Before this season began, many in Buckeye Nation had this game circled on their calendars. It was the Buckeyes’ first trip to Lincoln to take on Nebraska in their first Big Ten home game. It was going to be a huge national game and might be a preview of the Big Ten’s first championship game.
Fast forward six weeks and you have the same drama but for different reasons.
Nebraska enters this game angry. They are coming off a huge loss to Wisconsin, which saw the total collapse of their fabled Blackshirts defense. The Cornhuskers want to prove they are a top program and a team to beat in the Big Ten.
Ohio State comes into tonight’s game wanting to show they are improving. Following an offensive performance against Michigan State that still brings bile to the mouths of many Buckeye faithful, the Buckeyes want to show they are heading in the right direction.
A win tonight for Nebraska means they’re back on the right path. A win by the Buckeyes could change the tide of their season.
The keys for this game or any game for that matter are the basics. Eliminate mental mistakes, don’t turn the ball over and execute. That said Ohio State is going to need more than the basics to beat Nebraska.
The Silver Bullets must show up tonight. They need to shut down Nebraska’s run game and force Taylor Martinez to throw. Martinez is an excellent quarterback, but he can get that deer in the headlights look when teams apply pressure on him. If Ohio State can establish a pass rush early, it might give the offense some short fields to work with.
Speaking of the offense, any, and I mean any improvement this week is a reason for hope. The coaching staff needs to call plays that benefit Braxton Miller and his supporting cast’s skills. Open up the game with a few slants, screens, counter runs with Jordan Hall and utilize the power I with Carlos Hyde. Mix it up, keep the Blackshirts on their toes and allow Miller the ability to get into the flow of the game and gain some confidence.
In order for this to happen it means the offensive line needs to play their best game of the season.
The focus tonight is on Mike Brewster. He has to be the glue to hold the line together. His communication, as with the rest of the line, will be essential in picking up blitzes and protecting the freshman quarterback. If they succeed, the Buckeyes may have a chance. If they fail, it’s a repeat of last week.
How will the Buckeyes fare?
Ohio State may impress many with their pose and fight tonight. They know the season is on the line and that could be the catalyst for inspired play. However, Nebraska is more talented. If this were a ten round fight, the Buckeyes would win two. At the end of the day, they’ll play hard but fall short.
Nebraska 24 Ohio State 6
Feel free to contact Sean with any questions or comments.