Saturday, for only the second time in its 84 years of football, the University of Miami (FL) will travel to Columbus to take on Ohio State.
The schools' previous meeting in Columbus was won by the Buckeyes, 10-0 in 1977.
Since then, the Hurricanes and Buckeyes have squared off twice. They played in the 1999 Kickoff Classic in East Rutherford, N.J (won by Miami 23-12) and in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl/National Championship game (won by Ohio State 31-24 in 2OT).
Both schools have a proud and historic football tradition.
Each school has won 19 bowl games while capturing numerous national championships. The Buckeyes have won seven national titles and the 'Canes have won five.
Miami and Ohio State are consistently sending talent to the NFL. Together, they account for 100 current NFL players (OSU: 45, MIA: 55) and since 1985 have had a total of 80 first-round picks in the NFL Draft (OSU: 34, MIA: 46).
When the two historic programs take the field Saturday, it will be like an open audition for the NFL. Throw in the fact that the game has serious national championship implications with No.12 and No.2 facing off, and you've got yourself a real barnburner.
So, who's got the edge?
Ohio State and Miami each scored 38 offensive points in their first game. Both offenses are led by quarterbacks on the Heisman watch list, Terrelle Pryor and Jacory Harris, who threw three touchdown passes in their season openers. Both offenses accounted for 23 first downs and were nearly identical in passing yards (MIA: 250, OSU: 249) in their first games.
Although at first glance the offenses seem fairly even, there is one glaring difference that will ultimately be the deciding factor in the game Saturday—the running game.
Pryor and Harris are definitely special, but those two essentially cancel each other out. Anything Harris does, Pryor will be expected to do, and vice-versa.
Furthermore, the Buckeyes and Hurricanes both have experienced wide receivers. OSU has senior Dane Sanzenbacher and junior DeVier Posey, while Miami has senior Leonard Hankerson and junior Aldarius Johnson.
The similarities in the passing game will be the reason why the team that can run the football, will win the game.
That being the case, the edge has to go to OSU. In the opener, the Buckeyes ran for 280 yards and averaged almost seven yards a carry. Senior Bradon Saine rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns on only nine carries, averaging a whopping 11.3 a pop.
In addition to Saine, OSU has junior Daniel "Boom" Herron, sophomore Jordan Hall and freshman Jaamal Berry. All three are viable rushing options and ran for at least 30 yards in the opener.
Miami on the other hand, only ran for 155 yards and their leading rusher for the past three seasons, Graig Cooper, is slowly returning from an ACL tear he suffered in Miami's bowl game eight months ago. He had two carries for 11 yards last week.
Helping the offenses out, both Ohio State's and Miami's defense scored touchdowns in their season opening wins. Linebacker Brian Rolle returned an interception for a touchdown for the Buckeyes and defensive back Ray-Ray Armstrong had a pick six for the 'Canes.
Both schools have athletes throughout their defenses and are built on speed. Ohio State uses a little more physicality than Miami, but what the 'Canes don't have in physicality they make up for it in speed.
Both defenses start with their defensive lines.
Miami defensive end Allen Bailey led the team in sacks, 7.0, and tackles for a loss, 11.0, last season. He was named a preseason All-American and is on the Nagurski Award (best defensive player) watch list.
Ohio State's Cameron Heyward was named one of Sporting News Top 5 Most Exciting Defensive Players, in addition to being a preseason All-American and on the Nagurski Award watch list.
The defensive end had 6.5 sacks last season to go along with 10.0 tackles for a loss.
With fellow defensive end Nathan Williams out, Heyward and the Buckeyes defense only managed to get one sack in the season opener. That absolutely has to change against Miami.
Although Bailey had no sacks in the season opener, the rest of the 'Canes defense were able to muster up eight sacks.
Ohio State's DEFENSE didn't allow Marshall to score last week, Marshall's only points came on special teams, and Miami pitched a shutout. Deciphering which defense has the edge is a bit tricky.
Surely the fact that Williams, who had 8.0 tackles for a loss last year, was not in the lineup, played a factor into how much pressure the Buckeyes got on Marshall.
Therefore, taking that into consideration and that four out of the last five seasons Ohio State's defense has finished ranked in the Top 5, and sixth the year they weren't, the edge on defense goes to the "Silver Bullets."
If there was one glaring weakness in Ohio State's win over Marshall, it was special teams play. An uncommon trait for an Ohio State team led by Jim Tressel.
Besides having a field goal attempt blocked, the Buckeyes gave up 173 yards on kickoff returns including a 63-yarder. And that was against Marshall.
With Miami's speed coming to town, OSU should be weary on kickoffs and punts. One big return could mean the difference.
The Hurricanes also have the edge when it comes to kicking and punting. Miami senior Matt Bosher handles all aspects of the kicking game and does it extremely well. Bosher is Miami's kickoff specialist, punter and kicker.
Bosher comes into the game having made his last 13 field goal attempts and last 96 extra-point attempts, he's never missed one.
He averages nearly 41 yards a punt and is a 2010 Ray Guy Award candidate (nation's best punter), in addition to being a 2010 Lou Groza Award candidate (nation's best kicker).
With first-year starter Devin Barclay handling field goals and sophomore Ben Buchanan handling punts, the Buckeyes seem outmatched in this aspect of Saturday's game.
Eighty-two percent winning percentage, need I say more.
Jim Tressel is 95-21 during his tenure with Ohio State. He has led the Buckeyes to six Big-Ten titles, four BCS-bowl wins and a national title in 2002.
At home, Tressel's win percentage is even better. He's won 89 percent of the games played in Ohio Stadium.
Conversely, Miami coach Randy Shannon is just 22-17, now in his fourth year with the Hurricanes. He is 0-2 in bowl games and has yet to play in the ACC-Championship game.
Shannon is 8-9 in road games and 1-5 in road games versus Top-25 teams. His big road win was at Florida State last season. Florida State finished the season 7-6.
No disrespect to Randy Shannon, he's only been there three years, but he's not even on the same block as Jim Tressel.
Intangibles range from injuries to home-field advantage. Things like composure, confidence and swagger.
While "The U" certainly doesn't fall short in terms of swagger, the edge in the intangibles department has to go to Ohio State.
For starters, the game is being played in front of 105,000 rowdy, avid, die-hard Buckeyes fans. The "Shoe" doesn't sell-out on a weekly basis for nothing, the people in Columbus eat, sleep and breathe Ohio State football. They will back their team until the very end, and win or loose, the "other team" will be vehemently abhorred.
Besides the fact that the game is being played in front of their fans, Ohio State is the healthier team.
Defensive end Nathan Williams, who sat out the opener, will be back and that will certainly help out the Ohio State pass rush that was almost non-existent against Marshall.
In all likelihood, Miami will be without running back Graig Cooper who is still recovering from an ACL tear and possibly an injured ankle, according to some reports. Although he played some in the opener, Randy Shannon said Tuesday that Cooper "probably won't play" against Ohio State.
After loosing six straight to Top-15 teams, Ohio State has won their last three and have some confidence heading into the showdown with Miami.
The 'Canes on the other hand, have lost two of three against Top-25 teams after beating No.18 Florida State and No.14 Georgia Tech to start the 2009 season.
Intangibles edge goes to the Buckeyes.
Both schools are in the National Championship hunt, and with a win would solidify their place among the other competitors.
Ohio State could possibly make it to the title game after losing to Miami if Wisconsin and the winner of the Oct. 2 Penn State-Iowa game were undefeated when the Buckeyes play them in mid-November, but it's not likely. Of course Ohio State would have to win out.
Should Miami lose this one, they probably won't be in competition for a national title. For one, they didn't start high enough in the rankings to cushion their fall following a loss. And two, many believe the ACC to be one of the worst BCS conferences along with the Big East, so making up ground during conference play could be tough.
So in terms of national title hopes, realistically, both need a win just as much as the other.
But, Ohio State and Miami each need this win for reasons other than the National Championship.
The Buckeyes have lost their last two big non-conference home games—Texas in '05 and USC in '09. They need the win over Miami to get some of the fear that Ohio Stadium normally brings, back.
Miami feels like they are on the verge of being back, so-to-speak. They feel like they need one more signature win to put them back on the national map after sort of falling off it after the '05 season and being annihilated in the Peach Bowl by LSU, 40-3.
Basically, it's a coin flip on who needs it more. Both schools desperately want the victory so bad they can taste it. However, by default, I'm going to say that Ohio State needs it more because Ohio Stadium is on the verge of losing its aura of mystique and most fans around Columbus think it's National Championship or bust, but the case could be made for Miami too.
In the end I simply think that Ohio State is too much for Miami. Surprisingly, the one edge that Miami does have is on special teams. If the Buckeyes' special teams completely implode, then the outcome could change, but I just think Ohio State has too many weapons and will be able to run the football.
Against Marshall, anytime the Buckeyes ran out of the "I-Formation" with fullback Zach Boren leading the way, it seemed easy. There was hole after hole and lane upon lane for Brandon Saine and Dan Herron to run through.
I expect this week to be no different and although he may not have any carries, I expect sophomore fullback Zach Boren to be the unsung hero of the game.
Ohio State 24, Miami 10