5 Questions: Toledo at Ohio State

Another MAC attack is on tap for Ohio State this Saturday when Toledo pays a visit to Ohio Stadium. We wonder if the Rockets can finally muster a point against the Buckeyes, who will rush the passer better, what will happen in the turnover department and how the players returning from suspension will perform.

1. What impact will Ohio State receive from its players suspended for the season opener?

The Buckeyes' matchup with Toledo is due to see the 2011 season debut of Jordan Hall, Travis Howard, Corey Brown and Jordan Whiting.

Hall joins a crowded backfield rotation while Howard hopes to win back a starting cornerback spot he had won in the offseason. Brown and Whiting add depth at safety and linebacker, respectively, as well as special teams.

"Those guys are great players," OSU right tackle J.B. Shugarts said. "They make some big plays so that's obviously going to help us a lot."

2. Can the Rockets finally score a point in the series?

Somewhat surprisingly, Ohio State and Toledo have played only twice. Neither of those meetings has seen the Rockets light the scoreboard as they were outscored 87-0.

They will enter Ohio Stadium fresh off a 58-point performance in their season-opening win over New Hampshire, and the Buckeyes are expecting a varied spread attack.

Adonis Thomas ran for 115 yards in week one while quarterbacks Austin Dantin and Terrance Owens combined to complete 25 of 34 passes for 283 yards and five touchdowns without an interception.

"They've got guys all over the field that can make plays, tailbacks wide receivers and quarterback," Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell said. "But the thing you don't talk about is them up front. I think that's where it starts for them. They have athletes that move the ball around."

3. Who will win the turnover battle?

This is a pivotal area in many games, so we try to save it for when it is most appropriate. This looks like one of those weeks.

The Rockets forced five turnovers last week, but that was nothing new. Last year they finished tied for fifth in the nation in takeaways (with 34) and tied for eighth with 20 interceptions.

Ohio State matched its lone turnover with one takeaway against Akron in week one, leaving Fickell lamenting the fact his team did not come out ahead despite a 42-0 win.

The Buckeyes had 38 takeaways last season. They were 63-4 when winning the turnover battle in the previous 10 seasons.

4. What about rushing the passer?

A sure-fire way to force turnovers is to get after the opposing passer.

Both teams figure to play two quarterbacks and none of them committed a turnover last week. Amazingly, none of them suffered a sack, either.

Shugarts said the Rockets may blitz the Buckeyes more than any team they face this season.

"They're going to move around a lot, stunt a lot and bring people with a lot of twists and games up front," Shugarts said. "They blitz a lot, probably more than any team we play all year so we've got to be mentally prepared for that."

Ohio State tallied five sacks against Akron, but Fickell said he would like to see more heat on the quarterback in the future. Toledo, meanwhile, had a pair of sacks in its opener.

The better pass-rushing team a season ago was Toledo, which totaled 29 compared to 23 by the Buckeyes.

5. Can the Buckeyes contain Eric Page?

The Toledo junior caught five passes for 60 yards and a touchdown last week while also contributing a 29-yard punt return and a 43-yard kickoff return.

He finished third in the country last season when he averaged 31.1 yards per kickoff return.

Fickell called him an All-American talent as a return man.

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