All-Ohio Battle Pits Buckeyes Against RedHawks
By: Willie Bee
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Ohio State won't be going to a bowl game in Urban Meyer's first season at the helm. However, that doesn't mean the Buckeyes aren't going to do their best to have a say in who does represent the Big Ten once the regular season ends.
The Buckeyes kick off their campaign at home Saturday with a noon boot against the Miami (OH) RedHawks. Ohio State backers will have to lay 22½-23 points at most establishments monitored by Don Best, with 47½ for the total.
Suspensions left over from the Jim Tressel regime will keep the Buckeyes from competing for the conference title and a bowl appearance this year, an obvious disappointment in Columbus. But the announcement last November that Meyer would be coming aboard in 2012 provided instant relief for the program and fans who will be out in full force at Ohio Stadium for Saturday's start of what several are calling a Buckeyes "Urban renewal."
There are a lot of reasons to be excited about OSU with Meyer's return to his home state where he played for Cincinnati and served as an assistant under Earle Bruce (1987-88). Meyer brings his spread offense that helped win two BCS titles at Florida, and he inherits a very talented dual-threat at quarterback in Braxton Miller. The sophomore threw for over 1,100 yards and led the team with 715 on the ground in 2011.
Miller's supporting cast on offense will be thinned by injuries and suspensions for Saturday's game, beginning with starting back Jordan Hall who sliced a tendon in his foot during the summer and will miss OSU's first two games. Starting OT Jack Mehort and receiver Jake Stoneburner are serving 1-game suspensions for misbehaving.
Ohio State will also be without senior linebacker Storm Klein who will miss at least the first two games for what was originally a domestic violence charge pleaded down to disorderly conduct. Tressel may be gone, but this is college football and it is what it is.
The Buckeyes stop unit should be fine without Klein in the early going. The front four has the potential to be the best in the Big Ten, if not the nation. John Simon, Johnathan Hankins and Garrett Goebell could all end up on the conference's 1st-team. A couple of sophs, LB Ryan Shazier and CB Bradley Roby, are being counted on heavily.
Buckeyes defenders will be facing a very potent pass-&-catch duo in Miami's Zac Dysert and Nick Harwell. The combo connected with each other 97 times in 2011 when Dysert threw for more than 3,500 yards and 23 TDs while Harwell had over 1,400 yards receiving and nine catches that went for six points.
RedHawks head coach Don Treadwell is hoping that pair can just keep his club close Saturday in the Horseshoe. His offensive line should be put to the test in a big way against Ohio State's front wall, and that battle in the trenches will go a long way to determining how long the 'Hawks stay in this game.
Miami, an 8/1 pick to win the MAC, should have an experienced defense returning, but they're facing a more experienced offensive mastermind in Meyer who should coach this game – and the next 11 on Ohio State's schedule – like it was a bowl trip that will never come in his first year on the job at The Ohio State University.
This is the first time the intrastate rivals have met since 2005, and the fifth consecutive matchup in Columbus. The Buckeyes have won the previous four clashes and are 31-2 in their last 33 season openers.