When you aspire to become National Champions as the Ohio State Buckeyes vocalize being this season there is no room for a ‘break’.
Of course every team in the FBS wants to hold the Waterford Crystal football high at season’s end but there is a difference between casually dating the idea and really fighting to make the ultimate commitment.
In 2007 the Buckeyes were ranked on top of the country when they proved they were not ready to take the leap and fell to Illinois on Senior Day. Last season a 7th ranked Ohio State team got cold feet in West Lafayette, Ind. when they lost to a struggling Purdue squad. Both cut deep. The timing wasn’t right.
This season is make or break for OSU. They’ve tasted victory in the Rose Bowl last season and that bouquet brought with it the desire to take it a step further. It is do or die. Commit to taking it all of the way or throw in the towel and head to the Humane Society and adopt an excessive number of cats.
The Ohio State Buckeyes welcome Ohio University to The Horseshoe on Saturday. This weekend will test the Buckeyes commitment to fighting this season to the end.
The Bobcats were a 33 point underdog facing a 3rd ranked OSU team when the Bobcats last visited Ohio Stadium in 2008. After getting shut out in the opening quarter and trailing Ohio 14-12 heading into the fourth, Ohio State rallied to scored two touchdowns and come away with a 26-14 victory. The victory was hardly pretty and reflected the Buckeyes’ distraction of the following week which resulted in a loss in a major non conference game against USC.
This season the Buckeyes walk into the game ranked #2 in the country facing a team with national rankings such as 111th in passing yards and 79th in rushing yards. Numbers like these clearly state that the Bobcats would be better off to not even get on US 33 and head NW to Columbus on Saturday. But those disposable numbers mean nothing if Tressel’s crew doesn’t have heart in the match-up.
Ohio State leads the NCAA in turnover margin, having forced 7 turnovers in two games and committing none. The focus will be on Bobcat QB Boo Jackson, who had some success against the Buckeyes two years ago. Jackson was 17 of 27 for 137 yards and a touchdown but was picked off three times in last weekend’s contest against conference foe Toledo in a 20-13 loss.
Jackson faces a defense playing without Buckeyes starting safety C.J. Barnett, who will likely miss the remainder of the season after suffering a knee injury against Miami. Orhian Johnson, Aaron Gant and Zach Domicone are being looked to in order to fill the void left by Barnett.
The Barnett situation is the least of the Buckeyes worries going in to week three as 21 points were scored directly off of OSU special team mistakes last week against the Hurricanes. Special teams is the weak link in the strong program.
The Vest attributes some of the returns to the lack of hang time and placement that “we enjoyed with (previous kicker) Aaron Pettrey”. The team has gone, thus far, without linebacker Etienne Sabino as they want to maintain his redshirt status. However, Tressel did not say it could not happen in order to boost the lineup. This is a situation of doing whatever it takes because a faulty special teams can and will break team morale as well as a season.
OSU QB Terrelle Pryor was 12 of 27 for 233 yards and a touchdown, and added 113 rushing yards and a score against the Hurricanes last weekend. Pryor led the Buckeyes in rushing but still has an auxiliary of runners lining up to go the distance.
Buckeyes receiving corp. was statistically close in numbers and equally effective in last week’s contest with Dane Sanzenbacher catching 6 times for 150 yds and a touchdown and Devier Posey with 8/ 146/ 2. Posey will face his older brother Julian who is considered to be a standout defensive back for the Bobcats.
Ohio is 0-14 against ranked teams and 0-6 in the all-time series with Ohio State. With everything to lose the Buckeyes have to look to the weekend remembering a relationship requires a daily commitment. There can be no looking at what happened in the past and no looking too far into the future.
It’s a destination championship but you have to commit to getting to Glendale first.
Buy the ring Buckeyes, the date is set.
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Written by Rebekah Edwards