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
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
”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
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
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
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