Game One: Marshall Thundering Herd
Location: Ohio Stadium (Columbus, OH) 7:30pm EST, Big Ten Network
Head Coach: Doc Holliday
Marshall Players Who Were Recruited By Ohio State: N/A. Marshall LB George Carpenter is the younger brother of former Ohio State LB Bobby Carpenter, but was not offered a scholarship by Ohio State.
When Marshall Is On Offense VS Ohio State's Defense ~ Talk about a plunge into the unknown. Marshall hired Doc Holliday last winter, but it is truly anyone's guess as to what kind of offense Marshall will unveil against Ohio State in the season opener. Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel has even made public statements that the Ohio State defense needs to be prepared for just about anything.
Based purely on speculation, I believe Marshall will use a spread offense, as Holliday is a former assistant to Florida Head Coach Urban Meyer. I look for Marshall to try to attack Ohio State through a short passing game, to try and control the clock and minimize mistakes.
Edge: Ohio State. Even though Ohio State's secondary is arguably the weakest part of its overall defense, the strongest and possibly deepest area on its defense is the defensive line. Ohio State DE Cameron Heyward will be someone to keep an eye on throughout this contest.
When Ohio State Is On Offense VS Marshall's Defense ~ Ohio State returns numerous starters from last year's Big Ten championship team, and QB Terrelle Pryor supposedly has had a very strong fall camp, building upon his stellar performance in the Rose Bowl. All Ohio State fans are anxious to see if this is the year that Ohio State finally throws to the TE, with the emergence of converted WR Jake Stoneburner at the position. Look for backup quarterback Joe Bauserman to get some early playing time, as Jim Tressel likes to insert his backup quarterback when the game is in doubt.
Key defenders from Marshall to be aware of are LB Mario Harvey and DE Vinny Curry. I will especially pay attention to the match-up between Curry and Ohio State OLT Mike Adams. Harvey has excellent speed, and has been called the leader of Marshall's team by Doc Holliday.
Edge: Ohio State. Even though Ohio State traditionally starts out slowly offensively, I believe Ohio State will be able to keep Marshall off balance through both the pass and the run. Look for RB Brandon Saine as a viable receiving option out of the backfield.
Intangibles: Ohio State has not lost a home opener since 1978, and this is a night game in Ohio Stadium, meaning the fans will be well-revved up after a day of tailgating. Throw in the fact that this is Marshall's first game under new head coach Doc Holliday, and I like Ohio State big here in this department.
Edge: Ohio State
Prediction: Ohio State is a preseason favorite to contend for the national championship. Opening up on a Thursday night, while sacrilegious to most Ohio State fans, will provide fans across the country an opportunity to see how good Ohio State truly is as a contender.
I am sure everyone will be reminded of how close the 2004 contest between Ohio State and Marshall was during the various pre-game shows. I look for Ohio State to start out slowly, but the crowd and Ohio State's superior team speed and athleticism will be the difference in this one by the beginning of the 4th quarter. I am going Ohio State 35, Marshall 10.