The Ohio State football team’s unofficial preseason is over.
The Buckeyes rolled through their first four opponents with ease, with starters relaxing on the sideline in the fourth quarter of all of them.
This week should be different. No, Nebraska has not returned to its status as one of college football’s behemoths, and Scott Frost’s second year at his alma mater has not been as smooth as many expected from a team projected as a favorite in the Big Ten West.
Nebraska is 3-1, with a week 2 loss to Colorado. The Cornhuskers needed to rally to beat Illinois in its Big Ten opener last week. But Saturday should still be the toughest test of the season so far for the Buckeyes.
“We’ve got a real big challenge this week,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said, who called the Cornhuskers “by far the best team we’ve played.”
The task will be compounded by the hype surrounding the game. ESPN will broadcast “College GameDay” from Lincoln and it will be Ohio State’s first night game of the season.
“It’s going to be an electric environment,” Day said. “We have to handle that. That’s our first real challenge as a team. So I think there is a little bit of that feel going on. But (we) just want to be 1-0 at the end of the day.”
Nebraska features an explosive offense led by quarterback Adrian Martinez and playmakers Wan’Dale Robinson and J.D. Spielman. Martinez was recruited by Ohio State but did not get a scholarship offer after he missed his senior season with an injury.
“Adrian is a very talented young man,” Day said. “He is by far the best quarterback we’ve seen.”
No. 5 Ohio State (4-0) is a 17½-point favorite. It has outscored opponents 214-36 and has shown few deficiencies. But Day is reserving judgment about just how good his team is.
“I think we’ve shown some flashes and have played hard and played tough,” he said. “Until you really get going with some of these conference games, you don’t really know where you are. I think it’s a solid start, but it’s just a start.”