Preview: Central Florida at #14 Ohio State

By Kyle Rowland on September 7, 2012 at 1:00p
UCF QB Blake Bortles can air it out.
Ohio State Buckeyes #14 Ohio State 1-0, 0-0 Big Ten Roster | Schedule 12:00 PM ET - ESPN2 —— Ohio Stadium Columbus, OH Central Florida Knights Central Florida 1-0, 0-0 C-USA Roster | Schedule

Game 1 of the Urban Meyer era has now passed. Everyone can resume their regularly scheduled Saturday activities.

Or not.

In Columbus, Ohio, fans will be rabid for 11 more weekends. This week marks the first real test for Ohio State. Central Florida has a history of knocking off and hanging with college football’s super powers. A sampling of the Knights’ recent victims include Alabama and Georgia.

“I like playing non-conference games against tradition schools like Ohio State,” UCF head coach George O’Leary said. “They have a great, long history of winning and great tradition as far as the program is concerned. We look to every game with
an opportunity to win it and that’s what I told our players at the beginning of the season.”

Talking heads from around the country have cleverly nicknamed Saturday’s game as the “IneligiBowl,” mocking both schools’ recent NCAA troubles. It’s the second such game Ohio State has played in after last season’s contest at Miami.

In July, UCF was levied with some of the harshest sanctions the NCAA can impose. The committee on infractions censured both the football and men’s basketball programs for a lack of institutional control, impermissible recruiting activities and providing extra benefits. As a result, UCF was placed on five years of probation, given a postseason ban in each sport and had massive scholarship reductions.

The bowl ban, however, has been appealed, and the university believes it has a good chance at winning the appeal.

The Buckeyes know for sure they won’t be playing in a bowl game or the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis. But they did get one dose of good news this week: they are eligible to win the Leaders Division title.

It won’t pertain to Saturday’s non-conference game, though Meyer continually refers to UCF as Big Ten caliber.

“That's the first I've heard of something like that," Meyer said about the possibility of winning the division. "There is going to be zero conversation about that in our locker room.

"It's not going to make us play harder on Saturday. But I think somewhere in November, yeah, I think that'll be interesting."

In the preseason, Meyer said he might have to figure out ways to motivate his team if they got in a lull about having no bowl game at the end of the season. A caller on his weekly radio show even gave Meyer the idea of referring to the Michigan game as the “Beat Blue Bowl.”

An undefeated season is still the stated goal. But if a loss arrives, the season isn’t completely shattered because the division title is still a possibility.

“We never really talked about, 'Oh, we can't go to a bowl game this year, that sucks,'” sophomore wide receiver Evan Spencer said. “We were always just trying to go undefeated and show the country that we're the best. Now that we actually get a chance to win a trophy, it's just kind of like a cherry on top.”


O’Leary is familiar to most fans for being the guy who fudged his resume. It was discovered after Notre Dame hired him in 2002, and he was quickly dismissed. While that is true, it’s unfortunate that O’Leary is only remembered for an infamously poor decision.

In actuality, he’s a fine football coach. In eight seasons at Georgia Tech, O’Leary led the Yellow Jackets to a 52-33 record, five bowl games and one ACC championship. His record at UCF is 51-51, and that includes an 0-11 season in Year 1. Prior to his head coaching days, O’Leary was an accomplished defensive coordinator, a job title he held on Georgia Tech’s 1990 national championship team.

Last season, the Knights had an underwhelming 5-7 season, but six of their seven loses came by a touchdown or less. With 16 returning starters, much is expected of UCF in 2012. Meyer talks to former OSU head coach John Cooper, who now works as a Bengals scout, every week about that week’s opponent. Cooper told him UCF has five or six NFL-caliber players. Phil Steele made headlines this summer when he revealed the Knights were his 15th-best team in the country.

Get Smart

  • George O'Leary said that Ohio Stadium is not loud.
  • George O'Leary thinks that Ohio State fans sit on their hands.
  • George O'Leary has problems telling the truth.

“If you look at Central Florida under George O’Leary, they have an up and down pattern,” Steele told Eleven Warriors in July. “They have a bad year then an up year. They’ve had one time where they had back-to-back winning seasons. Last year they were 5-7, but two years ago this was a team that dominated Georgia in the Liberty Bowl. They won the game 10-6 and finished No. 21 in the rankings.

“This year’s Central Florida team is stronger than that team. They’re really a complete team, top to bottom. Its O’Leary’s most experienced team, probably the best team he’s put on the field. I have them favored to win 10 or 11 games. The only game I have them as a clear underdog is at Ohio State. But they’re a very dangerous squad.”

If the season opener is any indication, UCF is capable of being as good as Steele predicted. They put up video-game numbers on offense, winning 56-14 at Akron. The Zips may only have two wins to their credit the past two seasons, but the games still have to be played.

UCF running back Latavius Murray ran for 108 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries in a little over one quarter of action against Akron. He also suffered a shoulder injury, though, and will miss the Ohio State game. In his place is Miami Hurricane transfer Storm Johnson. Behind him is Brynn Harvey, who ran for more than 1,000 yards in 2009.

Quarterback Blake Bortles throws accurately, completing more than 68 percent of his passes a season ago, and at receiver there are multiple reliable threats.

“Blake is a pretty poised guy and in some sense that’s great and in some other sense it’s bad,” O’Leary said. “He doesn’t get rattled a lot. I think he commands control of the huddle and he commands control of the field. He understands the game plan and the thing I like about Blake right now is that he’ll take what the defense gives but he’s sure not afraid to take a shot down the field.”

The offensive and defensive lines are two strengths of the Knights. Left guard Theo Goins and defensive tackle Jose Jose are among the best at their positions in all of college football.

“Jose Jose is a 340-pound defensive tackle as opposed to 270, so that tells you right there,” Meyer said. “So we have to get no-huddle and wear them out. But this is a whole different animal that we're facing. Miami, they're going to make their first downs throwing the ball. This team's going to run the power directly at you and get their first downs. So (UCF is) a much different team and very talented team.”

Buckeye Breakdown

The No. 1 difference-maker in the ballgame is Braxton Miller, and it’s a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed to UCF. It used a speedy wide receiver to play the part of Miller on the scout team this week.

The run tandem of Miller and Carlos Hyde experienced great success last week, but as previously stated, the Knights defensive front is much more stout than Miami’s. UCF has fielded a top-20 rush defense for three consecutive seasons. The only other school to accomplish that feat is Alabama.

Curtis Grant is in position to make an impact against UCF. 

On his call-in show, Meyer said he expects the Knights to use their free safety to creep up and help the run defense, freeing receivers up to have 1-on-1 coverage. That could give Miller the opportunity to show off his passing skills. It’s an area he has not been consistent in, and if the Buckeyes do indeed get Devin Smith and Philly Brown isolated against one cornerback, Miller has to be able to make the requisite throws.

“I think he’s an exceptional quarterback that, basically, is everything they talk about at Ohio State,” O’Leary said of Miller. “He’s a very good player that has a great surrounding cast around him - it’s just not him. He has great athleticism at wide receiver. He has a big running back and you can’t always tackle those fellas. We’re going to have our work cut out especially with the no-huddle and fast-tempo stuff they’re doing.”

All indications are the defense will be without the services of Michael Bennett again, opening the door for J.T. Moore. He is a  bit undersized and hasn’t played outstanding by any means, but this is the perfect type of opponent for Moore to get his feet wet against. With Nathan Williams being so sore this week, there’s a chance the senior could be limited to 20 or fewer plays.

Because of the pass-heavy offense Miami ran last week, linebacker Curtis Grant saw limited playing time. That won’t be the case this week. He performed well in the spring and fall, but Grant is still a bit of unknown due to how little he has played at linebacker. He’s virtually played zero significant minutes. With a need to get more pressure on the quarterback, Grant, his fellow linebackers and the defensive line will be the players called upon.

The secondary had a few mishaps early against Miami but calmed down and intercepted two passes. UCF may be a run-first team, but they use that as a window to the passing game. Bortles has the arm to test Ohio State’s corners.

“They’re a good defense,” Goins said. “We just got to step up our efforts and do what we have to do to try and win the game.”


Throughout the week, Meyer has done his best to diminish the loss of Murray. He is partly right: the Knights have two more competent running backs, but Murray’s first game proved he is a gamebreaker. It’s asking an awful lot for an already two-touchdown underdog to then win without their starting running back.

At the same time, Meyer was correct in his assessment of the Buckeyes. They are an average football team that has plenty of flaws. Many of those issues are almost certainly going to be corrected. But if Ohio State takes UCF lightly and the Knights play a great game, they could walk out of Ohio Stadium with the season’s biggest upset. It also could propel UCF to an undefeated season.

“It’s a dangerous spot for (Ohio State), that’s for sure,” Steele said. “Look at last year when a 5-7 Central Florida team went into BYU. Yes, they lost the game, but they had a 399-260 edge in total yards. They had a couple blown opportunities. They’ve proven they can go in and play with the better teams on their schedule.

“When you have a veteran team that’s in the same system they’ve been running for years against one who’s implanting new systems, it makes it a little dangerous. I do think the Buckeyes are the stronger team, and they should be able to get the job done at home. But it’s not going to be an easy game.”

For head coaches, the biggest improvement is from Year 1 to Year 2. O’Leary proved that in a big way when he went from 0-11 in his first season at UCF to 8-5 and Conference USA champions in the second season. Meyer's Year 2 heroics are well-documented. Players make their biggest improvement from Game 1 to Game 2. Meyer and the Buckeyes harped on that theme throughout the week. 

The Knights are a solid team, but winning in Ohio Stadium is too much of an uphill climb. Keeping Miller at bay will be a tall order, while the OSU D-Line will be poised to make their presence known and felt.

Ohio State 37, Central Florida 16



osu07asu10's picture

in retrospect, was last season against the u really an ineligibowl? We were bowl eligible 

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

That's true - I think "ineligibowl" took on a different meaning last year - like referring to two schools who had played ineligible players and were facing trouble.

Class of 2010.

osu07asu10's picture

Haha touché. If I can parse through my alcohol altered memories from last football season I think thats the rationale I was going with at the time.

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

johnblairgobucks's picture

Alot of peeps saying this game will be a close one (which it may, one never truely knows).  Is this because UCF has 5-6 NFL caliber players?  If so, How many NFL caliber players does OSU have?
I see OSU playing at home and in game 2 in the new systems being a big advantage.

cplunk's picture

"Game 2 in the new systems" is the key phrase and why UCF has a chance. They'repretty talented but not as talented as OSU. The difference is that it takes A LOT more than two games to input an entirely new offensive system and change some of your defensive schemes.
***EDIT: I should say "to run with comfort" rather than "to input"

johnblairgobucks's picture

anytime a game is played, there is a chance at a win or a loss. 
OSU players have a chance to improve with their 2nd game, and the coaches have a chance to improve with their 2nd game.  You hear it every year from thousands of coaches...."the biggest improvements come between the 1st and 2nd game".
OSU will be who they'll be for 2012, this week, IMO. 

Matt's picture

I think it's going to be closer than that and I expect us to stall a few times in the red zone.  Basil's leg is going to put in some work.  
OSU 30 - UCF 20

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

It all depends on how this game starts.  If OSU can put UCF down early, then they won't have any trouble winning.  But, if OSU comes out slow like they did last week in the 1st quarter, they won't be looking at a 3-0 deficit - it'll be more like a 10-0 or 14-0 deficit.  UCF's best friend in this game is momentum.  Take that away, and they won't have a chance.  Let them have it - look out.  Even if they let UCF hang around in this game, and can't seem to quite put them away, that could spell trouble. 
However, I don't see OSU losing this game unless they play awful for all 60 minutes.  I think even if they are down or at least struggling early, this coaching staff will make the adjustments necessary for the Buckeyes to put it away in the second half.  The coaching staff would have to make no adjustments or bad adjustments for these guys to lose.  I say OSU wins by about 21. 

Class of 2010.

buck-I.8's picture

They have a guy named Jose Jose. I forfeit

ATXbucknut's picture

Wait, the Mexican singer Jose Jose plays for UCF?  You're right.  All hope is lost.  But what a voice. ;-)

buck-I.8's picture

I would listen to his music, but since I am currently in the most boring lecture ever conceived, I'll take your word for it.

tennbuckeye19's picture

I didn't think that was for real, so I went to the Official UCF athletics website, and sure enough they've got a Jose Jose on their squad, he's junior that wears #99 and hails from Miami. Crazy. 

vitaminB's picture

When I was in Junior High, I had two kids at my school named David David.  No lie.

LadyBuck's picture

I am excited to see what our DL can do with a running offense. From everything I've read thus far, they are a very run-heavy team, opposite of Miami (Ohio). It will be an interesting match-up for sure.

Dayton Buckeye's picture

I am looking forward to playing a more traditional offense.  We will see how our D line and linebackers play.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Hope the 2012 Buckeyes don't take the 2012 Golden Knights lightly, but the stat that 6 of UCF's 7 losses last year were by a TD or less is misleading.
In 2011, Sagarin ranked the UCF strength of schedule as 102nd toughest. The teams they lost close games to were FIU, BYU (down year), UAB, Tulsa, Southern Miss, East Carolina (down year). "But we lost to UAB by only two points!"
Of course, UCF is a better team this year.

William's picture

I hadn't checked their schedule, but I knew about the losing 6 games by a TD or less. However, they lost to UAB? They are one of the worst teams in the country year in and year out.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

The gave up 170 yds on the ground to UAB in the process. They also allowed something like 260 rush yds to Tulsa. So, given their schedule, I'm not sure that they were as good at stopping the run as their raw stats might have suggested. It's a CUSA team, so they'd probably have been well north of top 20 rushing defenses over the last 5-odd years if they played in a real conference.
They're dangerous, nonetheless.

Adambob's picture

My prediction
also the result of the scum alabama game haha

Run_Fido_Run's picture

If/when Linsley and M. Hall team up to knock UCF's 340-lb nose guard on his tail, I wonder if they'll taunt him by saying, "no way, Jose Jose!" 

LadyBuck's picture

That's too cheesy, even for me.

schooey's picture

That cracked me up. 

bassplayer7770's picture

Here's a few stats that really don't mean anything...
UCF had 386 yards of Offense against Akron.  Allowed 325 yards.
tOSU had 538 yards of Offense against Miami.  Allowed 312 yards.
Miami beat Akron 35-3 last year.

LadyBuck's picture

Isn't there a site that does this for you? 

Dougger's picture

Alright they play down to their competition i get it. fact is they come to play when the competition steps up. time to drink some wet cement and harden the f up, take this team seriously, and make ohio stadium beat down city.

I like football

buckeyedude's picture

I like yer attitude, bro.



nickma71's picture

I agree they are a solid mid-major, and deserve respect. But OSU has more than "five or six NFL players" on the roster. Even if they are not yet 3 years removed. I was pleased to see Washington and Spence in as much as they were last week.

Buckeyejason's picture

Are they referring to 5 or 6 seniors that are NFL players? If so thats pretty impressive considering we have about 3 in Boren; Stoneburner, and Simon. I could add Howard, Goebel and Sabino but I'm not sure they're considered "nfl" caliber talents.


William's picture

I think Cooper meant on the whole team. They have a senior safety that is really good, their two big time D-linemen aren't seniors I don't think, but they'll be guys that play in the NFL.

Buckeyejason's picture

Oh ok.


William's picture

Yeah, if they had 5-6 seniors that were NFL-caliber players I'd be worried. 

onetwentyeight's picture

5-7 means nothing; but 5-7 in CONFERENECE USA means they SUCK. Getting tired of all the nervousness around here. Yes I understand we have a lot to improve on and you can't draw conclusions from 1 game, and Urban is just getting started, etc etc. But this isn't going into Bryant-Denney stadium at night or something. As much as we like to mock MACtion MAC teams are some of the better non-BCS teams out there. On the other hand, C-USA is NOT. This is a LOSING RECORD C-USA scrub team. I bet they couldn't even beat the Redhawks. 
I don't feel like this is hubris or overconfidence one bit. If we were playing a conference opponent or even another good MAC team (see: Ohio U) I wouldn't be feeling this confident. But UCF is really a BAD. TEAM. I know Urban will talk them up but that's his JOB. We don't have to buy into that. 

cplunk's picture

The B1G right now is only about a whisker better than conference USA or tha Mac nowadays. You willing to bet Indiana, Northwestern, Minnesota, Penn State, Illinois, Purdue, or this year's Iowa would win CUSA if they played in it? I'm not. 
You sure Michigan is fo real? Michigan State's new QB can hack it? Tyler Martinez is finally able to throw? Wisconsin improved by losing Russell Wilson?
We're a better team than UCF for sure, but we gotta get past this idea that our conference is so much better that we can dismiss non-BCS conferences. The B1G truly and completely blows right now. 
We are Conference USA North. Don't sleep on CUSA because until we, and others in the conference step up, we are them.

onetwentyeight's picture

I agree that the B1G is historically weak which is why I think we will go undefeated in conference play and that it won't be close (more kool aid drinking...)
However, the B1G being weak is only in comparison to the other big-time conferences. The gap between the SEC and B1G, as we all bitterly saw last week, is still there. BUT we don't play any more premier SEC or even PAC teams. If the B1G has gotten historically weaker, do you know what conference has absolutely fallen off the cliff? The Big LEast. Need I remind you this is the same conference that our friendly little brothers the Bearcats (YOUUSEEE LULUZ) somehow "won" two years in a row recently (i did enjoy watching them get stomped by UF). RICHROD dominated this conference, and then basically did the exact same thing he did there at UM and we all saw how that turned out. And guess what? The Big LEast is now desperately recruiting from CUSA teams in order to stay afloat. So that should tell you all you need to know about CUSA imho. 
I'm very aware that a lot of Non-BCS teams and leagues have dramatically gotten better in this new age of recruiting and spread offenses, etc. Trust me, I've always been a big Boise apologist and they were 2 minutes away from knocking off pre-season B1G favorites MSU AT THEIR PLACE. This is a Boise team that had to replace like half their starters too. And I also think most of the MWC teams are at least on the level of PAC teams. BYU took apart WastSt last week, TCU might win the big12, etc. BUT you can't lump all non-BCS teams into one group. To me, CUSA teams are not on that level yet. 
And as bad as the B1G has been lately, we're not CUSA North yet. UCF thrashed Akron last week and you know what? THEBAUS picked apart Akron at this time last year with unnerving accuracy. 

Buckeyejason's picture

Ok, well then if we struggle tomorrow you will be getting called out! lol. 
I don't think there's anything wrong with being nervous before each game..especially if you have no control over it.


buckeye76BHop's picture

I think OSU beats UCF 42 or 63-13...with either a comfortable margin...or Meyer makes a point (and so does OSU stadium).  O'Leary probably shouldn't of opened his mouth about how The Shoe isn't as loud as people say, not to mention the fans sit on their hands the majority of the game.  I heard O'Leary said this on my way home via 97.1 the FAN and Common Man & The Torg.  Then retracted his comment and said he never said it.  Typical media he called it...hilarious;-) No contest...their Defense is good and experienced, but look to see more up tempo in this game.  Which will slow down and tire those big guys up front for UCF.

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."
"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."
Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

Buckeyejason's picture

Or 63-13

Not going to happen.


buckeye76BHop's picture

We'll see...won't we.  Who would have thought 56 last week?  Not too many...but me of course (Predicted 52-10).  And that was the nice or part (or should I say my "out" in case it's off;-) them Indians doing J?  LOL!

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."
"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."
Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

Buckeyejason's picture them Indians doing J?  LOL!

I don't know, stopped following their season once they had their usual mid season suicide. 
And yes, we'll see about he score. It will be a tougher game then you think.


buckeye76BHop's picture sucks the Indians do that every year or at least the last several years anyway.  I used to love watching them...and as I hate to say this...I'd rather watch Detroit.  
UCF is going to be better than Miami for sure and could be a formidable opponent based on what they did last year and so far this year.  However I doubt O'Leary beats Meyer and company.  Just not going to happen...they're out matched everywhere you look besides our Oline vs their Dline.  IMO the up tempo offense will be utilized more than game one which eventually makes UCF's defense tired and OSU may score more than many are anticipating...but as I said...we'll see.

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."
"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."
Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

Buckeyejason's picture

I don't take the Indians too serious anymore..considering they always have too many weaknesses and always have their best players injured half the season. Whatevs. 
I don't think we'll lose to UCF, I could even see us blowing them out in the 2nd half. I just have a mindset going into each game that anything can happen..that way I'm not so quick to break my television if they look like shiz lol.


buckeyedude's picture

If I was at the game tomorrow, I'd say, "Hey, Hey, Jose, Jose!" Chump.
WTFrick kind of name is DAT?!



Buckeyejason's picture

WTFrick kind of name is dat?!

Probably of Spanish descent I would assume.


buckeyedude's picture

Not my point, Jason, Jason.



Buckeyeholicwompa's picture

I about lost it when I saw the article on UCF's coach saying our stadium isn't loud. Too bad its a long shot that our stadium will have the true night game/big opponent atmopshere to prove him wrong. I'd love to send him and his precious little florida time back south with ringing ears!

cinserious's picture

With all this game one to game two improvement talk, does anybody have any stats/info on the buckeye's improvements in 2011 from game one to game two? I'm not trying to be sarcastic, I just don't know/remember what transpired this early in the season last year as far as player development or overall team development.

Gone ham, be back soon...

buckeyedude's picture

I don't think there was much "player development" going on last year. I think the coaching staff was still trying to figure out if The Baus was the right choice, at this point last year.



buckeye76BHop's picture

Looks like you were spot on J-bone

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."
"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."
Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987