For a team that returned 15 starters from a nine win team in 2012, San Diego State didn't perform up to expectations in week one. Will Rocky Long have the Aztecs clicking this week in Columbus, or will it be more of the same for the reigning Mountain West conference champions? Flip it over and the Buckeyes, after falling a spot to number three in the AP Poll, will be out to make a statement in week 2. Expect points, many points for the scarlet and grey. Here's five things to keep an eye on:
Believe it or not, Braxton Miller's throwing ability or the youth of the front seven was hardly the key to the game last weekend, it was the hydration of the Buckeyes. With cramps coming up to bite Ohio State in the rear end throughout the game, keeping fluids in their bodies will not only be the key to this game, but to many down the road as well. Arguably Ohio State's most important players on each side of the ball, Braxton Miller and Ryan Shazier, were most effected by the cramping and those are two of the players we cannot afford to lose. There's no question after the first quarter the Buckeye offense lost a bit of it's rhythm and some of that could be due to the fact that the starting quarterback was in and out. Let's face it, the Aztecs, like many other teams on the schedule, don't have the talent to match up with Ohio State, but when you have to battle the opposition and cramping, things could start to get interesting. If this problem is taken care of this week, expect the Braxton Miller and the Buckeyes to be seemingly untouchable on offense.
2. Key on Adam Muema
Missing from the second half of last week's action was San Diego State running back, Adam Muema. Muema had a bum ankle in week one and because of it, SDSU's offense sputtered. A preseason Mountain West all-conference running back, Muema is expected to play on Saturday and will be one of the better backs Ohio State will face all season—Urban Meyer agrees saying, "Many people agree that No. 4 is the best tailback we will face all year, and I probably agree with that." Ankle injuries are always tough and being that this injury occurred just last week, there's cause for concern about just how effective his ankle will allow him to be. If it's fine, SDSU will ride Muema all game, try to keep it close, and melt the clock.
3. Hit the big plays
Eastern Illinois was able to score on four plays of 30 yards or more against SDSU— 37 and 62 yard passes, a 45 yard run, and a 60 yard punt return. The entire Buckeye offense, and special teams, should be licking their chops as game time approaches. Opportunities for big plays will be there whether it's making a correct read on an option, connecting on a huge pass play, or simply just making the one block to ignite a punt return. Poor fundamentals would be the only reason there would be a shortage in game-breaking plays. The opportunities will present themselves, the offense just needs to go play and it will turn into a firework show at the Horseshoe. Prediction: Dontre Wilson get's his first collegiate touchdown—a play that goes for over 50 yards.
4. Jump out to an early lead...again
I have little doubt that if Ohio State wanted to score on every possession on Saturday, they could. Problem is, players get complacent and even coaches suffer from the same thing. Like already mentioned, Adam Muema is one heck of a player and other than defensively, one way to shut him down would be to open the lead to double digits right out of the gate. The Buckeyes pass rush is nasty and SDSU will be introduced to Mr. Noah Spence early and often if Ohio State gets out to a quick start. Make SDSU revert to their week one selves where they put the ball in the air 64 times—a game plan that resulted in just 19 points. Pound them early and let the silver bullets pin their ears back all afternoon.
5. Stay Hungry
Judging by the first quarter last weekend, it looked like the second half was going to be a party in Ohio Stadium for all the young Bucks who were eager to get playing time to show their talents to the world. Well, that was short lived as Buffalo rallied and made things somewhat interesting...interesting enough to have Braxton Miller in for the last snap of the game. I'm not a betting man, but if I were, I'd bet Urban Meyer doesn't let that kind of situation pop up again this weekend. For some reason, I get a feeling that Meyer wants to put up 100 this weekend and he'll do everything in his power to make sure his team plays with a killer instinct all game. You can't take plays off and last weekend was a good lesson to learn moving forward to the rest of the year.