We are one day away from the No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes taking on their toughest task to date as they visit the Nebraska Cornhuskers. At his weekly Tuesday press conference, OSU head coach Ryan Day said, “Got a real big challenge ahead of us this week, by far the best team that we’ve played. Not only just talent and coaching, but also the environment we’re going to be walking into.”
To get a better idea about the talent, coaching, and environment that the Buckeyes will be up against tomorrow, we talked Andy Ketterson, Jon Johnston, Nate McHugh, Uglydog56, and Jill from our Nebraska sister site Corn Nation, and their answers did not disappoint.
1) What happened against Colorado, and what are the chances of whatever it was happening again?
Andy: Oddly enough, it was sort of the same thing that happened against Northwestern last year. Armed with a big lead and control of the game in the second half, Scott Frost decided to go conservative instead of stomping on the gas. The result was a series of quick outs by the Huskers and drives by the Buffs that wore out the defense during the 3rd quarter. The ‘Skers hung in to get to OT, then went conservative again and that was that.
I think chances are pretty slim the rest of the season as Frost acknowledged he messed up in that regard. Somehow, I also see racing to a 17-0 lead on the Buckeyes as a low odds sort of thing.
Jon: I see us racing to a 17-0 lead as a very big possibility. Ohio State will show up in our Memorial Stadium and be so wowed by the awesome nature of us they will take at least a quarter before they start playing. Now… what are the chances we could hold a 17-0 lead against you guys? They’re probably… even, maybe (HHAAHAHA I AM TRYING TO TALK MYSELF INTO THIS ANSWER) even in a little in Nebraska’s favor given the Colorado game.
Jill: The Colorado game was weird in so many ways. No, I don’t see the Huskers getting out to a 17-0 lead vs the Buckeyes. If the Huskers have a chance in this one, they have to do things they haven’t done all season...hang onto the ball, produce in the red zone, RUN THE DANG BALL CONSISTENTLY.
Uglydog56: The coaches letup and the players let up. After that game AD Bill mood made the coaches watch the Karate Kid “sweep the leg” GIF clockwork orange style for a week straight. It won’t happen again.
Nate M: We were up 17-0 at the half and after the first possession of the second half I immediately thought…”This. Is. Not. Good.”
2) Obviously, Buckeye fans know how great of an athlete Adrian Martinez is, and are very familiar with J.D. Spielman, but if someone else on the offense was going to have a big game against Ohio State, who would it be and how would they do it?
Andy: You already saw them against Illinois. True freshman Wan’Dale Robinson got 27 touches for 168 yards and Mo Washington had 10 carries for 89 yards before getting dinged up. He’ll be back this Saturday.
Jon: Maurice Washington has shown he can explode in space, like a Supernova! Most of our playmakers are space explodenators, so we need someone who can pound on the ground. That would be Dedrick Mills. I don’t expect him to run for a lot of yards or score a lot of touchdowns, but if he doesn’t fumble and gets 3 yards a carry up the middle to keep the Buckeye defense honest, I think that’ll be a very big game.
Jill: Maurice Washington (see above). True freshman Duck R back (combo WR/RB) Wan’dale Robinson exploded onto the scene last weekend. We hope to see more of him. Mostly, we need some receivers to show up and for the tight ends to take a step forward in the pass game. Oh, and the OL needs to get better. Did I miss anyone?
Uglydog56: Maurice and Wandale are going to get theirs, but for Nebraska to have a chance on Saturday, you’re going to have to be saying “who in the hell is this Jack Stoll and where did he come from?”
Nate M: So besides the two guys everybody else has mentioned? I would look out for Rhamir Johnson. That kid is FAST. Planning on running track for Nebraska and he’s in the running for snaps as a true frosh.
3) The Husker defense has been much improved through four games of the season. What has been the difference from last year to this year?
Andy: Having the same defensive coordinator and all but one position coach on that side of the ball for a second straight year has been a very different experience. The defensive line can rotate 2-deep at all three positions and has been a force so far. And a secondary which has been the equivalent of a war vet leaping out of bed with his hands over his ears every five minutes on the 4th of July is suddenly flying to the ball and grabbing turnovers.
This will definitely be the biggest challenge they’ve faced so far, but it’s the first time in four years my thought going into a game like this is something besides wanting to perform voodoo on an Urban bobblehead or “Jesus God, just hold them under 45!”
Jon: Andy is taking all the answers. Wait! Here’s one! Mike Riley was just a crapbasket of a coach that the entire team turned into marshmallow men and it took an entire year of strength and conditioning for them to get the point they can be an average defense. This weekend we’re going to find out if they’re going to be better than average.
Jill: Andy is correct. Our defensive coordinator Erik Chinander has hinted that he is not out to hold teams to minimum yards. He is out to make your life difficult. The Blackshirts have taken a step forward in that regard. They want to force turnovers, TFLs, and sacks. We don’t have the true pass-rush presence for the last one yet, but definitely have some progress in coverage and a DL that can go two-deep without any real drop-off in performance. I’ll take that in Year 2 of the Frost regime.
Uglydog56: Having a true nose tackle to run the 3-4 has helped a ton. Getting JoJo Domann healthy to be a threat from the edge has also really helped execution as well.
Nate M: Besides just being more comfortable with the system you’d have to ask Chinander.
4) How are Nebraska fans feeling about Scott Frost a third of the way through his second season back in Lincoln?
Andy: He doesn’t beat you guys, his sorry ass is vapor. JK, I believe most understand Lincoln wasn’t going to be rebuilt in a day. There was some flame in the air after Colorado, but mostly because Nebraskans would rather drink their own urine than lose to Colorado. OK, I’m exaggerating. But not much.
Getting back to a bowl this season will be enough to show the ship is pointing in the right direction.
Jon: Everyone loves Scott Frost. He is the greatest human being ever. Two, three years from now if he starts to resemble Captain Khaki from that team up north… well, then you can ask again.
Jill: Scott Frost is a very young head coach that is learning along with his team. He has the ability to build a top-notch program and understands better than most the path this program needs to take. Many fans believe he is a fully-formed head coach here to save the day. In reality, he will likely need more time and seasoning than most fans want, but he has shown the ability to learn from mistakes and grow. He will get a lot of latitude because 1) he should and 2) no one in Husker land knows who could do this if Frost can’t.
Uglydog56: Scott Frost is like Captain America without the fake muscle suit. Mountain Dew and Copenhagen sales in Nebraska have increased 500%. He’ll figure it out. Or not.
Nate M: I bet if you gave truth serum to all of Nebraska… but it would be 48 hours after a loss he’d have a 99% approval rating. We are emotional fans. Which can be a two edged sword.
5) What are your thoughts on Lovie Smith’s beard? Did it change after last week’s game?
Andy: Lovie’s beard has mystical powers. I firmly believe the weird mojo coming off that soupcatcher is 100% responsible for the Huskers turnovers Saturday. Twice during the game, the cameras went to Lovie and that salt and pepper crap hanging off his face like some Indian swami HOLY MAN put the f***ing hex on my ass.
Suddenly, I’m floating in space like the dude from Get Out while TV’s looping a Jarvis Redwine TD as oranges hit the field around him played in front of me as tears ran down my face. How the hell were our players supposed to protect the ball with that nonsense going on?
Jill: I can’t top Andy’s answer. Nor will I try.
Uglydog56: He has the best beard I’ve seen since I was in the feminine products aisle at Walmart after midnight.
6) The line’s currently at 17.5, what’s your prediction for the game?
Jon: I DON’T KNOW AND I WISH PEOPLE WOULD STOP ASKING ME ABOUT IT. Ohio State certainly looks like a college football playoff team, but there’s that (HAHAHAHAHA I haven’t even had any alcohol during the answering of these questions) problem y’all have with falling down against average Big Ten West teams. Maybe that’ll happen this weekend. MAYBE IT WILL. Nebraska 31 Ohio State 30
Andy: Well I didn’t steal Jon’s answer this time! I would love to pick the upset, I really, really would and it would hinge on Justin Fields being a key player for the first time in an environment like the one he will see Saturday night.
The only problem is he doesn’t have to be and I think Ryan Day has more than enough weapons that he can ease Fields into the game and not have to put it on his shoulders early while the well-oiled crowd is howling themselves into Advil city. I believe the Huskers, who outgained the Illini 674-299, will pop some plays and put some points on the Buckeyes. I believe the Blackshirts will snag a couple turnovers.
But, I also believe it won’t enough. Day is a heck of a coach and I think there’s more focus in Columbus with Urban’s lying, head-grabbing circus gone. Another valiant Husker effort but - Ohio St. 38 Nebraska 34
Jill: It is not a favorable prediction for the Huskers. I had hopes that a second-year surge under Frost and a first-year regression under Day (plus the game being in Lincoln) would give hope to Husker faithful for the upset “W”. If the Huskers can avoid turnovers, it might be a dogfight, but if the TO bug hits the Husker offense, it will be a two-touchdown loss. The Huskers have not yet shown the ability to avoid the TO’s on offense, so this one is a Buckeye win.
Uglydog56: Unfortunately this is a tough row to hoe for the ole Mankilling Mastodons. I see some tusk harvesting happening and lots to “Buckeyes are class of the B1G” talk after this one.
Nate M: I’d be happy if we lost by less than 20.
The No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes will take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Tom Osborne Field at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb. on Saturday, Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast on ABC, and ESPN’s “College Gameday” will be on hand for that morning’s pre-game show.