Columbus, OH (Sports Network) - The second game of Urban Meyer's tenure at
Ohio State takes place this Saturday afternoon, as the 14th-ranked Buckeyes
entertain the UCF Knights at the Horseshoe in Columbus.
UCF is playing its second straight game in the state of Ohio after opening the
season with a resounding 56-14 win at Akron last Thursday night. The Knights
are seeking their first-ever win against a ranked non-conference opponent, and
their first win in this their seventh bout against a team from the Big Ten
Conference. The last Big Ten team UCF faced was Penn State back in 2004.
UCF head coach George O'Leary was pleased with his team's effort in the win at
Akron, "The players played with great effort, made some plays and we got some
turnovers. That was important," He continued, "Overall, it was good effort. A
lot of people played tonight, which was what we wanted to do. We were very
productive in a lot of areas."
The Buckeyes made a winner of Meyer is his debut last Saturday by whipping
visiting Miami-Ohio, 56-10. The victory improved Ohio State coaches to 21-0-1
in their first game, and it moved Meyer's career record to 105-23.
It was the 13th straight season-opening victory for Ohio State, and the team
is 32-2 in its last 34 lidlifters overall. The win was also Ohio State's 58th
straight at home against unranked, non-conference foes, and the team is 58-7
at Ohio Stadium since the start of the 2002 season.
Meyer spoke after the game about getting that first win under his belt, "Just
a little disappointed in the first quarter. But after that, what a great day.
We enjoy a win. We all know it's difficult to win in major college football.
Now we've got one and now we get ready for next week."
This bout marks the first meeting between UCF and Ohio State on the football
A touchdown in the game's first five minutes set the tone for the Knights in
last week's opener, and 28 unanswered points in the second quarter staked the
team to a 35-0 halftime lead. When it was all said and done, the UCF offense
generated 386 total yards, 206 of which came on the ground. Latavius Murray
carried the ball 14 times for 108 yards and a TD, and Storm Johnson reached
the end zone twice.
Blake Bortles was nearly perfect in completing 13-of-16 pass attempts for 168
yards and three TDs against only one INT. Rannell Hall caught four balls for
94 yards and two scores -- the longest coming on a 56-yard pass play in the
Defensively, the Knights stood tall against the run last week, permitting a
mere 69 net rushing yards to an Akron team that ran 81 offensive plays
compared to 65 for UCF. Against the pass, the visitors yielded 256 yards and
two TDs, but the outcome of the game was never really in doubt.
Kemal Ishmael led the Knights with nine tackles, and he added a fumble
recovery to his stat line. The team as a whole was credited with seven TFL,
three sacks and four turnovers, which included three fumble recoveries.
Quarterback Braxton Miller ran for 161 yards -- a single-game record for an
Ohio State signal-caller -- and threw for 207 yards and two TDs in last week's
rout of Miami-Ohio. Philly Brown led all Buckeye pass catchers with seven
grabs for 87 yards and a score, but the most talked about reception of the
game came on a 23-yard, highlight-reel catch by WR Devin Smith in the second
In addition to Miller's exploits on the ground, RB Carlos Hyde added 82 yards
and two TDs helping OSU tally five rushing TDs on the day. In all, the
Buckeyes churned out 538 yards of total offense, compared to 312 for the
Like UCF, the Ohio State defense was dominant against the run last week in
holding Miami to minus-1 yard rushing, and tk.
The Aggies had a potent offensive attack last season, ranking 11th in the FBS
in scoring (39.6 ppg) and seventh in total offense (497 ypg). Both numbers
would have topped the SEC last season, but now the unit has to transition from
playing against the traditionally-soft Big 12 defenses to facing hard-nosed
units that reside in the SEC.
Filling the large shoes left by record-setting quarterback Ryan Tannehill
(3,744 yards, 29 TDs) won't be easy, but that's exactly what Johnny Manziel
expects to do. He'll become the first freshman QB to start a season opener for
the Aggies since 1944.
"My policy is simple really -- the best player plays," First-year head coach
Kevin Sumlin said, who anointed Manziel the starter over Jameill Showers and
Matt Joeckel. "Competition is a great thing and we need more competition at
all of our positions. All of our quarterbacks have competed well, and I expect
them to continue to push Johnny."
Fortunately for Manziel, he will have two high-impact playmakers to throw to,
as Ryan Swope had one of the greatest receiving seasons in school history with
89 catches, 1,207 yards and 11 touchdowns -- earning Second Team All-Big 12
honors. Opposite Swope is fellow senior Uzoma Nwachukwu, who started all 13
games in 2011 and compiled 50 catches for 639 yards and two touchdowns. The
Aggies run plenty of three- and four-receiver sets, so Kenric McNeal (eight
catches, 101 yards) and freshman Mike Evans also figure to get plenty of
The loss of Cyrus Gray (1,105 yards, 12 TDs) means that Christine Michael
takes over as the team's No. 1 running back. Michael had a fantastic season in
2011 while splitting carries with Gray, gaining 920 yards (6.0 ypc) and
scoring eight touchdowns. With an increased workload behind a veteran
offensive line, Michael should eclipse those numbers this fall.
Texas A&M's potent offensive attack was coupled with a defensive unit that
performed below average last year. It's scoring yield (28.7 ppg) and total
defensive effort (386.5 ypg) would be considered poor by any conference's
standards, but in the SEC, those numbers rank well toward the bottom.
The pass rush was A&M's biggest strength last season, and defensive end
Damontre Moore is hoping to improve upon a fantastic sophomore season in which
he recorded 72 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks and four forced
fumbles. Outside linebacker Sean Porter is also used to disrupting things in
the backfield, tallying 79 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, and a team-high 9.5
Linebacker Jonathan Stewart returns to the fold after leading the team with 98
tackles in 2011. Safety Steven Terrell (24 tackles, two interceptions) is the
lone returning starter in the secondary, and he will be joined by three
sophomores in corners Floyd Raven and Deshazor Everett, and safety Howard
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