Know Your Foe, Week Nine: #4 Ohio State Buckeyes

Jamie Sabau

The Buckeyes are the second undefeated opponents Penn State will face in as many games, but Ohio State will be a much tougher nut to crack than the Nittany Lions' previous foe.

This Season: 7-0 (3-0)

So far, the Buckeyes are who we thought they would be coming into the season. Despite slight scares against Iowa and Northwestern the last two weeks, they've done everything necessary to put themselves in a position to get to the Big Ten championship. Because of Oregon's dominance and Florida State's recent emergence, Urban Meyer and co. will need some help to get into the national title game, and if past seasons are any indication, they'll get the help they need. Though wouldn't it be a cruel fate to finish third or even fourth in this, the BCS's swan song season?

Penn State, of course, can render any of these hopes moo(t) with a win on Saturday. Easier said than done - this Ohio State team could be one for the ages.

Offense

Braxton Miller: pretty dang good, is completing 69.5% of his passes and averaging 82.5 rushing yards per game (not counting the San Diego St. game in which he was injured early). Carlos Hyde: also pretty dang good, has yet to lose yards on a carry in the four games he's played. If a college football's rushing attack is akin to the rhythm section of a rock n' roll outfit, then Ohio State has, on an average day, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce behind the kit and bass. On a good day, as in "the duo rushing for 251 yards combined against an Iowa defense that is still ranked 16th nationally against the run"-good, that offense has John Bonham and John Paul Jones in the backfield.

Miller has some weapons on the outside as well. Philly Brown and Devin Smith have remarkably similar numbers on the whole, though Brown (17 catches, 284 yds) appears to be favored by Miller since the quarterback's return against Wisconsin. Jeff Heuerman is the lone tight end that's utilized with any consistency, with 15 catches and 139 yards on the season (thanks for Gesicki again, Urby bb).

I suppose the offensive line deserves a little credit for the recent rushing outbursts; the unit is tied for 15th in the country in fewest TFLs allowed at 4.29 per game, right alongside Alabama.

Defense

As per usual, the Buckeyes are pretty solid against the run. They're seventh in the country against the ground attack, holding opponents to an average of 92.4 yards per contest and 2.95 yards per carry. Where they may be vulnerable, however, is through the air - even with All-America corner Bradley Roby on the field (which isn't all the time; he was ejected last week for targeting an Iowa receiver), Ohio State gives up 240.7 ypg through the air, good for sixth in the B1G and 78th nationally. Ryan Shazier (pronounced Sha-zee-AY) is the big name in the linebacking corps, and with good reason - he's got eight tackles for a loss among his 56 total tackles this season.

Special Teams

Not that I want to acknowledge a potential jinx, but this is what I wrote here for KYF: Michigan edition:

The Wolverines are solid, if nothing else, on special teams.

The Buckeyes are solid, if nothing else, on special teams. Drew Basil has yet to miss a kick this season (7-7) and the return game is ranked in the 30s nationally, in all facets. So they're probably better than solid.

Last Game (34-24 W vs. Iowa)

The Hawkeyes got out in front by a touchdown on three separate occasions in the first half before Miller and Hyde went off. Iowa found some traction in the run game for a while behind Mark Weisman and Damon Bullock (both averaged over 5 ypc) and quarterback Jake Rudock had himself a nice little game (19-34/254 yds/3 TDs/1 INT). But as good teams do, the Buckeyes made the plays they needed and rallied in front of the home crowd.

Gambling Advice From a Degenerate

This segment is brought to you by At Kunk Seven.

Every summer, the Golden Nugget sportsbook puts out "Games of the Year" lines for, you guessed it, the marquee games of the upcoming NCAA football season. Now, "Games of the Year" is a pretty loose title, as they release 250 spreads including the likes of Kentucky at South Carolina and Pittsburgh at Virginia Tech (#elohel). But it still can be used as an interesting piece of information when comparing the spread from June with the current spread a few days before the game. Which brings us to the matchup with OSU this weekend. The image below shows the opening line and the movements so far with the inset showing the Game of the Year line.

Kunkosu_medium

Interestingly enough, there has been little movement in the relative comparison between PSU and OSU. Personally, I think both teams have taken a hit in perceived power since the summer but compared to each other, have stayed about the same. Yes, the Nittany Lions are a bit shorter of an underdog, but trust me when I say the difference between 14.5 and 16 is not a big one. Or don't trust me. Who cares?

As for this week's pick, we've got a special treat: former Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel! What say you, Jim? "Hi BSD readers, I have to tell you, I'm not looking forward to this game. Urban Meyer and Bill O'Brien seem like nice enough fellas, but neither wears a sweater vest and they sure are overly preoccupied with scoring points as quickly as possible. I'll tell ya, I'm rooting for a low scoring game where Steve Bellisari or maybe Craig Krenzel leads a late, game winning drive. Guessing maybe 7-3 or 10-6, OSU."

You still got it, Jimmy!

Fun Fact

everybody in my middle school used to call them the "Ohio State F*ckeyes" lol

Blogs You Should Also Be Reading This Week

Our SBN affiliate Land-Grant Holy Land is easily one of the best written sites on the network. I highly recommend this piece, on our own Christian Hackenberg. Eleven Warriors isn't always my favorite blog but when they go and do something like this they totally redeem themselves.

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