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No time to bail on the Buckeyes

October 3, 2011
By RICH GIBSON - Times Leader Sports Writer (rgibson@timesleaderonline.com) , Times Leader

It's easy to doom and gloom this scenario, is it not?

The Buckeyes just lost their conference opener at home and are now facing consecutive road games, starting with Saturday's journey to Nebraska.

Granted, the Cornhuskers, after starting reasonably well at Wisconsin, were eventually wiped out at Camp Randall Stadium by a Badgers' team which appears the Big Ten's best.

Even so, it stands to reason Bo Pelini's club will still be favored over an Ohio State combine which has generated no more than 13 points in losses to Michigan State and Miami.

It was plenty painful to watch last Saturday as the Scarlet & Gray offense, directed by a true freshman at quarterback, continually struggled to find its way.

In essence, MSU, recording an alarming nine sacks along the way, pitched a shutout, yielding a last-second score.

Not surprisingly, a number of national writers and other media types are already writing off the Bucks' 2011 campaign.

One went as far as to suggest OSU will achieve no better than a Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl invite in a postseason game played two days after Christmas at Detroit's Ford Field.

Suffering through Braxton Miller's all-day ordeal against MSU and with his next start coming in one of the most hostile environments imaginable, you're probably inclined to agree that one of the program's longest seasons in history lies directly ahead.

Which well may be the case, considering the Buckeyes may not be favored to win another game until Indiana arrives on Nov. 5.

By then, it's not inconceivable Luke Fickell's ball club could be 0-4 against Big Ten opponents.

Fickell fielded dozens of postgame questions Saturday but was unable to offer much in the way of a possible cure-all regarding the team's inability to move the ball with consistency.

This week's return of running back Boom Herron provides immediate depth and gives Fickell three legitimate options at tailback.

An additional upgrade at wideout returns in senior DeVier Posey. Along the front line, Mike Adams will also be welcomed back.

Thus, it will be Miller's ability to mentally black out last week's adversity and draw on the strength of his teammates, many of whom defiantly declared their allegiance following Saturday's outcome.

It's not like the Bucks were overwhelmed by Michigan State which prevailed exclusively by a stout defensive effort.

As we noted last week, Miller's season is a continuing work-in-progress. The Nation should expect nothing more or less.

My gut feeling says the freshman rebounds with a substantially better outing this week. Whether it's good enough to lead OSU to an 'upset' win, of course, remains to be seen.

EXTRA POINTS

A report from OSU indicates freshman receiver Verlon Reed is being evaluated for a right leg injury. Reed's listed backup, frosh Evan Spencer, hauled in a Joe Bauserman touchdown pass with 10 seconds to play Saturday.....

OSU's strength and conditioning coach Eric Lichter was declared all right despite being bowled over on the sideline by running back Carlos Hyde during Saturday's game....

BALTIMORE is looking very much like the team to beat in the AFC North following the Ravens impressive Sunday night win over the Jets....

Houston's decision of Pittsburgh was certainly not of the shock-the-world variety. Watching Sunday's game, you've got to wonder if Big Ben can somehow make it through the season in one piece. The Black & Gold's next two games are at Heinz Field vs. Tennessee and Jacksonville, respectively....

The Browns' bye week, meanwhile, comes early (Sunday). After that, their schedule gets bizarre, considering they fly to the west coast (Oct. 16) to play Oakland, return home to face Seattle, then make a second journey to the Bay area to battle the 49ers on the 30th.....

Gibson may be reached at rgibson@timesleaderonline.com

 
 

 

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