|Buckeyes sure of abilities but Iowa a big test|
|Friday, October 18, 2013 12:13 AM|
By RUSTY MILLER
COLUMBUS — Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller went home over the bye week and took the opportunity to watch a couple of college games on TV.
Among them was No. 1 Alabama winning big at Kentucky.
Miller believes that the Buckeyes can play with the Crimson Tide, the 2-time defending national champions.
“When it gets to that point in the future, it’ll be a good game,” he said. “It’ll be a good matchup.”
Coach Urban Meyer also watched a couple of games on the day off and also feels the Buckeyes could hang with the county’s elite.
“I think we are right there,” he said. “I think we are a good team, I do.”
But then he reverted to form, more concerned with what’s in front of him than any possible future dates in a potential Bowl Championship Series date with the likes of Alabama or Oregon.
“Human nature is, especially when you have time on a weekend of a bye week, to watch a lot of games (to see) how you match up,” Meyer said. “I kind of have these mechanisms in place just to stop thinking about (that), refocus on getting first downs and stopping people because that’s really not helping the cause at all.”
Linebacker Ryan Shazier went to a teammate’s house in Indiana over the weekend.
“I watched a little bit of college football. I saw a lot of good teams play,” he said. “I feel that we can play with any of them.”
Daydreaming about playing for national championships and in other big games doesn’t mean much if the Buckeyes (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) don’t keep winning.
They’ve won 18 times in a row — the longest streak in the nation — heading into Saturday’s home game with Iowa (4-2, 1-1). But the Buckeyes aren’t expecting an easy time of it against the Hawkeyes — or the remaining five unranked teams waiting in the wings.
“Everybody dogs the Big Ten about not having a bunch of ranked teams. And it’s the SEC this and the Pac-12 (that),” Ohio State center Corey Linsley said. “But, honest, you look at the history of Iowa and, just to name a couple of other teams, Penn State and Purdue. … The weeks that we have taken off, we have treated those teams as what the AP treats them as and what the rest of the country treats them as non-ranked opponents, those are the weeks we get beat.
“We’re not taking this week lightly and we’re not going to take the next seven weeks lightly.”
His coach agrees that the Buckeyes can’t waltz through the stretch run.
“We’ve got to find a way to win this Saturday and it’s not easy,” Meyer added. “We’ve been in here for two weeks trying to figure out how to run the ball against this defense.”
Iowa is eighth in the nation against the run, permitting just 88.5 yards a game. The Hawkeyes are the only major-college team which has yet to give up a touchdown on the ground.
For what it’s worth, Iowa is also a member of the mutual admiration society.
“If you look at it, they’ve got a win streak that’s approaching 20 games,” Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz said. “You don’t do that by accident. That requires good coaching and good players who understand you have to show up every week. They’ve done a great job of that now for a year-plus.”
Iowa can give a team fits, as has been the case in the last two meetings.
The Buckeyes needed overtime against a backup quarterback who was seeing his first substantial action to win 27-24 in 2009 at Ohio Stadium. They also barely hung on 20-17 in Iowa City in the most recent meeting in 2010, with the Big Ten’s rotating schedule keeping the teams away from each other the past two seasons.
Miller concedes that it’s hard trying to concentrate on the next opponent all the time — particularly a 17-point underdog like Iowa.
“It’s not easy to go out there every Saturday and win a game, especially in the Big Ten,” he added. “You’ve got to put up big points, make big plays and stop their offense.”
BUCKEYES BUZZ: It was a series of questions that put Ferentz in an uncomfortable and awkward spot.
Here’s the official, verbatim transcript from the University of Iowa football website:
Reporter: What do you think about Urban Meyer?
Ferentz: “I would just say he’s been extremely successful. I think it’s well documented. Bowling Green, Utah, Florida, now Ohio State. He’s been extremely successful.”
Reporter: Coach Meyer has ruffled some feathers. Is Urban Meyer healthy for the Big Ten? Does he boost the competition? What are the relationships like with him?
Ferentz: “It’s complex. This is before my time. I imagine the guy that coached there in the ’70s, ’60s (Woody Hayes) probably ruffled feathers, too. I was across the field as an assistant coach. I guess I wasn’t. I was gone. It was Earle Bruce. They’ve had good coaches there. Jim Tressel is the last guy to win a national championship from our conference. He did a great job there. Now they’ve got another extremely successful coach. Jim Tressel was extremely successful at Youngstown. Now they’ve got a coach who’s also been extremely successful. It’s hard to think real quick off the top of my head of coaches that haven’t done well at Ohio State. It’s a place where traditionally they’ve had a lot of success. They’ve represented the conference really well through the years.”
Reporter: What has been your interaction with him at league meetings, media day events? Casual?
Ferentz: “Yeah, I guess I’m not a guy who is looking for friends right now. I have friends in my personal life. We don’t have a dog. Might consider that. It’s been cordial with everybody in our conference. I can’t think of anybody that hasn’t been cordial. I’ve got a lot of respect and admiration for all my colleagues in the league. It’s pretty much the same way with coach Meyer, certainly.”
QUOTABLE: Meyer on playing Iowa: “We’ve got to take our ‘tough pills’ this week.”
SUPPORT SYSTEM: RB Carlos Hyde was suspended for Ohio State’s first three games after allegedly being involved in a physical conflict with a woman at a Columbus bar in July.
He saw spot duty in the Buckeyes’ fourth game, a 76-0 win over Florida A&M, rushing five times for 41 yards. A week later, he went for 85 yards on 17 carries in a 31-24 win over Wisconsin. Then he set career highs with 168 yards and three touchdowns in a 40-30 win at Northwestern.
After the game, while meeting with reporters, Hyde sobbed as he explained how difficult it was to sit out and how much he appreciated the opportunity to be back on the team and contributing.
Hyde said many people responded to his public display of emotion.
“I got a positive response from it. It was a relief off my shoulders. That’s been in the back of my head,” he said this week. “When you get back on that field, have a big game, the media’s going to ask you about it.”
Among the people who had reached out to Hyde was Maurice Clarett who led the 2002 Buckeyes to the national championship and then spiraled off the team and into trouble, eventually serving more than 3½ years in prison.
Now, finally, Hyde believes he’s truly a part of the team.
“I definitely feel like I’m back,” he added. “I’m happy to be back and I’m enjoying it.”
NO RUSHING TDs: Ohio State’s coaches haven’t had to remind the players on offense that Iowa has yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season.
“The coaches don’t need to say too much,” Linsley said. “They just put a piece of paper on our desk and they say, ‘They haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown’ and we kind of get it. That was kind of astounding. I couldn’t believe that when I first heard that. And they’ve played people; they’ve gotten beat. It’s kind of amazing that they haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown and it’s definitely an incentive for us an offense.”
QUOTABLE II: S Corey “Pittsburgh” Brown on what it’s like to be on a team that will be remembered for one of the longest winning streaks in school history: It’s a great feeling. But with that comes a lot of pressure. A responsibility, stepping up and everything like that.”
PAST CONNECTION: Everett Withers, Ohio State’s co-defensive coordinator and assistant in charge of safeties, has some personal knowledge about the man behind Iowa’s offense.
“Greg Davis, who is the offensive coordinator, gave me my first Division I full-time job at Tulane,” Withers explained. “I’ve known Greg for 20-some odd years and he has not changed a whole lot.”
Withers then detailed the various sets Davis favored, reciting them as if he were still on the same staff.