Buckeyes not overlooking weak Big Ten foes

Buckeyes not overlooking weak Big Ten foes

By The Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State is looking at an easy October schedule, and that might be hard to handle for the top-ranked Buckeyes.

The task at hand will be trying to get pumped up for in-state Bowling Green, followed by the five bottom teams in the Big Ten, after handling the likes of defending national champion Texas and Top 25 teams Penn State and Iowa in September.

“Even harder than September,” guard T.J. Downing said. “October is going to be hard for us because we’re going to have to make sure we’re on top of our game, that we’re bringing our ‘A’ game every time we play.”

“Yeah, it was tough playing Iowa, Texas and Penn State. And Cincinnati was one of the toughest games we played. But we’ve just got to be sure when a team like Bowling Green comes in that we’re not misfiring. It’s going to be hard to get up.”

But don’t bet against the Buckeyes (5-0).

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel will try to keep his team motivated and on top of its game, knowing full well the next six opponents – leading up to the annual showdown against No. 6 Michigan – went a combined 2-10 the past two weeks.

First up is Saturday’s game against Bowling Green (3-2), which has been pounded by Wisconsin and Kent State.

“Now I guess the question at hand is just how good would we like to get?” Tressel said. “There’s no way that you can keep getting better if you don’t make sure that you’re focusing on what’s happening right now, right this second. (That is) maybe one of the most difficult things for human beings to do, but that’s what we have to make sure that we do.”

After Bowling Green, it’s back to the Big Ten basement. Only one of the five bottom teams has a winning record, Michigan State. The other four are each 2-3 – Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern and Minnesota.

The Spartans may be over .500, but have become one of the most disappointing teams in the nation. They blew a big fourth-quarter lead to Notre Dame and then lost at home last week to Illinois, a 26-point underdog that had lost 24 of its last 25 league games.

There is no question, however, that the upcoming teams won’t be looking past the Buckeyes.

“If I were Bowling Green and hadn’t had the season to this point that I had hoped for, I would be saying to myself, what better way to right this wrong, so to speak, than to come out and beat the No. 1 team in the nation?” Ohio State receiver Anthony Gonzalez said. “There’s no better way to get a season back on track than to do something like that. So I’m assuming that’s what’s going through their minds and we have to be aware of that.”

Safety Brandon Mitchell has never forgotten what it was like when the Buckeyes were unbeaten and ranked No. 7 four games into the 2004 season, only to be dramatically upset at Northwestern, 33-27, in overtime.

“I vividly remember walking off the field and the fans screaming, ‘Overrated!’ Just running past me, screaming, ‘Overrated!’ And I felt terrible,” he said.