Buckeyes hope ranking won’t go to their heads




By Rusty Miller

COLUMBUS, Ohio – This wasn’t the way the season was supposed to go for a rebuilding and inexperienced Ohio State team.

The Buckeyes were blessed with a weak early schedule, from which they hoped to glean some experience and get comfortable with their roles before moving on to Big Ten play.

Instead, a month into the season, the Buckeyes find themselves ranked No. 4 and a national championship contender.

“You know, we’re a young team, but I would like to think that we’re mature enough to think on Oct. 2 where you’re ranked doesn’t really have much credence,” coach Jim Tressel said on Tuesday. “Hopefully they’ll stay focused on the task at hand as to what we need to get better at. And I think they will.”

Somebody in the USA Today coaches poll even tossed the Buckeyes a No. 1 vote.

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“We’ve got a long way to go if we’re going to be the best team in the nation,” Tressel responded.

A major obstacle comes up Saturday, when the Buckeyes travel to play No. 23 Purdue, which like Ohio State is 5-0.

The Buckeyes are enjoying their rapid climb up in the polls. They were No. 11 in the preseason poll, then dropped a spot after struggling early against Youngstown State. They climbed two spots the next week, two more the next, and then, after sitting at No. 8 for two weeks, they took advantage of four of the top seven teams losing last week to move up four notches.

Linebacker Marcus Freeman said he and his teammates keep a close watch on the teams at the top of the polls and how they’re doing each Saturday.

For now, the Buckeyes are pleased to have avoided the upset bug.

“We’re happy being No. 4 but our goal is to be No. 1,” Freeman said.