Big Ten: Taylor Price

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Relief isn't usually the sentiment that surfaces when a team studies the USC offense.

 
 Geoff Burke/US PRESSWIRE
 USC's Mark Sanchez isn't likely to beat the Buckeyes with his feet.

But when Ohio State begins learning the names and numbers of the Trojans' seemingly endless list of rushing threats, defenders can take some comfort in knowing quarterback Mark Sanchez isn't among them.

Loaded with talent around him and a bionic right arm, Sanchez can pick apart opposing defenses in many ways, but running the ball is rarely his method of choice. He has only 23 career rushing yards on 19 carries, an average of 1.2 yards per rush.

Sanchez still moves around decently in the pocket, but he doesn't fall under the label of mobile quarterback, and that could be a good thing for No. 5 Ohio State heading into this week's matchup at the L.A. Coliseum (ABC, 8 p.m. ET). Several mobile quarterbacks have caused problems for the Buckeyes' otherwise sound defense, which led the nation in fewest points and fewest yards allowed last season.

Trace back to the 2007 BCS national championship, when Florida freshman Tim Tebow did his thing against Ohio State, rushing for a touchdown and setting up others with his feet.

Illinois' Juice Williams flustered Ohio State last November at Ohio Stadium, rushing for 70 yards and throwing four touchdown passes in a 28-21 upset. Williams' running ability particularly stung in the fourth quarter, as he converted a fourth-and-1 and two third downs of seven yards or longer as Illinois drained the final 8:09.

The Buckeyes also struggled to contain Ohio backup quarterback Boo Jackson in Saturday's underwhelming 26-14 victory. Jackson had 55 rushing yards on just seven carries in the game.

On third-and-13 early in the second quarter, he evaded the rush and found Taylor Price for a 30-yard completion. Three plays later, Jackson converted a third-and-7 by scrambling for 10 yards. Jackson later scrambled for 20 yards on third-and-10.

"Those little mistakes we made today, versus USC, we may not win the game," Ohio State defensive end Lawrence Wilson said. "So we have to work on the little things, show some discipline."

Added linebacker James Laurinaitis: "We have somebody in our grasp, we've got to bring him down. If you're containing, you've got to keep containing."

The less-mobile Sanchez provides a new challenge this week.

"Completely different offenses," Ohio State linebacker Marcus Freeman said, "but at the same time, football is football. You've got to tackle. That's something we didn't do well [Saturday] and we're going to need to improve on for [this] week."

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- USC has got to be loving this.

Relaxing in Cali after a dominant performance in Week 1, the top-ranked Trojans are watching No. 3 Ohio State stumble in what looked like a tune-up before next Saturday's showdown at the L.A. Coliseum. Ohio's first trip to Ohio Stadium since 1999 has been a great one so far.

It's hardly panic time yet, and the Buckeyes should come back to win this game, especially if their defense continues to force turnovers. But so far, Ohio State is wasting a critical opportunity to evaluate its entire personnel on offense, namely freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor.

This was a chance to see if reserve running backs Maurice Wells, Dan Herron and Brandon Saine could carry the load in the case Chris "Beanie" Wells doesn't recover well from a right foot/toe injury. This was a chance to assess Pryor against improved competition before the freshman enters an inferno next week at the L.A. Coliseum. This was a chance to show some creativity in play calling.

So far, the Buckeyes are failing in all areas.

Despite two takeaways by the defense and good field position on several instances, the offense has done next to nothing. The offensive line has struggled to protect Boeckman or open holes for Wells and Herron. Ohio State has 50 rushing yards on 15 carries without Chris Wells after running over Youngstown State last week with him. The close score has prevented coach Jim Tressel from using Pryor, who misfired two pass attempts late in the first quarter. And the play calling has been ultra-conservative so far.

Boeckman seems out of sync, as do his top receivers Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline. Robiskie can't break free from Bobcats defensive backs and Hartline has dropped several passes, including one in the end zone. Junior wideout Ray Small (4 receptions, 25 yards) is the only Buckeyes skill player who has graded well.

The defense remains solid; end Lawrence Wilson has been dominant and the two takeaways are an excellent sign. But a mobile quarterback is once again giving Ohio State a bit of trouble. Bobcats backup Boo Jackson got off to a shaky start, throwing an interception on his second pass attempt, but the junior has settled down nicely. He avoided several seemingly sure-fire sacks and either scrambled for good gains or found open receivers. Jackson somehow got free of Wilson on third-and-14 and launched a pass downfield to Taylor Price for a 30-yard gain. The backfield escape set up the Bobcats' go-ahead touchdown. According to ESPN Research, the last time any team from the Buckeye State beat the Buckeyes was Oberlin in 1921. The score was 7-6.

Ohio holds a 127-117 edge in total yards and has converted 5 of 9 third-down attempts. Bobcats starting quarterback Theo Scott will not return after suffering a shoulder injury in the first quarter.

Big Ten picks for Week 2

September, 4, 2008
9/04/08
10:06
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

My editors don't know it yet, but this will be my last blog post for ESPN.com. I'm taking the fiancée, moving to Vegas and setting up shop. C'mon, did you see last week's picks? Sure, there were only three or four true toss-up games, one of which I got woefully wrong. But a 9-1 record with five near-perfect score predictions tells me I'm in the wrong line of work. In all seriousness, I highly doubt I'll have another week like that all season, so please don't mortgage your house on what you read below. However, this should be another Saturday to pad the season record before things get much tougher in Week 3.

Here we go:

Ohio State 45, Ohio 7 -- No Beanie, no problem for the Buckeyes, who have the chance to showcase their creativity on offense before the USC game. Running backs Dan "Boom" Herron, Mo Wells and Brandon Saine have big games as the Buckeyes roll. Ohio has some speed threats in wideout Taylor Price and return man Donte Harden, but the Buckeyes defense stands tall again.

Wisconsin 40, Marshall 13 -- Quarterback Allan Evridge and the Badgers should iron out the kinks in the red zone against the Thundering Herd. Evridge will find a healthy Travis Beckum for the first of many touchdown passes this season. Like Akron, Marshall could present some first-half trouble with with Dariuses (Marshall and Passmore), but ultimately the Badgers will be too strong.

Illinois 52, Eastern Illinois 3 -- There are several factors working against the Panthers. Illinois unveils its renovated stadium and welcomes back the program's greatest living players to Champaign. The team wears Dick Butkus-era throwback jerseys. And the Illini are ticked off after the Missouri loss. The Illinois defense forces at least three turnovers and Juice Williams continues to surge.

Michigan State 42, Eastern Michigan 14 -- Expect a big day for Spartans senior Javon Ringer, both at running back and kickoff returner. Quarterback Brian Hoyer finds his rhythm and another wide receiver follows Mark Dell's performance with a big game. Eagles quarterback Andy Schmitt and tailback Terrence Blevins test a still-iffy Spartans defense, but Michigan State pulls away in the third quarter.

Michigan 27, Miami (Ohio) 6 -- The Wolverines offense won't look quite as bad with Steven Threet most likely at the helm, and a running back -- don't know which one -- steps up big against Miami. Linebacker Obi Ezeh and the Michigan defense builds off the second-half performance against Utah and shuts down a turnover-prone RedHawks offense.

Iowa 44, Florida International 10 -- I won't make the same mistake twice after doubting the Hawkeyes' offense last week. Iowa's run game continues to prosper behind Shonn Greene, and junior quarterback Jake Christensen finally cements himself as the clear-cut starter with a strong performance. Aside from return man T.Y. Hilton, FIU doesn't have much to scare the Hawkeyes.

Purdue 41, Northern Colorado 0 -- Given what's coming up next, the Boilers need a strong start and get one from quarterback Curtis Painter and running back Kory Sheets. At least three receivers catch touchdown passes as coach Joe Tiller samples what he has besides Greg Orton. Purdue's improved secondary will shut down a Northern Colorado team that averaged just 11.3 points a game last fall and is picked last in its league.

Penn State 38, Oregon State 30 -- The Beavers secondary looks strong, but will it matter if the front seven can't stop the run? If Stanford racked up 210 yards against Oregon State, just think what Penn State will do with Evan Royster, Stephfon Green and mobile quarterback Daryll Clark, who will be on the move much more this week. Quarterback Lyle Moevao presents some problems for Penn State's secondary, but the Lions pull through at home.

Indiana 45, Murray State 10 -- Quarterback Kellen Lewis breaks another long run or two, but the Hoosiers get more help from their running backs against a Murray State team that was tied with Lambuth early in the second half of last week's victory. Hoosiers defensive end Greg Middleton picks up two or three sacks as the walk down easy street continues.

Northwestern 30, Duke 21 -- Several factors could hurt Northwestern: the weather, an improved Duke team, mobile quarterback Thaddeus Lewis and the emotions after last season's embarrassing loss in Evanston. Here's another factor: running back Tyrell Sutton, who missed last year's game with an ankle injury. Sutton will be the best player on the field Saturday night and help Northwestern escape with a win.

Bowling Green 38, Minnesota 34 -- There's still too many problems on the Gophers defense, and Falcons quarterback Tyler Sheehan will capitalize in a big way. I could see a mini-letdown for Bowling Green after the Pitt win, but the Falcons are hosting their first Big Ten opponent at Doyt Perry Stadium and should prevail. Gophers quarterback Adam W
eber
has another big game, but it's not enough.

Bye: None

Season record: 9-1

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