NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS (4-1)
at OHIO STATE BUCKEYES (5-0)
Kickoff: Saturday, 8:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Ohio State -3, Total: 57Ĺ
Two Big Ten heavyweights slug it out on Saturday night when No. 12 Ohio State hosts 21st-ranked Nebraska.
These schools met for the first time since 1956 last year when Ohio State blew a 21-point, third-quarter lead and lost 34-27 in Lincoln. QB Taylor Martinez had three second-half touchdowns and RB Rex Burkhead scored the game-winner, finishing with 178 total yards and 2 TD. This Huskers duo had 193 rushing yards and 3 TD in a 30-27 win over Wisconsin last week. The Buckeyes have held four of five opponents (all FBS) to 16 points or less, and QB Braxton Miller has 302 total YPG this season (2nd in Big Ten).
Who will win this key Big Ten showdown? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts picks for every key college football game throughout the 2012 season.
Martinez was certainly impressive against the Buckeyes last year, finishing 16-of-22 for 191 yards, 2 TD and 1 INT. He has been even better this year, with a 68% completion rate, 1,059 passing yards, 11 TD and just 1 INT. Kenny Bell has been his favorite target with a team-high 330 receiving yards and four touchdowns. With Burkhead missing time to injury earlier this year, sophomore RB Ameer Abdullah has given the team a speedier rushing option, gaining 486 yards and 5 TD on an impressive 6.2 YPC. Abdullah also leads the Big Ten in all-purpose yards (179 YPG). Although Nebraskaís run defense hasnít been special (153 rush YPG allowed, 62nd in FBS), the front seven has gotten great penetration all season, recording 3.8 sacks per game (8th in FBS) and 8.6 Tackles For Loss per game (fifth in nation).
Miller injured his ankle in the third quarter of last yearís meeting with Nebraska, and was unable to help his team avoid the 28-0 game-ending run for the Huskers. Miller had 186 total yards and a touchdown before he exited the game. RB Carlos Hyde had missed the previous two games with a knee sprain, but he ran hard in his return last week with 49 yards on 11 carries. He also had the best game of his career against Nebraska last season, rushing for 104 yards and two touchdowns. With both Jordan Hall (knee) and Warren Ball (foot) out indefinitely, Hyde will likely have a larger workload moving forward. Miller has thrown for 8 TD and 3 INT so far, relying mostly on WRs Devin Smith and Corey Brown, who have combined for 668 receiving yards and 5 TD. On the defensive side of the ball, OSUís pass defense has been burned by big plays all year. For the season, the Buckeyes rank 94th in the nation with 276 passing YPG allowed. The team has been pretty tough against the run though, allowing just 101 YPG (19th in nation).