QUARTERBACKS: OSU - There is no quick fix to the problem at this position. Joe Bauserman just isn't very good and Braxton Miller isn't ready. Pick your poison. Interim coach Luke Fickell is sticking with Miller ... until he isn't. The Buckeyes need to develop the kid. This season is lost anyway. Nebraska - The good news for Taylor Martinez is that OSU isn't a Top-25 team, because the Cornhuskers sophomore has thrown five interceptions and no touchdowns in his last three games (all losses) against ranked teams. But he does a "good job" reading defenses. Just ask him. Martinez is an effective runner, with 482 yards and eight touchdowns in five games.
RUNNING BACKS: OSU - Dan Herron was supposed to be back this week, but a new scandal has the senior from Warren suspended again. I think Herron is a good kid, but it's difficult to defend the decisions he and some of his teammates have made. Those choices have helped cripple the Buckeyes. OSU needs a big game from Jordan Hall and some contributions from Carlos Hyde. Nebraska - Red Burkhead leads the Cornhuskers with 516 yards and is tied with Martinez for the team lead with eight TDs. He seldom gets dropped for a loss. Former Cardinal Mooney star Braylon Heard is a backup with 79 yards and a TD on 17 carries.
The Associated Press
Former Cardinal Mooney High School star and former Ohio State defensive back Bo Pelini will lead his Nebraska Cornhuskers against the Buckeyes on Saturday night.
RECEIVERS: OSU - DeVier Posey, the Buckeyes' best and most experienced receiver, also won't play Saturday night after the revelation of another NCAA violation. OSU also found out this week that Verlon Reed is out for the season with a torn ACL suffered on the Buckeyes' onside kick at the end of the loss to Michigan State. OSU has two sophomores (Chris Fields and Corey "Philly" Brown) and three freshmen listed on its two-deep chart this week. Nebraska - Believe it or not, the Cornhuskers have completed fewer passes and have fewer TD passes than the Buckeyes. Jamal Turner leads Nebraska with 13 receptions. Former Cardinal Mooney standout Tim Marlowe has two catches in a backup role.
OFFENSIVE LINE: OSU - At least LT Mike Adams, as of this writing, hasn't been flagged for another NCAA violation and will play this week. The Buckeyes need him after giving up nine sacks against the Spartans. But it wasn't just the sacks. To better illustrate just how badly the Buckeyes are getting beaten up front, consider this: Ohio State ran 63 plays against Michigan State and 30 of them went for zero or negative yards. That is abysmal and shocking. With Adams back, Andrew Norwell moves to LG and Jack Mewhort to RG, replacing the suspended Marcus Hall. Nebraska - Senior C Mike Caputo is the anchor for the Cornhuskers. Senior RT Marcel Jones also has lots of experience, with 13 career starts. Nebraska has allowed seven sacks in five games, or two fewer than OSU gave up just last week.
DEFENSIVE LINE: OSU - The Buckeyes probably won't get DE Nathan Williams (knee surgery) back this week. OSU didn't sack Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins once last week. The best way to force Martinez into some mistakes is to bring some pressure. DTs John Simon and Jonathan Hankins need to play their best games of the season. Nebraska - Senior DT Jared Crick has 20 career sacks. Junior DE Cameron Meredith leads the Cornhuskers with three sacks this season and he also has an interception. Junior DT Baker Steinkuhler is a second-year starter and the son of Nebraska legend Dean Steinkuhler, who won the Lombardi and Outland trophies.
LINEBACKERS: OSU - Andrew Sweat leads the Buckeyes with 34 tackles despite battling injuries during the first four games. Sweat apparently was close to 100 percent against Michigan State and made a season-high 10 stops. Look for freshman Ryan Shazier, listed as Sweat's backup, to get more snaps at other positions as the season develops. Shazier is making an impact. Nebraska - Levonte David is on his way to another big year after making a school-record 152 tackles last season. He has 45 in five games. Will Compton has made 27 stops. The other starter, Sean Fisher, has 17 tackles after missing the 2010 season with a broken leg.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: OSU - The good news? CB Travis Howard made a season-high 10 tackles (five solos, five assists) against Michigan State. The bad news? That means the Spartans were throwing his way a lot. Howard was burned for a TD and another long pass by Spartans WR B.J. Cunningham, who finished with nine catches for 154 yards. S Christian Bryant also had a season-high with nine tackles against MSU. Nebraska - Junior S Daimion Stafford is the Cornhuskers' second-leading tackler with 38 stops. He also had three pass breakups, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble. Senior CB Alfonzo Dennard, a preseason All-America selection, missed the first three games with a leg injury. He has made six tackles in two games since his return to action.
SPECIALISTS: OSU - With the Buckeyes' offense in shambles, this would be a good time for the return teams to provide a spark. Jordan Hall has taken over as the main punt return man with his return from suspension and has averaged 14.8 yards on four opportunities. Hall and Jaamal Berry are the kickoff return duo. P Ben Buchanan averages 41.4 yards. PK Drew Basil is 5-for-9 on field goals and has made all 14 PATs. Nebraska - Junior Brett Maher performs double duty as the Cornhuskers' kicker and punter, and he's solid at both tasks. Maher is 9-for-11 on field goals and is perfect on 23 PATs. He is fifth in the nation with a 47.9-yard punting average. Ameer Abdullah has a 100-yard kickoff return for a TD. He averages a gaudy 35.1 yards on kickoffs and 12 yards on punt returns. The Cornhuskers are allowing 15 yards on punt returns.
PREDICTION: The Buckeyes' defense shows up, but the offense's struggles continue. ... Nebraska 9, Ohio State 6.