Nebraska vs. Ohio State: 5 Players to Watch in Big Ten Clash

Phil G@FuturePhilGCorrespondent IOctober 4, 2012

Nebraska vs. Ohio State: 5 Players to Watch in Big Ten Clash

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    A great matchup awaits in the Big Ten this weekend, when Braxton Miller and Ohio State face the Nebraska Cornhuskers and two-headed monster Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead. 

    Forget defense, this should be a spectacular shootout between these two Big Ten teams.

    While we credit Ohio State for a stifling defensive performance against Michigan State last week, the Buckeyes have not been the defensive juggernaut many had come to expect this season.

    No matter. Braxton Miller and the Ohio State offense has more than made up for the poor play of the defense. 

    The same can be said for Nebraska. The Cornhuskers have an explosive duo behind the line in Martinez and Burkhead, and another possible threat hiding in the shadows. 

    Here are five players to watch in the Ohio State-Nebraska showdown.  

Braxton Miller, Ohio State (QB)

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    Miller is the heart and soul of this Ohio State offense. He is the engine. If Miller struggles this Saturday, the Ohio State offense will struggle to stay in the game. 

    There is probably no quarterback in college football who means more to their team than Miller does to Ohio State. 

    Miller has accounted for 15 of his teams offensive touchdowns. When you consider that Ohio State has scored 22 offensive touchdowns thus far in the season, you understand why his dual-threat skill set is so important to this offense. 

Taylor Martinez, Nebraska (QB)

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    Martinez is the leader of the Nebraska offense, while Rex Burkhead and Ameer Abdullah play huge roles as well.

    Depending on which Ohio State defense shows up, Martinez could flourish or struggle in this game.

    If the Ohio State defense plays the way it did against the Michigan State Spartans, the Cornhuskers will turn to their running game. 

Devin Smith, Ohio State (WR)

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    Smith is the X-factor in this Ohio State offense. When he plays to his talent level, the Buckeyes can light up the scoreboard. 

    In five games, Smith has recorded 19 catches for 351 yards and four touchdowns. 

    No. 15 isn't even the leading receiver for the Buckeyes. That distinction belongs to Corey Brown, but Smith is the more explosive of the two. 

    He is a home-run threat every time he touches the ball. 

Rex Burkhead, Nebraska (RB)

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    Burkhead makes up one half of the two-headed monster that dwells in the Nebraska backfield.

    Ohio State got a good look at Burkhead after last season's match, in which he basically put the Huskers on his back and led his team to a comeback win.  

    Burkhead has looked great since his return from injury. Against Wisconsin, he recorded 86 yards on the ground. He looked even better against Idaho, when he rushed for 119 yards. 

    Look for Nebraska to get Burkhead some opportunities early and often against Ohio State. 

Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska (RB)

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    The other half of the two-headed duo at running back is Ameer Abdullah. 

    When Rex Burkhead was out with an injury earlier in the season, Abdullah showed he is more than capable of handling the ship by himself. 

    Abdullah carried the ball 30 times against Arkansas State and came away with 167 yards rushing. He also recorded 119 yards rushing in Nebraska's loss to UCLA. 

    Again, if Martinez struggles, look for Nebraska to pound the rock against an inconsistent Ohio State defense.