Cody Cousino / Multimedia editor
Call it a prophecy. Call it luck.
Heck, call it divine intervention.
Call it whatever you want, but Ohio State redshirt sophomore cornerback Bradley Roby had a dream.
And during Saturday’s 63-38 win under the lights in Ohio Stadium against Nebraska, it came true.
“I had a dream earlier this week I was gonna get a pick-six. I was telling everybody, this is my game, I’ma get a pick-six,” said Roby, who predicted Wednesday that he would have his first interception of the season against the Cornhuskers.
Strange? Perhaps. But soothsaying might run in the family.
“My dad texted me this morning and was like, ‘I had a dream you had a pick-six today,'” Roby said wide-eyed with conviction of his vision from the night before. “I’m like, dang, I’ma get it, I had the same dream.”
Stuff like that, he said, just happens.
“It’s just crazy. I just wanted to make as many plays as I can for my team,” Roby said.
That mental disposition certainly seemed to be on display during a game that saw the Horseshoe turn into an “inferno” – even in nippy 52-degree weather.
And, at least for a little while, it might have looked like the Buckeyes needed the cornerback to make every play he possibly could.
After the Buckeyes’ offense clumsily opened college football’s primetime nightcap with back-to-back, three-and-out drives, Roby seized the game’s momentum – and score – when OSU might’ve needed it the most.
The grating noise of a raucous Ohio Stadium in its only night tilt this year had softened. The roar of a record 106,102 people was eerily quiet just six minutes into the contest.
First-quarter struggles, however, haven’t been a novel predicament for the Buckeyes this season.
In first-year coach Urban Meyer’s inaugural game in Columbus, OSU was outgained 173 to 48 in total yards against a perceived inferior opponent in Miami (Ohio) in the first quarter.
Three weeks later, against similar competition, Alabama-Birmingham jumped on the Buckeyes early in the first quarter with a 99 to 42 total yards advantage.
While not outgained in the first quarter of its two other home games before Saturday, OSU struggled to stick a dagger in Central Florida and California before escaping with uninspiring victories in both contests.
Buckeyes fans had seen this movie before.
You know, the one where their team stumbles its bloodied-self past the finish line – the kind of win that leaves more questions than answers.
And that was against teams the Buckeyes were supposed to beat.
What would happen to them against a Nebraska team of arguably equal talent?
After the Cornhuskers’ defense had stifled sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller and Meyer’s offense early, Saturday’s seemed to have the looks of another episode of more of the same.
Admittedly, Meyer called the first quarter a “train wreck.”
“It was a dark day there for that first quarter,” he said.
Then came the fruition of Roby’s dream.
Pinned on his own 31-yard line on 3rd-and-10, Nebraska junior quarterback Taylor Martinez saw a chance to mount a drive with junior receiver Quincy Enunwa open near the Buckeyes’ sideline.
Unfortunately for Martinez and the Cornhuskers, Roby saw it too – first, apparently, in his sleep and then during the game.
“I saw it on film when they lined up in a certain formation, they run certain routes on certain like downs and distance,” he said. “I saw it and I kinda thought about it pre-snap. So, when I saw him run the route I just jumped it.”
As quickly as he ripped the ball from its original trajectory, Roby had taken the ball 41 yards into the stadium’s north end zone for the game’s first score.
The inferno of a stadium that Meyer had wanted, in part thanks to Roby, seemed to be back.
“That was one of the great evenings in Columbus, in Ohio State,” Meyer said. “But I really appreciate that. I never want to let that go without telling the fans that. That was tremendous,” Meyer said. “That was, from the bottom of my heart, I want to make sure everybody knows that.”
The Horseshoe arguably rocked with the same drowning noise that it had during former OSU coach Jim Tressel’s years and Roby was making interceptions in his sleep – sort of.
But perhaps most of all, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Suwanee, Ga., native had made good of his earlier talk of picking off Martinez.
Roby, though, wasn’t finished yet.
While his first interception of the season had put the Buckeyes up early, Nebraska had found a way to gash the OSU defense to a 17-14 lead with less than 10 minutes to play in the second quarter.
Faced with a similar situation on his own 20-yard line, Martinez and Nebraska took to the air again on third down against a Buckeyes defense that was hurrying the junior to get the ball out of his hands as soon as possible.
And, like before, Roby was there to intercept Martinez – this time for an 8-yard return that set up an 18-yard touchdown pass from Miller to sophomore tight end Jeff Heuerman.
Up 21 to 17, OSU subsequently outscored the Cornhuskers, 42-21, en route to its second consecutive Big Ten win and sixth overall victory.
Perhaps most impressive Saturday was the 63 points the Buckeyes’ offense amassed against a defense giving up an average of just 20.6 points a game.
Six of those points, though, belonged to Roby.
“It’s a team thing,” Roby said with a wide smile. “I mean, Ohio State had 63 points. That’s all that matters to me.”
Helping put his offense into position to succeed is something he said he’s more than happy to do.
“Like I said, I try to do as much as I can in any way that I can to help my team. I want us to win every game so, I felt like, I play good and I make plays then we’re gonna win,” Roby said.
While Roby’s interceptions were the first for him this year, Miller said the cornerback is used to making plays.
“Man, he does it all the time in practice. But finally he brung it to the field and big plays like that, you gotta score after that,” he said. “So he brings a lot of excitement to the offense.”
It might be the kind of excitement that has Roby using his newfound calling as an oracle to predict an undefeated season for the Buckeyes.
“We’re trying to go 12-0. Win every single game,” he said. “We’re trying to get that AP No. 1, and go and win a national championship. That’s our goal.”
Roby said the climb for such a feat is just like Meyer described as “pushing a ball up a hill.”
“You’re pushing the ball up the hill, you’re pushing the ball up the hill. At first you can’t really see much. It’s cloudy, you can’t really see. But you break through it and you see the sun,” Roby said, “and you’re almost there, almost there, keep pushing, keep pushing. I feel like … that was a component tonight.
“We saw it, we saw the sun. And we just kept pushing and now we’re going downhill. There’s nothing stopping us.”