2011: 2-0 (0-0)
Returning starters: 11 (seven offense, four defense)
Last year's match up: Ohio State 36 Miami 24 The Canes hung around with the Buckeyes for most of the game, despite not being able to generate much of anything on offense. First half scores came on a kick return by Lamar Miller (his Hester-like breakout at UM) and a punt return by Travis Benjamin. Ultimately, in a foreshadowing of what was in store for the rest of the season, the Canes were unable to overcome four Jacory Harris interceptions.
Offense: The Buckeyes will be led at quarterback, at least initially, by the decidedly... let's go with "blue collar" Joe Bauserman. So far this year, The Baus has been efficient and safe, which is about what you would expect from the school that birthed Craig Krenzel. If he could play in a hazamt suit and cover the ball in bubble wrap he most likely would. But last week against Toledo— wherein OSU squeaked out 27-22 victory— we saw his limitations: he completed only 16 passes in 30 attempts, and for only 189 yards, as the Buckeyes barely manged to gain 300 total yards against the Rockets. Ohio State has electrifying freshman quarterback Braxton Miller in its holster, and though he didn't see any time versus Toldeo, it would not be a shock to see him on the field tonight if the Ohio State offense needs a spark.
Like Miami, Ohio State has been hit with suspensions, and it has decimated them offensively: they're missing starting left tackle Mike Adams, star receiver Devier Posey, and running back Boom Herron, who would've been the spine of the 2011 offense. This current incarnation of the Bucks will rely heavily on running backs Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith, as well as tight end Jake Stoneburner, who has already caught four touchdowns this season. Leading receiver Devin Smith is the gamebreaker here, and they also return running back Jordan Hall from suspension, and he will be in the mix in the backfield.
Defense: Defensively, Ohio State lacks any household names, but it is Ohio State, so they will be very good. They're led on the line by defensive end John Simon and over the middle by linebacker Andrew Sweat. The Buckeyes return corner Travis Howard from suspension, and he has star potential, though he may not get the nominal start. This is a rather inexperienced defense, but they should be able to tackle and cover, as all Buckeyes defenses do.
Match up in Miami's favor: Could this be a shootout? We all know about the Canes' current problems in the defensive backfield, but Ohio State has their fair share of issues, too. The aforementioned Howard is back, but the Bucks allowed two Rocket wide receivers to gain 100+ yards last weekend, and they were torched for a few long play, including a 66-yard touchdown. Between Travis Benjamin and Tommy Streeter, the Canes have receivers who can break the game open, and they just might get their opportunity tonight.
Match up in Ohio State's favor: One of the under the radar hallmarks of Miami defenses in the past few years has been an inability to cover tight ends. Stoneburner is Basuerman's emergency chute, and if the Canes can put the clamps on him, it could be extremely tough for the Bucks to move the ball through the air. It will be interesting to see who draws the assignment— Sean Spence has had trouble in coverage at times in his career, but he is Miami's best defensive player. Jimmy Gaines should be athletic to stick with Stoneburner, but as the middle linebacker it's unlikely that he will be called on in coverage. My guess is we'll see a good bit of Ramon Buchanan in coverage, as he's pretty much a glorified safety as it is.