#11 Ohio State v Toledo
Browns Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
TV: ESPN Plus
It felt like you were standing there minding your own business and someone turned around and punched you in the stomach without warning. The Bucks had that game won but the defense failed to stop the Trojans fourth quarter ending drive (see 2009 Fiesta Bowl versus Texas). The defense isn’t all to blame; Terrell Pryor and that soft pasty junior varsity offensive line left plenty of points off the board due to poor drives and lousy execution. The coaching staff is also under the microscope for not making any adjustments at half-time and not getting the team motivated to rise to the occasion. Overall, what could have been a tremendous victory just turned into the old song and dance. For as long as Jim Tressel is in charge, the Buckeyes will play not to make a mistake, which means a lot of close games and few big game wins.
Ohio State meets up with a high scoring Toledo Rocket team in Cleveland Brown Stadium this Saturday for their first “road trip” of the season. This will be a nice recruiting trip…um…game for the Buckeyes since an unbelievably high percentage of OSU football players come out of North East Ohio. It was also a nice payout for the Rockets as they are trying to raise funds for a new stadium and facilities. Now after the first two games, I’m not so sure this will be the cakewalk it was once viewed as. With the Western Michigan victory over the Michigan State Spartans and the poor offensive showing from Ohio State in the last two games, you know the Rockets are thinking that an upset isn’t such a ridiculous notion.
I’m going to ride the offensive line and its coach Jim Bollman until something changes for the better. OSU consistently is blessed with much ballyhooed blue chip offensive line recruits that have performed well UNDER expectation since the Troy Smith era. They are soft. They look weak. They are not explosive. They don’t show a killer instinct that good offensive line units typically have. Until the Buckeyes can either get some talent on that line or get a new coach that can develop the young men to their full potential, we as Ohio State fans will continue to see a below average rushing attack and a quarterback who has to run for his life. Toledo isn’t a juggernaut when it comes to defense as they have allowed 493 total yards and 45 points per game. However, I believe the offense’s ineptitude will keep Toledo in the game. Prove me wrong boys.
The Buckeyes have their hands full with a high powered passing attack lead by Toledo quarterback Aaron Opelt. The Rocket offense is averaging a whopping 42.5 points and 558.5 yards per game. If you missed it last Friday the Rockets just destroyed Colorado 54-38 and the Buckeye defense is next on the menu. Opelt is a duel threat quarterback with 742 yards, 7 touchdowns through the air AND 133 rushing yards with 2 touchdowns on the ground. His top two targets are wide receivers Eric Page and Stephen Williams who combine for 451 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns. In two games so far this season, Opelt has dished the ball off to 10 different receivers and all but three have double digit yards. The Rocket running game is effective also as running back DaJuane Collins averages 93.5 yards per game. Just add cherry on top of the Toledo sundae, the Rocket’s leading rusher from 2008, Morgan Williams, is back after a two game suspension. The Buckeye defense will have to play smart on Saturday to hold the Rockets under 30 points.
First year head coach and former Ohio State quarterbacks coach Tim Beckman wants to win this game badly and will pull out all the tricks in the book to try for the upset. This is Toledo biggest game of year and they are no strangers to beating Big Ten teams (see UT v Michigan 2008). This game is not the gimme it seemed to be at the start of the season and the Buckeyes have had their difficulties with the MAC in recent memory. This one will be closer than Buckeye Nation wants it to be.
Prediction: OSU 24 – UT 14
Why OSU will win:
Sustain long offensive drives and keep the high scoring Rocket offense off the field.
Don’t get hung up on last week.
Pryor will loosen up and stop thinking about making a mistake. Just be yourself.
Defensive secondary locks down the wide receivers.
The Rocket defense gives up a LOT of points.
Why OSU will lose:
Offense line doesn’t attack the smaller UT defense.
No holes for the running backs.
Pryor runs for his life because of poor pass protection.
The Rocket offense scores a LOT of points.
Bold prediction for the game:
Brandon Saine will get more touches than Boom Herron and we will see a lot of Jamal Berry.
Crazy stat of the game:
Ohio State hasn’t lost to a MAC team since 1894. Back then there wasn’t a “MAC” (the MAC was founded in 1946) but the Buckeyes lost to Akron 12-6 on September 15, 1894.
Last time they met…
Joe Germaine and an OSU coached John Cooper trounced the Rockets 49-0 in 1998.
Rocket players to watch:
Sophomore WR #7 Kenny Stafford
Senior QB #11 Aaron Opelt
Senior RB #22 DaJuane Collins
Freshman WR #12 Eric Page
Senior WR #88 Stephen Williams
#8 Barry Church
#42 Archie Donald
#5 Daxton Swanson