Tressels, Fickells and Urbans,
When I was a kid, I would play football games in the living room. For the most part, I was re-enacting a recent Ohio State football game. My match-up was always OSU vs. a Big Ten foe. Sometimes, I was playing a game in the rain against Iowa; my favorite receivers (Mike Lanese and Cris Carter) were making catch after catch. Sometimes, I would lose my turf shoe (ala Keith Byers) in an afternoon game against Illinois. Occasionally, I was Art Schlichter carving up Northwestern - the first Ohio State game I attended. And...of course, Michigan was always a popular opponent with a noon showdown in Ohio Stadium.
Not once did I take on Rutgers, Maryland, Nebraska or Penn State...and none of those games were at night on the road.
It still seems odd to play these teams at all, let alone consecutively. I'm still waiting for the Big Ten season to start. And, this is 25 years after Penn State joined the conference....it still feels strange to me.
I'm still waiting for the Big Ten season to start since the Thursday night game against Indiana feels like another lifetime ago.
...and another team ago. This OSU team is evolving so rapidly during this recent stretch of non-conference pushovers and Big Ten-ish teams.
If I were a defensive coordinator opposing Ohio State now, I would wonder what we would see. OSU has shown zone blocking read option, mesh cross route, bubble screen, four-wide pass, four-wide JT run, power with Mike Weber, counter with JK, deep passing, tight end split, tight end lined up in the backfield...you name it, they've shown it. Urban hinted playing JK and Mike Weber simultaneously in the back field...we'll see if they show that look, too.
Ohio State is deep enough...and the players are talented and athletic enough...to run whatever they want. They have the ability. Earlier this season, the execution was poor and it was painful to watch. One player missed an assignment and the whole thing fell apart. Against the weak part of the schedule, mistakes are easier to cover up. We'll see if the Buckeyes find an offensive identity or continue to be a swiss-army-knife offense....or maybe a diverse offense will be their identity. If the players can execute multiple looks, the offense will be really hard to defend eventually. We'll see if they continue to evolve and execution becomes crisp deep into the season.
Right now, there is a young Ohio State fan playing football in his living room and scoring touchdown after touchdown against teams that will always represent the Big Ten in his mind. There will be another high scoring game for the Buckeyes to replay after this weekend against Nebraska!
Touchdowns: Mike Weber, JT, JK Dobbins, Parris Campbell, Austin Mack
OSU 41 Nebraska 24
Go Bucks! Beat Nebraska! Dante Booker for Heisman!