The mighty UCF Knights travel to Ohio Stadium Saturday and bring with them a bounty of newspaper clippings blowing sunshine up their proverbial backsides. Everyone from Phil Steele to OSU’s own Urban Meyer has compared The Knights to a Big Ten level team and even a mid range SEC team…that must mean they are unstoppable. How on Earth will the Buckeyes compete?
I can see how the football gods have anointed UCF as being a formidable foe…I mean…they did beat the snot out of Akron, a team that a year ago was so bad they made Joe Bauserman look like a Heisman finalist. Against the Zips, Bauserman completed 75% of his passes and accounted for 4 TD’s. The rest of the year…Bauserman completed 40% of his passes and was benched.
I’m certainly not saying the Knights are a push over because they are not. They have some talent on their team and will be more competitive than Miami was vs. OSU last week. I believe Urban Meyer is talking up UCF in an effort to focus his team on the task at hand. It’s an old coaching tactic to mentally prepare players for an opponent.
Last year UCF was 5-7…in Conference USA. 5-7. I’m fairly certain that the hyperbole used by Urban Meyer is a bit extreme. UCF has some talented players, like Storm Johnson who’s name is better than his game. Johnson is a Miami Hurricane transfer who will start in place of Latavius Murray who was injured in last weeks glorious victory vs. the storied program of Akron. They have some speed at the WR position highlighted by Rannell Hall who had 2 touchdowns last week. Their QB is Blake Bortles, a 6-4 220lb hulk of a QB hell bent on setting college football ablaze with his 2 star ability. Yes, most of the UCF roster is littered with 2 and 3 star recruits passed over by the Florida, Florida States and Miami’s of the world. Forgive me for not having my hair blown back by the talent at UCF.
UCF offense vs The Ohio State defense:
UCF runs a traditional, pro style attack with elements of the spread sprinkled in. Allegedly their QB is a decent athlete and will run the ball off the zone read option. If he does…he will be greeted by 3 blue chip linebackers and be in for a long day. UCF has a stable of talented backs and will run the ball. That is their strength. Run it, run it well and playaction off the run…with a few wrinkles added in. I’d imagine the OSU defense will be A-okay with playing this type of offense compared to the 54 pass attempts by the quick drop and fire Miami Red Hawks last week. Difficult to get pressure with the front four when the ball is gone in a split second. I look for John Simon and company to soil Bortles jersey early and often. Bortles is an accurate quarterback, but like most QB’s…especially young ones, will make bone-headed decisions when pressured, like he did last week getting picked off after carelessly throwing the ball into coverage. UCF will counter OSU’s dominant front 4 by trying to throw the ball quickly and letting their speedy WR’s do something after the catch. UCF will be somewhat productive, but OSU will eventually lay their Chuck Norris rated pimp hand down.
The Ohio State offense vs the UCF defense:
UCF’s talent is on defense. They have a formidable front 4 lead by Victor Gray and Troy Davis. Okay, I’m kidding…they aren’t formidable…last year UCF accounted for 17 sacks which was good for 95th in the country. Like Miami last week, UCF will look to force Ohio State to throw the football. They will make Braxton Miller beat them with his arm rather than his legs. The only problem with that is UCF has some depth issues in the defensive backfield. Last years star defensive back Josh Robinson went off to the NFL and now UCF must rely on A.J. Bouye, a guy coming off a torn ACL to lead the secondary, among others.
Last week OSU stopped themselves for an entire quarter and still hung nearly 600 yards and 56 points on Miami. While I realize that Miami is terrible those numbers are still impressive. 21 of those points came under the command of backup QB Kenny Guiton who Meyer is very high on. Meyer has continued to talk about the possibility of both QB’s being on the field at the same time. I believe this offense will be a work in progress all year and will reach it’s pinnacle vs. Michigan in the Michigan Bowl November 24th. Mark your calendars folks. The Michigan Bowl. But I digress…with that said, the offense will continue to show periods of “what the hell was that?” and periods of “OMG, this is the absolute best offense I’ve ever seen in my life. I think there will continue to be truly terrible moments from Braxton Miller who is still learning his position as well as truly jaw dropping “did you see that” moments from him as well.
While I don’t believe UCF is as advertised, including what Urban Meyer would lead you to believe I think they are certainly better than the Miami Redhawks and will at times challenge OSU for more than a quarter. But in the end OSU and Braxton Miller will have gaudy numbers and highlight worthy plays.
Nostradamus portion of the preview:
Ohio State: 49
Passing: 250 yards 3 TD’s
Rushing: 90 yards 2 TD’s
Number of murdered QB’s by John Simon: 14
Carlos Hyde: Rushing: 100 yards — and Brionte Dunn nipping at his heels.
Feel free to add song requests for OSU game highlights as the season goes on. I’ll be making individual highlight reels after games (wins only).