San Diego State is looking to put their embarrassing loss to Eastern Illinois behind them as they travel to take on the No. 3 raked Ohio St. Buckeyes. This game prior to the season was expected to be at least a challenge for national title hopeful Ohio State, but now the Aztecs look to be just a speed bump with the oddsmakers making the Buckeyes a four touchdown favorite.
However, this game could be closer than some think. This could be homerism or way too much optimism on this writers part toward San Diego State. The butt kicking San Diego State took to Eastern Illinois is a huge wake up call and the players now have even more motivation going up against the Big Ten power.
San Diego State has a not-so secret weapon for those who know these two head coaches. Rocky Long and Urban Meyer have met two times before when the two coaches in the Mountain West with Long at New Mexico and Meyer at Utah. The two split the two matchups and Long somewhat has Meyer's number in the brief history. Long was the only Mountain West team to defeat Meyer in his time in the Mountain West back in 2003, and in 2004 his defense held the mighty Utah offense to 28 points which was 17 points below their average.
There is a much different talent discrepancy between San Diego State and Ohio State then between New Mexico and Utah, however Long is a very good defensive coach with some players. The 3-3-5 that Long utilizes has an emphasis of speed with so many defensive backs, and some of those defensive backs have size to be able to also play a hybrid linebacker/safety role.
The Aztecs have some very good defenders -- though last week against Eastern Illinois did not show it -- in linebackers Jake Fely, Derek Largent, and Nick Tenhaeff, plus safety Nat Berhe. These key defenders must help out to try to slow down Heisman hopeful Braxton Miller who has the ability to take off and run. Also, they need to help out in the running game to stop Jordan Hill, and even though the Buckeyes are missing backup Carlos Hyde to suspension, the other cast or running backs are very capable.
Basically, the San Diego State defense needs to use their speed to not allow the Ohio State offense spread them too thin, because that is what Meyer's offense does. He creates players in space and spreads the field in all sorts of ways with read option, vertical and also spreading the field horizontal to get playmakers in space. Then there is Miller who, as mentioned, is very good at tucking the ball down and run. There are so many keys to try to slow down this Ohio State attack and San Diego State does have talent to minimize it, but to maybe get the win turnovers are key as are to limit big plays.
As for the offense, San Diego State can not have quarterback Adam Dingwell throw the ball over 60 times. The almost certainty of running back Adam Muema back in the lineup will help with that. The Aztecs offense, now under Bob Toledo, need some balance to be successful. If they throw the ball over 45 times then this could be a more lopsided margin then the Eastern Illinois game.
The one really good thing that the Aztecs do in the passing game is getting multiple players involved. Last week, there were nine different receivers who caught a ball. Colin Lockett and Ezell Ruffin, the two combined for almost 200 yards receiving. Also, the wideouts must get open and not have balls knocked down. The amazing stat last week was that Eastern Illinois got their hand on, or broke up, nearly half of the passes. Ohio State is able to be scored on as Buffalo was able to put up 20 points, and if the Aztecs offense is moving as it should they should be able to score as well.
While seeing San Diego State upset Big Ten giant Ohio State and reinforce their season, that is not likely going to happen. The Aztecs will play much better and give the Buckeyes a challenge for about a half, maybe more, but ultimately they will lose by anywhere from 14 to 17 points.
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