Willis McGahee is just one of the 'Canes' many weapons.
By John Donovan
You can crunch the numbers until they crunch back. You can get so close to it that you know what flavor gum Miami's Willis McGahee is chewing and what kind of toothpaste Ohio State defensive coordinator Mark Dantonio uses. If he ever smiled, you'd know.
The problem is, you miss the big picture that way. And the whole enchilada in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl is this: Miami has more talent than Ohio State. A lot more.
That's why the Hurricanes are defending national champs, that's why they're undefeated and ranked No. 1 and that's why they average almost 42 points a game and have won 34 straight.
Yeah, Ohio State has a fine defense. Second in the country in scoring. Fourth against the run. And, sure, Miami's high-scoring attack relies on McGahee running wild, which plays into OSU's strength.
So the Buckeyes will make Miami QB Ken Dorsey, 38-1 as a starter, beat them? Against a pass defense ranked 87th in the nation? Sheesh, great idea, brainiacs.
Maurice Clarett and a ball-control offense for OSU? Does it matter? Miami's well-documented average time of a scoring drive is 1:58. Knock yourself out, Buckeyes. And get back out there. Miami just scored again.
This has all the earmarks of a blowout. Nobody wants it. Makes it look like too many Super Bowls. But a blowout, I'm afraid, is what we'll have.
Ohio State's offense, outside of Clarett, is not that good. The Buckeyes just won't score much, especially if they're forced to throw the ball to catch up. Meanwhile, Miami's much more balanced offense has been practically unstoppable for more than two years.
Go ahead, crunch the numbers. In the end, superior talent wins out. Buckeyes get crunched 37-17.
Closer than you think
Miami hasn't really faced a running back like Maurice Clarett.
By Stewart Mandel
Youíll have to excuse our friend, Mr. Donovan. Normally our baseball guy, heís been too busy tracking which 10-17 pitchers are getting $5 million contract extensions to actually watch Miami or Ohio State play this season.
To be honest, I think he showed up in Tempe, read some stats packets and decided, like so many others, that these two teams arenít on the same level.
Having seen Miami play seven times this season, in person or on television, and Ohio State six, the only discrepancy I see is between these two and the remaining 115 I-A teams.
Trust me, Ohio State will not wilt Friday night at the mere sight of Miami.
The Buckeyes' defense is more physical than any the ĎCanes have faced. Their running back, Maurice Clarett, is more gifted than several others who have torched that Miami run defense. Brainy QB Craig Krenzel has a lot of Ken Dorsey in him, just doesnít throw as much. Speedsters like Chris Gamble and Michael Jenkins could just as easily be lining up on the other side.
There have been several comparisons made between Ohio State and 2000 Oklahoma, which shut down an explosive Florida State team in the Orange Bowl. However, those Sooners were practically infallible; these Buckeyes are susceptible to the deep pass. That FSU team lost its top receiver, Snoop Minnis, before the bowl game. This Miami team is at full strength.
Both teams will start out slow. Clarett and Willis McGahee will start chipping away yardage. Several field goals could be exchanged. The outcome will remain in question going into the fourth quarter, but the Buckeyes wonít be able to completely negate Miamiís big plays.
It will take only a few to make the difference in what will otherwise be an epic struggle. Hurricanes, 28-16.