UCF Football Opponent Preview - Ohio State

May 29, 2012

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By Joey Nelson

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - In what will be one of the biggest marquee games of the season, UCF returns to Ohio Sept. 8 in a battle against Urban Meyer and his Ohio State Buckeyes. The Knights head into their second matchup of the season with hopes of leaving the "Horseshoe" home crowd stunned, swiping a victory at the hands of OSU and penciling a W in the win column.

UCF holds a 12-14 record against all Ohio schools, and aims to capture its first win against a Big Ten football program. The game also stands as a first between Ohio State and UCF.

The Buckeyes are coming off a 6-7 record and a loss to the Florida Gators this past bowl season. Ohio State hopes new head coach Urban Meyer can bring his winning ways to a football program that is only five years removed from back-to back appearances in the National Championship game. In 10 seasons, Meyer has racked up 104 wins with a bowl record of 7-1. He also knows the Florida football landscape well, coaching the Gators for six seasons, including two National Championship titles and three bowl victories.

Not only is Meyer known for his ability to change a team's success, but is also a passionate and motivated leader. "I want a football team that goes 4-to-6 seconds of relentless effort. You do that, you have a chance to win in every game you play," said Meyer at his first OSU press conference. "The formula is real simple. Go recruit some really good players that know how to compete, are tough, go surround them with the best coaches in the country, [and] you usually find a way to win a few games."

Offensive Player to Watch
For these Ohio State Buckeyes, success will rely on the arm of sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller. Taking the starting job in game four of last season, Miller passed for 1,159 yards and threw 13 touchdowns. He also rushed for 715 yards and carried the ball into the end zone seven times. Braxton Miller was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Meyer believes the young man is just the guy for the job. "We're putting a lot of pressure on this cat," Meyer joked when asked about Miller to ESPN. "He's special." Since Urban Meyer's arrival, the Buckeyes have implemented a no-huddle, spread attack offense with an emphasis on zone reads. This style of offense should be an ideal fit for the 6-foot-3, 210-lbs. quarterback that has a knack for making plays with his feet.

Defensive Player to Watch
Defensive tackle John Simon has been described as not just a powerhouse but has been labeled the No. 5 athlete in the country by Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com. At 6-foot-2, 270 lbs., Simon is a force on the defensive line, often times taking double-teams and disrupting the flow of play. Former Buckeye and All-Pro outside linebacker Mike Vrabel returns to his alma mater to coach the defensive line and if the spring workouts provided any taste of what the fall season will be like, offensive linemen should be a bit worried to play across the defensive tackle. Many critics believe if Simon can up the production and continue getting into the backfield, he could end up being one of the top defensive players in the nation.

Knight vs. Buckeye Matchup To Look Out For
Last week senior center Jordan Rae was selected to the Rimington Trophy Watch List, an honor presented to the top center in college football. Rae has been an essential piece to the UCF offense since his starting debut as a sophomore in 2010, holding down an offensive line that has prided itself in creating running room for senior tailbacks Latavius Murray and Brynn Harvey. With the spotlight constantly being on the quarterback, football's interior linemen often times don't receive the credit they deserve. Look for a tough battle in the trenches with UCF's Rae facing off against Simon. If Rae, as well as the rest of UCF's line, can out-muscle and hold off Simon, UCF should be able to provide quarterback Blake Bortles with some extra time to work with in the pocket.