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Gameday blog: No. 12 UM at No. 2 Ohio State

COLUMBUS -- The 12th-ranked Hurricanes and 2nd-ranked Buckeyes mix it up at 3:40 p.m. this afternoon at the Horseshoe. Watch it on ESPN or listen to it on WQAM. Feel free to participate in our discussion below as you tune in.

REWIND: The Buckeyes beat Miami 31-24 in overtime of the 2003 National Title Game, the last time the teams met. The last time UM played in Columbus, they lost 10-0 in 1977. UM won the second meeting 23-12 on Aug. 29, 1999 in the Kickoff Classic at Giants Stadium. UM is 27-16 all-time against current Big Ten teams.

ABOUT OHIO STATE: Ohio State is 53-5 at home since the start of the 2002 season and are looking to win their sixth consecutive Big Ten title this season. The Buckeyes have finished in the top 10 of the AP poll in seven of the last eight seasons and are the only team to have finished in the Top in each of the last five seasons. How good are they at shutting down the run and pounding it down opponents throats? Over their last six games, they've outgained the opposition on the ground by 1,138 yards. Last week, OSU opened the season with a 45-7 win over Marshall, rolling up 529 yards of offense and giving up their only points on a blocked field goal return for a touchdown.

FOR THE CANES, THINGS TO KEEP AN EYE ON...
> How the Canes handle Ohio State's pass rush, particularly on the right side of the offensive line. Left end Cameron Hayward (6-5, 288) is an Allen Bailey-type monster who is a potential first round pick. He'll likely be going up against Joel Figueroa, Jermaine Johnson and Ben Jones, who have one combined start between them at right tackle.
> How the Canes handle the scrambling and running ability of Terrelle Pryor, who ran ran for 779 yards last season (5th most in the Big Ten). Ohio State is 13-1 in games in which Pryor has rushed for at least 50 yards. The only loss was the 24-21 loss to Texas in the Fiesta Bowl. It's going to be important for UM's pass rushers to stay in their lanes and for linebackers Sean Spence and Colin McCarthy to lead a defense that does a good job wrapping up in the open field.
> The Canes might have a magic number to reach to win this game (22). Those would be points. Ohio State's defense is no joke. They've held opponents to 21 points or less in 51 games since 2006 and are 48-3 in those games. FYI, in both losses last season, the Buckeyes gave up fewer than 300 yards total offense.
> The Buckeyes intercepted 24 passes last season -- the 5.8 interception percentage ranked 2nd among all FBS teams. But the feeling in Columbus is Ohio State could be beaten deep. Their safeties aren't overly experiences and Miami's receiving corps is obviously very good.

> MY PICK: This Ohio State team is a much better team than Wisconsin was in last year's bowl game. But this Miami team is also better and a lot healthier. This defense in particular looked entirely different with a successful pass rush last week -- that's something this program hasn't had in years. I think special teams is another area where UM can win this game. Ohio State has struggled, especially in kickoff coverage. I'm going with the upset. But, it's clear why Ohio State is the favroite. UM 24, OHIO STATE 22.

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