Ohio State less than elated by landslide victory

They had just scored the most points by an Ohio State football

team in 60 years and had come within a late Alabama touchdown of

rising to No. 1 in the nation.

Yet the Buckeyes were less than satisfied after Saturday’s 73-20

beating of overmatched Eastern Michigan.

”We can’t take much positive out of this,” lineman Cameron

Heyward said glumly, referring primarily to the defense.

Just to be clear, Heyward plays for second-ranked Ohio State and

not Eastern Michigan, which lost its 16th game in a row.

But Heyward’s words serve as a sign that the Buckeyes aren’t

making too much of their 4-0 start or of beating up on three

mid-major opponents.

How they’re playing is much more important than who they’re

playing.

After all, the Buckeyes’ Big Ten schedule begins Saturday at

Illinois and one of their missions this year is to tie the record

by capturing a sixth straight conference title.

”It was a good thing,” coach Jim Tressel said of the lopsided

win over Eastern. ”But what lies ahead is different.”

Six Big Ten teams are unbeaten and another three have 3-1

records. In the latest Associated Press Top 25 rankings, the league

is well represented. No. 2 Ohio State is followed by Wisconsin at

No. 11, Iowa at 17th, Michigan 19th, Penn State 22nd and Michigan

State 24th. Northwestern is among several teams getting votes.

”I know we’re getting better,” center Mike Brewster said after

the Buckeyes scored their most points since beating Iowa 83-21 in

1950. ”But the standards are getting higher.”

The trip to Champaign, Ill., will mark Ohio State’s first road

trip of the season. Ahead lie highly anticipated visits to two of

those ranked teams: Wisconsin on Oct. 16 and Iowa on Nov. 20.

”Obviously, we have to get better,” quarterback Terrelle Pryor

said after passing for four touchdowns (all to Dane Sanzenbacher),

running for a score and catching a pass for another in the rout of

Eastern. ”The fun starts (this week) with the Big Ten.”

The most recent win kept the Buckeyes in the forefront of the

national championship chase. But that was expected against a team

that came in as a 44 1/2-point underdog.

Guarding against surprises has been one of the major objectives

of this Ohio State team. Week in and week out, the players and

coaches continually repeat that they’re not looking past anyone,

that they take every opponent as a threat. That is a somewhat

painful lesson they’ve learned.

The Buckeyes still remember a year ago when they were on a roll

going into a seemingly easy road game at 13-point underdog Purdue –

and came away with a stinging defeat.

Etiquette, style points and looking good don’t matter in the

rough-and-tumble Big Ten.

”It’s a whole different world when you go into conference

play,” Tressel said. ”It’s more heavyweight bout than it is a

style show.”

Arkansas led top-ranked Alabama throughout their showdown in

Fayetteville, Ark., on Saturday before the Crimson Tide scored late

and then weathered a final possession by the Razorbacks to hang on,

24-20.

Even though it wouldn’t have taken much for the Buckeyes to be

No. 1 this week, they refused to pat themselves on the backs.

”The rankings? All of that doesn’t matter right now,” Heyward

said. ”We’ll worry about the rankings when the time comes.”

A few more wins and that will become a growing

consideration.