Head-to-head: Navy vs. Ohio State

On Saturday Navy opens their 2009 football season at Ohio State. GoMids.com compares different critical team areas of Navy and Ohio State and indicates which team has the edge. Look inside to get the complete breakdown along with a game score prediction.

Ohio State
Navy rushing offense
Ohio State rushing defense
The four time defending NCAA rushing leaders will be confronting a Buckeye defense that finished 18th against the run in 2008, allowing only 110.23 yards per game. While the Midshipmen must replace almost all of their 2008 skill position production, Ohio State has plenty of starting experience along the line with tackles Doug Worthington (6-6, 276, Sr.) and Dexter Larimore (6-2, 300, Jr.) and ends Thaddeus Gibson (6-2, 240, Jr.), Cameron Heyward (6-6, 287, Jr.) and Lawrence Wilson (6-4, 274, Sr.). Heyward is the son of former NFL running back Craig "Ironhead" Heyward. The linebacking corps had some serious off-season losses. James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman are off to the NFL, and Tyler Moeller is out for the season due to injuries he received when he was assaulted while on vacation with his family, but talent remains in Ross Homan (6-0, 229, Jr.), Austin Spitler (6-3, 234, Sr.) and undersized play-maker Brian Rolle (5-11,221, Jr.).  
Navy passing offense
Ohio State passing defense
Ricky Dobbs skills are undeniable, but he can't throw from his back. The offensive line of the Midshipmen can not be expected to contain the pass rush of the Buckeyes. Gibson and Heyward could have a field day against Jeff Battipaglia and Matt Molloy. Navy will have an improved passing offense, but it might not show this week. The Buckeyes safety's, Anderson Russell (6-0, 205, Sr.) and Kurt Coleman (5-11, 188, Sr.) are talented and experience. Nickel back Jermale Hines (6-2, 210, Jr.) may be the most talented Buckeye DB.  
Ohio State rushing offense
Navy rushing defense
The Ohio State University must replace Chris "Beanie" Wells, who was the first round pick of the Arizona Cardinals. Dan "Boom" Herron (5-10, 193, So.), who rushed for 439 yards and 6 touchdowns last season, steps in. The X-factor in the Buckeyes rushing game is quarterback Terrelle Pryor (6-6, 235, So.). The super sophomore reportedly ran a 4.33 second 40-yard dash. That, along with his size makes him difficult to tackle in the open field. With the unsettled nature of the Buckeye offensive line and the potential bust factor of super-recruit Mike Adams (6-8, 322, So.) this match up was going to be even, but the departure of Nate Frazier, that has been adjusted.  
Ohio State passing offense
Navy passing defense
The biggest question surrounding the Buckeyes this season is their passing game. Terrelle Pryor's throwing motion has been much maligned, though his freshman numbers (100 of 165 for 1,311 yards with 12 touchdowns and 4 interceptions) were pretty good. But with his top two receivers Hartline and Robiskie last to graduation, Pryor is going to need to find new targets. Big things are expected from Dane Sanzenbacher (5-11, 175, Jr.) and DeVier Posey (6-3, 205, So.), but neither has had a 100 yard receiving game in their Buckeye career. Things have been expected from Ray Small (5-11, 180, Sr.) since he arrived in Columbus 4 years ago, but he has yet to deliver. This season explications have been heaped on a new freshman. Duron Carter (6-2, 190, Fr.), son of former Buckeye great Cris Carter, is expected to live up to his father's legend right away. They will be matched against a secondary with plenty of starting experience in Blake Carter, Wyatt Middleton and Emmett Merchant and size not normally seen in academy corners in Kevin Edwards (6-2), David Wright (6-2) and De'Von Richardson (6-0).  
Special Teams
Aaron Pettrey (6-2, 199, Sr.) steps in as the full time place kicker for the Buckeyes. Pettrey, who made7 of 8 field goal attempts with a long of 51 yards, handled the kickoff duties in 2008. Navy's kicking situation is still unsettled. Coach Niumatalolo has stated that both Jon Teague and Joe Buckley will travel to Columbus. While Kyle Delahooke has a lockdown on the punting duties for the Midshipmen, Jon Thoma (6-2, 201, Sr.) is trying to hold off hard charging Ben Buchanan (6-0, 200, RFr.). Thoma only punted twice in 2008 and has had his struggles during fall camp. Ray Small returns as the primary punt returned, while fellow reserve wide receiver Lamaar Thomas (5-11, 186, So.) will be the main kickoff returner. DeVier Posey and backup running back Brandon Saine (6-1, 217, Jr.) will also return kicks for the Buckeyes. Mario Washington will try to improve on a 6.2 yard punt return average from 2008. Navy will turn to plebe Gee Gee Greene or senior Cory Finnerty to try to improve a kickoff return unit that ranked 107th last season.  
Jim Tressel is a highly successful coach with 4 National Championships at FCS Youngstown State and the 2002 BCS National Championship at Ohio State. He has also led the Buckeyes to 6 BCS Bowls including each of the last 4 season, and 3 BCS National Championship games in his 8 years in Columbus. Ken Niumatalolo enters his second full season in Annapolis.  
The biggest intangible may be the 102,329 fans in "The Horseshoe".  

PREDICTION: Ohio State 35, Navy 17

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