The No. 9 Ohio State Buckeyes will play their third night game on the road in Big Ten play at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Nebraska. They could have a fourth road night game later this season. The conference hasn’t announced a time for the Iowa game on Nov. 4.
That doesn’t sit well with Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, who said Wednesday teams shouldn’t have to play more than two games on the road at night in one season.
“When you start talking about student-athletes, they shouldn’t have to play four night games on the road,” Meyer said. “I’m going to talk to (Athletic Director) Gene Smith about it, and I’m going to bring it up to our commissioner. We’ll find out if we really do care about getting home at 4 in the morning four times. You can’t recover. You don’t get those hours back.”
Meyer may have more complaints if the Buckeyes (5-1, 3-0) lose one of those night games this season. The chances of that happening at Nebraska (3-3, 2-1) are slim. Here’s are five storylines for the matchup:
1. Return trip: This is Ohio State’s second trip to Lincoln, Neb. The Buckeyes lost 34-27 at Nebraska in 2011 under interim coach Luke Fickell.
Although Nebraska has fallen from the ranks of perennial national title contenders, it still ranks fourth in NCAA history in victories with 892. Ohio State ranks fifth and can pull even with a victory in Lincoln.
“I’ve never been there, but in our (defensive line) meeting, we had a discussion about how they’re a prideful program,” Ohio State defensive end Sam Hubbard said. “They’ve got a lot of history. You’ve got to know your opponent. We’re definitely not taking it lightly. They’re a respectable program.”
2. Wideout watch: Ohio State has had a different player lead it in catches four games in a row. Binjimen Victor could be the next one. He had four receptions for 55 yards last week in a 62-14 victory against Maryland.
On Monday, Meyer compared Victor’s ability to win battles in the end zone to Ohio State greats Cris Carter and Michael Thomas.
“It’s amazing,” Victor said. “Those two guys are great, and I look up to them and I watch them all the time. It’s really good he said that.”
3. Back in action: Defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones, who missed the last two games with foot injury, will return to the starting lineup.
Defensive tackle Michael Hill, who was suspended for the first six games for an unspecified reason, will also be back.
“I haven’t said much about him,” Meyer said, “but he’s really handled himself right recently.”
4. Limited action: Cornerback Damon Arnette can’t play in the first half because he was whistled for a targeting penalty and ejected in the second half last week. Kendall Sheffield will start in his place, Meyer said, and Jeffrey Okudah will be in the mix for playing time.
Cornerback Denzel Ward was also ejected for targeting last week — the Big Ten admitted the official made a mistake with that call — but will not miss a half because he sat out the second half against Maryland after being ejected.
5. Building momentum: Ohio State brings a four-game winning streak into this game and need a victory and a strong performance heading into its bye week because one of the biggest games of the season awaits.
Ohio State hosts No. 3 Penn State, the only team to beat it in the regular season a year ago, on Oct. 28.
“Being that we are Ohio State, we get everybody’s best shot,” OSU quarterback J.T. Barrett said. “It doesn’t really matter as far as somebody’s record. We know they’re going to try their hardest and play their best against us. We have to be prepared. We lost a game already, so as far as what we seek to do in the future, we don’t have another day. We can’t say, ‘We’ll get them next time.’ we don’t have that luxury. The focus is continuing to get better every day.”