Another Chance at Redemption
If last Saturday’s 31-27 victory over the Navy Midshipmen wasn’t an indication, Ohio State has plenty of work ahead of them as the Buckeyes head into their showdown with Southern California this weekend.
By Mark Silverman
A victory over the visiting Trojans would not only elevate Ohio State’s national respectability, but the Big Ten Conference as well. However, a performance similar to the showing against Navy could make USC’s 35-3 drubbing of Ohio State last season in Los Angeles déjà vu all over again.
Fortunately, the Buckeyes will not have to defend the triple-option unless USC head coach Pete Carroll has implemented the offense into the playbook, which may not be a bad idea. Ohio State gave up an uncharacteristic 186 yards against the run to Navy and with USC five to six running backs deep, headlined by Joe McKnight, the run defense must improve. What is more astounding is that the Buckeyes gave up 156 yards passing to a Navy team that averaged only 90 yards through the air in 2008. The secondary will need to step up their game with the offensive firepower the Trojans possess.
It appeared the Buckeyes were caught looking ahead to the USC matchup, so Buckeye fans shouldn’t worry too much. It is debatable whether Ohio State was ready to play in the season-opener against the Midshipmen, but that won’t be a question Saturday night.
The Buckeyes’ national reputation has taken a severe hit due to recent losses to Florida and LSU in the 2006 and 2007 national championship games along with defeats to USC and Texas a year ago. However, now the Buckeyes have their opponent on home turf. USC was a true road game and while the other three contests were held at neutral locations, the LSU matchup in New Orleans was a virtual home game for the Tigers.
There used to be a time when Ohio State defended the Horseshoe in night games to perfection. The Buckeyes have an opportunity to reverse their recent trends and erase some bad memories with a victory Saturday night. The Horseshoe will be rocking and if the Buckeyes can put together 60 minutes of consistent football, redemption will be a beautiful thing.