Five things to know about No. 3 Ohio State’s sure to be memorable game against Florida A&M Saturday at noon at Ohio Stadium…
1. It’s not going to be pretty. A Division I-FCS program, Florida A&M is 1-2 and has scored 54 points on the season; the Buckeyes scored 52 last week. The Rattlers are getting $900,000 for the game, which the Columbus Dispatch reported is more than half of the school’s annual football budget of $1.6 million. This is a well-planned whomping with both teams hoping to get out healthy and on to their next challenges.
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2. Florida A&M is coached by former Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns linebacker Earl Holmes, who took over last November following the surprise retirement of coach Joe Taylor. Holmes, 40, played linebacker at Florida A&M and had been serving as defensive coordinator, a job now held by his former Steelers teammate, Levon Kirkland. Former Browns, Ravens and Vikings defensive back Corey Fuller is in his first year coaching the secondary. After watching the film, Urban Meyer said he expects to see Florida A&M blitz “95 percent of the time” out of its Steeler-like 3-4 defense, so buckle up for big plays. And big numbers by the Ohio State offense. The Rattlers were outgained by 243 yards in a 27-7 loss to Tennessee State two weeks ago and by 122 yards last week in a 27-20 loss to Samford.
3. About the only drama on the Ohio State side revolves around the quarterback situation, with Meyer saying at different times this week that Braxton Miller is probable and a game-time decision. It seems Miller is healthy enough to play at least a bit after suffering a sprained MCL two weeks ago, but is it necessary? Kenny Guiton has the Buckeyes offense clicking and Meyer said Guiton has played so well that he’s earned some playing time even after Miller returns. Might that even include both being on the field at the same time? Probably not this week, but with Meyer anything is possible. And this is certainly a storyline to watch going forward.
4. Carlos Hyde returns from suspension, and though Meyer said Hyde won’t start, the coach said Hyde has earned his way back into the running back mix. Jordan Hall has been a touchdown machine, freshman Dontre Wilson is getting more and more work and both Miller and Guiton can run, too. That backfield is going to be awfully crowded, so every rep and every opportunity will count. Plus, Hall and Wilson can be slot/edge players who could become more dangerous if Hyde can have success between the tackles. It’s hard not to see a healthy Miller eventually leading this team, but Meyer has said Guiton runs the option better than Miller does, and the option seems like it’s going to be a very hard play for Buckeye opponents to defend going forward.
5. By around 3:15 on Saturday, we might know who Meyer plans to redshirt and who’s next up in an emergency situation as it’s hard to believe the Buckeyes doing anything in the fourth quarter but emptying the bench and letting their backups and young players get some in-game evaluation. With Ohio State still searching for reliable depth along both lines and at linebacker — and special teams spots at a premium — those fourth quarter reps may not be especially memorable to the average fan, but they will be important. Two of Ohio State’s three most important games of the season immediately follow this one, so it has to be all-sytems-go for Meyer and his staff the second Saturday’s game ends.