Countdown To THE GAME 2015

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Buckeyes Facing Hurricanes in "IneligiBowl"

Game Three: Miami Hurricanes

Location: Sun Life Stadium, Miami, FL. 7:30pm kickoff, ESPN

Head Coach: Al Golden

Miami Players Who Were Recruited By Ohio State: TE Blake Ayles, DE Anthony Chickillo, WR Phillip Dorsett, OT Seantrel Henderson, G Brandon Linder, CB Brandon McGee, CB Keion Payne, S Kacy Rodgers

When Miami Is On Offense VS. Ohio State's Defense: Miami fought Maryland down to the wire in the first week, losing 32-24 in a continual downpour. Miami was without several key players who have been implicated in the Yahoo! Sports story that broke only before the season began.

QB Jacory Harris was one of the players named in the story, and Harris will return to face the Buckeyes. Harris threw four interceptions in the 36-24 loss to the Buckeyes last season, but supposedly has earned the starting quarterback job over Stephen Morris, who filled in for Harris against Maryland.

RBs Lamar Miller and Mike James are formidable running backs for the Hurricanes. Miller has tremendous breakaway speed, while James is a heavier back who averaged nearly six yards a carry last season. Miller returned a kickoff for a touchdown against Ohio State last season.

WR Travis Benjamin hurt Ohio State with a punt return for a touchdown last season, and returns as Miami's leading receiver. Like Harris, Benjamin is making his first start, after being implicated in the Yahoo! Sports story.

The Miami offensive line struggled against Maryland, allowing two sacks. Considering the current weather forecast calls for scattered thunderstorms, Miami may need to rely more on its running game against the Buckeyes.

Slight Edge: Ohio State. As much as I respect Lamar Miller's abilities, run defense is the strength of this Ohio State defense. And Jacory Harris needs to show me more than he traditionally has done. Both CBs Brad Roby and Dominic Clarke have played well this season in pass coverage, and the unit should only be bolstered with the return of CB Travis Howard from suspension.

When Ohio State Is On Offense VS Miami's Defense: QB Joe Bauserman will lead Ohio State against a Miami team welcoming back several players from suspension (defensive linemen Olivier Vernon, Marcus Forston, and Adewale Ojomo; linebacker Sean Spence, safety Ray-Ray Armstrong). While Bauserman was impressive in his opening series last week against Toledo, he struggled throughout the rest of the game.

Also troubling for Ohio State was the lack of push by the Buckeye offensive line. Toledo was able to essentially stop Ohio State's running game; what will the Hurricanes be able to do?

Look for TE Jake Stoneburner to be heavily involved in the passing game, along with emerging freshman WR Devin Smith. Stoneburner presents matchup problems for any defense who try to cover him with a linebacker.

The return of RB Jordan Hall from suspension provides some hope that Ohio State will incorporate both Hall and fellow RB Jaamal Berry more into the offense as both ball carriers and receiving options. While RB Carlos Hyde has been decent in the first two games, Hyde does not possess the agility and quickness of either Hall or Berry.

The enigma of true freshman QB Braxton Miller playing against the Hurricanes is also something to contemplate. Miller did not play last week against Toledo after suffering an ankle injury in practice. Could Miller become a part of the game plan, as his mobility could cause problems for Miami defensively?

Slight Edge: Ohio State. Even with Bauserman's struggles, as well as the offensive line's struggles, I believe Ohio State will attack Miami's secondary with Stoneburner enough. And I am not discounting Braxton Miller carrying the ball on designed quarterback runs, a la Craig Krenzel in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl against the Hurricanes.

Special Teams: Ohio State's woes in this area continue to be troublesome. P Ben Buchanan had a punt blocked against Toledo, PK Drew Basil has not yet made a field goal, and the coverage units are inconsistent at best. Considering how Miami returned kicks for scores against Ohio State last season, this is an easy one to give to Miami.

Edge: Miami

Intangibles: Both teams have been deluged with scandal, leading many to mockingly refer to this game as "The IneligiBowl". The heat and humidity should favor the Hurricanes, but I will not be surprised if there is a strong Ohio State fan contingency (Jim, Pav, and Kish - have a great time) that represents well to support the Buckeyes. Ohio State is still battling the loss of several key players, while the Hurricanes are getting several back for this game. And of course, the media will certainly have this little clip handy to run only about a thousand times during the lead-up to the game.

Edge: Miami

Prediction: I am truly struggling with making the call on this one. Can I overlook Ohio State's struggles against Toledo last week? Will Jacory Harris have another interception-laden game against Ohio State? Will the Ohio State offensive line perform better? Will Ohio State's special teams emerge as a positive?

Before the season began, I ranked this as one of the toughest Ohio State games this season, due to the suspensions the Buckeyes were facing...and this was before the Hurricanes' scandal erupted. Ohio State's performance could speak volumes on Luke Fickell's candidacy for the permanent head coaching job. I believe the return of Jordan Hall, and the possible usage of Braxton Miller, will help Ohio State survive this one. I am going Ohio State 28, Miami 24.

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