Five burning Ohio State questions

After beating Wisconsin in their Big Ten Conference opener, Nebraska will travel to Columbus, Ohio this weekend to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes. Come inside as Buckeyes beat writer for FOX Sports NEXT Jeff Svoboda talks with BRR.


1.) Braxton Miller hurt Nebraska in Lincoln last year with both his arm and his feet. How much different does he look under Urban Meyer and crew?


"Braxton looks very good running the football so far this year and is an improved passer from a year ago. Miller's ability to escape difficult situations has been one of the calling cards of the team this season, as whenever OSU has its back against the wall, he makes a play. He seems more comfortable this year as a second-year player in both the running and passing game. his escapability allowed him to make a number of plays vs. Michigan State and has been the catalyst to a few long touchdown runs this year. In the passing game, he still is working on accuracy, but he has a nice deep connection with Devin Smith and has shown the ability to make some high-level intermediate throws. Miller is still prone to occasional mistakes, but he's also capable of getting the ball downfield quickly in both the running and passing games, and OSU will keep it in his hands when the chips are down."

2.) Have you been surprised how well this team has played considering a new coaching staff has come in and changed the culture somewhat?


"Well, I wouldn't say surprised. Ohio State was rather inconsistent during its conference season, but Miami (Ohio), UCF, Cal and UAB -- all at home -- wasn't exactly a murderer's row. The last three of those teams played well vs. OSU but they're a combined 3-7 vs. teams that aren't OSU. So again, not exactly the toughest nonconference slate. Either way, OSU was up and down during the nonconference season then won at Michigan State, which was a quality win. Afterward, Urban Meyer said the team came together during that tough road victory. There's no doubt the offseason has been tough and a culture shock, but it appears the players are buying in, and a lot of that has to do with Meyer's track record of success."

3.) After a three turnover game against Michigan State, how much emphasis is being put on taking care of the football this week?


"All three turnovers were by Braxton Miller during the game, so it's not like ball security or anything like that was stressed this week. Meyer said he had a short conversation with Miller about the turnovers but that's about it. Simply put, this staff knows Miller is sort of the straw the stirs the drink -- offensive coordinator Tom Herman called him the "fuel in our engine" -- but also knows he is still young, so they'll have to take the good with the bad at this point."

4.) California scored the most points this season against the Buckeyes this year with 28…what did they do effectively against the OSU defense?


"Cal did a few things right against Ohio State. No. 1, the Bears were able to hit a few big plays in the run game against the Buckeyes. Ohio State doesn't have the best tackling defense in the nation -- though it's improving -- and running back Brendan Bigelow took advantage with a pair of long touchdown runs. On the first, no one wrapped him up, and he was able to score an 81-yard touchdown run that made all the highlight shows. On the second, two defensive players overran the play and Bigelow was able to go the distance, 59 yards. The Bears also had a number of big plays on screen passes, as this is not the best defense in the world at making plays in space. The key is to spread OSU out and make guys try to make stops in space, especially if you have runners who can cut upfield quickly. The real strength of the Ohio State defense is how it buttons down in stressful situations, so those long plays are critical."

5.) What are your keys for a Buckeye win and your score prediction?


"First, Ohio State must be able to keep the Nebraska offense in check. The Buckeyes found out last year just how quickly things can snowball when facing Nebraska, and this team has had a few problems giving up big plays this year. OSU kept Michigan State from ripping off big chunks of yardage, but the jury is still out if it can do that against a team like Nebraska that brings in an option component and is also good at getting talented athletes in space. Secondly, Ohio State's offense has to be more consistent. There are some very encouraging signs on the offensive side of the ball, but the Buckeyes have not put together a full game yet. Miller also has to take good care of the ball, and the Buckeyes need to keep him upright. My prediction is that Nebraska wins a 28-25 affair. I think the crowd will be nuts and OSU will want revenge, but I have questions about the Buckeyes' ability to do the things I outlined above. If Ohio State can do them, the Buckeyes will win, and an undefeated season will be firmly on the table for this group."
Josh Harvey has covered college football and recruiting for Fox Sports & Scout.com since 2008. He is now the Publisher of Big Red Report, covering Nebraska athletics.
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