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Ohio State's keys to victory

By SCOTT PURKS

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 1, 2001


1. CONTAIN THE SPREAD: Miami of Ohio ran the spread offense and nearly upset the Buckeyes. Minnesota, Purdue and Michigan, to a degree, ran it and won. Now comes South Carolina, which runs the spread about as well as anybody. Seems pretty simple: Ohio State must find a way to slow the spread. The Buckeyes need to pressure the quarterback, something they have excelled at. They have 46 sacks, one shy of the school record set in 1998.

2. RECEIVERS NEEDS TO STEP UP: Ohio State's top three wide receivers (Ken-Yon Rambo, Reggie Germany and Chad Cacchio) are out or injured. Rambo, Germany and Cacchio have combined to catch 93 passes, almost 60 percent of the team's total. Rambo is recovering from an injury to his left hand. Germany is academically ineligible. Cacchio has a separated shoulder. Sophomore tight end Darnell Sanders, who led all receivers with five touchdown catches, and senior Vanness Provitt could get more chances.

3. STUFF THE RUNNING GAME: With South Carolina leading rusher Derek Watson suspended for a rules violation, Ohio State has an opportunity to make the Gamecocks more one-dimensional. Ohio State has allowed an average of less than 100 yards rushing a game. South Carolina all-purpose back Ryan Brewer is expected to share time at tailback with Cory Alexander and Trevin Smith.

4. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED: Lou Holtz, the SEC coach of the year, has proven time and again that he can find ways to win. Holtz, who ranks third among active Division I-A coaches with 223 victories, no doubt will have something up his sleeve.

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