Preview: Ohio State at #15 Nebraska

By Johnny Ginter on October 7, 2011 at 12:30p
This is Bo Pelini. I swear.
Ohio State Buckeyes Ohio State 3-2, 0-1 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 8:00 PM ET - ABC/ESPN —— Memorial Stadium Lincoln, NE Nebraska Cornhuskers #15 Nebraska 4-1, 0-1 Big TEN Roster | Schedule

Let's assume, for a moment, that Ohio State doesn't field an inept offense helmed by a coordinator with little to no interest in establishing a coherent gameplan or identity, that Ohio State hasn't recently suspended Marcus Hall, Boom Herron, and Devier Posey, and that the previous game against Michigan State didn't make me so angry and depressed that I can barely muster the will to make incessant corn jokes throughout this preview.

The Nebraska Corn Board maintains a blog that is updated near-daily. It is mostly an ethanol propaganda tool, but also conveys an inside look at Olympic bobsledding. No one has ever commented on it.

Suddenly this weekend looks pretty good, right? Right?

Unfortunately if wishes were fishes then we'd all have a merry Christmas, and the truth of the matter is that we're all probably looking forward to this game a lot less than we might've been 8 months ago. And that's sad, because this game has a better than decent chance of being at least as entertaining as last week's game, in no small part to both the venue and the opponent. Which is like saying that a too-long hug from a distant relative at a depressing family reunion is better than getting stabbed in a dark alley behind a Waffle House.

It also should be said that while the Huskers are double digit favorites, the one opponent with a pulse that they've played, Wisconsin, beat the absolute crap out of them. There probably isn't an upset brewing, but no matter what the outcome of the contest, it's still a night game where we travel to the Big Ten's newest and starchiest member and also includes a small but statistically significant chance Bo Pelini freaks out and strangles Taylor Martinez a la Homer and Bart.


El Barto Martinez is an option quarterback par semi-okay, with an untamed Sexy Rexy streak that thus far Bo Pelini hasn't been able to reign in. Last week against Wisconsin was no different from the norm, as Martinez threw three interceptions and completed only half of his 22 passes for 176 yards. Not helping his case is that his rushing game hasn't impressed much as of late either; against the Badgers he only managed 61 yards on 20 carries.

The Nebraska Corn Board has signed Olympic Gold Medalist, Curt Tomasevicz, to be the official spokesman for Nebraska corn this upcoming year. Tomasevicz, a Shelby, Nebraska, native, won the gold medal with his teammates on the U.S. men’s bobsled team, nicknamed “Night Train,” in Vancouver 2010 Olympics.

The other skill positions is where the Husker offense really begins to pick up the slack. Rex Burkhead is beginning to establish himself as one of the B1G's premier running backs, rushing for 6.4 yards per carry and over 500 yards so far this year. He's a pretty straightforward power-style RB, and if he has success picking up yards off of standard inside handoff plays, that will spell some pretty severe trouble for Ohio State.

The Nebraska wide receivers aren't particularly terrifying, although a lot of that is due to Martinez being about as accurate as your standard Ohio State QB. Jamal Turner is the team's leading WR but even so, under normal circumstances I wouldn't tab him for a big game. But given how poorly Travis Howard played last week, I wouldn't put it past him to burn the Buckeyes deep a few times. With that said, this is a run first option team ride or die, and because of that their running game will make or break them.

Defensively, Nebraska has a standout in linebacker Lavonte David, who had over 150 tackles last year. He'll likely be all over the place, and unless Jim Bollman finally decides to include some short passes in the offense, expect to see David in the backfield early and often.

Just like chemistry and biology play a vital role in producing maximum corn yields, bobsledders must also rely on science to succeed.

The Husker secondary is pretty much just "okay," and, as has been the case for the past few years, the relative strength of the Nebraska defense is the defensive line. Jared Crick is a probable All-American at defensive tackle again this year. However, this just isn't the same dominant unit that they were when Ndamukong Suh was a force in the interior of the line; Nebraska is giving up over 27 points a game so far this year, and that's including games against the likes of Wyoming, Washington, and Fresno State. There's a glimmer of hope here, should OSU somehow figure out how to take advantage of it.

Buckeye Breakdown

They probably won't. If we learned anything from last week, it was that apparently no one trusts Braxton Miller to throw the ball anything less than 25 yards down the sideline. Going to the spread (even with a depleted WR corps now that Posey and Reed are out) and just looking for short slants and out routes might do wonders for presumed starter Braxton Miller, in terms of both building his confidence and moving the chains, but don't hold your breath.

Jordan Hall looked incredible against Miami, but in the past two games he's only accounted for 129 yards on 36 carries. Maybe understandable against Michigan State, but he didn't look that much better against Colorado before that, either. With Boom Herron in Rules Violator Limbo (also populated by those who cheat at Scattegories and don't wait their turn to bet in Texas Hold Em), you've got to ride the hot hand at RB, and right now that's Carlos Hyde. Still, this is all a moot point if the O-Line, specifically Mike Brewster, can't hold up their end of the bargain.

Of course I have to maintain a certain weight and I want to be in top physical form to be able to compete, so I must restrain myself from eating the all the chocolate that I desire.

Run for your life.

The Ohio State defense seems to be getting better as the season goes on, and considering how young the defense is (there are 13 guys who are redshirt sophomores or younger in the two deep), they've done a decent job against some pretty good offenses. Barnett and Bryant in particular have impressed, and could find themselves on the receiving end of some errant passes tomorrow. Taylor Martinez the runner presents a different problem for these guys than what they've seen so far, though.

Most likely Heacock and Fickell will use the Star position as a spy on Martinez and load the box in an attempt to stop Burkhead. Not the most complicated or elegant solution, but it can be successful as long as OSU is capable of two things: sound tacking and good cornerback play. Last week OSU had little of the latter when it came to Travis Howard, who had easily the worst game of his college career against Sparty. He needs to figure out a way to turn it on against Nebraska, or get out of the way for Dominic Clarke.

So when people think about bobsledding as a winter sport, they can now understand that pushing a sled for 5 seconds is a job that requires a 12-month commitment: a full-time job. In a way, I guess it the same approach as Nebraska corn farmers.


After last week's performance, it's hard to fathom the Buckeyes scoring any decent amount of points against Nebraska; even against a worse than average D, OSU's own unbelievable ineptitude will probably limit them to an embarrassing amount of points. Taylor Martinez will likely make some foolish mistakes as he beings to press too hard against a defense that is successfully containing his option game, but eventually Burkhead will wear down the defense enough to get Nebraska some points and put the game away in the 4th quarter. On paper, Ohio State has at least a chance. But at night, in Lincoln... this one might get rough.

Last week Luke was again King Sad Guy, with a 13-9 prediction in favor of Sparty on a thoroughly divided vote. This week the denizens here at 11W Industries are in much closer agreement, but unfortunately it's an agreement that we'll all be super angry tomorrow night.

It just goes to show that you can take the bobsledder off the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the bobsledder - I think I’ve heard that saying somewhere…

Ohio State 10, Nebraska 21


Comments Show All Comments

slippy's picture

Sorry, maybe it's my scarlet colored glasses, but there's no way they win by that much.  I'm being overly optimistic (which is not normal for me) by thinking we have a very good chance to take this game.


It may take a Hall return or a Simon baby eating but this is going to be a close game til the end.

Jack Fu's picture

I'm being overly optimistic (which is not normal for me) by thinking we have a very good chance to take this game.

Yes. Yes you are.

Buckeyejason's picture

There's no way they win by that much?

Nebraska is a better football team than Miami..and we know what happened in that game.


slippy's picture

See I would argue that they're maybe marginally better than Miami.  Their defense is not very good.  Their offense is mediocre.  They haven't played a d nearly as good as ours.  Obviously our offense is pretty terrible but sometimes it only takes one missed tackle.  And there's no way our team doesn't get better as the season rolls.


**Edit: Yes i could be proven well wrong but we're still working with limited samples here.

osukdawg76's picture

Whatever you are drinking or smoking to think that way, you need to share it with the rest of the group.


Our offense is incompetent at best.  Our defense will get worn down because of this fact, plus, historically, we have been crap at defending the option.  If I was Nebraska's offensive coordinator, my playbook would be as follows:


Option Right.

Option Left.

HB Iso

HB Power O


And I would just go on a rotation of that.  Martinez is average at best at passing the ball, so you don't give him the chance to screw that up by throwing only when you have to.


This game is going to be ugly.  Sorry, but I don't think we even sniff covering the spread.

I, for one, welcome our new coaching overlords.



Buckeye_Mafia's picture

+1 for the Empire Records reference.

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

BuckeyeChief's picture

"2014 National with it!!!"

rkylet83's picture

No way we score that much.

RBuck's picture

OT but:

"Also, two very well-connected sources separately informed of the following: Friction has set in between Fickell and Bollman, and first-year linebackers coach Mike Vrabel recently picked up the playbook during a staff meeting and fired it across the room at a group of offensive assistants, yelling “This is sh**!”


Long live the southend.

buckeyechad's picture

If true that is not a good sign... but i'd stilll like to believe that happened because that sounds awesome

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

Not necessarily.  The players were also unhappy with the offensive production and the offensive players were keen to the fact that the were very limited by play calling, while acknowledging the fact that they have to get better at executing.  Perhaps the "call-out" lit a but of fire underneath the offense - you either get mad or get even and step up to the plate.  Competitive spirits often thrive in these situations.  It would be a long shot to say that Bollman would step in this situation, but maybe, just maybe there's a little fight left in that old walrus.

Read my entire screen name....

RBuck's picture

Read the's mostly about the possibility of Meyer coming here.

Long live the southend.

BuckeyeChief's picture

I read that on Tuesday...not good it got out, but at least they aren't happy about it.

"2014 National with it!!!"

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

Menexenus's picture

Hee-hee!  :-)

Real fans stay for Carmen.

Doug Buckles's picture

I want a coach who is going to use his athletes to their maximum potential. If you recruit the best football players in the country then use them accordingly. The problem is that 'tressel stench' that lingers over the program. Special teams and defense is a mentally handicapped way of approaching football and it is one that tress embraced. The biggest reason I want Meyer in and bollman and heacock out are because I remember what florida did to osu. He had his players playing all out balls to the wall to taste that victory. You do not have an offensive line coach in charge of your offense and playcalling, you do not have joe bauserman see anything but mop up duty regardless of your team's turmoil, and you attack at all times on the football field. Until a smart defensive coordinator and innovative offensive coordinator are at the helm, it is going to be as painful as it has always been to watch osu. I look forward to the off season and when the house cleaning begins. If anyone over the age of fifty is retained on staff someone is already stepping in the wrong direction. The game evolves constantly and if you cannot keep up, go away. There is no football law that says you have to play for field position and field goals to win games. It doesn't surprise me fickell is struggling, defensive linemen do usually exhibit the same creativity as offensive linemen. I am not saying Vrabel should be the head coach but I assume that if he were at the helm the team would play with significantly more piss and vinegar. Anybody who defends bollman, siciliano, or bauserman needs to re-evaluate their antiquated, and ugly, notions pertaining to football. A michigan fan at work finds it acceptable to talk shit to me because michigan is 5-0. I threw my laptop at his face.

BrewstersMillions's picture

Were you at all upset over the last 10 years when Tressel was winning games at a historical clip? When he turned a rivalry into a speed bump? When he turned the Big Ten into his own personal play ground? I won't bash the way he coached because it worked and to call it "Tressel Stench" is beyond inexcusible.  To call his coaching mantra mentally handicapped is pretty weak as well. A lot of creative and innovative coaches have had cool things to show off but when the rubber hits the road, they go 6-18 in the Big Ten over three years and lose to their 'rival' 120 something to 30 something in 3 games.

Simply being creative isn't enough for me.

poguemahone's picture

 it is going to be as painful as it has always been to watch osu

Jebus. I bet you're a blast to watch games with. If it's so painful to win sundry  Big Ten Championships in a row, why watch?

baddogmaine's picture

As in the recent past this game is hard to predict because we have so little to draw on. The offensive game planning has been dreadful. It was vanilla under Tressel, it is now vanilla without the alcohol content. Bollman might not know anything else - does Fickell know enough to order him to learn? Who knows? Miller has been putrid. Sorry Braxton, but eyes and stats don't lie. Is that because at the previous level he was a big fish in a very very very small pond, or because he is a damned good round peg being banged into a square hole? Who knows? What we do have enough to predict is that unless and until we revive the Rose Bowl OR offense the only interesting betting line will be the over/ under on our offense scoring 8 against a defense any better than Colorado's.


Thus far our defense has held together well statistically. But against Miami and its turnover-prone QB we let a largely unheralded back go for nearly 200 (Lamar Miller averaged 7.1 yards per carry against us, nearly as bad as the  7.3 he got against Bethune-Cookman). A few weeks later and our Silver Bullets are not feeling any fresher or happier about doing all the work. Sooner or later they are going to start breaking down, and they can not prop themselves up with the thought that if they can just stay strong for "x" weeks some studs will come off of suspension. Other than Williams they have who they will have. They might play tough tomorrow; they might start cracking against a hungry team playing at home, see another offensive fiasco, and start playing matador for the last two quarters. Pride goeth before the fall, but sometimes when the pride goeth the fall cometh.


My pick was 24-7. Maybe we keep that last FG off the board, but I don't know how we get into scoring range twice.

Poe McKnoe's picture

Miller has been putrid. Sorry Braxton, but eyes and stats don't lie. Is that because at the previous level he was a big fish in a very very very small pond, or because he is a damned good round peg being banged into a square hole? Who knows?

I'll go with the square peg in a round hole defense.  There are offensive coordinators around the country that would literally boot their starting QB off the team to have a talent like Miller.  I'm still under the belief that Miller is and will show that he is an amazing talent at QB.  Remember when Gruden told Cam Newton he was about to move to France and learn French?  Well, Miller has moved to Quebec and has to kind of learn French.  Things are different from high school, but they don't have to be a lot harder.  The problem is, Bollman has a specific set of skills he wants his quarterbacks to possess.  He wants them to be able to prevent turnovers, run the play action, and scramble when shit goes to it often does.  It's nearly impossible to expect Miller to be a successful freshman QB under this system.  I've thought Braxton Miller was more talented than Pryor, but what I envy about Pryor was his ability to learn the system and do what his coaches wanted.

I'm looking forward to new coaches next year who will evaluate the talent on the team without having predetermined notions of what they can and cannot do.  Miller shouldn't need to be relied on to lead this team.  There's a 26 yr old senior, a RS sophomore and a RS freshman QB on this team that have spent a lot of time learning what Bollman and Sic have been teaching.  I don't know whether that's a good thing or not, however.

Bucks's picture

I'm sorry but this is ridiculous. I realize we're in a CFB time of freshman across many schools, but he IS a freshman that wasn't supposed to take this much on. Still learning & will continue to do so. Also hard for a new qb to shine with terrible playcalling to match. I'm glad there is never a time that he has defenders on him 3 steps away from the line ... oh wait.

What could you possibly expect realistically? What is a true tragedy to me? This kid holds incredible promise, has gone all in with Ohio State & unless some offensive decisions change, his development could actually be ruined not just delayed.

RBuck's picture

OK Ski, I removed gave me headache...sorry about the other comments, but that's how it works.

Long live the southend.

BuckeyeSki's picture

It's all good man...thanks for the help guybro

Banned from BlackShoeDiaries since 2008. Crime: Slander/Defamation of Character Judgement: Guilty

LABuckeye's picture

As much pain as that picture caused me, it didn't hurt my eyes nearly as much as watching OSU's offense last weekend.

BuckeyeSki's picture

The crippler cross-face is the most feared submission manuever by 7-10 year olds....


Too Soon?

Banned from BlackShoeDiaries since 2008. Crime: Slander/Defamation of Character Judgement: Guilty

Jugdish's picture

This might be old news, but I got this info from a TV person so it may have some merit. Luke was told that his HC job was for one year only. This must be why he continues with the interim tag. I hope Luke stays with the program whenever Urban? takes over.


Remember to get your wolverine spayed or neutered. TBDBITL

Bucks's picture

It is Saturday morning, I smell footbaw. Regardless of what we may see as an excuse for offense later today, I will optimistically hope for a piece of a satellite to hurdle through the atmosphere & land on Bollman ... causing the offense to give a standing ovation, and score 40 points on his demise.


Poe McKnoe's picture

I should be more excited for this game than I am.