We've reached the magical time of the college football year known as conference play and yet again we know absolutely nothing about who the contenders and pretenders are (Sorry Alabama you too). Let's shift our focus to two teams in a bad (awful?) conference that have really underwhelmed so far this year. #12 Ohio State vs. #21 Nebraska.
Key Matchup: Miller vs. the "Blackshirts"
Braxton Miller has been stellar this year and he is licking his chops yet again as he gets to see a defense he annihilated in Lincoln (pre-twisted ankle). Nebraska's defense has struggled over the past few years with mobile quarterbacks, most recently Brett Hundley of UCLA. If Nebraska can contain Miller (70% of Ohio State's offense) it could be a long day for the Buckeyes in Columbus. That said, I am highly skeptical of Nebraska's team speed in the front seven and their physicality against an improving Ohio State offensive line. EDGE: MILLER
Taylor Martinez: He has been GREAT this year for Nebraska 11 TD:1 INT. He has been efficient and effective running the ball. However, UCLA flustered Martinez on the road and neutralized his ability to run in the second half. If Martinez gets it going early, Nebraska could make this a classic, if not this game will end sometime in around halftime.
Buckeye Secondary: Last week, this unit struggled tackling in space. They were awful on one of Michigan State's touchdowns and just downright bad all game. The Buckeye secondary's ability to tackle in the open field will be pushed to the limit by Kenny Bell, Kyler Reed, Jamal Turner, Ameer Abdullah and lastly, but not least Rex Burkhead. Shaky tackling early on could turn this game into a shootout that Ohio State's offense (aka Braxton Miller) will not be able to win. Like every football game, tackling will determine the winner.
Prediction: Ohio State 31 Nebraska 17
Plain and simple. Bo Pelini teams tend to start slow (Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri 2009). Nebraska has gotten into the nasty habit of digging a hole it can't climb out of. "The Shoe" will not be as forgiving as Memorial Stadium was last week. Ohio State will get a few early scores (aided by Husker turnovers) and Nebraska will enter into the proverbial tailspin. While Martinez may engineer a few scoring drives in the second half, I expect Carlos Hyde to wear out the Nebraska front 7 and the clock in the second half as Ohio State remains undefeated.