No. 21 Nebraska (4-1) will travel to Columbus on Saturday night to take on No. 12 Ohio State (5-0) in a must-see Big Ten conference clash.
The Buckeyes are aiming to stay undefeated under first-year head coach Urban Meyer and move to 5-0 in Columbus, while the Cornhuskers have their sights set on a conference title and eventual BCS bowl berth this season.
Which Big Ten power will reign supreme this weekend?
Here we get you set with everything you need to know for Saturday night's showdown at Ohio Stadium.
Where: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, OH
When: Saturday, October 6 at 8 p.m. ET
Listen: 1400 AM (Lincoln), 97.1 FM (Columbus)
Live Streaming: Buckeye Vision
Betting Line: Ohio State (-3), according to Covers.com.
The key storyline to watch for on Saturday night will be the impact of head coach Urban Meyer on the Buckeyes. Meyer has Ohio State off to a 5-0 start in the final year of the program's postseason ban, and has his guys playing near flawless defense. Watch to see how Ohio State responds to Meyer in its biggest home game of the season just one week after toppling Michigan State on the road.
Who May Not Play for Nebraska
*According to USA Today
WR Tim Marlowe (collarbone), out indefinitely
WR Tyler Wullenwaber (knee), out indefinitely
LB Zaire Anderson (knee), out for season
Who May Not Play for Ohio State
*According to USA Today
RB Jordan Hall (ankle), questionable for Saturday
DB C.J. Barnett (ankle), questionable for Saturday
RB Warren Ball (foot), out indefinitely
The Ohio State Buckeyes have no shot at postseason success this season regardless of what they do on Saturday night against Nebraska. Ohio State is serving the final year of its postseason ban and can only attempt to take pride in an undefeated regular season.
For the Cornhuskers, a road win at No. 12 Ohio State would be a huge resume booster and send them to 5-1 heading into the final half of the season. If Nebraska can win on Saturday, 11-1 isn't an unrealistic expectation and they will be primed for a BCS bowl berth.
What They're Saying
Nebraska offensive line coach John Garrison loves the desire his players have to block and clear the path for the 'Huskers' fifth-ranked rushing attack (via the Lincoln Journal Star's Brian Christopherson):
Guys don’t want to be taken out. When I tell them they’re sitting down, even though they know it’s coming, they kind of look at me. They want in there, they want all those reps. They’re like racehorses. When those gates go down, they’re going to go.
Garrison will need his players to bring their A-game against Ohio State. After all, the Buckeyes rank 19th in the nation against the run this season, allowing just over 100 yards per game on the ground.
Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde is loving his team's cohesiveness as it concludes the first half of its season Saturday night versus Nebraska (via The Columbus Dispatch's Bill Rabinowitz):
I feel like our confidence is high as a team, I feel we’re a complete team right now. I feel that after that game, we really became one. We’re all together. Let’s keep this momentum going and get ready for Nebraska.
Hyde is the Buckeyes' third-leading rusher this season and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry after last weekend's road win over Michigan State
Nebraska Player to Watch
Nebraska's Taylor Martinez was a star from the moment he took over under center as a freshman in 2010. Two years later he's looking even stronger and more improved as he comes into Saturday's showdown with Ohio State completing nearly 68 percent of his passes.
The junior has thrown for over 1,000 yards through five games and boasts 11 touchdowns through the air to just one interception. Martinez is also the Cornhuskers' second-leading rusher in 2012, averaging six yards per carry and having found the end zone on three additional occasions.
Ohio State Player to Watch
No surprise here. The Buckeyes' best player hands-down is sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller. The hometown signal-caller is leading Ohio State's offense in passing and rushing this season. Miller has over 1,500 total yards of offense and 15 total touchdowns through just five games.
On average, Miller will drop back to pass slightly more than 24 times per game and saddle up to run the ball out of the pocket 18 times over the course of four quarters. Although the heavy workload makes Miller prone to injury and fatigue, he has responded to it perfectly thus far in 2012.
Which side will win Saturday's key matchup?
The most important matchup in Saturday night's clash will be the ground attack of Nebraska vs. the Ohio State run stoppers. The 'Huskers rank fifth in the nation in rushing offense this season and are averaging more than 305 yards on the ground per game. Led by Taylor Martinez, Rex Burkhead and Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska rushed for more than 250 yards against Wisconsin last weekend.
Urban Meyer's Ohio State defense will need to be patient and sound against the run this weekend in order to halt the Cornhuskers' momentum and to keep their vaunted rushing attack on the sidelines for as long as possible. The Buckeyes held the Spartans to just 34 total rushing yards last weekend, so don't count them out.
On the Hot Seat
Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini is in his fifth season with the Cornhuskers, but has lost exactly four games in each of his previous seasons. Nebraska went 9-4 last season in its first year in the Big Ten Conference, losing in the Capital One Bowl to end the year.
If Pelini can't get the Cornhuskers over the top and into the Big Ten Conference title game this December, then questions will begin to stir as to whether he's the right man for the job. A third consecutive road loss (dating back to 2011) on Saturday night will have Pelini's seat heating up.
Ohio State will have a huge advantage playing at home on Saturday night, and I just don't trust Nebraska on the road. The Cornhuskers lost their only away game at UCLA this season and will taking on a team that can overcome its strengths. Ohio State is stout against the run and that's what Nebraska loves to do.
Urban Meyer has coached this program to perfection through the first month of the season and I have no reason to expect that he'll stop this Saturday night. Buckeyes win a hard-fought battle and advance to 6-0.
Ohio State 24, Nebraska 21
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