The Ohio State Buckeyes and Miami RedHawks are set to meet at 3:30 Saturday afternoon at Ohio Stadium in a game not expected to be close.
Oddsmakers have installed the hosts as a 39-point favorite, and Miami coach Chuck Martin freely acknowledged the unbeaten, sixth-ranked Buckeyes present a physical mismatch for his squad.
Even if the scoreboard shows a lopsided result when the game clock strikes zero, Martin and Ohio State counterpart Ryan Day will have no shortage of things to look for when they flip on the film Saturday night or Sunday.
“I don’t know what the score of the Ohio State game is going to be, but that doesn’t mean Doug Costin can’t go beat their guard,” Martin said of one of his senior defensive ends. “Everyone has an opportunity.”
Day, who oversees an offense still breaking in seven new starters and a defense adjusting to a new scheme, expressed a similar sentiment this week when previewing the game.
However much the Buckeyes win by, the coaching staff will be focused on how well each player does his job.
“You just get on the film and you start it off with what corrections need to be made not only by your unit but also just personally,” Day said. “What do you need to work on this week to get better?”
The first-year head coach said that will remain the focus as the season turns to October then November as well.
“Whether it’s game three, game seven, game eight, human nature tells you to cut corners, tells you to change things,” he said. “It’s easy to get distracted (with) a lot of people in your ear. None of that stuff can change. We have momentum right now. We have to keep that going, and we can’t get distracted. Once that happens, then you set yourself up for failure.
“That will be the focus this week. It’s not going to be manufactured. We’re not just going to make that up, but we’re just going to hold them accountable like we always have, and that doesn’t change from when we were in the spring to when we were doing preseason workouts. Every day has to be consistent. So far we’ve done that, but it’s something we have to stay on them definitely about.”
After the game is over Saturday, both teams can turn their full attention to conference play.
While the RedHawks, who were picked to finish second in what is likely to be a wide-open MAC East race, and Buckeyes both aspire to be crowned champions in December, Ohio State is hoping for even more a month later when the sixth College Football Playoff is held.
Day has his players believing there is more work to be done despite the Buckeyes not being challenged much in the first three weeks of the season.
“Sitting back sometimes just watching from the sidelines, watching the boys is phenomenal,” said Robert “BB” Landers, a senior from Wayne who rotates at nose tackle with Davon Hamilton and Tommy Togiai. “Sometimes I catch myself being a fan, you know what I mean? And then we get to film and it’s like, what I’m seeing is special, but it can be 100 times better. So it makes the grind and the pursuit fun. I don’t know, man. It’s just gonna be a fun season to see how it all plays out.”
When told the Buckeyes are so far allowing only 1.7 yards per carry, Landers responded, “Oh that’s ridiculous, and it’s crazy because we could be a lot better. So I don’t know, our biggest thing, we really don’t even worry about the stats too much. How we look at it as if we just keep developing, keep working on little things, keep gelling together, not only as units but as a defense, as an offense, as a team. It’ll be special what we can do later on down the road.”
Quarterback Justin Fields, who arrived at Ohio State amid much fanfare but has strived to be both a leader and one of the guys, agreed the Buckeyes have only scratched the surface while winning by a combined score of 138-31.
“It’s a learning experience, but it’s also kind of like a wow moment,” Fields said of watching film of the Buckeyes’ wins. “Like, we still played pretty well, but you did leave stuff on the board. We have so much room to improve, so it just makes it more exciting.”
The emphasis on getting better never stops, he confirmed.
“Looking at the films, seeing the mistakes we made during the game, it just just gives us more excitement and (the feeling) our ceiling is higher,” Fields said. “If we clean all those other things up, the sky’s the limit.”
•Landers spoke early in the week then turned up on the injured list published Friday. Also among those who will miss the game are fellow defensive linemen Taron Vincent, Jonathon Cooper and Tyreke Smith.
Cooper is a senior captain and returning starter at end from Gahanna (Ohio) Lincoln who has not played in a game this season after suffering a leg injury in the preseasonm, and Smith is a sophomore among those who have replaced him in the rotation.
In their place, sophomore Tyler Friday and true freshman Zach Harrison are listed as co-starters.
Also unavailable Saturday are receivers C.J. Saunders and Kamryn Babb, safety Ronnie Hickman and defensive tackle Noah Donald, who is a walk-on.
Reserve defensive back Cam Brown is listed as a game-time decision while Jahsen Wint is available after missing last week’s game.
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