The marquee matchup in college football this weekend is at the Horseshoe in Columbus, OH where the No. 13 Miami Hurricanes travel to face the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes (3:30 pm EST Sat.) in their first meeting since the controversial Fiesta Bowl game in 2003 for the BCS national championship won by the Buckeyes in double overtime thanks to a pass interference call in the end zone on the game’s final play. The stakes may not be quite that high this time around, but make no mistake this is a must win game for a team with national championship aspirations in 2010.
Both teams rolled to easy wins last week at home in their openers as Miami thrashed Florida A&M 45-0 and Ohio St. rolled over Marshall 45-7. Both teams are led by Heisman-hopeful junior quarterbacks; the Hurricanes Jacory Harris, and the Buckeyes Terrelle Pryor, and they are the keys to this match-up. Harris is more of a passer than a runner, whereas the 6-6 235 lb. Pryor, who has an impressive 19-3 record as a starter, is dual-threat QB and a load to bring down but has yet to prove that he can beat you with his arm. Miami is well aware of this with linebacker Colin McCarthy telling the Miami Herald that “I think if we force them to do one thing — pass the football instead of running it — we have a chance to win.” When Pryor throws a touchdown pass the Buckeyes are 17-1, when he does not they are 5-4. Harris passed for 3,352 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions last season, his first as a full-time starter. Those 17 interceptions were the second most in major college football last season, and will need to avoid turnovers in order to prevail in the hostile environment in Columbus where he will have 105,000 fans rooting against him.
As important as the two quarterbacks are, this game will come down to which team’s defense can stop the other’s offense and turnovers, as almost every game does. If Miami can negate the Ohio St. running game and force Pryor to the air it will be a long day for Ohio St. If Ohio St. can create turnovers on defense and get a lead early, Miami will be hard-pressed to come from behind on the road.
Special teams are an area where Miami will have a decided advantage and could prove to be crucial in a close game. Senior placekicker/punter Matt Bosher has made 90 consecutive extra points going into the season and made 10 of 11 field goals from 30+ yards. While averaging 42.5 per punt. For Ohio St., Freshman Drew Basil got benched after he had his first career field goal blocked and returned for a touchdown against Marshall University and Senior walk-on Devin Barclay is now the kicker and is not nearly the weapon Bosher is.
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Miami vs Ohio State Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Miami Hurricanes +8.5
@ Ohio State Buckeyes -8
Miami Fla. +260
Ohio St. -320
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Miami vs Ohio St. Prediction for Week 2 Game:
Spread Prediction (Top Play) – In an early-season slug fest look for the defenses to be ahead of the offenses, so expect both quarterbacks to be rusty in their first action against top-flight competition. Do not underestimate the revenge factor from 2003 either, Miami has printed up “Mission: Payback. The Robbery in the Desert” t-shirts and will be focused on the road. Look for Harris to show less rust than Pryor and Miami’s special teams advantage to tilt the scales in their favor. Ohio St. is no pushover, however and this game will come down to the wire. Take the ‘Canes and the points on the road. PREDICTION (TOP PLAY) – MIAMI +8.5
Over/Under Prediction – Both offenses are capable of putting up some points as they showed last week. The defenses are going to be ahead of the offenses, but look for things to open up some in the second half. The total will squeak over 46, so take the over as this game has all the makings of a repeat of the 2003 classic and could even take more than four quarters to decide. The style contrast of Miami’s speed against Ohio State’s muscle will create a classic matchup for the ages that will give the winner a leg up in the 2010 BCS picture. Prediction – Over 46 Points