There was a time, not long ago, when Mark D'Antonio hoisted the national championship hardware with Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel. Now he is saddled with the arduous task of trying to create a football program at a basketball school. By no means is Cincinnati anywhere near the elite in the Big Least, if such a thing actually exists, but I am quite certain that his boys will be up for this game.
Up enough to make it close, as it has been in the past? I don't think so. This Bearcats team just does not match up well with the Buckeyes (like there is a team in the country that does). This becomes clearly apparent as we break down the match ups.
OSU offense vs UC defense: The UC defense has played fairly well against the run against competition that is about 3 leagues away from the Buckeyes. I expect Ohio State to make "figuring out their running game" a key priority in this game, but this is not the gross mismatch in this match up. The gross mismatch is in the defensive secondary. The Bearcats try very hard to get up on the line to stop the run, they will use multiple defensive sets that include zone blitzes and bringing both safeties in run support. This will either leave them vulnerable underneath, in the zone covered by a defensive end or deep should the safeties bite on play action.
The Bearcats have not faced wide receivers anywhere near Ginn or Gonzalez's speed, yet they have still been burnt badly down the field. I look for more of that to continue, in spite of their track-star cornerbacks.
OSU defense vs. UC offense: It is no secret that the OSU defense has struggled mightily to stop the run, heck even Mark May noticed. Unfortunately for the Bearcats they have struggled even more running it against inferior competition. I look for the Buckeyes to completely shut down the UC run game. I think the Bearcats understand that their only chance in this game is to throw the ball downfield, but they do not have the speed on the outside to really even have a fighting chance out there, nor will they have the pass protection.
Don't be surprised if:
If I were a betting man:
I would stay the heck away from this one. Do you think that the "sweater vest" is going to put up a Spurrier-style 63-0 score? That is not his style. Look for the Buckeyes to jump out to a big lead early and then start using their "depth" (read that as fifth year seniors who have never played), once Coach Tressel is satisfied with whatever improvements he wanted to see from his starters this week. If I were absolutely forced to bet this game, at gunpoint, I would take the points. 29.5 is a lot for a team that gets as conservative as OSU does, to give.
I would lean toward the over as the preferred bet for this game, even at 10-12. I wouldn't bet more than a 6 pack on the Buckeyes to cover, but the over is fairly solid.