Week 4 of Ohio State’s season is being brought to you by cupcakes, the official dessert of the Buckeyes’ schedule for the next couple of weeks.
After hosting Eastern Michigan, winless during the last 22 months, OSU plays Illinois and Indiana, who combined for just three conference wins in 2009. The Buckeyes shut out the Illini in the rain last September, 30-0. A week later, they crushed the Hoosiers 33-14.
So far this year, Illinois is 2-1, having knocked off in-state rivals Northern and Southern Illinois. Indiana, at 2-0, beat Towson and Western Kentucky. Obviously, neither Big Ten lowlife has faced an opponent anywhere near OSU’s caliber.
Don’t expect coach Jim Tressel to keep Terrelle Pryor and the first-team offense in the game for as long as he did last Saturday against Ohio. He’ll probably pull the plug on the starters at halftime, as he did a year ago against overmatched New Mexico State.
Tressel wasn’t his usual conservative self last week. Pryor was still rolling out and throwing the ball deep downfield despite a 36-point lead in the third quarter. Look for OSU to rely more on the run game Saturday. It could be the first extensive backfield action for Jaamal Berry, once Dan Herron, Brandon Saine and Jordan Hall get their touches during the first three quarters.
Eastern Michigan allows an average of 253 rushing yards per game. Expect Tressel to take advantage of that and give his Heisman-contending quarterback a bit of a week off.
The defense should feast on Eastern Michigan’s tendency to commit turnovers. OSU picked off Miami (Fla.) quarterback Jacory Harris four times, then forced five Bobcat turnovers last week. Eastern Michigan has turned the ball over eight times in three games.