- The Ohio State linebackers - They weren't terribly effective against Northern Illinois, but the story we're all sticking with is that the defense switched to just a vanilla base defense once the lead got so big, which makes it about ten seconds into the second quarter. Look to see if these guys are blitzing and trying to control what Texas is doing, as opposed to sitting back and reacting. Because if they're trying to react to Selvin Young and Jamaal Charles, they'll be in trouble. They're athletic linebackers, but not that athletic.
- The Texas offensive line - We know that the running game is excellent and that there's a ton of talent at wide receiver, but if their line isn't blocking well, that won't matter. OSU's front four is very good, and if the Texas O-line has trouble with them, then that means trouble for the running game, trouble for Colt McCoy, and trouble for Texas.
- The Ohio State running game - About the start of the season, Antonio Pittman went from "underrated guy that nobody talks about" to "guy who everyone calls underrated to the point where he's almost overrated." I figured people would remember that he's pretty good for the rest of the season. But sure enough, you don't hear much about him going into the game. It's all about Troy Smith and Ted Ginn. Pittman was decent against Texas in limited action (why didn't he get more carries?), and he's only gotten better since then. The passing game is the story going into the game, but the running game could be the story coming out. If Texas is too concerned about stopping the passing game, then Pittman, Chris Wells, and even Maurice Wells could have a good day.
- The Texas linebackers - I put them on here only because I haven't heard much about them. The Texas D-line is excellent, and the secondary's very good as well, but I haven't heard so much about the linebackers. Is this because they are the weak point of the defense? Or have they just not received the attention they deserve? If it's the latter, will they correct the problem with a big performance in this game? We'll find out soon.
- Ohio State's #3 receiver - Everyone knows about Ted Ginn, and everyone that's paid any sort of attention to Ohio State knows about Anthony Gonzalez. The third receiver, likely Brian Robiskie, could be a key in the passing game. Texas could gameplan to shut down Ginn and Gonzo, but to shut down three receivers? That's probably asking too much. Robiskie (or Brian Hartline, or maybe Ray Small, or Roy Hall, if he isn't too injured to play) will have an opportunity to have an impact on this game. He'll just need to take advantage of it.
- Both team's kickers - The kickers on both sides are unproven, and in a big game like this, the kicking game has a good chance of deciding the outcome. Who makes the big kicks? That could end up being the most important question of this game.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
What to Watch For
Yeah, yeah, Troy Smith, Ted Ginn, Texas running game, Colt McCoy, all that. You've heard a lot about all that. Here's a few other, less talked-about keys to the game: