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Marla Ridenour on Sports

OSU defense surprises Smith

By Marla Published: October 15, 2010

As Ohio State continues its quest for a national title Saturday night at Wisconsin, former Buckeyes running back Robert Smith admitted Thursday that the OSU defense is better than he expected.

But Smith sees problems for the OSU offense as it strives to remain undefeated and play for the championship Jan. 10 in Glendale, Ariz.

''Ohio State defensively, I think they're better than I thought they were,'' Smith said during an ESPN conference call. ''Offensively they need a healthy Terrelle Pryor. They're not going to run the ball out of standard formations with regular running plays. Brandon Saine's been split out more and they've been using Dan Herron predominantly as that back. I don't see either one of those guys being a dominant force out of regular running. They need the threat of Terrelle Pryor running the ball, that's probably why they've used more zone read in the last couple weeks. ''

Smith also believes Pryor could be exposed as a passer in the final six games.

''As far as Terrelle Pryor throwing the ball, I'm not sold yet,'' Smith said. "He's looked great when he's had all kinds of time, much more average when he threw the ball against Illinois, had trouble with his accuracy there. They need him healthy, both as a run and pass threat, or this offense doesn't do a whole lot.''

Smith believes the Buckeyes' weak schedule could hurt them in the coming weeks. OSU is expected to be No. 5 when the first BCS rankings are released Sunday night.

''I think it could, especially with Iowa having lost to Arizona and Wisconsin not looking as strong as I thought they would,'' Smith said. ''It looks like Miami's going to lose some more games. The computers are only one-third of the BCS components, but if there's a significant enough advantage for Oklahoma, having the win over Florida State but also the opportunity in the Big 12 championship game against Nebraska, maybe they will (hurt them).''

ESPN college football analyst Brad Edwards believes Ohio State will lose at Iowa on Nov. 20.   But ESPN's Craig James insisted that if OSU goes undefeated, it will be playing in the BCS title game.

 ''If they're an undefeated Big Ten champion, I see them playing,'' James said. ''And coming off their (Rose) bowl win and Terrelle Pryor, a very top candidate for the Heisman Trophy if they're undefeated, they're going to get two-thirds.''

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