Friday, October 22, 2010

GAME PREVIEW: NO. 10 BUCKS HOPING TO GET RID OF THAT BITTER TASTE

COLUMBUS — Ohio State managed to stay atop the college football polls for one week before being knocked off by Big Ten foe Wisconsin last Saturday night in Madison.

To say that the loss to the Badgers — who physically dominated the Buckeyes all game long — was disappointing would be a major understatement. To say that it was humbling would be dead on correct.

"You have to take the loss for what it is," OSU senior wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher said. "We fought hard and it didn't come out on our side. You have to kind of convey to these guys that in that loss you have to take the good that came out of it, but you have to watch the bad. You don't want to watch the film but you have to and you've got to have a short memory."

If that bad taste in the now No. 10 Buckeyes mouth isn't too bitter, the thought off playing Purdue this weekend — a team that pulled off a huge upset over them last season in West Lafayette — has the boys from Columbus scurrying for the nearest bottle of Listerine.

Sanzenbacher, one of the six captains on the team, said that it's more about shaking off last week's setback than last year's.

"I don't know about owing them," Sanzenbacher said of Purdue. "I think there's two things going into it, like you said, they beat us last year and it's not something you forget because that was our tough loss last year. But in another sense, just coming off a loss you can't really get that bad taste out of your mouth until you get back on the field.

"You can do all the practicing and all the talking you want, but until you get back on the field that's when you're really going to find out who you are."

There's certainly going to be a lot of demons that need to be slayed this weekend for the Buckeyes, from their loss last week, to their upset defeat to Purdue a season ago, to falling nine spots in the polls and making their goal of a national championship extremely improbable.

It may sound cliche, but the Buckeyes must take the rest of the season one day at a time.

"We really don't have any other choice at this point," Sanzenbacher said. "I think we knew coming into this season that our goal was to win every single game we played in. We would like to be in a position where we control our own destiny, but at this point there's nothing else you can do but keep on moving forward.

"Instead of looking at the big picture, we've got to look at it one game at a time. We always say one game at a time, but we've got to get better every practice and go in and focus everything on Purdue this week and worry about the rest later."

What they'll have to worry about this week against Purdue is their new multi-talented quarterback, Rob Henry.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound freshman replaced starting quarterback Robert Marve — who was lost to a season-ending knee injury three weeks ago in a loss to Toledo — and has given the Boilermakers' offense a new element that's been playing torment on opposing defenses. In two games as the Boilermakers' starter, Henry has led Purdue to wins over then-unbeaten Northwestern and Minnesota, and he's done it mostly with his legs.

Henry has only passed for 443 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions this season, but he leads the team in rushing with 356 yards and four scores. Last week against Minnesota, Henry totaled 220 yards of offense and four touchdowns, three of which coming on the ground.

OSU head coach Jim Tressel said that he's impressed with the way Purdue has utilized Henry since losing their starting quarterback. The Buckeyes mentor also stated that it's unlikely that Purdue will feel sorry for Ohio State and the adversity they're facing.

"Purdue has had their own adversity," Tressel said. "They lost their quarterback early. They lost a running back in preseason. They lost a great receiver. And to their credit, they just rolled up their sleeves and have gotten better and better and better, and find themselves sitting at the top of the Big Ten.

"I think (Purdue) is doing a great job with that young quarterback. He's a very, very good runner and a very good passer. I think they're doing the things that conceptually he understands and they keep adding a little bit as he goes.

"In terms of our situation?" Tressel continued. "Purdue doesn't really care about our adversities, they've dealt with their own."

(The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell)
Bottom Line

If the Buckeyes want to get their offense cranking again this week, they must find a way to contain Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan.

Kerrigan leads the Big Ten in sacks (5.5) and tackles for loss (14), and if they aren't aware of the star pass rusher, all they need to do is watch last year's game film. Kerrigan sacked Pryor three times in the Boilermakers' 26-18 upset win.

The Buckeyes must also dominate the line of scrimmage defensively, because if they can't get penetration it's going to be another very long day trying to slow Henry and Co.

Since 2005, Ohio State has lost seven regular season games. However, in their game immediately following a loss, the Buckeyes are 7-0 and have outscored their opponents by a margin of 23 points per contest.

Simply said, the Buckeyes know how to bounce back in a huge way, and they'll repeat that trend come Saturday afternoon.

Lee's Call: OSU 40-14