For months, they had heard how great they were. A No. 2 spot in the rankings served as validation that the Ohio State Buckeyes were an elite team.

For months, they had heard how great they were. A No. 2 spot in the rankings served as validation that the Ohio State Buckeyes were an elite team.

They looked well on their way to confirming that status by jumping to a 23-0 lead against Buffalo on Saturday.

It was everything a coach loves in a season opener - yet secretly fears.

Then Buffalo outscored Ohio State over the final three quarters.

It was everything that a coach fears - yet secretly loves in a season opener.

So Ohio State's 40-20 victory served dual purposes for coach Urban Meyer. He can point to the first quarter as proof of how good the team can be. He can also point to the last 45 minutes as evidence of how much better it has to get.

"I think complacency is certainly not a problem this week," Meyer said yesterday at his weekly news conference."There's been times where you smoke a team and then, all of a sudden, you're going on Tuesday and you start trying to get after them and they are looking at you (funny) because they have just been told how great they are.

"So, as much as we would have liked to have seen it (be) cleaner, it's a great opportunity for us to coach them hard and get better Tuesday and Wednesday."

Receiver Chris Fields, who had two touchdown catches on Saturday, acknowledged that the team subconsciously relaxed after jumping on Buffalo early.

"Our mental focus broke down a little bit," he said. "It wasn't anything physical. We just came out complacent and half-stepping. We just have to play full-throttle next time."

Squashing any sign of complacency will be important this week as the Buckeyes turn their attention to San Diego State. Entering the season, the Aztecs looked like an under-the-radar team that might have the potential to test Ohio State. Coached by respected Rocky Long, San Diego State won its final seven regular-season games last year in the Mountain West Conference.

But if the Buckeyes' performance against Buffalo was uneven, San Diego State's against Eastern Illinois was embarrassing. Eastern Illinois, a Football Championship Subdivision team, dominated the Aztecs late in a 40-19 upset.

Ohio State will be a deeper team than the one that was severely depleted at times against Buffalo.

"We are starting to get our roster back intact," Meyer said.

Safety C.J. Barnett was held out of the opener because of an ankle sprain suffered in practice. Meyer said he is expected to play on Saturday.

Cornerback Bradley Roby and running back Rod Smith will return from one-game suspensions. Armani Reeves filled in for Roby and was picked on at times. Reeves took all of two snaps as a freshman last year and also had to play on special teams on Saturday, so he didn't exactly get to ease into full-time duty.

Smith won't supplant Jordan Hall as a starter, but he can provide a complement as a power runner to the shiftier Hall.

It also would help if center Corey Linsley can play into the second half. For the first time, Meyer provided details on the foot injury that has limited the senior captain.

He said that Linsley had an injury similar to a Lisfranc sprain. Even after rest during the offseason, Linsley still felt discomfort, so he had surgery to have a screw inserted in the foot.

"Those are (long-term) injuries," Meyer said. "So he's a little bit ahead of schedule."

Linsley played 17 snaps against Buffalo over three possessions, all touchdowns. He then sat the rest of the game, replaced by Jacoby Boren. Meyer said he wanted to put Linsley back in the game after Ohio State's offense began to sputter, but chose to stick to the original plan.

"He'll play more, and so he'll just keep gradually getting better and better," Meyer said.

Meyer hopes that applies to the entire Buckeyes team.