One week after taking down a top-25 conference foe at Ohio Stadium, the Ohio State Buckeyes (5-0, 1-0) are set to face another ranked Big Ten opponent, this time on the road against No. 16 Northwestern (4-0).
For a second consecutive weekend, the Buckeyes’ game will be televised in prime time on ABC’s Saturday Night Football, and ESPN’s College GameDay will be on site for the game in Evanston, Ill.
OSU coach Urban Meyer tipped his hat to Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald when he spoke to the media after practice Wednesday. He said the Wildcat faithful has every reason to be excited for the matchup.
“They should have hype, they’re undefeated and (have) got a very good team,” Meyer said. “It’s a big game for them, but I’ve got news: It’s a big game for us too.”
OSU’s next test comes on the heels of losing starting senior safety Christian Bryant with a broken ankle in the team’s 31-24 victory against Wisconsin.
Redshirt-senior safety C.J. Barnett said the pain of losing his teammate to injury was greater than the thrill of victory.
“It was tough, honestly, I didn’t even enjoy the win. I mean, that’s the worst news, not being able to play with him,” Barnett said. “A lot of the guys from the team went to the hospital and visited him.”
Meyer said redshirt-senior safety Corey “Pitt” Brown is expected to step up during Bryant’s absence.
Barnett said there would be no setback in the play of the secondary because Brown is a “veteran that’s had game-time experience.”
On the offensive side of the ball, junior quarterback Braxton Miller is expected to make his second straight start after missing almost three full games with a sprained left MCL.
Meyer said his signal caller is “full-speed, ready to go.”
Miller said he’s physically where he needs to be for Saturday, but that the previous game was hard on his body after not playing for several weeks.
“After the game, I was really sore,” Miller said. “But, I just feel comfortable where I’m at.”
Miller also said he hopes his time off the field didn’t cost him a shot at winning the Heisman Trophy. He said he believes he still has a chance to earn college football’s most prestigious award because, in his opinion, it’s all about how candidates play in the biggest games.
Saturday’s prime-time showdown is a great stage for his team to get a big win for the injured Bryant, said junior linebacker Curtis Grant.
“We love to stick together and go out on the road. I think that’s one of the best things about football, when you can go into someone else’s stadium and create havoc,” Grant said. “All we can do is go out and win this game for him.”
OSU is scheduled to take on Northwestern at 8 p.m. Saturday at Ryan Field.