Stacking Up the Ohio State Defense Against the Nebraska Offense

Nebraska ran the ball for the majority of last year's 48-7 loss. Will the Huskers have a better game plan this time around?
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As Ryan Day begins his second year as head coach at Ohio State, it's fair to wonder if the Ohio State defense could live up to the same expectations as they did a year ago. It has nothing to do with being unable to reload their talent from last year's NFL-laden defense. It has everything to do with just how good that defense really was last season.

After an excruciatingly long offseason, the Buckeyes are ready to show that defense is up to the challenge. As we continue our coverage previewing Saturday's Ohio State opener against Nebraska, it's time to look at how the Buckeye defense might stack up on paper against the Huskers offense.

Ohio State Scoring Defense vs. Nebraska Scoring Offense

Advantage: Ohio State

It's a new year and last season's numbers are a nice jumping off point, but they certainly won't tell the entire story. But consider for a moment how Nebraska struggled to close games last year. The dominated Colorado on the road, but somehow blew the lead and lost 34-31 in OT. When they were 4-3, the led Indiana in the third quarter, but lost by a touchdown. They finally ended an 8-game road losing streak by outgaining Illinois 674-299, but they only won the game by four points.

Meanwhile, the Buckeyes last year very arguably had the best defense in college football and they return their entire linebacking crew, several experienced defensive tackles, perhaps the nation's best cornerback in Shaun Wade and several other defensive backs that saw significant playing time last fall. Even without Chase Young, I have a hard time seeing Nebraska offense keeping up with the Buckeye attack.

Ohio State Rush Defense vs. Nebraska Rush Offense

Advantage: Ohio State

Nebraska returns its top three rushers from last year with Dedrick Mills, Adrian Martinez and Wan'Dale Robinson, but I give the edge here to the Ohio State here. Yes, Nebraska ran the ball effectively against the Buckeyes last fall - 39 carries for 184 yards. But the 'Huskers turned it over three times and were chasing the game right from the get-go.

Last year, Mills, Martinez and Robinson ran the ball for nearly 1,700 yards and 20 touchdowns. Nebraska's system can be hard to defend and not everyone does it well. This is certainly the strength of Nebraska's offense.

Running the ball effectively, controlling the clock and sustaining drives is critical to beating a team like Ohio State. Plus, returning their entire offensive line is a huge help for the Huskers. But I think the Buckeyes defense will wear them down and the offense will score too quickly for Nebraska to hope that it can run the ball to a victory.

Ohio State Pass Defense vs. Nebraska Pass Offense

Advantage: Ohio State

Adrian Martinez is a very solid quarterback and according to Scott Frost, his backup Luke McCaffrey is plenty capable of starting as well. But I don't get the impression that Nebraska believes it can throw the football all over the Buckeyes. Last year's numbers are skewed perhaps by the three NFL defensive backs that have since left the Ohio State program.

I don't think there's much doubt that Nebraska wants to try and run the ball on Ohio State because they've had such little success throwing it. Nebraska's first three possessions against the Buckeyes last year resulted in an interception, punt (3-and-out) and interception. Meanwhile, Ohio State scored on its first six straight possessions to start the game last year and take a 38-0 lead at the half. That's not a winning combination for Nebraska.