Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | All Access E-Edition | Home RSS

Buckeyes to challenge Cornhuskers

• Ohio State visits Lincoln for first time

October 7, 2011
By RICH GIBSON - Buckeye Blitz ( , Times Leader

Talk about some pre-game hype.

Nebraska's jump to the Big Ten last year created an immediate buzz regarding future football matchups involving the Cornhuskers and Buckeyes. Any why not?

Here were two of college football's most high-profile, storied programs going head-to-head in a non-postseason setting as members of the same conference.

The initial clash in 2011 figured to take on even more notoriety with OSU expected to arrive in Lincoln unbeaten and featuring top Heisman contender Terrelle Pryor.

A few months later, the only thing certain is that Ohio State will still arrive in Lincoln. At least, some semblance of the Scarlet & Gray.

Saturday night's nationally-televised encounter, though retaining its historic significance, is unfortunately, no longer the prime time headliner that was first imagined.

Instead, both the Buckeyes and Big Red are coming off embarrassing losses and looking to regain confidence.

Advantage, Huskers, it would seem considering Bo Pelini's team is back at 81,000 seat Memorial Stadium where a raucous turnout awaits Luke Fickell's reeling ball club.

Last week in Ohio Stadium, the Bucks displayed few signs of offensive life, falling to Michigan State by 10-7.

If not for a last-minute touchdown pass from fifth-year senior Joe Bauserman to true freshman Evan Spencer, OSU would have been unceremoniously blanked in its own backyard for the first time in 29 years.

It remains debatable what aspect of Saturday's loss was most discouraging: Ohio State's normally reliable offensive line overpowered time and again by MSU; or Bucks' frosh quarterback Braxton Miller appearing totally confused and out of step enroute to taking four sacks and hurrying several throws.

The above scenario would not seem to bode well for Miller and his teammates heading into a hostile environment, though Fickell indicated practices this week have been productive.

Of immediate concern is the Buckeyes' inability to mount and sustain a consistent passing game which was mostly non-existent last week against Michigan State.

It's difficult to imagine that problem being resolved over the course of one practice week, especially factoring in the news announced earlier that suspended top receiver DeVier Posey along with running back Boom Herron must remain sidelined while additional investigations are being conducted.

Nebraska competed early last week at Wisconsin before a turnover-filled second half eventually led to a 48-17 reversal at Camp Randall Stadium.

The Huskers, though, are now back on familiar turf where they own previous victories over Washington (51-38); Fresno State (42-29) and Chattanooga (40-7).

Directing Nebraska's offense is 6-1, 200-pound sophomore quarterback Tyler Martinez whose three interceptions at Wisconsin resulted in 21 Badger points. Additionally, Big Red was guilty of a season-high nine penalties for negative 80 yards.

Martinez enters Saturday's scrap completing 50 percent of his passes (54-107) good for 823 yards and four scores. He's unleashed a total of five picks.

The Huskers have a good young wideout in 6-1, 180-pound freshman Jamal Turner who owns a team-high 13 receptions for 223 yards.

Another youngster, 6-1, 180-pound redshirt freshman Kenny Bell has also been productive with six grabs totaling 130 yards. Lining up at tight end is 6-6, 255-pound junior James Cotton.

Martinez serves as a double-threat having gained 482 yards as an option runner. Leading Big Red on the ground is 5-11, 210-pound junior Rex Burkhead who has amassed 516 yards and eight touchdowns.

A pair of seniors anchor the offensive front - 6-7, 320-pound left tackle Jermarcus Hardrick and 6-1, 275-pound center Mike Caputo.

Others on the front wall include 6-6, 325-pound sophomore left guard Andrew Rodriguez; 6-4, 305-pound right guard Spencer Long; and 6-6, 290-pound freshman right tackle Tyler Moore.

Leading the defensive charge is 6-1, 225-pound will linebacker Lavonte David who has a team-high 45 tackles and 6-1, 210-pound junior safety Daimion Stafford.

The Huskers have one of the conference's premier defensive tackles in 6-6, 285-pound fifth-year senior Jared Crick. Also inflicting physical punishment is 6-5, 290-pound junior nose tackle Baker Steinkuhler.

Speaking to reporters earlier this week, Huskers' defensive line/special teams coach John Papuchis addressed last week's loss in Wisconsin.

"Our mistakes haven't been full-scale breakdowns," he remarked. "Usually, it's one guy here, one guy there, so we have to get that part corrected. It's more about the details than anything else. I would love to see a four-quarter performance."

From the Buckeyes' standpoint, an upgrade in their run game is imperative following last week's disappointing performance.

Tailbacks Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde will continue to rotate until Herron's return. Fickell is hopeful, meanwhile, Miller shakes off the adversity from MSU and provides an additional running threat.


THE Huskers' Pelini, an Ohio State alum, has guided NU to nine or more wins in each of his first three seasons as coach at Lincoln. Pelini joins Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne and current Ohio U. coach Frank Solich in accomplishing that feat....

OHIO State is one of three Big Ten schools that have never played inside Memorial Stadium, joining Michigan and Purdue. Since 1962, Nebraska is 16-1 against current Big Ten teams at Memorial Stadium.

The lone loss came to Penn State in 1981 when the Nittany Lions were not yet Big Ten members....

NEBRASKA'S 2011 schedule includes nine games against opponents that participated in a 2010 postseason bowl game. Included in that group are Ohio State (Sugar), Wisconsin (Rose), Fresno State (Humanitarian), Washington (Holiday), Michigan State (Capital One), Northwestern (Ticket City), Penn State (Outback), Michigan (Gator) and Iowa (Insight).

NEXT week, Ohio State opposes Illinois at Champaign while Nebraska has an open date before traveling to Minnesota Oct. 22.

Gibson may be reached at



I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web