Can The Buckeyes Pull Off The Upset?

By Kenny Roda

Even after their horrific offensive performance against Michigan St. in the 10-7 loss at home, I was all set to pick the Buckeyes to upset the Cornhuskers in Nebraska this Saturday based on the players they were getting back from suspension and injury. Then came word that wide receiver DeVier Posey and running back Boom Herron both would miss the game with at least an additional one game suspension for an NCAA violation of excessive compensation.  Add to that, head coach Luke Fickell told me yesterday that defensive end Nathan Williams would not play either, as his injury hasn’t fully healed.  So at that point I figured there would be no chance the Buckeyes could go into Lincoln and steal the game. But as ESPN’s analyst Lee Corso like to say, “Not so fast my friend”.

I’m not saying here that the Buckeyes will win this week, and in order for you to hear my actual prediction, you need to tune into  “Buckeye Gameday Live” this Saturday starting at 4pm for that, but what I am saying is they do have a legit shot at shocking Nebraska if they can take advantage of the following:

As bad as the Buckeyes offense is, averaging just 23.8 points per game and regardless of who’s playing quarterback (Braxton Miller will start), the Nebraska defense is not going to strike fear in any opponent. The so called “Black Shirts” are giving up over 27 points per game, that’s 11th in the Big Ten and they are ranked 10th in the Big Ten in pass efficiency defense. Meaning teams can throw the ball on them and score against them. So that should give the Buckeyes offense, with the addition of Mike Adams at left tackle (as he returns from that 5 game suspension and will start) a chance to move the ball better in the air then they have in recent weeks.

Another positive for O.S.U.’s offense is that Nebraska ranks near the bottom in both tackles for loss and sacking the quarterback, something Ohio St. has been having problems with in recent weeks on “O”. One would think by getting Adams back to protect the blind side of Miller, and with the Huskies struggling a bit to get to the QB, this could help the Buckeyes passing attack. It sure as hell can’t hurt it!

While Nebraska is averaging over 37 points per game and is 2nd in the Big Ten in rushing offense at 247 yards per game, they have had a tendency to turn the ball over this season. They’ve done so 9 times in the first 4 games. As a team they are –2 in the take away/give away category. Sophomore QB Taylor Martinez has thrown more picks (5) than TD passes (4).  The key here is to shut down, or at least slow down the run (Ohio St. is 3rd in run defense 93ypg in the Big Ten) and make Martinez have to beat you with his arm and not his legs. That’s something he’s not comfortable with yet.

The last thing O.S.U. has to do to have a chance in this game is handle Nebraska’s kick off return game. The Corn Huskers are 1st in the Big Ten, averaging over 30 yard per kick off return. The Buckeyes must limit that, and take advantage of their own return game, 2nd in kick returns and 4th in punt returns in the Big Ten, to win the field position battle.

So while most people, including the odds makers (Nebraska is an 11 point favorite) figure the Buckeyes have no chance this weekend, I believe they will make a game of it and if they can capitalize on all the areas I’ve pointed out, who knows maybe they’ll come away with the upset victory.  Sure it doesn’t look good with a true freshman QB making his first ever road start. Key players on offense that were supposed to return aren’t, because their suspensions have been lengthened. A first year head coach in his first ever Big Ten road game. An anemic offense. A Nebraska team that should have smoke coming out of their ears because they got embarrassed last week in their first ever Big ten game.  All things say pick against the Buckeyes, and I may still do that on Saturday, but I do believe there is more hope here than most people think.

Follow Kenny on Twitter @RoadmanWKNR

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