Top 25 preview: San Diego St. at Ohio State

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
GAMEDATE: 9/7/13
SITE: Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
SERIES: Ohio State leads 3-0
AP RANKINGS: San Diego State unranked, Ohio State No. 3.

San Diego State limps into the Horseshoe after a lopsided 40-19 loss to FCS opponent Eastern Illinois. Ohio State has a chip on its shoulder after going undefeated last season and the Buckeyes handled Buffalo, 40-20, last week.

It was a textbook case of mixed reviews for the Buckeyes in their season-opener against Buffalo, and now they move on to face San Diego State with a clipboard worth of unfulfilled expectations from week one still part of their unfinished business.
Head coach Urban Meyer saw his team jump all over the Bulls and build a 23-point lead early in the game, but then slog its way through the middle portion of the game and hang on to a 10-point lead before pulling away in the final stages.
"Very pleased with our win. Very pleased with our fast start," Meyer said. "Not very pleased when we had the lull in the second quarter when we had four bad drives."
Meyer admitted that it will be a lot easier to push his team in its preparations for San Diego State after the humble 20-point win over Buffalo, than it would be if the Buckeyes had won by 50.
"I think complacency is certainly not a problem this week," Meyer said as Ohio State prepared for the Aztecs, who lost their opener to Eastern Illinois.
"There's been times when you smoke a team and then all of a sudden, you start trying to get after them and they are looking at you because they have just been told how great they are. This is a great opportunity for us to coach hard and get better."
The Buckeyes have won 62 straight games at home against non-conference teams that are unranked, but Meyer has focused on the youth of his team, particularly on defense, and the inherent vulnerability that goes with that inexperience.
Ohio State will field a different team than it sent out against Buffalo in the opener, since several key performers will be back from injury and suspensions. That adds depth for the Buckeyes, and complicates matters for San Diego State.
The defensive secondary gets the biggest boost, with injured S C.J. Barnett returning from an ankle injury that forced him to miss the first week, and junior CB Bradley Roby back from a suspension related to a disorderly conduct arrest during the off-season. Roby was on many pre-season All-American teams and is considered a top NFL prospect.
Ohio State also will have RB Rod Smith available for the game with the Aztecs after he missed the Buffalo game while serving a one-game suspension for an unspecified violation of team rules earlier this year.

--QB Braxton Miller did not have the kind of 2013 debut a Heisman Trophy favorite expects, as he dealt with leg cramps in the Buckeyes' season opener against Buffalo. Miller had 178 passing yards for a couple of touchdowns and rushed for another 77 yards. Look for him to display more of the dual-threat repertoire that has gained him so much attention when the Buckeyes face San Diego State.
--RB Jordan Hall seized the moment last week when he got the start as two players ahead on the depth chart sat out with suspensions. Hall rushed for a career high 159 yards and had a 49-yard touchdown run, the longest carry of his career. He won't give up the lead role if he has a similar effort against the Aztecs.
--LB Curtis Grant had a career-high seven total tackles against Buffalo and could be ready to meet those lofty expectations that accompanied him to Columbus when the Buckeyes landed him as one of the nation's top recruits two years ago.
--DB Bradley Roby had to sit out the first game under suspension following his arrest outside a nightclub this summer. Roby will have to earn his way onto the field, but expect that to happen early in the San Diego State game, and once he is out there, the big plays should follow.
--DE Noah Spence was a huge coup for the Buckeyes when they recruited him to join last year's freshman class, and in his first start against Buffalo last week, Spence showed why his decision to come to Columbus was such a big deal. He led the defense with six tackles and made a pair of stops for loss, and should stand out again when San Diego State comes to town.
--P Cameron Johnston made his American football debut in the opener against Buffalo and had his grandparents in the crowd to see it. Eileen and Geoff Johnston flew to the U.S. earlier in the week and got to watch their grandson average 41.3 yards per punt and celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
--CB Bradley Roby, an All-American last season, returns to the lineup after missing the opener while serving a one-game suspension following an arrest this summer.

--QB Adam Dingwell was almost instantly pushed into comeback mode, attempting 63 passes with miserable results. he was 27 of 63 for 318 yards and didn't throw a touchdown. He was intercepted four times and totaled a 42.9 completion percentage. The offense was so imbalanced -- 122 rushing yards -- Dingwell became a sitting duck. They'll look for a quick strike to prevent Dingwell from finding similar footing this week.
--WR Colin Lockett led the Aztecs with 48 rushing yards (all on one carry, resulting in a touchdown) and receiving yards with eight catches for 98 yards.

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