Big Ten: Herd-Buckeyes-090210

Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg looks ahead to the Ohio State-Miami game next week in Columbus.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Bring on the U.

Ohio State began its season in dominating fashion, outclassing Marshall in a 45-7 victory Thursday night. The Buckeyes displayed tremendous balance on offense, received strong performances from quarterback Terrelle Pryor and his weapons, and the defense continued its opportunistic ways.

The Buckeyes' quest for a national title continues against the team it beat to win the crown in January 2003. Miami comes to town in nine days for a blockbuster matchup.

Marshall clearly has a long way to go on defense, but Ohio State's offense actually was fun to watch tonight. The Buckeyes mixed plays, formations personnel, and achieved perfect balance in the opening half with 16 rushes and 16 passes. Pryor looked very impressive for the most part, completing 17 of 25 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns, two to close friend DeVier Posey. Pryor's completion percentage should have been even better if not for drops by Posey and Taurian Washington. Running backs Brandon Saine and Dan Herron both looked good, especially Saine, and receiver Dane Sanzenbacher established himself as the team's deep threat.

It'll be interesting to see if Jim Tressel opens things up this much against Miami. I hope he does.

Ohio State's defense was physical and continued to force turnovers, a hallmark of the unit from last season. Linebackers Brian Rolle and Ross Homan looked especially good.

It was a strange night on special teams, as Ohio State set the tone with a forced fumble on the opening kickoff but also had a field goal blocked and returned for a touchdown.

All in all, mission accomplished for the Scarlet and Gray. But a much tougher test awaits Sept. 11.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State's didn't have the nation's most dominating defense in 2009. Other recent Buckeyes' defenses have boasted better stats and more stars.

But the one thing the 2009 defense did better than others was force mistakes. Ohio State led the Big Ten and tied for third nationally in takeaways with 35.

Most folks, including defensive coordinator Jim Heacock, pegged the 2010 defense to be better. But will it be just as opportunistic as the 2009 unit?

After one game, the answer is yes. Ohio State has forced two turnovers: a pick-six by linebacker Brian Rolle and a fumble forced by cornerback Chimdi Chekwa near the goal line that ended Marshall's most successful drive of the game. The Buckeyes lead 42-7 early in the fourth quarter.

Add in the forced fumble on the opening kickoff, and Ohio State is continuing its opportunistic ways.

A good early sign.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Terrelle Pryor is having a good night so far, but three other Ohio State skill players are stealing the show as the Buckeyes lead 35-7 at halftime.

Brandon Saine has started his senior season with a bang, and wideouts Dane Sanzenbacher and DeVier Posey already look to be in all-conference form. All three players ended the 2009 season on a strong note, and they've carried it over into this fall.

Saine showcased his speed on a 45-yard touchdown run right up the gut and a 40-yard scamper that set up his first score, a 4-yarder. The senior finished the half with 103 yards on only eight carries. He looks like Ohio State's featured back to me. I think Saine got a bit of a bad rap early in his career because of injuries, but he certainly has gotten better with time.

Posey and Sanzenbacher are running terrific routes so far. Posey is Pryor's favorite target in the passing game, but Sanzenbacher (2 catches, 93 yards) looks like the deep threat. And at last, Ohio State seems willing to feature a tight end in the passing attack, as Jake Stoneburner has two receptions for 25 yards.

Whether Pryor becomes an elite quarterback remains to be seen, but he'll have plenty of help on offense this year.

Perfect start for Ohio State

September, 2, 2010
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Could Ohio State have scripted it any better?

A 2010 season many expect to be special for the Buckeyes started with a huge special teams play. After Marshall won the toss and elected to receive (curious move), return man Andre Booker coughed up the ball following a hit from Dorian Bell. Buckeyes' safety Nate Oliver recovered and the offense was in business.

Ohio State's offense has run seven plays so far, and all but one of them, a Terrelle Pryor imcomplete pass, have worked out well. Pryor has looked good on short to intermediate throws so far, although he's seeing no pressure from Marshall and poor coverage from the Herd secondary.

Wide receiver DeVier Posey and running back Brandon Saine are working on big performances. Saine, who I believe becomes Ohio State's featured back, showcased his speed and power on a 40-yard run to set up Ohio State's second touchdown.

It's 14-0 Buckeyes, and Marshall appears to be in for a very long night.

It's game day at Ohio Stadium

September, 2, 2010
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State's push for a national championship begins Thursday night against Marshall.

And make no mistake: The BCS title is the goal for the Buckeyes this season. Head coach Jim Tressel returns one of his most complete teams, and after winning or sharing five consecutive Big Ten championships and winning the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, the next step is rather obvious.

There's a ton of anticipation for this Buckeyes season. I saw people wearing Ohio State jerseys at Midway Airport Thursday morning in Chicago, more Ohio State jerseys after I landed in Chicago and even a few more when I grabbed lunch at Chipotle near my hotel. The Buckeyes are everything in this town, and the anticipation for the season is very noticeable.

These two teams had better be in shape because its very hot tonight. The temperature will be in the high 80s around kickoff and not drop much during the game, maybe 10 degrees. It was very balmy walking to the stadium from the new media parking lot, in a tie, no less. Rain is on the way, but not until early Friday.

Marshall is an interesting first opponent for the Buckeyes. The Thundering Herd return 13 starters but have new systems on both sides of the ball as the Doc Holliday era begins. Senior quarterback Brian Anderson isn't an ideal fit for the spread offense, but the Herd plan to stick with the veteran.

Unless Ohio State stumbles out of the gate, most of my attention Thursday night will be on Buckeyes junior quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Will he take the next step or continue to be inconsistent like he was for much of his sophomore season? I'm also interested to see who emerges at running back, and how young defenders like John Simon and C.J. Barnett perform. Safety/linebacker Tyler Moeller's return to the field also should be pretty special.

We've waited for months, and the season is finally here. Time to get excited. You know I am.