Warning! If you don't want to know what will happen in Saturday's game with Ohio St in Columbus, don't read this Take:
Today I'm going to share an interview with one of the Buckeyes most knowledgeable fans , and then I'll give you an overview of Saturday's game.
I got in touch with my nephew Ryan Fox today. Ryan lives in Ohio, and is a joy to converse with about any sport. He is not just a Ohio State fan, but a great fan of college football. He can be informative in a discussion of MLB or NASCAR, and he knows college basketball a lot better than I do.
He is not infected with Woody Hayes syndrome like a lot of Buckeyes fans and is about as objective as a person can be who loves his team so much.
I asked him to give me his evaluation of the Buckeye's game on Saturday and also list the strengths and weakness of the 2009 Ohio State football team. I asked him to give me his take on Saturday's game.
So here's Ryan's take:
"I thought the Buckeyes played well on Saturday. I would have liked to see Brandon Saine used more in the rushing game. The LB play was left wanting some and will need to improve radically this Saturday against USC.
"The DL was solid and is the strength of the Buckeye team. The whole defensive front seven will need to make Matt Barkley uncomfortable in the Shoe. Ohio State's WRs this year all have shown big play ability and they will need to play their best against the best secondary in the country.
"Again, the key is to pressure Matt Barkley into mistakes, to force him to turn the ball over. The Horseshoe will be rocking Saturday night in a way the Trojans have never seen. Only two recent games in Buckeye history can come close. The first was four years ago when Texas and Vince Young came into Columbus and stole a victory in the 4th quarter. And the second was when Michigan came in undefeated and lost 41-38.
"The tailgating at the Horseshoe will be from 7:00am to 8:00pm. The band will begin to play in the basketball arena and then come out on campus and head for the stadium. The stadium will literally rock when the band comes in and throughout the game.
"When the band dots the "i," there will be nothing the Trojans can compare it to. No UCLA game, no BCS NC game will compare. Nothing will have the electricity, nothing.
"I hope the freshman is ready. I really wish all of you could come out and experience it with us here. In Ohio, football isn't something to be watched when you are tired of the sunshine or going to the beach or a million other things that take people away from USC football.
"Here in Ohio everyone is waiting all week and willing to fork out the $800.00 it might cost to go see the Buckeyes and the Trojans. It is just unbelievable.
"Buckeye fans hope to prevail Saturday, but their belief in that victory has worn thin over some tough losses. Their fear is that the game might not be close.
"I'm thinking the Buckeyes will jump out ahead, but then USC's greater talent and depth may wear Ohio St down. It could go 31-14 USC. But I'm hoping that Ohio St will be able to pressure Matt Barkley into some freshman mistakes. I'm hoping Jim Tressel can get back to being a big game, big time play-caller. And I'm hoping the Buckeyes do not turn the ball over. (It will take the Perfect Storm) If those things happen, Ohio St could pull one out 24-21."
Here's the Oldtimer's take:
Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor is one of the most dangerous weapons in the country. I was amazed at how fast and how strong he was Saturday. He was also accurate down field, but he only ran five times against Navy, because they kept their containment.
USC has a film on Pryor now, and they know what side he scrambles to throw on and what side he likes to run on. The Trojan pass defenders must stick with their primary assignments until Pryor crosses the line of scrimmage. Deep defenders must stay deep or Pryor can hurt USC with big plays.
Pryor turns the Buckeye offense into a two-back offense. USC's pass rushers must be more disciplined. You have to maintain lane integrity with a balanced rush that is easier for an offense to identify and block. Pass rushers have to take sharp angles of pursuit and not fish hooks. USC will have to zone blitz and not as much man-to-man, so they can keep their eyes on Pryor.
The front side LB, if not in man coverage, will have to supply front side run support and he will have to wrap up on Pryor. USC will know how to scheme for this game. So will Ohio St. But you can't scheme against great talent and skill.
USC and Ohio St are going to do what they do on Saturday. Each school believes that if they play their game, they will win the game. Pride is part of that, but both teams will not throw everything in the book at each other to try to win.
Ohio St will try to play Ohio St football, and USC will try to play USC football. And the team that plays the best will win. If USC avoids turnovers, penalties, and special team blunders, they are going to win Saturday, even with the home game advantage going to the Buckeyes, and the disadvantage of playing a true freshman QB in his first road game.
What is hard for other fans to understand is USC has faced tremendous pressure in every road game they have played since 2003. They have been the target, the hunted, and the prey. And whether it's been away against 90,000 screaming Auburn or Virginia Tech fans, USC has been more than up to the task. I think they will be again on Saturday:
We take our football pretty seriously out here in the west too. Many of us who live in Southern California are from the Midwest. My grandfather was from Iowa and settled in Long Beach in Southern California which was called, "the seacoast of Iowa."
My grandfather said "worsh" instead of wash. And he was tough. And he passed that toughness and a love for CFB along to me and my dad. Coach Howard Jones who won four NCs at USC coached at Iowa.
Hey, my last name means farmer!
USC 31, Ohio St 20.
Chris Galippo and the USC defense will have their hands full with Terrelle Pryor. (Jaime Rodriguez Photo)
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