Game 4 preview: Ohio State Buckeyes
I debated even writing a preview for this game, because — let’s face it — this is the game that we knew, before either team played a single down this season, that EMU was guaranteed to lose. OK, maybe not quite guaranteed — I’ll give the Eagles perhaps a 0.02% chance; if the teams played 10,000 times EMU might win once or twice — but about as close to it as you ever get in sports. For EMU, this is a paycheck game, pure and simple; the $850,000 that this game will bring in is probably four times last year’s ticket revenue.
But the teams will still play the game, and so I will still write the preview.
Record: (2009) 11-2; (2010) 3-0
Recent games: The Buckeyes handled then #12 (now #19) University of Miami 36-24 two weeks ago, and demolished Ohio 43-7 last week.
Quality wins: In 2009 they beat Wisconsin 31-13 in Columbus, beat Penn State 24-7 in Beaver Stadium, beat Iowa (playing without Stanzi) 27-24 in overtime in Columbus to clinch the Big (11) Ten title, and beat Oregon 26-17 in the Rose Bowl Game. So far this year their best win came at home against the University of Miami, 36-24.
Embarassing losses: None yet this year. Last year they lost a 26-18 road game to a Purdue team that ended the season 5-7. That was the first time since 2001 that the Buckeyes lost to a team that ended with a losing record.
Last meeting: None.
All-time series: N/A. Amazingly enough, for all the MAC teams the Buckeyes schedule every year, and for all the thrashings the Eagles have taken at the hands of Big (11) Ten teams, these two teams have never played!
Coach: Jim Tressel is an amazing coach. Even most Michigan fans will admit this, which tells you just how good he is. For his career, he is 232-78-2 as a head coach. From 1986 through 2000 he coached Youngstown State, winning Division I-AA (now FCS) national championships in 1991, 1993, 1994, and 1997; they were also the runners-up in 1992 and 1999. Since he took the reins at Ohio State, the Buckeyes have gone 97-21, winning a national championship in 2002, losing in the BCSNCG in 2006 and 2007, and going 8-1 against the Michigan Wolverines. Tressel has won 12 coach of the year awards from various organizations.
Offense: It begins and ends with Terrelle Pryor. Ohio State’s junior quarterback is averaging 238.3 passing yards per game, throwing for 6 touchdowns and just two interceptions, and averaging another 55.0 yards per game running, adding two more touchdowns on the ground. In other words, through the first three games of the season, Pryor has scored nearly as many touchdowns as EMU’s whole team. Running backs Brandon Saine and Daniel Herron have added another five touchdowns between them, and both are averaging about 50 yards per game. Jaamal Berry doesn’t get the ball much, but when he does he’s a big play threat, averaging more than 9 yards per run. Pryor’s top throwing targets are Dane Sanzenbacher, DeVier Posey, and Jake Stoneburner, who collectively account for 175 yards per game and four touchdowns.
Defense: Ohio State’s defense has hauled in seven interceptions through their first three games. They have allowed just 80 rushing yards and 156 passing yards per game, for a total of just 236 yards per game allowed — seventh-best in the nation.
Keys to watch: How long the Ohio State starters stay in. The game is not in question, just the margin, and Ohio State will pretty much have control over that too.
Ohio State online: Really? You have to ask? Like the Wolverines, Buckeye fans are everywhere, both online and in person. I’m not going to point them out; look and you’ll find them.
Predictions: The question in this game is not who will win, it’s how long the Eagles can keep it respectable; I’m guessing two possessions. I’m seeing point spreads in the 42-45 range, and honestly, you couldn’t persuade me to take either side of that because it will be entirely up to Ohio State (see “Keys to watch”, above). I’ll be optimistic and say that EMU will manage to avoid the shutout, but the final score will be on the order of 50-3 — and yes, that would have the Buckeyes beat the spread.
What other people are saying:
- The Columbus Dispatch
- Cleveland Plain Dealer: Eastern Michigan’s blitz not expected to upset Ohio State’s offensive bliss
- Big Ten Network
- Eleven Warriors has notes from Tressell’s Tuesday media luncheon, in which he talks up EMU