San Diego State is playing the marquee matchup in the Mountain West in Week 2, and they head East to play No. 2 ranked Ohio State. We collaborated with the fine people at SB Nation's Ohio State site Land-Grant Holy Land for some insight on the Buckeyes
Q: What did Ohio State learn about their team going up against Buffalo who was projected to be a mid-level MAC team?
A: I think Ohio State learned the value of proper hydration; cramps were a killer from about the second quarter on. Part of the reason they were so up-and-down (beyond just the heat) was that the team was a bit thin due to injury and suspensions. With everyone back but tailback Carlos Hyde and a few dinged up backups, the Ohio State we see in Week 2 should be a lot closer to the one that was ranked second heading into 2013.
Q: The San Diego State passing defense is a real concern as they gave up 360 passing yards to Eastern Illinois, and Braxton Miller is not known for being this outstanding passer. However, knowing what Urban Meyer likes to do he will want to take advantage of this SDSU weakness, so as I finish up a long question what is expected in the passing game this week.
A: The thing about Miller though is that even last year when there was still plenty of work to do on his mechanics and progressions, he was still a *good* passer; Terrelle Pryor in college this isn't. Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman have wanted to up the number of attempts Miller has each game since the spring, but I still think whatever balance is necessary to win the game we'll see. If Miller has to air it out 30-40 times to make it happen, that's what we'll get. If a more balanced approach does the trick, they'll go that route.
Q: Everyone is aware of who Braxton Miller is for Ohio State, but what other players on offense are key to Ohio State's success this season.
A: Running back Jordan Hall absolutely stole the show against Buffalo and if he's even able to maintain 2/3 of that showing for much of the remainder of the season, the Buckeyes will have a wealth of weapons at both the tailback and h-back spots. Corey Brown and Devin Smith probably only have to combine to be one great receiver, but having someone step up to be Miller's go to go remains essential. You don't think about the big uglies on the line as often as you do the skill position guys, but Corey Linsley at center, a senior and leader on the team, is about as critical as they come. He was under the weather and still recovering from injury against the Bulls and the Buckeyes having to play sophomore Jacoby Boren represented a marked drop off.
Q: The Ohio State offensive line gave up four sacks against Buffalo, is there a concern at that position.
A: There's definitely some concern about the depth. The Buckeyes already had to shuffle Chase Farris from a backup guard position to nose guard on defense, and with Linsley only about 90% and concerns suddenly emerging at right tackle, Ohio State might be one devastating injury away from a real problem. That being said, if the left side of the line is able to stay in relatively good health, the Buckeyes should be fine, even if they have to guess and check over on the right side of things.
Q: Urban Meyer is known for being this offensive genius, but give us some insight about this Ohio State defense.
A: Defensive coordinator Luke Fickell's a pretty savvy guy in his own right. The one year as a head coach in which a variety of factors conspired to make the Buckeyes fall under .500 for the first time in decades sours his perception nationally, but he was the co-defensive coordinator on a number of the extremely good late 2000's Buckeyes defenses that were perennially ranked in the top 10 in the country. Linebacker Ryan Shazier and corner Bradley Roby are preseason All-American candidates, and with an overall senior/experienced secondary and a young but talented set of edge rushers, on paper, this defense can play with anyone in America.
Q: How serious is Ohio State the program and the fans taking San Diego State who just got smoked against Eastern Illinois where very little went right.
A: I think the casual fan probably assumes based on SDSU's two previous trips to Columbus that this will be a win, but it's hard to forget in the same right how the '05 game started (an 80 yard pass from Kevin O'Connell to Brett Swain for a TD 11 seconds in) or how hard fought the '03 contest was (OSU ultimately prevailed, 16-13). While a lot has changed for both programs since, I think OSU aficionados and the savvier fans out there carry a healthy fear of let down as they do anytime Ohio State plays a team that going into the season had a distinct whiff of 'trap'. As for the team itself, I don't doubt after the Buckeyes's last three quarters Meyer will drive taking it seriously into the heart of these guys. Complacency isn't an option when you only beat a team you're favored to win by 35 against by just 20.
Q:. What would it take for Ohio State to blow this game and lose to San Diego State.
A: The offensive line's Week 1 problems turn from a case of dehydration and early season jitters into a trend, the Bucks continue to have defenders fall like flies and the lack of depth makes the D overall ripe for the plucking, and/or the Bucks get into a total funk passing the ball. Some combination of those factors would spell potentially serious bad news for Ohio State.
Q: What is your prediction on the outcome.
A: The Buckeyes aren't four touchdown favorites without reason. I'll take SDSU to cover, but OSU ultimately wins by 17 or so.
For more on this matchup head on over to Land-Grant Holy Land's game week section.