Buckeyes concentrate on another big underdog

It’s easy for teams to get excited about playing a ranked

opponent, a league foe or a big rival.

Yet for the second week in a row No. 2 Ohio State must focus on

a heavy underdog that is just hoping to avoid getting squashed.

Still, the team walking into that situation at Ohio Stadium on

Saturday is well aware the Buckeyes will have their minds on the

task at hand.

”I’ve been there where you have some games sandwiched around

some, quote unquote, bigger games,” said Eastern Michigan head

coach Ron English, winless in his 15 games at the school after

assistant-coaching stints at Michigan, Louisville and Arizona

State. ”With the staff they have, coach (Jim) Tressel and his

coaches have been doing this a long time. They’ve got a really good

football team. They’re going to be ready to play.”

The Buckeyes appeared to be fully attentive to overmatched Ohio

University on Saturday, a game which kicked off a string of four

straight matchups against teams with a decided disadvantage in

talent. Eastern Michigan is a 42 1/2-point underdog.

”We have to remember it’s still football. We only have a

certain number of games to play so we have to keep focused each

game and not look ahead,” running back Brandon Saine said after

the easy 43-7 victory over the in-state Bobcats last week. ”We

play our game out there and stay with our game plan so we dont slip

up.”

Defensive end Cameron Heyward echoed that sentiment.

”We have so much experience we couldn’t let down because we’re

only guaranteed 12 games,” he said.

Like Ohio University, Eastern Michigan is a Mid-American

Conference team that will get an $850,000 check in hopes of hanging

around for a while with the Buckeyes. Next up for Ohio State are

Big Ten matchups at Illinois and at home against Indiana before the

next big game on the calendar, a Top 25 showdown at Wisconsin on

Oct. 16.

”Eastern Michigan will come here with the mindset that they can

beat us,” Heyward said. ”So it’s back to work. We have to not

only get ready for Eastern Michigan, but also get ready for the Big

Ten.”

It’s not as if the Buckeyes don’t have a lot of areas in which

to improve, despite three relatively comfy margins of victory.

Their kick coverage was shaky once again against Ohio. A week

after having a kickoff and a punt returned for touchdowns in a

36-24 decision over Miami, the Buckeyes did not look like a team

which spends hours and hours in practice working on special

teams.

A penalty nullified a 99-yard kickoff return by Ohio’s Julian

Posey, so the stats won’t show it. But faulty tackling and mistakes

in filling assigned lanes have been an ongoing problem for the

Buckeyes.

They also had a punt blocked – after having a field goal blocked

in the opener.

”Everything that didn’t go well detracts from (the win),”

Tressel said. ”We just flat out missed a guy on the punt that was

blocked, and you can’t do that, not if you want to win.”

It may take more than a missed tackle or two for the Buckeyes to

lose to Eastern Michigan, which has been outscored 111-62 in three

losses and has surrendered 11 rushing touchdowns while giving up

253 yards on the ground per game.

But the Buckeyes are not feeling sorry for the Eagles.

Or at least they’re not talking as if they are.

”Any team can beat us any day,” defensive back Tyler Moeller

said. ”We need to play our game every week and not let go of the

throttle.”