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Breakdown

January 03, 2003|Chris Dufresne

Miami run offense

vs. Ohio State run defense

* You think of Miami as a pass-happy team, yet the Hurricanes are almost as effective on the ground, averaging 192 yards. Ohio State, though, has been excellent at stopping the run, allowing Big Ten opponents only 78.7 yards a game. You hear a lot about Ohio State linebackers and defensive backs, but the Buckeye front of Kenny Peterson, Tim Anderson, Darrion Scott and Will Smith is fierce and formidable. Miami's balance is going to be tough to contain for four quarters, and all it takes is one crack for Hurricane back Willis McGahee to rip off a big run.

Advantage: Miami

Miami pass offense

vs. Ohio State pass defense

* Can Ohio State's secondary keep pace with Miami's speed? Michael Doss is a big hitter and will try to disrupt receivers coming across the middle, but the big matchup is Miami wide receiver Andre Johnson against Ohio State two-way star Chris Gamble. Gamble is the Buckeyes' fastest player, but not as big as Johnson, a physical specimen at 6-3 and 227 pounds and the swiftest player for Miami. Teammate Brett Romberg calls Johnson a genetic freak.

Advantage: Miami

Ohio State run offense

vs. Miami run defense

* This is where the game is going to be won or lost. Look for Ohio State to run Maurice Clarett left, right and up the middle against what is considered the weakest area of the Miami team. In consecutive weeks this year, the Hurricane defense gave up 296 yards rushing against Florida State and a whopping 363 against West Virginia. Clarett is the best back Miami will have faced this season and a player who can control the chains and the clock.

Advantage: Ohio State

Ohio State pass offense

vs. Miami pass defense

* Miami lost its entire secondary to the NFL draft last year, yet still managed to finish No. 1 nationally, which isn't good news for an Ohio State team that doesn't ask much from its passing game. Senior quarterback Craig Krenzel, an efficient player, threw only 228 passes this season but can make clutch throws. His fourth-down touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins, for instance, beat Purdue.

Advantage: Miami

Special teams

* Both teams solid, especially in the kicking games. Ohio State's Mike Nugent made 24 of his 26 field-goal attempts and set seven school records, and senior Andy Groom led the Big Ten in punting with a 44.6 average. Miami's Todd Sievers has a great leg, having put 45.8% of his kickoffs into the end zone. Punter Freddie Capshaw shook off a poor start to average 41 yards, ninth best in school history.

Advantage: Ohio State

Coaching

* Two stories here involving second-year men: Miami's Larry Coker inherited awesome talent from Butch Davis and has posted a 24-0 record as Hurricane coach, with one national title. Jim Tressel replaced John Cooper in 2001 with the edict to clean up the program and restore Ohio State to greatness. After going 7-5 his first year, Tressel has led the Buckeyes to a 13-0 record and a chance to win the school's first national title since 1968.

Advantage: Even.

Intangibles

* How will Ohio State handle Miami's speed? How will Miami play as a heavy favorite with talk of a dynasty in the desert air? How will Ohio State react to being on the national stage against a team that hasn't lost in almost three years? Will the controversy Clarett started this week affect the Buckeyes?

Advantage: Miami

Prediction

* Ohio State has a better defense than Nebraska, but this has all the feel of last year's Rose Bowl, in which Miami's speed overwhelmed Nebraska en route to a 37-14 victory in the national title game. That contest wasn't as close as the score indicated (Miami led, 34-0, at the half). Ohio State has a top-notch back in Clarett, but Nebraska last year boasted Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch.

Score: 37-14.

*

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

MIAMI LEADERS

*--* PASSING Att Cp Int Yards TD Ken Dorsey 350 194 10 3,073 26 Derrick Crudup 25 14 0 218 2

*--*

*--* RUSHING Att Yds Avg TD Willis McGahee 262 1,686 6.4 27 Jason Geathers 68 398 5.9 3 Jarrett Payton 42 206 4.9 0

*--*

*--* RECEIVING Rec Yds Avg TD Andre Johnson 48 1,038 21.6 9 Kellen Winslow 46 604 13.1 7 Willis McGahee 24 350 14.6 0 Kevin Beard 23 262 11.4 4 Ethenic Sands 18 278 15.4 4

*--*

*--* OHIO STATE LEADERS PASSING Att Cp Int Yards TD Craig Krenzel 228 141 5 1,988 12 Scott McMullen 31 25 0 315 2

*--*

*--* RUSHING Att Yds Avg TD Maurice Clarett 199 1,190 6.0 14 Lydell Ross 157 602 3.8 6 Maurice Hall 78 370 4.7 4 Craig Krenzel 106 287 2.7 1

*--*

*--* RECEIVING Rec Yds Avg TD Michael Jenkins 57 1,031 18.1 6 Chris Gamble 29 430 14.8 0 Ben Hartsock 17 137 8.1 2 Chris Vance 12 170 14.2 3 Drew Carter 12 104 8.7 2

*--*

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