Cody Cousino / Multimedia editor
For a majority of the Ohio State football team, one thought comes to mind when they think of Saturday’s upcoming game against Nebraska: “We owe them one.”
Some OSU players threw that phrase around after the team’s Wednesday practice at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. First-year OSU coach Urban Meyer wasn’t part of the Buckeyes’ 34-27 loss in Lincoln, Neb., last season, but he understands his players want revenge.
“I have heard them talk about this,” Meyer said Wednesday. “I’ve actually heard, I haven’t brought it up – maybe this weekend or Friday, I’ve got to evaluate where we’re at – but I hear them saying ‘We owe this team.'”
Under the lights
OSU will have quite the stage for revenge Saturday, with the game being a nationally televised broadcast on ABC, under the lights, with kickoff scheduled for 8:00 p.m.
That should help the No. 12-ranked Buckeyes’ chances against the No. 21-ranked Cornhuskers, as Ohio Stadium should be closer to being the “inferno” Meyer has said many times he hopes The Horseshoe can be.
Preparing for a night game can pose challenges, though.
Players have much more time than usual waiting for kickoff, and what OSU will do Saturday morning and afternoon is something Meyer is still considering.
“We’re still finalizing our plans for it. The good thing is, we have a lot of experience with night games, (OSU strength coach Mickey Marotti) and I,” Meyer said. “We want them rested. We have an idea but it hasn’t been completed yet.”
OSU will be without at least one of their playmakers Saturday.
Senior running back Jordan Hall will not play in Saturday’s contest as he is still recovering from an injury to his right knee.
Buckeye redshirt junior safety C.J Barnett is a “maybe.”
“Is there a maybe category? He’s got to get a lot better. He’s still limping around,” Meyer said.
Sophomore defensive end Michael Bennett will play after suffering a groin injury before the Buckeyes’ game against Miami.
Twice this season, and once last year, OSU sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller and sophomore wide receiver Devin Smith have hooked up for a long, game-winning touchdown through the air.
Throwing deep is something Meyer said he would like to do more often.
He now trusts both Miller and Smith to make connections on long passes, but he wasn’t able to say that in the spring.
“If you were to say that before Spring Game – April 21 or something – if you said that April 14 I would have looked at you like you had seven heads. (Smith) has earned that right,” Meyer said of Smith running deep patterns.
The Huskers don’t have a big, bruising running back like the Buckeyes had to defend last week in Michigan State junior tailback Le’Veon Bell. Many of Nebraska’s players, both offensive and defensive, are of the quicker and leaner build.
Don’t say Nebraska isn’t physical, though.
“No, no, no. This is a tough outfit. It’s a very physical defense. They fly around. A much different scheme, they try to push you east-west,” Meyer said.
Against MSU, the Buckeyes had to focus on mainly just one player – Bell. Nebraska has three capable runners: redshirt junior quarterback Taylor Martinez, senior running back Rex Burkhead and sophomore tailback Ameer Abdullah.
Meaning the OSU defense doesn’t have much room for error.
“You miss (Martinez) and it’s a home run. That Burkhead just keeps coming at you, coming at you. Their offensive line, I think their offensive line is very good. They block several players as well as anyone I’ve seen,” Meyer said.