With each win, the Buckeyes keep their hopes of playing in the Big Ten championship game alive. This week, a 4-5 Purdue is the next obstacle in the Buckeyes’ way.
Ross-Ade Stadium has been a house of horrors for the scarlet and gray. Their last trip there in 2009 resulted in arguably their worst loss in the Jim Tressel era. Even during their national title season, they had to have one of their best plays in history (Holy Buckeye!) to escape with a win.
This year Ohio State can skip all of the melodramatics by going into a hostile environment with razor sharp focus and delivering the knock out blow early. In order to do this, they must break tendency.
The Buckeyes have had a habit of starting games slowly this season. Take last week’s anemic start against Indiana for instance, the Hoosiers jumped out to a 10-0 lead before Ohio State batted an eye. If they continue to start games in this fashion, the Buckeyes will fall short of their ultimate goal.
There comes a time when even a team as young as Ohio State realizes what’s at stake. If Penn State loses twice and the Buckeyes win out, they could play in the inaugural Big Ten title game. That more than anything should motivate them to go out with a strong start and not let up until the final whistle blows.
A change in mentality also means eliminating the mental mistakes.
On defense, it means the back seven plays assignment football on all snaps. Too many times this season the defense has played well for the majority of the game only to give up big plays late. What that shows is this unit is talented enough to get the job done but mentally; they need to be more consistent.
Offensively, it’s going to be riding the horse that got Ohio State to this point. The offensive line must dictate the tempo for the opening snap. If they can establish their power running game early, it should open some passing lanes for Braxton Miller. Ultimately, if the players execute their roles they should have no problems putting points on the board.
This week will tell us much about the mentality of this team. If they march into Ross-Ade and dominate from the opening snap, it shows this team is ready to take that next step forward. If they do like they’ve done often times this season and come out flat, we could be in for an interesting afternoon.
Feel free to contact Sean with any questions or comments.