Don't we wish it was that easy? I don't expect the yardage to pile up at an exponential rate, but if the Buckeyes are going to win in New Orleans, then they are going to ride their best horse into and out of that game. To succeed in this game, the Buckeyes are going to have to be able to run against eight man fronts and Todd Boeckman is going to have to play well enough for the Buckeyes to limit LSU to eight man fronts.
I watched Beanie Wells play in the Army All American game several years ago and I was impressed, but I could not figure out how he would project into major college football. It was clear that he was a man among boys in a game that featured the best high school football players in the country, but I had serious doubts about whether he could succeed to the same extent in college. Frankly, the most successful running backs in college tend to be elusive, (Reggie Bush, Steve Slaton, etc.) not physical.
Here we are about three years later, preparing to watch Chris Wells play on college football's biggest stage. The only difference, I am pretty sure that everyone is now convinced that Wells will succeed at the next level, doing what he does best, putting cleat marks on defenders' chests and delivering the best stiff arm since Heisman himself. If the Buckeyes are to succeed in this game, it will be on the ground, running right into the teeth of the best part of LSU's defense, its defensive line, but don't delude yourself Beanie alone will not be enough to win.
Les Miles is no dummy. He knows what we all know, Ohio State is going to try to run the ball straight up the gut, and that the quarterback play has been inconsistent late in the season. Miles is going to stack the line of scrimmage, and it is going to be up to Todd Boeckman to keep the LSU defense honest. This is the real key to the game. Beanie must play well enough to force LSU to gamble to stop the run, and Todd Boeckman must play well enough to make the Tigers pay when they do.
This year's Ohio State team does not have the same speed in offensive skill positions as the 2006 team. This year's team is the big, slow, plodding Big Ten team that everyone associates with the Big Ten. While both Hartline and Robiskie are very good receivers, neither of them have the speed of Ginn and Gonzalez. The Ohio State wide receivers are not going to be able to flat out "out-athlete" the LSU defensive backs, and this is probably the most disconcerting part of the match up.
The Buckeyes do not have the wide receivers to force favorable match ups by formation as they probably only field three viable threats at wide receiver. Three may even be stretching it a bit. I, like most Buckeye fans, have been sitting back for the better part of a couple of years waiting for Ray Small to bust out the big game, but it just has not happened yet and I am not banking that this is going to be the week.
The Buckeyes should be able to force favorable match ups for their receivers through the running game. By lining up in a single TE, two back set, the Buckeyes should be able to force LSU to bring an eighth man to the box forcing cover one. This guarantees the Buckeyes a man-to-man match up on the outside and linebacker coverage on the tight ends. The Buckeyes are going to see a lot of cover 1 downfield, it is going to be up to Todd Boeckman to make the throws and the offensive line to buy him the time to do so in order for the Buckeyes to move the ball.
In this game, there are going to be very few secrets. The Buckeyes are going to try to run and LSU is going to try to stop them. The determining factor will be whether the Buckeyes are able to throw the ball from running formations, forcing LSU to play no more than eight in the box. The Buckeyes should be able to have success running on LSU's front seven and may have some success against eight, but in order to move the ball with success and regularity against this very good Tiger defense, OSU is going to have to be able to draw eight and nine men into the box and then make the Tigers pay in the passing game.