October 27, 2009

Notebook: Is 45 too many?

It has been more than a decade since the Ohio State Buckeye football team has been a 40-point or more favorite and for all of your closet gamblers they did not cover (vs. Ohio University 9/18/99 minus-43- 40-16) final.

But that doesn't stop the chatter around Columbus and the college football world with the Buckeyes being a 40-point favorite, a team that has struggled for large periods of time to score points, against a New Mexico State team that has had its share of problems throughout the first eight games despite being a respectable 3-5 on the year.

"We haven't got for points very often, so -," Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel joked.

In the information age it is difficult to stay away from the talk of lines and rankings but players and coaches alike all speak the company line and claim not to know what is coming out as the latest line but just because a team is installed as a heavy favorite doesn't mean that players buy into it, publically.

"They must think that these guys are horrible but I know they are going to come in and play well just like every team," Ohio State defensive end Thad Gibson said. "We just have got to hold up our end of the deal and go out there and play some good football."

Buckeyes would rather think about winning the battle of the defensive line or the offensive line rather than the Vegas line.

"I don't know, that is a lot of points," Ohio State offensive lineman 'Jim Cordle said. "We are obviously taking it that this is a game where we have to improve and we have to keep getting better. I don't know what the score will be."

Does the thought of the line and being nearly a six touchdown favorite ever enter the psyche or the game planning of the coaches one way or the other?

"I don't give any thought to that," Tressel said. "I'm sure that there have been times where we have lived up to whatever was supposed and times where we haven't and I'm sure what it was had nothing to do with us doing that, so I don't give that any thought."

Cleared to play?

The injury bug has not been kind to the Buckeyes and if not for great depth at about every position the team might be sitting at a record much worse than its current 6-2. It has been well chronicled that the offensive line and the running backs have been hit the hardest and while the OL has been able to play as the walking wounded the running backs are in a different position with contact occurring heavily on every carry.

With three big games sitting on the schedule in the month of November is there any thought about maybe slow playing a player's return to the lineup or even just how many snaps he might see out during the game against the Aggies?

"Not at all," Tressel said. "If Brandon Saine is cleared, Brandon's playing. If Orhian Johnson's cleared, he's going to play. If Boom Herron is cleared, he's going to play."

Tressel went on to add that even a player like Jaamal Berry could even see time. He has been upgraded to full practice status after missing the first eight weeks o f the season with a nagging hamstring injury. That doesn't mean that the team however will put someone in just for the sake of getting them in… but when depth calls for it and necessity calls for it players have got t o be ready to go."

The recruiting philosophy has long been telling players that the team will play them as a true freshman if they are needed and not to count on being redshirted. If injuries continue there might be more players who could see action down the line.

Stepping out

Call it a scheduling glitch but when the NCAA decided to expand the season from 11 to 12 games it created a mad rush for teams to fill a slot and created some interesting matchups. Most people would never expect to see the likes of Ohio State and New Mexico State playing each other, let alone in week nine of the season.

But that is the case and the Buckeyes have three tough ones on the other side of the out-of-league game and will have to prepare for a team that they know little to nothing about. Is it a distraction having to go out of league so late in the year?

"You know how tight the Big Ten race is throughout the year and then when you all of a sudden are not (in the middle) of the race anymore you can't let that distract you at all," Cordle said. "We have to realize that everything is up in the air in the last three games for our goals. This week is not something that we can take ourselves out of the race. In practice it has got to be there, that motivation and intensity."

"I wouldn't say it is a challenge because I approach every game the same way no matter who the team is that we are playing," Gibson said. "Now is the time for us to get better and we have a lot of things that has to be (accomplished) in order for us to have a great November. With that being said we just have to get better this week and it starts (Tuesday) in practice and I am quite sure the coaches are going to create a great game plan for us."

Do you approach this as if it is game one of the season, being a non-conference game, or is it more of a case of having to look at it as an interruption of the league play and that it truly is week nine, regardless of the conference affiliation? And in a bigger scope does that mean that you plan on putting the twos in as a last chance to get them time before Penn State, Iowa and Michigan?

"No, this is game nine," Tressel said. "We've got to progress. But I'm not sitting here today saying, you know what, I think we'll put this guy in or that guy in. No, we're going out all barrels blazing and do what the situation calls for."

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