The Buckeyes got their first real test on Saturday afternoon going into East Lansing and squeaking out a close win in normal Ohio State fashion. It was a mile-marker of sorts for the team, coaches and university because it was their first road game as well as their first B1G match-up that presented some big challenges. In turn, the game received quite a bit of hype. To me, the game on Saturday night is an even larger hurdle not only because of how the Nebraska Cornhuskers match up with Ohio State, but because of the history with Bo Pelini.
Before I begin, let me preface with a small tangent: as a very loyal and passionate fan, I expect, or hope for that same passion to be returned on the field or court. Whether it comes from players or coaches alike, I feel that we as fans should see that very similar passion from the teams that we not only follow, but
so blindly enthusiastically root for. That may seem as though it is a very silly request considering how much time and dedication that all are required to put in before they are even considered to be a starter or a part of a coaching staff. The real answer even could be that the passion is just ingrained in the sacrifices that they make to get there and even larger to remain there. All may be true. I do not care. I want these guys to share the same anger and disappointment as I when there is blown coverage, a turnover or just an overall boneheaded move. I want accountability. I want a coach to put a fear in them so strong that it will never allow that same mistake to be made again. Although, there are limits to all of this and I believe all of this should only happen at the professional level.
Bo Pelini came out of Cardinal-Mooney High School in Youngstown and earned a scholarship to The Ohio State University where he played safety in the late 1980′s. Us Ohioans have a ton of hometown pride and really, those two facts should make him someone that we embrace. The fact is, because of him alone, Nebraska has actually quickly become one of many teams that I completely loathe. The irony in all of this is that I have heard from numerous people who have said that Nebraska fans are some of the most cordial and accommodating fans in all of college football. I have not witnessed this for myself yet, but I find that mildly amusing considering how many fans view their team and their coach.
While this game is not The Game, I view it to be something similar. Not only is the team a good match-up for Ohio State athletically, but watching Bo Pelini have meltdowns such as these add that much more to it for a guy that has seemingly no respect for anyone around him. He may appear to be mild-mannered at times during the game, but when he loses it, he clearly goes all out.
Bo Pelini even went as far as making national news when he attended lunch on the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan with naval officers, stating that one sailor would win the chance to call a play in the Holiday Bowl in 2011. A sailor named Morgan Ryan ended up winning the chance to call the play, but Pelini never honored his word. In fact, when he was questioned on why it never happened after the fact, Pelini barked at the reporter who questioned it by saying “It was a joke, ma’am!” Ryan was very understanding of the situation because it was Nebraska’s bowl game, but but there was significant uproar when Pelini tried to play it off as a joke.
Is my overall anger towards Bo Pelini justified? In my head it is. In the end, it does just become a game again after all and there a few key pieces that will challenge Ohio State this weekend.
Saturday night at Ohio Stadium always brings out the best in all teams involved. Nebraska comes into Columbus ranked 5th in overall rushing offense averaging over 300 yards per game that will undoubtedly test Ohio State’s front four which held Le’Veon Bell to a mere 2.6 yards-per-carry on Saturday. Although, the offensive schemes that this team will see this weekend will be much different because of the personnel. While Le’veon Bell is more of a traditional bruiser-style running back at 245-pounds, this defense will be facing a pair of backs both under 210-pounds and short of 6-feet tall in Rex Burkhead and Ameer Abdullah. While that may appear to be an advantage for the defensive line, their quickness will put more pressure on Ohio State’s linebackers on being able to contain them because of their big-play ability.
The other variable in the rushing attack that will keep this defense on it’s heels is quarterback Taylor Martinez who has racked up 50 rush attempts this season. Yes, it does not compare to Braxton’s 90 attempts this season but Martinez is a very real rushing threat that will certainly test the Buckeye linebackers as plays breakdown. While Taylor Martinez does not have the prettiest of throwing motions for a quarterback, he does have the highest QB rating (169.6) and the best TD:INT ratio (11:1) in all of the B1G. He is pushing nearly 1,100 passing yards on the season, so he is as much of a true dual-threat quarterback as Ohio State will see all season.
Saturday night will bring quite a few future recruits to the ‘Shoe as well, so this performance has an even deeper meaning. I have read that there may be upwards of 30 potential recruits in attendance and it will be a mixture of both football and basketball targets. For a deeper breakdown on some of these individuals, I definitely recommend checking this article out to learn more.
There were some great strides made on Saturday afternoon, but we still have not seen the true creativity in play-calling that can come from the talent on the field. The trust in Urban Meyer and his coaching staff are at all-time high after a road victory like that, but you can be sure that there is more to come. This team has a tremendous ceiling. I have a feeling that being Urban’s first B1G home game, under the lights, with a stadium full of potential recruits and a developing rivalry in Nebraska, that we will see something very special on Saturday night.