Buffaloby Conrad Mostiller
Ohio State has an athletic defense, but they are young. Buffalo will need to push the tight ends and the slot receivers deep to open up room underneath in the zone and also to see if they can catch their safeties flat-footed.
Buffalo's depth at receiver and tight end may prove the key. UB needs to push the Ohio State safeties into making quick decisions with good routes by the interior receivers.
UB QB Joe Licata won't make the plays Braxton Miller makes; instead, the UB running game will need to be operational to force Ohio State to bring more pressure at the line of scrimmage, and as the old adage goes, the run will open up the pass.
Buffalo will need DL Colby Way, LB Khalil Mack, and co. to make Miller uncomfortable; he is just too good right now to try and drop in coverage and stop. Even if you cover everyone downfield, he is a threat to run. UB will have to put Miller on his back early and often to have a chance, and they can never give him the cushy pocket their o-line sometimes affords him.
The Bulls also have to stay out of obvious passing situations to avoid Ohio State's pass rush. With the Achilles heel of the defense potentially being the pass coverage skills of the safeties, the best way for UB to exploit that is by putting the secondary on islands and trying to keep everyone guessing.
Ohio State's coming to play football, they 'ain't come to play school'. We know OSU's defense is athletic, so the Bulls need to keep the Ohio State defenders thinking, not reacting.
Ohio Stateby Luke Zimmermann
The Buckeyes enter year two under Urban Meyer looking to fulfill the lofty expectations of the wildly successful second year his programs have had throughout his coaching career. Part of that means taking an already expeditious offense and making it both more efficient and faster and part of that means figuring out how to keep their defense healthy for 12 games. The Bucks aren't off to a spectacular start with the latter.
For all Braxton Miller was last year, durability and consistency were two elements of his game he struggled with. A year wiser, a year more mature (both on and off the field) Miller means sleep lost for opposing coaches and a chance for the Buckeyes' offense to take another leap.
Defensively, sophomore defensive ends Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington are as talented as any Urban Meyer had at Florida. By unleashing them and rotating in a slew of talented 2013 newcomers, the Buckeyes will look to emulate the formula from Meyer's Gator days which saw him overwhelming opposing lines with the combination of speed and strength.
Ohio State's secondary will be without preseason All-American candidate Bradley Roby, but even in spite of a few injuries, is anchored by two senior incredibly game-tested safeties. With a number of skilled frosh (remember the names Apple, Conley, and Burrows), and a talented sophomore in Armani Reeves spot-starting for Roby, the drop off should be minimal.