basil then converted a 28-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead.
The Buckeyes, who did not complete a pass to a wide receiver in the Miami loss, broke through early in the second quarter when Miller lobbed a 32-yard scoring pass to Smith, who was running a post pattern and had three steps on the defensive back.
More than creating big gainers, Embree was impressed with how Miller avoided big losses.
"He did a good job of getting it back to the line of scrimmage or getting 2 or 3 yards out of something when we should have had him for negative yardage," he said.
Late in the half, with Colorado still within range down by just 10 points, Stewart was interfered with by a teammate on a punt return and fumbled, with Zach Domicone recovering for the Buckeyes at the Colorado 11. Two plays later, Basil converted a field goal to make it 20-7.
The Buckeyes were out of the Miami game early. Seven days later, they played with some fire.
"We had to play with some emotion," said Fickell, whose team had been ranked for the previous 103 weeks before this one. "We wanted to get back home and get that feel of emotion, get those guys on the sideline, get the students into it. That's what we saw out there today, from the beginning of the game really all the way to the end."
Colorado (1-2) at Ohio State (2-1) Sept. 24, 3:30, ABC
Here's The Deal … The play of Ohio State has gotten progressively worse this month, with the emotional offseason and spate of suspensions appearing to catch up with the mighty program. After blasting Akron in the opener, the Buckeyes narrowly escaped Toledo in Week Two and then were quieted by Miami in a toothless 24-6 loss. The result? OSU has been exiled from the Top 25 for the first time in seven years. Swimming in uncharted water, the scarlet and gray are hoping to regroup this week in time for October and the start of the Big Ten schedule.
Colorado broke through a week ago for its first win of the year, doubling up rival Colorado State, 28-14. It also marked the first victory in the career of Jon Embree, who's diligently trying to resurrect his alma mater. A win the Shoe, which last happened in 1971, would provide the head coach with some much-desired goodwill and talking points to young recruits.
Why Colorado Might Win: As long as the Ohio State offense continues to go south, Colorado will have a chance of authoring the upset. The Buckeyes threw for only 35 yards in Miami, and failed to cross the goal line. The Buffs defense ranks No. 12 nationally in sacks, getting pressure from the likes of DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe and linebackers Josh Hartigan and Douglas Rippy. If the D can keep things close, QB Tyler Hansen, RB Rodney Stewart and WR Paul Richardson are capable of pushing Colorado over the hump. Four of Hansen's seven touchdown passes have gone to the big-play Richardson. And Stewart will be running with a little extra motivation as he returns to the campus that rests a mere 25 miles from his Westerville, OH hometown.
Why Ohio State Might Win: While the Buckeyes have issues at this juncture of the season, they'll still be able to dominate their visitors at the line of scrimmage. They'll simply be too big and physical at the point of contact, especially when the Buffaloes have the ball. Ohio State will toss aside the Colorado blockers, getting an inside push from John Simon and Johnathan Hankins. If the Colorado linemen aren't paying attention, linebackers Andrew Sweat and Etienne Sabino are liable to zip past them and into the backfield. Despite all of the offensive woes for the Buckeyes, they did get a boost from the return of RB Jordan Hall, who repeatedly snapped off long-gainers on Saturday night. He and Carlos Hyde figure to be the chief beneficiaries of Ohio State's edge up front.
What To Watch Out For: So what will Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell do about his situation at quarterback? There are no easy answers, even if he's getting a ton of input from the fan base. Senior Joe Bauserman brings experience, but very little upside. True freshman Braxton Miller has the far higher ceiling, yet remains very raw. Some composite of the two is likely, with the rookie's role gradually increasing over time. The Buckeyes will not be a great passing team in 2011, so preparing for 2012 becomes a priority.
What Will Happen: It won't be pretty or particularly easy, but Ohio State will find a way to send Colorado home with its third loss in the first four games. The Buckeyes will essentially out physical the Buffs, creating holes for Hall and Hyde, while making Stewart earn every yard. The host's lack of balance and pop on offense will keep this game somewhat tight throughout. However, Colorado's quest to break through and take a lead in the second half will be turned away by the Ohio State D.
CFN Prediction: Ohio State 31 … Colorado 10
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Line: Ohio State -14.5 O/U: 44.5
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