With a gap in conference play, Ohio State put their feelers out there to find a filler. The opponent shopping done was comparable to looking for a jersey of a specific player (who isn’t number 2) made for women. Meaning, you know there is one out there but it has to be exactly what you are looking for AND must be the right fit.
The right fit came from the southwest. The Buckeyes opted to buy their bye for a mere $850,000. Tressel explained “…when (the conference) went to 12 games and all the holes in your conference and the inventory … there’s only so many teams and only so many games available. You had to find someone who could fit perfectly into October 31st, 2009, and that was hard to do. So we’re grateful for the fact that we could find a game.” Enter the New Mexico State Aggies.
New Mexico State comes to Columbus after a 34-3 shredding by Fresno State. With a 3-5 record, the Aggies aren’t looking to propel the upset that will be discussed for seasons to come (I know what you are thinking but I didn’t even mention Appalachian State. js!). NMSU is looking for a little cash in their pocket and possibly a score against the Goliath of an opponent they face.
The Aggies are 120th in the nation in total offense (254 yards per game) and 119th in scoring (13.3 points per game). They have lost 12 straight to ranked opponents since a 35-7 win at No. 22 Arizona State in 1999.
The NMSU offense can be summarized in one word, yawn. The only offensive player deserving of recognition is RB Seth Smith (703 yds on the season). Assuming Ohio native Trevor Walls is playing Saturday and assuming he can hand the ball off before being crushed, I envision a lot of rejection for Smith and plenty of three and outs from the Aggies. Walls and his QB sidekick Jeff Fleming have thrown a combined 11 INTs this season. To air the ball would be to error as they face the nation’s 13th ranked defense.
Don’t expect Coach Tressel to act as if this game is a bye for OSU starters. “We’re going out all barrels blazing and do what the situation calls for” said coach in a very non Vestlike manner. This week Tressel challenged the players to step up. Let’s hope he adopts the same attitude in play calling.
Pryor had a solid showing last week against Minnesota and could use this game to work on accurately blazing his barrel against a 75th ranked defense. To whom he will target could be a challenge. Tailbacks Dan Herron and Brandon Saine are both questionable for the game against the Aggies. Herron has been bothered by a sprained ankle most of the season and Saine suffered a concussion last week against Minnesota.
With the exception of Bryant Browning, the offensive line has battled injury all season. This type of game could help or hurt the recovery of Pryor’s protection.
Look for Tressel and the starters to change the conservative play that has hindered the majority of the season and use this bye purchase to make some necessary changes as they head in to three major games in the following three weeks. Expect to see some fresh Buckeye blood step onto the field in the second half of the game. Much like last week, the Buckeyes will not only prevayle but they will use this game as a stepping stone to the Big Ten title.
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Written by Rebekah Edwards