The 14th ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers take on the Buckeyes of Ohio State Saturday night in Lincoln. The game will kick-off under the lights, something both of these teams know a lot about as they have been under the microscopic lights of the college football world.
You could call this the game of storylines because there is too many to count. Ohio State has struggled through five games and really hasn’t been able to walk on its own two feet since a crushing off season. This off season for the Buckeyes included losing it’s iconic head coach, Jim Tressell due to allegations that he knew of his players accepting improper benefits. Interim head coach Luke Fickell has stepped in to the mess, and has led the team to a 3-2 start.
The off season also included the suspension of five players for the first five games. One of those players was senior-to-be Buckeye quarterback Tyrelle Pryor who chose to jet for the NFL via the expansion draft. The four that remained with the team were supposed to make it back for the game this Saturday, but as the week began it came out that the suspension was lengthened after the NCAA found out the players got too much money for their summer jobs.
Senior RB Dan “Boom” Herron and senior wide receiver DeVier Posey were supposed to come in and give the Buckeyes a much needed boost offensively after the team nearly got shutout at home against the Michigan State Spartans last Saturday. They ended up losing 10-7, scoring on the final drive against a prevent defense.
The offense that has taken the field for the Buckeyes has struggled mightily through five games ranking 91 st in the FBS in points scored and 111 th in passing offense. After a nice start to the year scoring 42 points against outmanned Akron the Buckeyes haven’t found a rhythm and come into Lincoln with a bit of a quarterback battle. Senior Joe Bauserman started the first three games, but wasn’t producing enough with highly touted freshman Braxton Miller nipping at his heels. Miller started against Colorado and again last week against the Spartans, taken a pounding in the latter being sacked four times. With a weak running game and no solidified quarterback, the Buckeyes may be putting there strong defense to the test again this week against the Huskers.
Nebraska comes in after going to Madison last week and getting a not so pleasant welcome to the Big Ten in a 48-17 loss. The Huskers took an early 14-13 lead, and then absolutely fell apart throwing three interceptions and only scoring a field goal after that point. The biggest noise coming out of the camp in Lincoln is how porous the vaunted Husker defense has looked all year long. With a young secondary and little pass rush through five games the defense has allowed over 400 total yards in three of those five games.
Against Wisconsin, the Blackshirts looked black and blue giving up three pass plays of over 20 yards in the first half. It didn’t get much better after half with Badger QB Russell Wilson stamping his place in the heisman talk passing for 255 yards on 14 of 20 attempts with two touchdowns, and RB Montee Ball rushing 30 times for 151 yards and 4 touchdowns. Ball added to the list of running backs going over the century mark on the Husker defense this season along with Fresno State’s Robbie Rouse and Washington’s Chris Polk.
The offense didn’t lend a hand passing out three interceptions on bad throws from sophomore QB Taylor Martinez. With a running game that had worked through a quarter and some change, offensive coordinator Tim Beck went to the air effectively making the Huskers one dimensional. The interceptions led to a 10 minute differential in time of possession, allowing the Badgers to beat down on the Husker defense for most of the second half.
With the pressure building after an embarrassing loss Husker head coach Bo Pelini will be lined up against a team he starred for throughout his collegiate career, and a team/state he has many ties to. Pelini was a cornerback for the Buckeyes in the late eighties, and has gone back to his roots to pull many recruits from the state of Ohio in his four seasons as head man of the Huskers.
Throwing all of this jumble aside there will be a game played Saturday night and it is looking like the team that rises above all the lights and headlines may come out of this weekend the victor.