A number of Ohio State Buckeyes answered questions Wednesday about what they plan to do with their one free Saturday between now and December. All said they planned to watch football.
Just like their fans, the players eat, sleep and breathe the game, and that’s easy to do when you’re 3-0 and once again a top contender for the Big Ten championship and one of four spots in the College Football Playoff.
The No. 2 Buckeyes return to action at noon Oct. 1 against Rutgers at Ohio Stadium. It will be the first of nine Big Ten games in nine weeks and 10 in 10 weeks if they reach the Big Ten championship.
“The intensity cranks up a little bit in conference play,” quarterback J.T. Barrett said.
“I just feel like our team is getting better,” hybrid back Curtis Samuel said. “Everybody is pushing each other. We’re really excited. We get this bye week. Some people will go home. Some people will just relax. That’s going to open people’s eyes and they will understand where we’re at as a team.”
Rutgers, which hosts Iowa on Saturday, is 2-1 with a loss to Washington and victories over Howard and New Mexico. Former Ohio State defensive coordinator Chris Ash leads the Scarlet Knights, but based on Urban Meyer’s history, Rutgers has little chance at Ohio Stadium. Meyer is 44-3 in games when he has more than one week to prepare.
The time off will give Ohio State’s offense the chance to fix some minor issues that arose Saturday in a 45-24 victory at Oklahoma. The Buckeyes were forced to burn two timeouts on offense in the first quarter and another on defense early in the second and had none for their last drive of the first half. That’s one reason they got hit by a delay of game penalty on that drive.
Barrett explained some of the problems that plagued the offense. Of course, the problems only slowed down an unstoppable machine. Ohio State’s offense scored 28 points in the first half. The defense added a touchdown on an interception return by Jerome Baker.
“It was a little chaos,” Barrett said said. “It was the first away game. It got a little rowdy down there in Norman. We had a little miscommunication. I wasn’t tripping. It was all good. We had a couple timeouts. One time we were messed up, and the guys asked me, ‘Why didn’t you call timeout?’ I was like, ‘We don’t have any.’ ”
Barrett completed 14 of 20 passes for 152 yards with four touchdown passes, all to Noah Brown. The highlight-reel catch by Brown, in which he wrapped his hands around the defender and trapped the ball against the defender’s back, didn’t surprise Barrett.
“It was almost like he made me look better,” Barrett said. “It was a bad ball because he had to do all that. It was a crazy catch. We see it in practice. When it happens in a game and everybody else sees it in the country, it gets blown up like that and you forget everybody hasn’t seen it.”