WHEN THE Ohio State Buckeyes and Miami Hurricanes take the field Saturday night at the Sun Life Stadium in Florida, it'll be "a dog fight" in at least one player's opinion.
Noting the game was going to be tough, OSU junior nosetackle Garrett Goebel said he's sure it'll be a dog fight.
This is the two teams' fourth meeting, including the 2010 game vacated by Ohio State, and the Buckeyes lead 2-1 in its record books. Vacating OSU's 2010 victories is somewhat like the "just a dream" 1985-86 season for the television soap opera, "Dallas." (University officials can vacate a season all they want to, but we know it happened.)
Particularly memorable among the two teams' games was the Buckeyes' double-overtime victory with a 31-24 score in the 2002 national championship game in Tempe, Ariz.
On a personal basis, I remember the 1999 Kickoff Classic in East Rutherford, N.J. My late husband, Cal, and I attended. Prior to the game, Cal learned that he had to have a press pass with his picture on it.
Unlike today when The Times Leader sportswriters and reporters have very professional-looking passes including a picture, Cal didn't have one so he improvised, using his ingenuity. He pasted his picture from his newspaper column on the pass (shown in this column), and it worked!
As interesting as the game itself - which unfortunately was won by Miami, 23-12 - was going through the bowels of the Giants Stadium, which was part of the Meadowlands Sports Complex, and seeing the equipment stored there. (That stadium was torn down last year.)
At the classic, I was on the field as a photographer. My cousin, Monsignor Bernard Kirlin, originally from Pittsburgh, was a priest in Miami and was involved in a religious aspect with the Hurricanes at that time. His brother, Michael, said we could have been on the field at the same time and wouldn't have known it. The priest, however, wasn't in East Rutherford.
The other game on the record books between the two teams was in 1977 when OSU won 10-0 at the 'Shoe.
Both the Buckeyes and 'Canes are affected by suspensions because of off-field problems and adversities. At OSU, some players have indicated the problems have brought them closer together.
Regardless, both teams apparently are doing the best they can under the circumstances. OSU has won its first two games although the game against the Toledo Rockets was a bit rockier than the Scarlet and Gray would like.
The Hurricanes lost their first game at Maryland when the score was 32-24. The Florida-based team, however, led 24-23 with 4:01 left in the game, but the remainder of the match wasn't happy for the 'Canes. Maryland won with a late field goal and a pick-six with 39 seconds left.
If the Buckeyes are victorious Saturday, head coach Luke Fickell will be the ninth OSU head coach and the first since EarleBruce to win his first three games in his first season.
The last eight Ohio State head coaches are 4-3-1 in road debuts, and the last Buckeye head coach to win in his first road game was Bruce when OSU defeated Minnesota in 1979.
Fickell won't be the only first-year head coach on the sidelines Saturday. Miami head coach Al Golden, a 1991 graduate of Penn State, is in his first seaon at Miami after spending the last five seasons as head coach at Temple where his team went 17-8 in the final two seasons.
A former New Jersey resident, Golden was starting tight end and captain of Penn State's 1991 team. He later worked 2001-05 under Al Groh at Virginia where, at age 31, he was the youngest defensive coordinator in Division I-A. He was also an assistant under Joe Paterno at Penn State and under Tom O'Brien at Boston College.
As to what he expects from Miami in comparison with the Buckeyes' first two games, Fickell said, "I would imagine you are going to see some bigger, bigger more physical guys up front. I'm not saying they are that much bigger than what Toledo has been. You are going to see some more speed at the wideout. ... I think you'll see a very mature quarterback that has been playing a long time. And the other thing, I think, you might see more than anything is a big, physical offensive line, that to me, it might be one of their strengths of their entire team."
Fickell apparently agrees with former head coach John Cooper, who used to comment that the quarterbacks and coaches have bulls'-eyes on their backs. The new coach said the quarterback spot is the position that is criticized and critiqued the most.
He also praised QB Joe Bauserman for doing "a pretty good job in the things we asked him to do," and being careful with the football. While noting Bauserman will continue to grow, Fickell added the quarterback is making good decisions for the team.
The coach also had positive things to say about freshman quarterback Braxton Miller, noting he has done a good job, prepares well and has a very good attitude.
SATURDAY'S game, which will begin at 7:30 p.m., will be televised by ESPN.
Pokas can be reached at email@example.com.