Saturday, September 11, 2010
It's game day at Ohio Stadium
By Adam Rittenberg
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Week 2 is packed with appealing matchups, but there's nowhere I'd rather be than right here.
Miami and Ohio State. Jacory Harris and Terrelle Pryor. The U at the Shoe. 'Nuff said.
No. 12 Miami and No. 2 Ohio State meet for the first time since the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, which decided the national championship in entertaining and controversial fashion. But let's forget about the past. This year's matchup gives us plenty to chew on.
Great atmosphere around the stadium today and along High Street last night. I'm surprised how many Miami fans are here. Saw a vanload of them getting heckled at the airport, and some more checking out Ohio Stadium on Friday afternoon. Brave souls.
OK, the weather. It's overcast right now but no rain yet. There's a 40 percent to 50 percent chance of thunderstorms, probably in the second and third quarters. Ohio State probably has a slight edge in the rain because of its power run game, but not a huge advantage on the other side.
A few thoughts on the Canes-Buckeyes matchup:
- This game likely comes down to which quarterback handles pressure better. Neither Harris nor Pryor faced much of it in their openers, but the heat will be turned up today. Ohio State wants to rush only four and allow linebackers Ross Homan and Brian Rolle to be factors in pass coverage. Keep an eye on Buckeyes star D-lineman Cameron Heyward. He was a little quiet last week, but the All-America candidate has played his best games against top competition (USC, Penn State). Pryor showed good patience against Marshall, but it'll be interesting to see how often he'll take off and run against Miami. Ohio State's offensive line is experienced and deep, but Miami boasts tremendous speed in its defensive front seven.
- Who holds the edge in the kicking game? If there's a weakness for Ohio State, it might be special teams, which is amazing to say given Jim Tressel's reputation. The Buckeyes allowed Oregon's Kenjon Barner to go nuts on returns in the Rose Bowl, and Marshall scored its lone touchdown Sept. 2 on a blocked field goal return. Miami has a good kicker/punter in Matt Bosher, and the Canes can be dangerous on returns.
- I think I can speak for a lot of folks in Big Ten country in saying my view of Miami might be clouded by the 2009 Champs Sports Bowl. Wisconsin really dominated the Canes and made Harris look bad. But this Miami team is different, and better. If Harris can avoid interceptions -- he had 17 last year -- and challenge a somewhat unproven Buckeyes secondary, he should have some success. But opportunistic play has been the calling card for Ohio State's defense, which tied for third nationally in takeaways with 35 in 2009.