The much-anticipated Ohio State-Miami (FL) rematch is nearly upon us.
The last meeting came in January 2003 when the underdog Buckeyes outlasted the heavily favored Hurricanes 31-24 in double-overtime to capture the 2002 BCS title.
Both teams expect to challenge for their respective conference championships this season, but each also have their eye on another trip to Arizona and a BCS championship game berth.
As of right now, the No. 2 Buckeyes are in better position for the latter than are the No. 13 Hurricanes, but an upset win in Columbus this Saturday would legitimately catapult Miami into the top 10 or even the top five.
Of course, coming away with a win is going to be a huge challenge for Miami. Non-conference opponents don't usually fare too well against the Buckeyes in The Shoe.
Miami is a fast team with their fair share of talented players at most every position on both sides of the ball. Unfortunately for the Canes, so too are the Buckeyes—even more so actually.
There are two ways to look at recruiting rankings—quantity vs. quality.
For example, in 2008, Miami signed 33 players compared to Ohio State only signing 20. Both Scout and Rivals ranked the Miami class ahead of the Ohio State class even though the average star rating for Miami players was 3.33, while the average star rating for Ohio State per recruit was 3.9.
In this case, bigger recruiting classes clearly do not equal better recruiting classes.
Here are how the two schools stack up against each other in recruiting when the quality of class is measured as opposed to just the number of recruits that committed to each school.
Each team currently has players on their squads that were members of one of their classes between 2006 and 2010, so those are the years that will be used in the chart below.
As you can see, Ohio State has out-recruited Miami in all five seasons. 2006 and especially 2007 were comparable, but the last three classes weren't very close, as all were significantly in favor of Ohio State.
Miami fans will want to point out that while recruiting numbers and rankings do matter, they are not everything since not all highly touted recruits live up to expectations, while less-heralded prospects sometimes prove to be diamonds in the rough.
So let's get down to it and look at what does, and will, matter most when these two titans clash this coming Saturday.
Both Ohio State and Miami opened the 2010 season with decisive victories last Thursday night. The Buckeyes cruised to a 45-7 win over Marshall, while the Hurricanes shutout Florida A&M University, 45-0.
The stats each school has compiled so far are from one game vs. inferior opponents, so while they may or may not indicate what we could expect to see on 9/11, they're still worth mentioning.
Miami, By the Numbers
QB Jacory Harris showed no signs of any lingering issues from off-season thumb surgery. In just two quarters, he completed 12 of 15 passes (80 percent) for 210 yards and three touchdowns, for a QB rating of 263.6. Harris took care of business and could be poised to lead his team to the ACC title, and maybe more. If he can produce similar results against one of the nation's better defensive units, his name could start moving up closer to the top of the 2010 Heisman watch list.
Wide receiver Leonard Hankerson led Miami with six catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Only two other Miami receiver had more than 30 yards, but both had less than 45.
Running back Lamar Miller led the Canes in rushing with 65 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown. Damien Berry caught a 32-yard touchdown pass and had another 45 yards rushing. Mike James had six caries for 36 yards.
As a team, Miami totaled 405 yards, while holding A&M to 110 yards and just eight first downs the entire game. The shutout was the first by a Miami defense since 2006.
For the record, FAMU is a FCS school, so while Miami looked impressive, those individual and overall team statistics might not be very similar to their offensive and defensive totals when they meet the Buckeyes this weekend.
Ohio State, By the Numbers
Quarterback Terrelle Pryor continued to play as he did in the 2010 Rose bowl. In just a tad over three quarters of work, he completed 17 of 25 pass attempts (68 percent) for 247 yards and three touchdowns, for a QB rating of 190.59. The majority of his passes were perfectly on target and he seemed very comfortable not scrambling, but rather remaining in the pocket and finding his receivers.
Wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher led the Buckeyes with three catches for 113 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown that was perfectly placed in stride by Pryor. Two of DeVier Posey's four receptions for 41 yards went for touchdowns. Tight end Jake Stoneburner caught three balls, also for 41 yards.
In only one half of play, running back Brandon Saine carried the ball nine times for 103 yards and found the endzone twice. Four backs in all averaged more than six yards per carry. Jaamal Berry had seven carries for 80 yards. Dan Herron rushed for 44 yards on seven carries and Jordan Hall added 32 yards on just five carries.
As a team, Ohio State totaled 529 yards, while holding Marshall to 199 yards and 11 first downs the entire game. The OSU defense pitched a shutout as well, but was charged with a special teams touchdown that Marshall scored after returning a blocked 53-yard field goal try.
Ohio State-Miami: History Lesson and Other Tidbits
• This will be only the fourth ever meeting between Ohio State and Miami.
• Ohio State is 2-1 all time vs. Miami with the lone defeat, a 23-12 loss coming in 1999, and the two wins coming in 1977, a 10-0 shutout, and in 2003, the classic 31-24 double-overtime thriller for the BCS title.
• Since 2001 under Jim Tressel, Ohio State is 36-8 vs. non-conference opponents.
• Overall since 2001, Ohio State is 57-7 at home.
• Miami is 26-16 all-time vs. Big Ten opponents, but only 1-4 in road openers.
• Miami has improved every season under Randy Shannon, winning five games in 2007, seven games in 2008, and nine games in 2009.
• Since 2007 under Shannon, Miami is 4-6 against top 25 opponents, but only 1-5 against top 25 opponents on the road, having only defeated then-No. 18 FSU in Tallahassee in 2009.
Summary and Prediction
Miami is fast, but so is Ohio State.
Miami has recruited well, but Ohio State has recruited better.
Miami has a very good quarterback, but so does Ohio State and theirs (Pryor) can also hurt you running the ball.
Miami may just have the best group of receivers in the nation, but Ohio State's group isn't far behind, just younger and less experienced.
Miami has one of the best defensive fronts you will find, but Ohio State's might just be the best in the country.
Miami has a pretty good offensive line, but the Ohio State o-line is one of the top five lines in the nation.
Miami has one of the better secondaries in the country. Ohio State's secondary has a couple of new faces, but could still be one of the best when it's all said and done.
Miami finally has a good coach in Randy Shannon who has their program heading in the right direction. Ohio State has Jim Tressel, the best coach in the Big 10, who also happens to be one of the best six or seven coaches in all of college football.
It could be close, and a back-and-forth shootout, but this Buckeye squad will be fired up, and so will 95,000+ Buckeye fans. They will be too much for the Hurricanes in the second half and should win by at least two scores.
Ohio State 30
After the ludicrous 9-3 W/L record for Ohio State prediction of yours, suck on that Brian Griese...