Ohio State - Miami
It's okay to admit it. Yes, this game was depressing.
This wasn't an epic defensive battle between two hard-nosed teams – like Oklahoma vs. Florida State. This wasn't Miami showing the world that it's "back," however you want to define that. This was a sad, lifeless noodle between two has-beens that'll be in a holding pattern for the foreseeable future.
Miami will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever be back to its old national title level because it apparently can't be next-level good unless it cheats its tail off, and even getting help from rogue boosters doesn't necessarily guarantee success.
Oh sure, Lamar Miller was fantastic and Jacory Harris was just this side of decent – outside of his obligatory poor interceptions – but Miami wasn't great; Ohio State stunk.
Unless you want to blame Adam Sandler lookalike Luke Fickell, there's absolutely no excuse for the Buckeyes to be this bad. The recruiting classes have been great; there's more top high school talent than anyone in the Big Ten. There's speed, there are NFL prospects, and there's elite athleticism. What there isn't is a quarterback, and while Braxton Miller will soon be fine, THE Ohio State University should never have a starting quarterback complete 2-of-13 passes for 13 yards.
Ray Lewis and Ed Reed weren't out there. Warren Sapp wasn't collapsing the pocket. Cortez Kennedy and Russell Maryland weren't holding up against the run. This is a Miami defense that allowed 348 passing yards to Maryland and didn't get any pressure whatsoever into the backfield in the loss.
This is a Miami offense that had got a couple of big plays early against the Buckeyes, moved the ball late against a deflated Buckeye defense, and did a whole lot of nothing in between. But for now, it was a win over the Ohio State uniforms, and after a disaster of an off-season, it'll do.
For Ohio State, this just shows how far things have fallen after all the controversy and after all the distractions, suspensions, and injuries. There weren't any offensive playmakers, and the defense didn't come up with the big plays needed unless Harris was gift-wrapping them.
Neither team appears good enough to do much of anything in their respective conferences, and neither one appears on the verge of making any type of big move forward until the NCAA is done having its say.
This was a bad college football game between two mediocre football teams.
Both of them would get destroyed by Boise State.
Miami needed this evening in the worst possible way.
After a tumultuous summer and a tough Labor Day loss to Maryland, the Hurricanes finally got a chance to blow off a little steam. No, they weren't perfect, but if ever the "win is a win" adage was true, it was in Week 3. The defense swarmed, Lamar Miller ran wild and the ‘Canes celebrated for the first time in a long while. Although the fallout from the NCAA investigation still lingers, Miami can point to its 24-6 win in front of the crowd as a building block for the future. To be sure, no one let out a bigger exhale than Al Golden, the head coach who inherited a mess upon leaving Temple. He deserves better. He'll elevate this program to "better" if his hands aren't tied by the wrongdoings of his predecessors.
The game between Ohio State and Miami was dreadful, particularly from an offensive perspective. For the 'Canes, though, you can't blame them for seeing it as a work of art. This program and its kids have not had much to feel good about over the past few months. Beating the Buckeyes, however ugly it may have been, couldn't have come at a better time.
By Matt Zemek
Statistics frequently lie, but in the Ohio State-Miami game, they didn't.
Numbers are often hollow and misleading in this sport – look at Notre Dame's yardage totals or Washington State's average points per game – but once in a while, they tell the entirety of a story.
Ohio State – you know, the defending Sugar Bowl champion (yeah, you can laugh, but the larger point is plain…) – passed for 35 yards against the Hurricanes, the same team that got outflanked and outplayed by a not-so-special Maryland club on Labor Day night. Yes, that's right – 35 yards for a team that should not experience such a complete collapse under any circumstances. The reality of the Tat Five and its effect on the OSU depth chart should not cause the king-size clunker the Buckeyes laid on the field in South Florida on Saturday. The Buckeyes had two warm-up games before this one; they weren't taking on a world-beating defense. Miami being Miami, Sun Life Stadium is not one of the sport's most intimidating venues, to say the least. Three games into the 2011 campaign, Luke Fickell's hold on the job in Columbus is already tenuous. Too many worries emerged from this contest for the comfort level of any Buckeye fan. It's true that fans don't have the final say in coaching moves, but to use a familiar phrase, this game will crank up "the noise in the system" and make it harder for Ohio State to progress through October and November.
One more stat tells the tale of this surprisingly one-sided affair, this impressive bounce-back by a Miami team that – with severe sanctions looming – could have shown a lot less passion and pride: Through three quarters, Ohio State completed just two passes for 13 yards. No further editorial commentary is necessary.
It's understandable to create a Joe Bauserman-Braxton Miller quarterback debate in Columbus, but the larger fact of the matter is that neither player is remotely ready to lead the Buckeyes to greatness… or even well-above-average consistency. Full credit to Miami coach Al Golden and his staff for doing a tremendous amount of high-quality work to get their kids properly prepared; yet, no amount of brilliant defensive game planning from the Miami braintrust (or any coaching staff, for that matter) should make a big-name program wilt so conspicuously against an opponent that's soon to be whacked by NCAA sanctions.
Yes, choices are waiting to be made by Luke Fickell. Just realize that few of them are good ones.
By: Barrett Sallee
Follow me on Twitter: @BarrettSallee
When the Miami/Ohio State series was initially scheduled, it was supposed to be a matchup of two of the nation's top teams. Saturday night's ugly game between the two was more fitting of the sad state each program finds itself in, rather than a game that has title implications.
Yes, Ohio State has issues of its own to deal with it, but the Buckeyes managed just 35 passing yards on the evening, and didn't reach the 200 total yard mark until the last play of the game during garbage time. I know, I know; Ohio State is working through suspensions. But you're OHIO STATE. You should be able to muster up enough yards to total more than a Par 3 with your backups, I don't care who the opponent is.
I know he's a young head coach and Luke Fickell is still getting his feet wet, but what kind of message does it send to your team by not using your three timeouts to preserve some chance late in the game when you're backed up to the goal line? Not a good one, that's for sure.
A struggle with Toledo and then throwing in the towel against Miami? It doesn't appear Mr. Fickell is cut out for this head coaching thing.
Miami needed this game. After all of the turmoil late in fall camp, dropping the season opener to Maryland had to be deflating. Miami has talent, it's just a bit mentally fragile and wildly inconsistent. But Saturday's game is one that can spring board the Canes. Are they going to win the National Title? No. But can they contend for the ACC? I think they can.