Kickoff: Saturday, noon ET (Big Ten Network)
Spread: Ohio State by 23
Watchability: If Urban Meyer's debut as Ohio State's new coach isn't intriguing enough, then Braxton Miller's inauguration into Meyer's new spread offense should be. “Since I was 4 years old, I can't really remember the exact time I saw the scarlet and gray play so it's going to be an emotional time. Very much so,” Meyer, a native of Ashtabula, Ohio, said about his first game as the Buckeyes' coach.
Shining Stars: Ohio State: Two weeks ago at an Ohio State scrimmage, Braxton Miller completed 27 of 39 passes for 358 yards and two touchdowns, Meyer told The Columbus Dispatch. Expectations need to be tempered a bit, because the offense was going against the Buckeyes' second-team defense, which is still probably better than most teams' first. “The offense had its way,” Meyer told reporters. As a freshman, Miller was the team's leading passer (1,159 yards) and rusher (715 yards). Miami (Ohio): Senior QB Zac Dysert, a three-year starter, threw for more than 3,500 yards last season and had 23 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions. His favorite receiver, Nick Harwell, was third in the MAC with 97 receptions for 1,425 yards and nine touchdowns. Their passing game, which averaged 299 yards per game, ranked 14th in the nation.
Who could steal the show? Ohio State: DE John Simon had 16 tackles for losses, including seven sacks last season. He could have a field day against the Redhawks' offensive line, which surrendered 47 sacks last year. Miami is a one-dimensional offense, which bodes well for Simon and fellow lineman Johnathan Hankins (11 tackles for losses), who thrive on penetrating the backfield. Miami (Ohio): Wideout Nick Harwell had five games during which he recorded at least 10 receptions last season and had just two games all year when he failed to log at least 100 yards receiving. He had six touchdowns in the final three games, including a 229-yard outburst at Temple on Nov. 9. If he can shake Ohio State's top-cover corner, Bradley Roby, and beat him over the top, the Redhawks could keep the game close since Ohio State's offense was atrocious last season, ranking 115th in passing.
You going? Ranking the road trip: Columbus will be awash with scarlet and gray fans decked out in various buckeye necklaces and paraphernalia. All will be eager to welcome Meyer into the "Shoe" for his first game. Keep an eye on Meyer when the band plays its famous, “Hang on Sloopy,” song. Myer has told reporters he will be carrying a set of notes to keep him from becoming distracted during the song. “I'll be coming out of my shoes a little bit and that'll be an emotional time,” he said.
Magic number for Ohio State: 10-0. Meyer's record in season-opening games while coaching at Bowling Green (2 seasons), Utah (2), and Florida (6).
Magic number for Miami (Ohio): 120. The Redhawks' rushing rank out of 120 FBS teams last year. Miami rushed for just 73.8 yards per game and was the only team in college football who failed to reach 1,000 collective rushing yards throughout the season.
The game comes down to: Whether Miami finds a way to move the ball against Ohio State. The Buckeyes ranked 14th in the country last season in pass defense and given the Redhawks' inability to run the ball, Miami will be forced to test Ohio State's secondary, that is, if the Ohio State defensive line doesn't come crashing into the pocket and forces sacks.
Prediction: Ohio State 37, Miami (Ohio) 14
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