Saturday, September 18, 1999

Bucks say they won't discount OU

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COLUMBUS — Ohio State players said all the right things this week. They talked of watching heavily favored Penn State almost lose to weaker Pittsburgh last Saturday, and they know nothing's certain in college football.

  • Kickoff: 3:30p.m. today at Ohio Stadium (89,841), Columbus
  • Records: OSU 1-1,
  Ohio 0-2.
  • TV: ABC (Channels 9, 2).
  • Radio: WBOB-AM 1160.
  • Series: OSU leads 4-0. (Last meeting: 1902, OSU won 7-0.)
  • Line: OSU by 43.
  • What to watch: This doesn't promise to be much of a game, but it should be great for the confidence and experience of Ohio State's younger players. The key question, as in weeks 1 and 2, is how the quarterback situation plays out. Steve Bellisari will start, but Austin Moherman will come off the bench.
        Example No.1 is then-No.1 Ohio State's shocking loss last year to Michigan State — costing the Buckeyes a national championship — which they definitely haven't forgotten.

        That said, if 13th-ranked Ohio State (1-1) doesn't blow out Ohio University in today's game at 3:30p.m. at the Horseshoe, it'll be a major disappointment.

        It's just the fifth meeting between the schools, which are separated by just 70 miles, and the first since 1902.

        “I don't think you can relax one bit,” said sophomore OSU quarterback Steve Bellisari, who gets the start after an impressive performance in last week's defeat of UCLA. “If we do, they can jump up and bite us in the butt. I think they're going to come out hard and ready to play.”

        The Bobcats, who are 0-2 and last week lost to a Division I-AA team (Northern Iowa), will come out as 43-point underdogs against an Ohio State team eager to prove it can play better than its 42-20 throttling of UCLA.

        But OU players also know this is the only chance they'll get to play in front of 94,000 fans in one of college football's most famous stadiums.

        “They'll be gunning for us,” OSU senior offensive tackle Tyson Walter said. “It's important to jump out quick and keep it up. We learned that last year against Michigan State. We jumped on them early, but we let up.

        “We let them live, and you saw what happened (OSU blew a 15-point lead). You can't screw around with teams that way. They start getting their confidence up, and when they have the desire coming in already, it can spell trouble.”

        Still, even Ohio coach Jim Grobe said there's no OU player who could start for Ohio State.

        Said Buckeye guard Ben Gilbert: “If you don't take a team seriously, that tends to backfire on you. You've got to go out fired up, and say, "Hey, we're favored by 40 points, let's get up on them by 40 points.'”

        Here's what to watch for Ohio State:

        • How does Bellisari perform as the starter, with Austin Moherman coming off the bench? Bellisari directed five scoring drives against UCLA, but the duel isn't over.

        • Will receivers Reggie Germany and Ken-Yon Rambo exploit their speed and skill advantage even more than they did in burning UCLA? Look for OSU to go for the long ball early.

        • The Bobcats run the option, which gave the Buckeyes fits last week. But that was UCLA. This is OU.

        Bobcats quarterback Dontrell Jackson is the only true freshman to start at QB in Division I-A football this season and is second on the team with 83 rushing yards on 27 carries. He's 12-of-24 passing for 133 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Sophomore tailback Jamel Patterson reached 100 yards in a game last week for the first time in his career. He finished with 111, which included an 80-yard touchdown run.


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