Miami will be facing a Big Ten opponent for only the second time in a bowl game. The Hurricanes lost to the Nittany Lions 14-10 in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl with a national title on the line.
UM is 5-3 overall in postseason games with national title implications. The Buckeyes last played for the national title in the 1980 Rose Bowl, falling to USC 17-16. OSU's last national title came in 1969 after defeating USC in the Rose Bowl. The Fiesta Bowl has hosted four national championship games: (1999 Tennessee 23, Florida State 16), (1996 Nebraska 62, Florida 24), (1989 Notre Dame 34, West Virginia 21) and (1987 Penn State 14, Miami 10). The Ohio State offense does not rank higher than 44th (scoring, 29.15) in any category, while the Hurricanes are sixth in total defense (286.50). Ohio State freshman Maurice Clarett had 1,190 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. The Buckeyes finished the regular season with the fourth-ranked rushing defense (78.69), while Miami sophomore Willis McGahee ran for a school-record 1,686 yards.
Aside from a one-point victory over Florida State, the closest any team came to Miami was seven points. Miami defeated Pittsburgh 28-21 last month. Ohio State won six of their games by seven points or less.
OUTLOOK: The first thought that comes to mind after looking at several match-ups in this contest is, all right Ohio State doesn't stand a chance against the defending national champions. And there is a stack of reasons why most people would feel that way. The Hurricanes offense – which averaged 41.9 points per game- proved all season it could score at will, and most importantly when they needed to.
The same can't be said about the Buckeyes who struggled to the move the ball against lesser competition and squeaked out a handful of victories. A theory flying around out there is the OSU would stay in the game by controlling the ball and keeping the Hurricanes offense off the field. Only problem with that is the Buckeyes have a tendency of chewing up seven minutes off the clock but ending up with three points. That won't cut it against a UM team that scores points in bunches. Ohio State will need a stellar defensive performance (two or three turnovers would be nice) to have a crack at the upset.
OSU's best chance would be to try and keep Miami in front of them on offense. The Buckeyes can't afford to give up the big plays and fall behind right away. They just don't have the firepower to afford themselves that luxury.
It's a Canes thing in Tempe.
PREDICTION: UM 31, OSU 17
A DREAM MATCH-UP
Both the University of Miami and Ohio State football programs have sent a good share of talent to the NFL through the years. Since 1984 Miami ranks first of all Division I schools in first-round draft selections (32), while Ohio State is fifth (22). The Hurricanes also rank at the top with 63 selections in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft during the same period. Ohio State has 44. Just think who would win a dream match-up between the schools?
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