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Five questions to ask about Ohio State – Eastern Michigan

1. How long will the starters play?

Coach Jim Tressel surprised many when he left the starters in through the third quarter of the Ohio University game, but he said he wanted to get the first-team offense a few more positive drives. There should be more than enough of those Saturday against Eastern Michigan University, which has given up an average of 37 points per game in its three losses this season.

Thus, expect the first-team offense and defense to play the first half and call it a day after that. The game should be well in hand by then, and a pointless injury to a key player could incite a riot in Ohio Stadium.

2. Will Eastern Michigan score?

Ohio State’s defense has given up just two touchdowns this season. They rank No. 1 in the Big Ten and No. 7 nationally in total defense. EMU is 91st in the nation in scoring offense. Let’s put it nicely and say the odds aren’t in their favor.

3. Why is Eastern Michigan on Ohio State’s schedule?

OSU is paying EMU to come to the Horseshoe on Saturday. If everything goes as expected, the Eagles will get a nice check and a whipping as well. If college football still operated on an 11-game regular season, instead of a 12-game regular season, chances are this game would not be played at all.

4. Remember Ron English?

The head Eagle is a former Michigan defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach. The Wolverine defense earned many accolades under English, including in 2006 when they finished first in the nation against the run, fourth in sacks, No. 10 in total defense and boasted future NFL talent such as Leon Hall, LaMarr Woodley and David Harris.

That success hasn’t translated to EMU. Last season, the Eagles ranked No. 106 in the country in total defense. So far in 2010, they’re No. 94, allowing an average of 414 yards per game.

5. What are OSU’s goals in this game?

Better establish the run game. Experience continued special teams’ improvement. Don’t turn the ball over. Force at least five three-and-outs on defense. Stay healthy. Most of the same goals OSU has had in recent weeks.

Tressel obviously isn’t overlooking the game and wants to make sure his players continue to develop.

“We have to spend all of our time and energy trying to get better,” Tressel said. “And I feel as if these guys will do that.”

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