Well well well, what do we have here? After a full day of the introduction of Shawn Eichorst as the new Nebraska Athletic Director, it's now time to play the game that marks the halfway point of the Nebraska Football season.
Luke is one of the brightest minds in the SBNation world, and knows a lot about the Buckeyes. I asked Luke about Braxton Miller, the Buckeyes D, what the Husker fan traveling to Columbus should expect, and how he thinks the game will go.
Jordan Hall is a potential impact player, but Ohio State's not exactly lost in his absence with a healthy Carlos Hyde present. Braxton Miller can be Ohio State's rushing leader every week and the Buckeyes can go undefeated, but if he gets Denard Robinson type carries, the odds are he'll suffer Denard Robinson like mobility issues. Until Hall is 100% again, Ohio State would benefit greatly from a solid third option. While he's Swiss army knife versatile and as much as the coaching staff likes him, halfback/fullback/h-back Zach Boren probably isn't that guy. Bri'onte Dunn showed some potential but evidently doesn't have enough of the playbook down to be that guy for Ohio State yet. Sophomore Rod Smith may that yet.
Not sure it's quite that simple but if I had to default to one ideological line of thought on the matter, I'd veer towards the latter. Stoneburner's value since his move to wide receiver has been more as a downfield blocker and decoy. I think Ohio State will yet benefit from the matchup nightmare he provides on a 5'9" defensive back at some point in the season, but that opportunity hasn't seemingly presented itself as of yet. Another compounding factor is Braxton Miller isn't an advanced read quarterback yet. He's still just going through one or two and making a decision, which for a sophomore is probably not an unreasonable thing. He probably won't come into his own before Stoneburner's eligibility is up at season's end, but I still think Stoneburner will play a bigger role situationally as games necessitate it at some point this season.
If you let the free market be your barometer, everyone's punted until Year Two. Urban Meyer historically has always made "the leap" during his second season at a school, and judging by home ticket sales this season, Ohio State fans seemed inclined to bank on this theory. I think the no-bowl thing cements this line of thinking, but from a confidence standpoint, Ohio State fans are still enjoying having an aggressive offense and recruiting mind state for the first time maybe ever even if the light at the end of tunnel is a year plus away. If Ohio State has a de facto Big Ten regular season title to their name and/or an unscathed 2012, they'll be particularly insufferable, even without anything tangible to show for it.
If Taylor Martinez can have success at the short-to-intermediate pass game, Ohio State just might be in trouble. Ohio State's greatest weakness to point has been quick passes and their inability to wrap opposing offensive players up after these. They made strides against Michigan State but especially on one particularly embarrassing sequence had seemingly the entire team go for the strip as opposed to the sure tackle with the result being six points. I think Ohio State's remnants of a Tressel-era defense should be effective in their ability to slow Nebraska' running game somewhat, but by forcing them into the one thing Ohio State hasn't been consistently good at, things could interesting in a hurry.
Nebraska fans will feel right at home at Schmidt's, a German sausage house that's a seemingly must stop at for presidential candidates when they make the media rounds through the state's capital. You won't find a better sandwich place in Ohio arguably than at Katzingers. And the Thurman burger at Thurman's is the kind of thing you get a reality TV show for throwing down.If watering holes are your game, Columbus has a wide variety. The downtown offerings tend to cater more to a yuppie-in-training class of young adults, but the Short North has the kind of interesting variety you might expect from Austin, Texas. I'd steer clear of campus unless you recently graduated, but if you're dying to see the nightlife, The Bier Stube and Dick's Den tend to have a mix of alum and students alike. Elevator Brewery might be a fun step up in class if fine dining and solid in-house brews are your thing and if you're scared of new things but like chains, Gordon Biersch, World of Beers, and Winking Lizard may offer you the mid-sized city beer/sports garden variety you crave.The campus is huge too so if you have some time to kill amidst tailgating/pregaming and the day in college football, the school's Union and library are both newly renovated and flashy. There's plenty of places (see: The Varsity Club, whatever Hineygate has become, The Thirsty Scholar, etc) near by that are ideal for an older crowd to get the game day drinking experience as well if you're too bored too early of taking photos of Mirror Lake and the like.
I suspect this is going to be an up and down one with both teams having stretches of competence and ones where they're less effective. In a game of streaks, I'll side with the aggregately more talented Buckeyes in the long game, let's say, 24-17, but won't be surprised one bit if Nebraska goes into Columbus and leaves with a victory.