Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
With a trip to Wisconsin looming on Saturday, Ohio State wide receiver Jake Stoneburner is well-aware of the challenge that is keeping alive an undefeated season for the Buckeyes football team.
The reality of it all, though, might be simple.
“10-0 is great but if you lose your last two, what’s 10-0 for ya?” Stoneburner said. “We want to end the season without a loss.”
The latter of the redshirt senior’s comments are, obviously, easier said than done.
OSU – which finished 6-7 in 2011 – is eight days from its first undefeated season since 2002.
A chance at perfection, however, was dashed the last time the Buckeyes played at Camp Randall Stadium.
In 2010, the then No. 1-ranked Buckeyes were overpowered, 31-18, at the hands of Wisconsin, effectively ending OSU’s chances at an unblemished record and national championship.
Now, more than wo years later, the Buckeyes find themselves one of four undefeated teams remaining in major college football (Kansas State, Notre Dame, and Oregon are the others) and No. 6 in the Associated Press‘ top 25 poll.
Still, Stoneburner said, OSU is getting the Rodney Dangerfield treatment.
Are the Buckeyes getting the respect they deserve?
“No, not really,” Stoneburner said bluntly. “You know, they talk about (other) teams that are 10-0 or even one-loss teams before they talk about us. I don’t know if that’s because we have a bowl ban or we’re not in the BCS rankings, we’re only in one rankings.”
The Dublin, Ohio, native said he thinks a lot of it has to do with OSU’s bowl ban, which was handed down to the university following NCAA violations stemming from 2010.
“I think if we were playing in a bowl game, we’d maybe get talked about a little more,” he said. “For being 10-0, I kind of think we’re getting the short end of the stick.”
A perceived lack of respect, though, on the national stage likely isn’t something coach Urban Meyer is concerned with.
The former Florida coach said Wednesday he hasn’t even had a chance to look back on the season yet, nor would he describe the grind of the season as “fun.”
“I don’t know if fun’s the appropriate word. You don’t have the time to really enjoy it until you have a chance to sit back,” Meyer said. “When I do, I enjoy it, I guess (that) is more of a proper word. I enjoy being around these players and these coaches and obviously representing Ohio State.”
Meyer said this week’s focus remains squarely on the Badgers. The Buckeyes, according to Meyer, need to be “gap sound” in order to handle the different formations that Wisconsin will almost certainly present on Saturday.
“There’s a time there’s four (or) there’s six linemen in the game, and there’s four or five to one side and two to the other,” Meyer said regarding the Badgers’ offensive line. “There’s six on one side, two on the other at one time. Six linemen on the right, two on the left. And that’s fine if you get lined up. If you don’t get lined up you get embarrassed.”
Meyer said OSU can do two things to try to neutralize Wisconsin’s offensive formations, though.
“You got to get lined up first and No. 2, you gotta tackle,” he said. “It’s crazy the formations that you’ll see.”
OSU is scheduled to face the Badgers at 3:30 p.m. at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis.