Miami Hurricanes at Ohio State Buckeyes (-8.5, 47)
For what appears to be the best Saturday of matchups we’ll see this college football season, Miami and Ohio State square off in the afternoon’s featured game.
In only the Hurricanes and Buckeyes’ fourth meeting ever and second in Columbus, the spread is somewhat lofty. However, there are some factors which show this game could end closer than the experts think. Line movement
Ohio State opened as 9.5-point favorites but early action on Miami moved the line all the way down to -8, where it increased to -8.5 and has remained.
Approximately 85 percent of the public has sided with the over, which is evident by the total steadily rising from 45.5. Significant Injuries
Ohio State’s Nathan Williams, a projected starter at defensive end, missed the season opener versus Marshall with a knee sprain. He has since been upgraded to probable and will certainly be needed as the Buckeyes are thin along their defensive line.
Miami’s Graig Cooper, the team’s leading rusher the last three seasons, played very little last week after undergoing major knee surgery in January. Despite Cooper’s appearance against Florida A&M, coach Randy Shannon said the senior tailback "probably" won't play against the Buckeyes. Must run to win
For Ohio State and coach Jim Tressel, the recipe to win has been a rather simple one: Run the ball well.
Last season, when the Buckeyes averaged at least three yards per rush, they had an 11-0 record (8-3 ATS). In Ohio State’s two losses (USC and Purdue), it averaged a combined 2.7 yards per rush.
Returning its top five rushers from a year ago, Ohio State expects to have one of the better rushing offenses in the country. However, it must face a Miami defense that returns seven starters, including five of its front seven.
Although the Hurricanes were at time susceptible to the run, against the reputable rushing attacks of Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Clemson in 2009, Miami yielded an average of less than 100 yards and just 2.8 yards per carry.Under pressure
In 2009, Miami quarterback Jacory Harris was prone to mistakes and ineffective at times. In the Hurricanes’ three regular-season losses – all of which Miami was favored to win – Harris completed only 53 percent of his passes, just three touchdowns and was intercepted eight times.
Despite Harris’ apparent flaws, he still is regarded as one of college football’s best quarterbacks, who is rarely rattled and always calm under pressure. But that could be difficult for Harris to uphold in front of 105,000 fans in the Horseshoe.
“(Miami) is a game of pressure and we're going to need pressure," said Tressel. Key matchup
Although the success of the Buckeyes’ rushing attack is important, quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s performance – both rushing and passing - could decide its outcome.
Pryor is a gifted runner, who often turns a broken play into a nice gain. He has also proved to be an effective passer as he matures, as evident by last season’s Rose Bowl performance.
The dual-threat quarterback will be difficult to contain but the Hurricanes feel they are up to the challenge.
"Going against Jacory (Harris) every day (in pract