||Thursday, January 2
Updated: January 3, 10:43 AM ET
20 reasons why the Buckeyes will win
By Ivan Maisel
PHOENIX -- Ohio State 18, Miami 17. The Buckeyes pull off the upset of the two-year-old century. Here's 20 reasons why:
1. No turnovers. The number of touchdowns that Ohio State opponents scored off of turnovers. And that touchdown was scored by Kent State, way back in the second game of the season. When it comes to giving the ball away, the Buckeyes make Scrooge seem like the United Way.
3. The number of times that Miami has played -- and lost -- in the Fiesta Bowl. UCLA outscored Miami 39-37 in the 1985 game. Penn State won its historic 14-10 upset two years later. In the 1994 Fiesta, Arizona embarrassed Miami, 29-0.
4. The number of Division I-AA national championships that Ohio State coach Jim Tressel won during the 1990s at Youngstown State. He knows how to prepare his teams for the big game.
5. Pop culture. In the year of the Bobblehead, Ohio State has four that have flown off the shelves: Archie Griffin, Eddie George, Chris Spielman, and The Coach, Woody Hayes. Score one for the team on the cutting edge of pop culture.
6. Cie Grant. No. 6, a linebacker so versatile that he volunteered to help out at cornerback a year ago when the Buckeyes needed help. Having returned upfield this year, Grant is third on the team in tackles for loss with 10. Grant personifies the athletic ability on this defense.
7. Chris Gamble. No. 7, the player so nice you'll see him twice. Actually, you'll see Gamble, the sophomore flanker/corner/co-MVP, on nearly every snap. Gamble picked up enough skills in pass defense when he tried it at midseason that he became an All-Big Ten corner.
8. Kicking game. All-American kicker Mike Nugent made 24 of 26 field goals this season. These weren't all glorified extra points, either. Nugent nailed 10 of 11 three-pointers from 40 yards and out. With a defense as dominant as Ohio State, the importance of field goals is magnified. Nugent is a potent offensive weapon.
9. Seeing red. Ohio State opponents went into the red zone 35 times. They came out with only nine touchdowns. As we said, the Buckeyes give nothing away.
10. Tie one on. Tressel's tie and sweater vest. Not exactly GQ, but Tressel brings a dash of sartorial splendor to the sideline. Omen alert: the last national championship coach to wear a tie on the sideline? Gene Stallings of Alabama, which a decade ago overcame its role as double-digit underdog to humiliate ... Miami, 34-13.
11. The number of runs over 15 yards that the Buckeyes allowed in 13 games. Miami thrives on big plays and quick-strike touchdowns. Without them, the Hurricanes will have to remain patient and grind out scores. That means they will be playing by Ohio State rules. No one can out-Buckeye the Buckeyes.
12. Forget the spread. In the 26 bowl games played through Jan. 1, 12 favorites not only failed to cover the spread, they lost outright. Funny things can happen to teams when they haven't played for several weeks. Miami is favored by 12 points in the Fiesta Bowl.
13. Finally, we will get to see No. 13, freshman Maurice Clarett, do what he does best. Hard as this is to believe after this week, it is not debating. The red tape in the athletic department, which prevented Clarett from returning home to Youngstown for the funeral of a friend, is the first opponent to shut him down all season. He has had nearly six weeks for the aches in his left shoulder to dissipate. Clarett rushed for 1,190 yards and 14 touchdowns this season, much of it when he wasn't at full speed. He will be 6-foot, 230 pounds of full speed Friday night.
14. Power game. Miami is vulnerable to powerful running backs. Florida State's Greg Jones rushed for 189 yards and a touchdown against the 'Canes. In their next game, they gave up 175 yards and a score to Avon Cobourne of West Virginia. Miami also has a four-game streak of allowing 100-yard rushers. That plays into the hands of an Ohio State team that loves to move the chains and play keepaway.
15. Winning close ones. Ohio State has been belittled because it won six games by a touchdown or less. Hey, give me a team that knows how to win close games. Miami had one close game this season. Faced with protecting a 28-27 lead in the last 5:17 against Florida State, punter Freddie Capshaw shanked a punt that gave the Seminoles good field position. Then the Miami defense couldn't prevent Florida State from two-minute drilling down to the Hurricanes' 26. Winning a close game by crossing your fingers and hoping that Xavier Beitia misses a 43-yard field goal does not exactly inspire confidence.
16. Craig Krenzel. Ken Dorsey isn't the only starting quarterback in this game with one career loss. Ohio State junior Craig Krenzel is 14-1, and he barely played in the loss, the Buckeyes' 31-28 defeat by South Carolina in the Outback Bowl last season. Krenzel, who wears No. 16, says the analytical skills that he employs in his major of molecular genetics are not the same as the skills he applies to reading defenses. On an offense that plays Hippocratic football (First, do no harm), it's small wonder that Krenzel has designs on medical school.
17. The home crowd. There are so many scarlet-and-gray wearing fans in the Valley of the Sun that the Ohio legislature ought to consider annexation. Add to that the natural inclination to root for the underdog, and the fans at Sun Devil Stadium will belong to the Buckeyes.
18. That's the jersey number of fifth-year senior punter Andy Groom, who has pinned so many teams with his booming leg, he may be a first-team All-America in football and wrestling. Groom had more punts inside the 20 (14) than he did touchbacks (11). He averaged 44.6 yards per kick, and the Buckeyes finished 13th in the nation in net punting (37.2-yard average). By contrast, Miami is 85th in net punting (32.7-yard average). That's five yards in every exchange of punts.
19. Toughness. You want tough? Offensive tackle Shane Olivea underwent an emergency appendectomy (is there any other kind?) in mid-October and started against Minnesota 10 days later. Say all you want about the NFL draftees on the Miami defensive line. But the Hurricanes can't be any tougher than Olivea.
20. Script Ohio. TBDBITL (The Best Damn Band in the Land). The 'Shoe. Woody's short sleeves. Hopalong Cassady. Woody's short temper. Paul Brown. Archie's thighs. Woody's short right hook. Ohio State was winning national championships and Heismans when south Florida was little more than sand and alligators.
Tradition is important in two places: Fiddler on the Roof (go rent the movie), and college football. Ohio State has more.
Wojciechowski: 20 reasons why Miami will win