No. 6 Ohio State (6-1, 4-0 Big Ten) has found itself in the midst of a hot stretch. But through no fault of its own, that stretch will be put on hold this weekend.
The Buckeyes have a bye week and will not play until they welcome No. 2 Penn State to Ohio Stadium at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 28 in a battle of Big Ten powers.
“It’s definitely going to be fun to have a week off and refresh,” junior linebacker Jerome Baker said after the Buckeyes’ 56-14 win over Nebraska. “It’s a good time because we’ve got two weeks to prepare for Penn State. As everybody knows that’s a great team, so it’s definitely good for us.”
Since its Week 2 loss to Oklahoma, Ohio State has rolled on both sides of the ball, even though its special teams has looked incompetent.
The Buckeyes have defeated their past five opponents — Army, UNLV, Rutgers, Maryland and Nebraska — by a combined score of 266-56 and have outgained opponents by 1,885 yards. Redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett has thrown for at least 200 yards every game and accounted for 22 touchdowns over the span without an interception. In the past five games, opponents have scored just three first-half touchdowns against the starting defense.
“This is a good time to be cooking, but it’s also a good time to have a bye week and get these guys fresh,” Meyer said Saturday. “We’re still finalizing how we’re going to do the bye week.”
After its longest road trip of the season and the third night game away from home, Ohio State took Sunday off. For the first time all season, it did not feel rushed to jump into preparation for its next opponent, even though the Nittany Lions might be the most formidable opponent of the year.
Redshirt junior wideout Terry McLaurin said Ohio State appreciates the week off, which allows it to focus heavily on its next opponent, but it also must balance that with maintaining steady improvement.
“As far as just keeping the pedal off the gas, we’ve got to keep it going,” McLaurin said. “We’ve got a nice train rolling right now. We just want to come into this bye week focused and ready to get better.”
Nearly a year ago, then-No. 2 Ohio State traveled to State College, Pennsylvania, to take on Penn State, a team that had just come off a bye week and handily defeated Maryland before its off week. Conversely, Wisconsin took the Buckeyes into overtime before Ohio State was able to come away with a hard-fought 30-27 overtime victory in Madison, Wisconsin. As the Buckeyes battled, the Nittany Lions rested.
Both teams’ schedules are flipped this year.
Not only will the Buckeyes be playing a game for the first time in two weeks when they play host to Penn State, but the Nittany Lions will be coming off a game against No. 19 Michigan. Even though the Wolverines have not looked as threatening this year, their stingy defense has not allowed more than 20 points in a game and will test a strong Nittany Lion offense.
Though the Buckeyes have avoided outright saying they were looking forward to avenging last year’s loss to Penn State in prior weeks, it’s not a stretch to believe it has been in the back of their minds since the white-clad fans stormed Beaver Stadium as the Scarlet and Gray walked dejectedly back to the locker room.
Redshirt senior defensive end Tyquan Lewis admitted as much saying the team has had an eye on Penn State for a while and mentioned the coaches have been preparing for this matchup for weeks.
But for now, Ohio State rests, awaiting a chance for revenge.