Game Three: Ohio State @ Toledo
Location: Cleveland Browns Stadium (Cleveland, OH). 12 p.m. EST kickoff, ESPN360.com
Head Coach: Tim Beckman
Toledo Players Who Were Recruited By Ohio State: N/A. There are not any players on Toledo's roster who were actively recruited by Ohio State. Freshman QB Terrance Owens is from Cleveland Glenville and visited Ohio State unofficially, but was never offered a scholarship.
Toledo Rushing Offense vs Ohio State Defense: Toledo rushed for 305 yards last week against Colorado in a 54-38 win, and only 70 yards rushing in a 52-31 loss to Purdue. Ohio State was able to limit Navy's vaunted triple-option attack to 186 yards in its 31-27 victory in game one, and hold USC's talented rushing attack to 118 yards in its close 18-15 defeat last weekend.
Toledo averages out to almost 188 rushing yards per game, while Ohio State averages out to limiting opponents to 152 yards per game. I am going to give the edge to the Buckeyes here on this one.
Edge: Ohio State
Toledo Passing Offense vs Ohio State Defense: Toledo's stellar offensive output so far this season can be traced to senior QB Aaron Opelt. So far this season, Opelt has been the MAC Player Of The Week both games and is completing 62% of his passes in Toledo's spread attack.
Ohio State was largely able to limit USC's Matt Barkley due to the intense crowd noise of Ohio Stadium as well as Barkley's inexperience. Aaron Opelt has had two good games against teams from BCS conferences.
Ohio State's pass defense is ranked 10th in the Big Ten, with 193.5 yards per game being allowed. Considering that Toledo's offense is averaging nearly 371 yards passing per game, I am going to give the slight edge to the Rockets on this one, despite Ohio State's talent on the defensive line. If Ohio State cannot pressure Aaron Opelt, this could turn out to be a shoot-out.
Slight Edge: Toledo
Ohio State Rushing Offense vs Toledo Defense: Ohio State's rushing attack has only been able to generate 241 yards rushing this season. Toledo surrendered 315 yards to Purdue in week one, and 95 yards rushing to Colorado last week.
Translation: if Ohio State cannot run the ball on Toledo, it is going to be a long season in Columbus. I look for Ohio State to try to get QB Terrelle Pryor more involved in the rushing attack and for a heavy dose of RBs Daniel "Boom" Herron and Brandon Saine.
Edge: Ohio State
Ohio State Passing Offense vs Toledo Defense: Ohio State has been struggling through the air as well so far this season. QB Terrelle Pryor is completing under 55 percent of his passes and looks generally indecisive in the pocket. While Pryor had some shining moments in last week's game against USC, it seems as though he is hesitant to run when opportunities present themselves.
Toledo's pass defense ranks 12th in the MAC at 288 yards per game being allowed. While I do not believe Ohio State will throw for nearly that many yards, I do look for Jim Tressel to try to develop Terrelle Pryor's confidence as a thrower before Big Ten play begins next weekend. Keep an eye on WR DeVier Posey; I have a feeling this may be Posey's break-out game.
Edge: Ohio State
Special Teams: Toledo ranks 11th in the MAC on kickoff returns, last on punt returns, and last in punting. Ohio State has some dangerous returners in WR Ray Small, RB Brandon Saine, and WR Lamaar Thomas. Junior DB Grant Schwartz came oh-so-close with a punt block attempt last week against USC. Here is an area where Ohio State may be able to obtain some distinct field advantage against Toledo.
Edge: Ohio State
Intangibles: Even though this is a "home" game for Toledo, look for a heavy Ohio State flavor to the crowd at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Toledo's Tim Beckman is a former Ohio State secondary coach under Jim Tressel, so I look for Beckman to try to capitalize on his familiarity with Tressel's coaching styles and strategies.
The biggest "X" factor in this game is how Ohio State can bounce back after such a tough loss to USC last weekend. If Ohio State is still moping about last week's defeat to USC, Toledo will make them pay for it dearly.
Toledo is not coming into Cleveland Browns Stadium thinking that they are going to lose to Ohio State. Toledo is brimming with confidence after the beating they gave to Colorado last week, and nothing would please so many of the players on the Toledo roster than to prove how much of a mistake Ohio State made by not recruiting them.
Prediction: This game hinges completely on Ohio State's ability to put the tough loss to USC behind them. Ohio State has not lost to an in-state rival school in 88 years.
I look for Ohio State to use the enthusiasm of the crowd in Cleveland Browns Stadium, as well as QB Terrelle Pryor's best performance of this young season, to carry them to victory. This one will be close at the half, but I look for Ohio State to pull away by the end of the third quarter.
Ohio State 35, Toledo 17