Week one is in the books and it was finally nice to see Ohio State get back to football with a convincing 42-0 win over Akron.
While week two also provides an opponent from the MAC, beating Toledo, who defeated New Hampshire 58-22 in their 2011 opener, could prove to be a bit more of a challenge for the Buckeyes.
The 2011 Rockets are not your typical, early season, cupcake opponent the big schools like to play in a confidence-building tune-up game. A win over this Rockets squad may not come as easily as it has in the previous meetings of the series.
Brief Game Outlook
It goes without saying that the Buckeyes have far more talent across the board than do the Rockets, but, UT is an experienced team with 18 returning starters, and an offense that can -- and will expect to -- move the ball and score a lot of points.
Akron had the worst offense Ohio State will see all year—Toledo may have one of the best.
Much like Ohio State, UT will also play two quarterbacks. Austin Dantin should start, but Terrence Owens will also play. Against New Hampshire, Dantin went 15/21 for 161 yards and three touchdowns. Owens was 10/13 for 122 yards and 1 score.
Adonis Thomas is a very solid tailback. Last week, he rushed nine times for 115 yards (12.8 ypc) and a touchdown.
And then, there is receiver Eric Page. Page was tabbed as a Walter Camp 1st-team All-American selection (as a kick returner) in 2010. He was also named to the preseason Biletnikoff Award watch list for 2011.
While he didn't light up the stat book last week with only five catches for 60 yards and a score, there is no denying that the guy is a stud, period. The Buckeyes have a lot of young talent at WR to appreciate (this season and especially over the next couple), but imagine if Page were wearing Scarlet and Gray this week instead of Blue and Gold.
The Buckeye secondary better be ready for Page and Toledo's "other" WR, Bernard Reedy. Reedy had five receptions for 113 yards and two touchdowns in the opener.
For the Buckeyes, QBs Joe Bauserman and Braxton Miller can both expect to play once again. Bauserman raised some eyebrows with his impressive performance against Akron and may have stolen away some of Miller's thunder and playing time, but Miller also played well, so that remains to be seen for now.
There's been no official word yet on the status of RB Jordan Hall, however, with what both Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith did out the backfield, nobody should be too worried about that position.
With DeVier Posey out until week six, the biggest concern for OSU entering week one had to be the lack of experience at wide receiver.
Several of the Buckeye's young wideouts stepped up last week, including Verlon Reed, Devin Smith, T.Y. Williams, and Evan Spencer, but the biggest impact was the breakout game had by TE (/WR) Jake Stoneburner -- who became the first Buckeye TE ever to score three TDs in a game.
Make no mistake, the Rocket defense is going to be have a hard time matching up with and containing all of the weapons Ohio State has at their disposal.
Ultimately, this game will be won with defense and by controlling the clock. The Toledo offense will be a much better gauge to measure the quality of the OSU defense than Akron was.
Toledo has big-play ability, and the Buckeyes will have to limit those big plays and win the time-of-possession battle. Ohio State's size advantage on the O-line and punishing running game should be able to pound UT's D-line and tire out their defense in the second half.
Ohio State is the better team on paper on both sides of the ball, but games aren't played on paper, and the gap between Ohio State and Toledo isn't as big as it might normally be, so just showing up on Saturday won't be enough.
Current FBS Team Rankings
Ohio State—Toledo History Lesson
• This will be only the 3rd all-time meeting between Ohio State and Toledo.
• Ohio State won both previous meetings with Toledo (49-0 in 1998 and 38-0 in 2009).
• Ohio State defense has held opponent to fewer than 10 points 30 times since 2006.
• Ohio State is 65-7 at home since 2001.
• Ohio State is 43-0-1 vs. in-state schools since 1922.
• Ohio State is 41-8 vs. non-conference opponents since 2001.
• Ohio State last lost to an in-state school in 1921 (Oberlin, 7-6).
• Ohio State is 28-1 all-time vs. MAC schools (lone loss came in 1894 vs. Akron).
• Ohio State has won 55 consecutive regular-season non-conference home games against teams not ranked in the AP Top 25.
• Ohio State's defense has allowed just three 100-yard rushers in their last 36 games.
• Toledo is 6-8 all-time vs. ranked opponents.
• Toledo is 6-14 all-time vs. Big Ten opponents.
• Toledo is 3-3 on the road vs. Big Ten opponents since 2000.
• Toledo is 6-6 in road games under 3rd year coach Tim Beckman.
• Toledo is 0-2 against top 25 teams under Beckman with losses to #11 Ohio State in 2009 and #4 Boise State in 2010.
Final Thought(s) and Score Prediction
ESPN college football analyst and perennial Buckeye-hater Mark May ripped the Buckeyes last week when they were only leading 21-0 over the Zips at the half.
Coincidentally, he did not do the same to Alabama (for obvious reasons, cough..., the SEC's, cough..., huge TV contract, cough..., with ESecPN) when they too were also only winning 21-0 at the half over their MAC opponent, Kent State.
Well, Ohio State isn't going to score 60 or more points, and a shutout of UT seems very unlikely this week, so you can expect Mark May to be at it again -- but it's only because of his total ignorance of the fact that Toledo is a solid team -- unlike Pitt in 1996 (or any other year for that matter) -- but I digress.
This week, the score prediction could be construed as a bit conservative, but Toledo is no slouch, so let's just call it cautious but confident, shall we?
Ohio State 44
"To be a champion, you have to believe in yourself when no one else will" - Sugar Ray Robinson
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