2010 College Football Predictions: Miami Hurricanes and Ohio State Buckeyes
The real College Gameday should be in Columbus, Ohio. Make no mistake about it.
No. 2 Ohio State and No. 12 Miami last faced each other in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl for the BCS national championship.
Three seconds after the Buckeyes' fourth-down pass fell incomplete, field judge Terry Porter called pass interference and the game continued on.
Miami would go on to lose in the second overtime, and failed to become the first team to win back-to-back BCS championships.
Now, with the rematch set for Saturday at 3:40 p.m., all eyes will be on whether either of these teams can prove itself worthy of national title aspirations.
Here are 10 keys to the game.
No. 1 Deja Vu?
Which University of Miami football team will show up on Saturday?
The Hurricanes that squeaked past rival Florida State in the season opener on Labor Day? Or the Canes that got embarrassed in Blacksburg against Virginia Tech?
In Tallahassee, quarterback Jacory Harris was as cool as a cucumber. Soaked to the core in Virginia, he and the offense struggled to muster yards and points.
On Saturday, weather forecasts show a chance of rain and thunderstorms.
No. 2 Stop the Run
Miami linebacker Colin McCarthy told the Miami Herald that "I think if we force them to do one thing -- pass the football instead of running it -- we have a chance to win."
By putting the ball into quarterback Terrelle Pryor's hands instead of running backs Brandon Saine (739 yards) and Dan Herron (600 yards), the Canes have a shot on defense.
Last season, Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor ran for 75 yards. The rest of the Hokies ground game collected 272 yards.
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes stopped Georgia Tech's spread option that hurt them the year prior.
No. 3 Heisman Hopefuls
A pair of junior quarterbacks will look to catapult their teams into the national title picture.
Terrelle Pryor is a dual threat who has made both the preseason Manning and Davey O'Brien Award watch lists. He holds a 19-3 record as a starter since his freshman year.
Pryor already ranks 11th among Ohio State career total offense leaders with 4,808 yards.
Jacory Harris, on the other hand, didn't become the clear-cut starter until last season when he passed for 3,352 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions.
Though Harris doesn't run the ball, he has enough weapons to go around to boost his statistics down the stretch. Who wouldn't want to see the pimp suit?
The pair's performance in this game will help sort out the Heisman contender and pretender.
No. 4 Tight End Battle
Sophomore Jake Stoneburner caught just two passes all of last season. In last week's game against Marshall, he collected three catches for 41 yards.
The Miami linebacking corps, which lacks depth and struggled in coverage of tight ends last year, will be tested.
"I think we’ve worked on everything we can to get better and that problem will be solved," senior linebacker Kylan Robinson said at media day.
For the Hurricanes, three offensive-oriented tight ends are gone: Jimmy Graham, Dedrick Epps, and Tervaris Johnson.
Junior transfer Chase Ford continues to warrant comparisons to Jeremy Shockey, but he failed to record a catch against Florida A&M in his first game.
No. 5 Home Field Advantage
In order to prepare for the Horseshoe, where more than 102,000 fans will be making enough noise to cause an airplane to blush, head coach Randy Shannon has blared crowd noise over six speakers during practices.
Rumors have been circulating that Miami received just 4,000 tickets to distribute amongst the university community.
Home field advantage could play a huge role come Saturday.
No. 6 Kicking Game
Senior placekicker/punter Matt Bosher gets enough love from this columnist.
He collects touchbacks on kickoffs, connects on field goals and extra points, punts for a high average, makes both the first and second team All-ACC, and recovers his own onside kicks.
Is there anything he can't do?
Freshman Drew Basil got benched after he had his first career field goal blocked and returned for a touchdown against Marshall University.
Walk-on senior Devin Barclay made his only field goal, a 34-yarder, but puts the Buckeyes at a disadvantage.
No. 7 Talk of Revenge
All Canes has been selling a t-shirt that brings back horrible memories of the 2003 Fiesta Bowl.
"Mission: Payback. The Robbery in the Desert."
Before the season started and now with the game just days away, media and fans alike continue to talk about the pass-interference call that cost the University of Miami back-to-back BCS titles.
Since then, the program hasn't reached the title game, or even come close.
How embarrassing would it be to wear this shirt at the Horseshoe and have the Buckeyes win?
No. 8 Trash Talk
All Canes came up with another clever idea for a t-shirt that has been selling like crazy at its Coral Gables location.
Banking on the Miami Heat's acquisition of Miami Thrice, the city couldn't be happier that LeBron James made his decision to play on South Beach.
Same goes for Hurricanes fans sporting "Ohio stole the crown in '02. Miami steals the King in 2010."
Then there's all the talk about swagger and former players now in the NFL.
And the battle between THE Ohio State University and THE U.
No. 9 National Title Contender
Ohio State heads into the game ranked No. 2 with Boise State breathing down its neck after Monday night's victory over Virginia Tech.
Following last year's Rose Bowl win over Oregon, Terrelle Pryor critics finally gave in and decided that the quarterback had reached the level of play many expected of him.
Miami moved up a spot to No. 12 and begins a tough stretch that includes the Buckeyes, Pittsburgh, and Clemson before heading back home to face the rival Florida State Seminoles.
Before the season started, expectations were high for the Canes, who believe excuses are no longer allowed. The team's core includes reliable seniors and juniors.
"We’ve got some young talent, but we’ve also got some senior leadership. The sky’s the limit. The potential is there. The talent’s there," senior defensive end Allen Bailey said during media day.
No. 10 Big Ten and the Atlantic Coast Conference
Sure, there's the Big Ten/ACC Challenge that takes place every college basketball season on ESPN.
Last season, however, bragging rights were fought over during bowl season. Miami lost 20-14 to Wisconsin in the Champs Sports Bowl. Iowa beat Georgia Tech 24-14 in the Orange Bowl.
"We're definitely a more physical team than we were last year,'' defensive tackle Marcus Forston told the Miami Herald. "[Ohio State] is the same type of team [as Wisconsin]. They do a lot of zone, zone read, zone blocking. So the defensive line as a group has to do a good job of living in their backfield this week.''
Saturday afternoon's game could add some additional excitement between the two conferences. Two years ago, the Buckeyes came to Coral Gables and beat the Hurricanes in college basketball.
Will UM get revenge?