Navy Midshipmen vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Navy Midshipmen (0-0) vs. No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes (0-0) 12:00 p.m. EST, September 5, 2009 Ohio Stadium Columbus Ohio TV: ESPN
By Jason Green of

Point Spread: Navy +22/Ohio State -22
Over/Under: 47

This is the opening game of the season for both teams and the 100,000 Buckeyes’ fans at Ohio Stadium and the Midshipmen cannot allow themselves to be intimidated on Saturday afternoon or they will be in trouble from the get-go.

The Buckeyes are 3-0 all-time versus Navy, have won 10 straight season openers, and have won 30 consecutive home openers. In fact the Buckeyes have not lost a home opener since a 19-0 loss to Penn State in 1978. Needless to say, that does not bode well for the Navy Midshipmen, but they are far from a cream puff team that many other top teams face early in the season. Navy was 8-6 last season and had some great wins over some solid teams.

The Buckeyes have National Title aspirations this season and their first game against Navy will be a good test for them. This is the first meeting between the two teams since 1931. Last season Navy led the nation in rushing for the 4th straight year, but leading rushers Shun White and Eric Kettani, as well as QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, have graduated and now Ricky Dobbs is THE man for the Midshipmen. Dobbs is a very highly touted QB and even though he was not the starter last season he still rushed for 495 yards and scored 8 TD’s. Dobbs does possess an arm, so the Midshipmen may pass the ball more in this game, which would be a shock to see.

The Midshipmen will run a triple-option offense that may cause problems for the Buckeyes’ defense considering that they are used to facing spread option attacks. The other thing that the Midshipmen have going for them is that there is a chance that the Buckeyes will take Navy for granted and have their concentration on their next game when they host USC. The Buckeyes have to concentrate on this game, as the Midshipmen are legit and they have a lot of weapons.

Buckeye QB Terrelle Pryor, who started in the second half of last season, will lead the Buckeyes’ offense. Pryor has a ton of talent and he is the Big 10’s preseason offensive player of the year. The Buckeyes lost 7 starters on offense, including RB Chris “Beanie” Wells and WR’s Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline. There is a lot of pressure on Pryor this season and a #1 WR will have to step up and be his main target.

The Buckeyes have a stellar defense that returns 7 starters from last season. However, the losses of CB Malcolm Jenkins and LB’s James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman will hurt. Navy runs the ball often so there will be pressure on the Buckeyes defensive line to stuff the run. Thaddeus Gibson is the leader on the line and will have to lead by example on Saturday afternoon.

Now that Chris Wells is in the NFL, sophomore Daniel Herron will be the main RB in the backfield for the Buckeyes. Even though Herron did not start last season he still rushed for an impressive 439 yards. In 4 of the 5 home games he played last season he had at least 50 yards rushing. He will have to rack up some yards in this game to force Navy to respect the run and to take the pressure off Pryor.

When you talk about Navy football you talk about a great rushing attack. Their defense is rarely talked about but it’s pretty solid. The Midshipmen return 7 starters on defense and they only gave up an average of 22 ppg last season, so despite Navy not being a big name in college football, this won’t be a romp by any means. LB Ross Pospisil is the leader on D and he will have to keep Herron and Pryor from racking up the yards on the ground. It’s essential that they keep the heat on Pryor early, not giving him all day to throw or this one could get ugly early.

Jason’s Pick: Even though the Buckeyes play the Trojans of USC the following week they will be ready for this game. The LB unit of the Buckeyes is simply too strong and their offense has many weapons, albeit new ones. They win easy here but 22 points is four scores and with Navy eating up time of possession with their running attack, we think they sneak in under the number for an underdog cover.

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