The first four weeks of the 2019 Ohio State football season have been full of action, but a little light on drama.
The Buckeyes have thoroughly dismantled overwhelmed and overmatched opponents each time, in games that were essentially decided before halftime.
This weekend, that could change as they head to Lincoln to face off with 3-1 Nebraska.
Scott Frost’s team is pretty clearly ahead of where it was a year ago. But after blowing a 17-0 halftime lead against Colorado in Week 2, the Huskers enter this weekend unranked.
That doesn’t change the way the Buckeyes view them, or the anticipation they’ve had for this trip.
“We’ve had this one circled since since February. So we’re ready to go,” said DT Haskell Garrett on Wednesday. “We knew that this was gonna be the one. Everybody’s testing us, every week, every day, so we just gotta go out there and make a statement.”
That definitely falls well short of bulletin board material, but it stands out in the tightly-controlled world of college football media. Outside of rare exceptions, different variations on “We just take it one game at a time” are the rule.
During Big Ten Media Days in Chicago in July, no Nebraska players were interested in discussing what this weekend’s game could mean to their program. To them, every game was big. No one was interested in even thinking past their week one game against South Alabama. Lather, rinse, repeat.
But deep down, the Buckeyes and Huskers know that this one is a little bigger than last week’s matchups with Miami and Illinois.
For Nebraska, it’s a chance to make a statement that their program really is back. College Gameday will be on campus for the first time since 2007, and Frost has a chance to land a signature win over a national power in primetime.
For the Buckeyes, it’s an opportunity to prove that they’ve outgrown the disastrous road trips to western division stadiums in the past couple years. But it’s also going to be the toughest test they’ve faced yet this season.
“It’s just a real, real good offense. High tempo. They’re ready for us,” said Garrett.
Frost has always been an offensive guy. He played his college football as a quarterback for the Huskers in the 1990s, then made his name as an offensive guru as an assistant.
He turned UCF from an afterthought to a juggernaut thanks to an explosive attack during his first head coaching stint, and is in the process of doing the same with the Huskers.
Nebraska has scored at least 31 points in all four of its games this year. That sets up quite a clash with an OSU defense that has allowed 36 points total all season.
“They pose a lot of threats,” said safety Jordan Fuller. “Two talented running backs, all the receivers look really good, and obviously the quarterback is what makes the whole thing go. So we got a big challenge on our hands.”
It’s apparently a challenge the Buckeyes have been thinking about since before spring ball.