Ohio State’s kickoff for Nebraska is the earliest Saturday start time possible, but it will still feel like forever since the Buckeyes last took the field.
Isaiah Prince hopes fans see a team that used the sting of a 49-20 defeat at Purdue on Oct. 20 as motivation for a strong finish to the regular season.
“I expect to see the Buckeyes play angry and pissed off, to let everybody know we’re still here and we’ve still got that edge,” the senior right tackle said this week. “Yeah I’d say (the Purdue loss) was a wake-up call. That’s life. You’re never gonna come out here and win every game and be perfect. That’s not reality. We got hit in the mouth, we lost. That’s life. We’ve got to move forward and play harder.”
Here are five things to know about the game:
1. Urban Meyer also hopes to see a motivated team.
“I just look at work,” the Ohio State coach said. “Are they coming out and working their tails off? (Is that) anger? Whatever — if that’s what it takes to make you practice hard.
“I just watch how serious you are going about your business to make you better.”
Prince became the face of the team’s reaction this week because he was said to be the one who got up in the postgame locker room at Purdue to start the healing process.
“I could see the looks on everybody’s faces. Everybody was disappointed in themselves we lost. We’re Ohio State, we’re not used to losing, but that’s part of life. Life is adversity. You’re gonna get hit. You’ve got to get back up. There’s no point crying about it. You can’t go back in time and change it so the only thing we can do is fix the mistakes and focus on what we can do in the future.”
Ohio State is 5-0 coming off a regular season loss under Meyer.
2. Nebraska is on its first winning streak under Scott Frost.
The Cornhuskers’ new coach, a national champion quarterback at the school in the 1990s, dropped his first six games upon his return to Lincoln, but Nebraska will bring a modest two-game winning streak to Columbus.
Meyer said Nebraska is hitting its stride, noting the challenges presented by their quarterback-centric run game and “bear” defense, a three-man front that has given Meyer’s offense fits in the past.
“That’s a really unique scheme, and then they’ve got the (quarterback) run, a dual-threat guy,” Meyer said of an attack led by freshman Adrian Martinez.
3. If either team shows much discipline, it would be a change of pace.
Ohio State is 117th in the nation in penalties per game (8.25) and 114th in penalty yardage (75.9). Nebraska is 126th (9.0 penalties) and 126th (81.8), respectively.
Meyer has said this season penalties of aggression bother him little, but mental errors continue to plague his team.
At Purdue, Ohio State extended two Boilermakers scoring drives by roughing the punter and the quarterback, respectively.
“That’s like a turnover,” Meyer said.
Meanwhile, Frost said he has seen better discipline on and off the field lately.
“News flash: When guys are doing things the right way we win more games. The guys get it now and we’re not asking anybody to do anything crazy, we’re asking them to be where they’re supposed to be and be on time and do the right things,” Frost said. “What’s crazy is when you’re doing that, football gets more fun, life gets more fun. Cutting corners and finding ways around things and not being reliable isn’t a good way to be successful on the field or off.”
4. Ohio State wants fans to wear black.
For the first time since 2007, Ohio Stadium will not host a night game. That was confirmed when the start time for Nebraska was announced because the annual showdown with Michigan already has been set for noon Nov. 24.
The early start time (determined by television networks) for Nebraska probably came as a surprise to the Ohio State athletics department, which scheduled a “black out” for Saturday that would have resonated visually more under the lights than the midday sun.
5. Buckeye players are excited about their uniforms and the start time.
“I love it,” senior Parris Campbell said when asked about there being no home night games this season.
That statement was echoed by fellow receiver Johnnie Dixon.
“I’m not a big fan of night games,” Dixon said. “You still get to play the game you love earlier so you get to spend time with your family (afterward).”
Regardless of start time, the players are looking forward to donning black alternate uniforms, a look that will include special editions of cleats from the LeBron James collection.
“We still gonna look swaggie for sure,” Campbell said.