What You Need To Know: Ohio State

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

It's not Michigan State all over again. Probably, anyway.

Good news, everyone! Ohio State does not have Michigan State's defense. That's about all the good news when your team is about to head to the No. 4 team in the nation and by far the most talented squad in the conference (and also your team is not very good), but indeed, Ohio State's defense is mortal.

There is an understandable tendency to look at that MSU-Iowa game and think, "well, that was a crap performance by Iowa, guess that offense still sucks after all." And okay, we're not going to pretend that Iowa's offense is elite or even very good. But when the Hawkeyes rack up 300-400 yards or so this Saturday and look generally competent in the process, it's not Iowa "working the kinks out" or whatever. It's "running the same play but not against 11 terrormonsters."

You also need to know that Braxton Miller is still there at QB for Ohio State, and he is going to do Braxton Miller Things and they are going to make you want to punch whatever's in arm's reach. Do not punch the loved ones or pets. In fact only sturdy, inanimate objects, please. Miller has made fools of better defenders than Iowa's, after all, and he's probably going to do it again a few times on Saturday.

That's not to say that we're expecting a 300-yard passing, 200-yard rushing performance from Miller, though. Iowa's linebackers are fast and disciplined enough that containing Miller is a plausible task... most of the time. But every now and then, Braxton will rip off a play that reminds you why he's one of the best in the nation, and all you can do is shrug and hope it wasn't a touchdown, then get right back to it. So it goes with a dynamic QB facing your team.

And lastly, you need to know that this is a 17-point spread according to Vegas, but this game could plausibly go about 28 points in either direction. An Iowa win is not impossible; if the weather stays crummy and windy throughout the afternoon, as appears to be the case now, Ohio State won't be able to victimize Iowa through the air as easily--and when we're talking about an Iowa defense for whom nine of its 11 allowed touchdowns came on pass plays over 20 yards, anything that slows an opposing air attack is good news. Both teams will likely be playing a lot of ogreball on Saturday, and while Ohio State probably beats Iowa on that front, at least it's a game being played more or less on Iowa's terms.

If Ohio State can throw reliably, however, look out; Iowa's secondary is thin at corner and slow in back, so playmakers like Devin Smith and Corey Brown could easily have a field day for the Buckeyes--and I don't even want to think about Dontre Wilson and what happens if he gets into the open field against Iowa's back four.

But this could be a close game! A win may be too much to ask, but with any luck it'll be four quarters of tension, and barring a 90-point win, that's pretty much all you can ask for.

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