Ohio State vs. Nebraska: Complete Game Preview

Tim BielikSenior Analyst IOctober 3, 2012

Ohio State vs. Nebraska: Complete Game Preview

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    Ohio State began the Big Ten season with a 17-16 statement victory over Michigan State in East Lansing on Saturday.

    The Buckeyes look to continue their undefeated season against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, who are making their first foray into the Horseshoe.

    The 'Huskers are coming off a comeback win over Wisconsin last week and bring an experienced backfield to Columbus for this marquee matchup in the Big Ten.

    Here is a full game preview for Saturday's showdown.

Gameday Information

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    Who: Ohio State vs. Nebraska

    Where: Ohio Stadium (102,329), Columbus, OH

    When: Saturday, 8 p.m.

    TV: ABC (national broadcast) Brad Nessler: play-by-play, Todd Blackledge: color, Holly Rowe: sideline

    Radio:

    Ohio: Akron - 1590 AM; Cincinnati - 1480 AM; Cleveland - 850 AM; Columbus - 1460 AM; Columbus - 97.1 FM; Toledo - 1470 AM; Youngstown - 1390 AM

    Nebraska: Kansas City - 810 AM; Lincoln - 1400 AM

    Satellite: Sirius 113

Depth Chart for Nebraska

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    Quarterback: Taylor Martinez, Ron Kellogg

    Running Back: Rex Burkhead, Ameer Abdullah

    Wide Receiver: Kenny Bell, Quincy Enunwa, Jamal Turner, Tyler Evans, Taariq Allen, Steven Osborne

    Tight End: Ben Cotton, Kyler Reed

    Offensive Tackle: Brent Qvale, Jeremiah Sirles, Brandon Thompson, Andrew Rodriguez

    Offensive Guard: Seung Hoon Choi, Spencer Long, Cole Pensick, Brodrick Nickens

    Center: Justin Jackson, Cole Pensick

    Defensive End: Cameron Meredith, Jason Ankrah, Eric Martin, Joseph Carter

    Defensive Tackle: Baker Steinkuhler, Thad Randle, Aaron Curry, Kevin Williams

    Linebacker: Sean Fisher, Will Compton, Alonzo Whaley, David Santos, Trevor Roach

    Cornerback: Andrew Green, Josh Mitchell, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Mohammed Seisay

    Safety: Daimion Stafford, P.J. Smith, Courtney Osborne, Harvey Jackson

Depth Chart for Ohio State

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    Quarterback: Braxton Miller, Kenny Guiton

    Running Back: Carlos Hyde, Rod Smith

    Wide Receiver: Corey "Philly" Brown, Devin Smith, Jake Stoneburner, Evan Spencer, Michael Thomas, Chris Fields

    Tight End: Jeff Heuerman, Nick Vannett

    Offensive Tackle: Jack Mewhort, Reid Fragel, Darryl Baldwin, Taylor Decker

    Offensive Guard: Andrew Norwell, Marcus Hall, Antonio Underwood, Chase Farris

    Center: Corey Linsley, Jacoby Boren

    Defensive End: John Simon, Nathan Williams, J.T. Moore, Michael Bennett

    Defensive Tackle: Johnathan Hankins, Garrett Goebel, Joel Hale, Adolphus Washington

    Linebacker: Ryan Shazier, Storm Klein, Etienne Sabino, Curtis Grant, Conner Crowell, David Perkins

    Cornerback: Bradley Roby, Travis Howard, Doran Grant, Adam Griffin

    Safety: C.J. Barnett, Christian Bryant, Orhian Johnson, Corey Brown

What Happened to the Huskers Last Week?

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    A year after their stunning second-half comeback win at home over the Buckeyes, the 'Huskers did it again, as they overcame a 17-point deficit to stun Wisconsin 30-27.

    Taylor Martinez racked up three touchdowns and 288 yards of total offense to lead the Nebraska attack. The running back tandem of Rex Burkhead and Ameer Abdullah combined for 156 yards on the ground, to go with Martinez's 107 rushing yards.

    The 30 points may have been the fewest the 'Huskers have scored all season, but the win may set Bo Pelini's squad on a course for Indianapolis (should they be able to come out of Columbus with a win).

    Remember, Michigan also has to go to Lincoln this season.

What Happened to the Buckeyes Last Week?

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    The Buckeyes hit the road for the first time, with successful results, as they got some revenge against Michigan State with a 17-16 win.

    Braxton Miller threw a beautiful touchdown pass to Devin Smith late in the third quarter to put the Buckeyes ahead, and OSU finished the game with a demonstrative clock-killing drive in the final few minutes.

    The win was arguably the Buckeyes' most complete game under Urban Meyer. They completely negated the power game of the Spartans.

    The offense was still inconsistent, however, turning the ball over three times.

    The Buckeyes did gain just under 400 yards of total offense, which is more than double what they had in last year's loss to the Spartans.

What It Means to Both Teams

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    For Nebraska

    The Cornhuskers want to prove that last year's comeback win over Ohio State was no fluke—and that they can be the class of the Big Ten.

    They may have the conference's most explosive offense and also boast a very good defense.

    However, the 'Huskers need to shed their problem of losing on the road in the conference. They lost two of their three conference road games last year by a combined score of 93-34.

    Bo Pelini makes his return to Columbus after a playing career as a Buckeye. A win at his alma mater would be all the more sweeter.

     

    For Ohio State

    Ohio State is on a mission for revenge—a mission which they started off on the right foot last week against Michigan State.

    Braxton Miller didn't get to finish last year's game after being knocked out with an injury, and he probably has a score to settle with the Blackshirt defense.

    The Buckeyes came together as a team during their win and look like they are motivated and hungry to reestablish themselves as the kings of the Midwest.

    Beating Nebraska on Saturday will go a long way towards getting back to that level.

Key Player for Nebraska: RB Rex Burkhead

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    Rex Burkhead is still giving some Buckeye fans nightmares, especially after how he took over last year's meeting in the second half. He scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to complete a 21-point comeback, the biggest in school history.

    Burkhead has battled injury problems early on, but he has still averaged 9.4 yards a carry with 273 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

    If healthy, he is among the most dangerous backs in the country, even though the emergence of Abdullah has reduced the load on the senior.

    He is the guy that should have the ball in his hands late in the game if it is on the line.

Key Player for Ohio State: QB Braxton Miller

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    There is a reason that Braxton Miller is a Heisman Trophy favorite along with West Virginia's Geno Smith and Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas.

    The sophomore QB has basically been Ohio State's offense. He has been responsible for 15 of the team's 22 offensive touchdowns through the first five games of the season.

    Miller is 226 passing yards away from equaling his yardage total from his freshman season, and with a significantly higher completion percentage.

    The growth he has shown already in five games is incredible, especially considering where he was a year ago—when he had the first strong performance of his career against, ironically enough, Nebraska.

Nebraska Will Win If...

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    Nebraska created a blueprint for how to attack the Buckeyes a year ago when it dominated the perimeter either by throwing or running the football.

    Taylor Martinez will need to have the best game of his career throwing the football against a hostile Ohio State home crowd, and Burkhead and Abdullah will need to form that strong one-two punch in the backfield.

    On defense, it's all about finding a way to neutralize Braxton Miller's feet and clouding up the short routes on the field.

    Miller has shown inconsistency in hitting the intermediate-to-deep routes.

    The more concerning thing for the Buckeye offense is that Miller has to get his guys going by himself. They do not have that guy or two who can make things happen if Miller struggles, which will happen at some point.

    Nebraska will win if Miller can't do it by himself.

Ohio State Will Win If...

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    When Devin Smith shows up and makes a big play, good things happen to the Buckeye offense.

    Corey Brown leads the team in catches with 32, but Smith is the home-run guy. He already has four scores this season, two of which have been over 60 yards.

    If Miller and Smith hook up for a big play, whether it's a deep ball or a Spiderman-esque one-handed catch, that's a sign that the Buckeyes are going to be just fine.

    Obviously, Miller is the biggest key. But if Smith can break a big play and have an impact, it will be a very good day for the Buckeyes.

Prediction

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    At home and under the lights, it's a very difficult thing to ask anyone to beat the Buckeyes.

    A win may give the Buckeyes a very real shot to finish the 2012 season undefeated  despite their postseason ban, which would be a remarkable feat.

    This game has the potential for both teams to reach the 30-point plateau, but Braxton Miller and the Buckeyes should be able to keep their perfect season going.

    Prediction: Ohio State 31, Nebraska 24

     

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