Ohio State matchup Thursday: Week 4 vs. Miami (OH)
Let’s get this out of the way: There is no spot on the field, no position group anywhere on the roster, where the Miami University RedHawks will match up well with the Ohio State Buckeyes when OSU entertains the MAC team this Saturday (3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network) at Ohio Stadium.
As Miami coach Chuck Martin noted this week, not a single player on his team was recruited by Ohio State. That led him, a bit humorously, to compare this Saturday’s game to a school pickup game, except the Buckeyes get the first 85 picks.
Usually in this space we choose an area of strength and analyze how Ohio State might match up or go about trying to beat its opponent in that facet of the game. But, again, on every unit the Buckeyes have a big advantage over the RedHawks.
However, there is one intriguing area of the field to watch in Saturday’s game: Inside the OSU 20-yard line.
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Miami red zone offense vs. OSU red zone defense
In 2018 the RedHawks were No. 1 out of 129 teams ranked in the FBS in red zone offense, converting a remarkable 97.7% of the time. Miami had 20 rushing touchdowns, 14 passing TDs and 8 field goals for a total of 42 scores in 43 opportunities inside the opposing 20-yard line.
So far this season the RedHawks have also only missed one opportunity in the red zone through three games. They have 8 touchdowns and 3 FGs in 12 tries. Against Iowa in the opener, Miami lost 38-14 but both of its touchdowns came within the red zone.
Through three games this season, OSU is tied for fourth in the country in red zone defense, allowing scores on only 5 of 10 tries (50 percent). As the season goes on that number of opportunities allowed could become a concern — in the B1G, only Purdue (11) has allowed opponents inside their 20 more often.
Of course this theory only applies if Miami can get inside the 20 against the Buckeyes defense.
OSU is second in the country in sacks (4.67 per game) and fourth in tackles for loss (10.3 per game) going against a Miami team that is 128th in total offense. MU does not wow anybody with big numbers in any way: The RedHawks are 116th in rushing offense and 115th in passing offense.
And OSU’s overall defense, with Jeffrey Okudah (pictured), Damon Arnette, Jordan Fuller, Chase Young, Tuf Borland and Malik Harrison, is in better form than it was most of last season.
So Miami’s statistical prowess on first down is unlikely to have a huge impact against the scarlet and gray. But it still might be an interesting facet of Saturday’s game should the RedHawks get a few opportunities.