COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -It's a game that could cause Ohio State fans to say 'Uh-oh,' merely because of its placement on the schedule.
A week after that 35-3 beatdown at top-ranked Southern California, and a week before the Buckeyes begin their quest for an unprecedented third straight outright Big Ten title, in comes Troy.
It's the perfect scenario for an ambush: Troy fancies itself a giant-killer, travels the country looking for big-name teams to play and has the talent to play with them. The Buckeyes are a bit fragile after getting humiliated on national TV, and are in flux at the two most important positions on offense.
No wonder the Trojans (2-0) - the ones from Troy, Ala., not the ones from USC - are feeling pretty good.
ing and they could get beat again.''
The 13th-ranked Buckeyes (2-1) aren't angered by that evaluation. On the contrary, they're doing their best to prod themselves to not be ``hurting.''
``Everyone that looked from a broad perspective would have told you that this is the most dangerous game on our schedule,'' Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. ``It's before (we open the) league. It's after your national-stage game. And (there is) the fact that they're very, very good.''
The Buckeyes have had to hear every columnist, commentator and blogger in the land call them overrated and a joke in the days since their Coliseum collapse. Then again, they've grown used to hearing disparaging comments after getting run out of the stadium in the last two national championship games.
``People are going to say or feel a certain way. We can't do anything to change that except to just play better football,'' linebacker James Laurinaitis said.
Ohio State's fans, fed up with humiliating losses, want changes everywhere. There are calls for the offensive and defensive coordinators to be fired and for just about every current starter to be replaced.
The Buckeyes have tried to seal themselves off from all of that.
``What's important to us is that we make sure inside these walls that we're talking about what needs to be done to play our best against Troy,'' Tressel said. ``Because outside these walls, I just spent 50 minutes on the radio and you'd have thought it was an open week and we were going back to trying to fix everything and (weren't playing) anybody. The reality is we're playing somebody, and they're good.''
Troy comes in averaging almost 50 points a game, after sprinting past Middle Tennessee State 31-17 and Alcorn State 65-0. DuJuan Harris has scored four TDs and rushed for 187 yards in limited minutes, while quarterback Jamie Hampton is averaging almost 300 yards in total offense with two rushing touchdowns and five more through the air.
Taking on Goliath is no big deal at Troy. A year ago - not unlike every other season since they joined the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2000 - the Trojans opened with Darren McFadden and Arkansas on the road, then traveled to Florida to play eventual Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and Florida. They beat Oklahoma State, one of the few teams that will come to Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium, and later fought to the final few minutes before losing at Georgia, which ended up No. 2 in the rankings.
``We have a lot of confidence,'' tackle Chris Jamison said. ``That's one thing we always have when we play these big teams. We always go in with our best foot forward and we think we can beat anybody.''
Still, the Trojans are just 1-13 against ranked teams, the only win coming at No. 17 Missouri in 2004.
The Buckeyes are going through a sea change with prized freshman recruit Terrelle Pryor getting a tryout of sorts by sharing time at quarterback with fifth-year senior Todd Boeckman, who guided them to an 11-2 record and the national title game last season.
Ohio State is also trying to find a tailback since Chris ``Beanie'' Wells went down three weeks ago with a foot injury.
Troy looks not at the USC game but the narrow 26-14 home win by the Buckeyes over outmanned Ohio a week earlier as inspiration.
``If anything exposed Ohio State, the Ohio game did the week before,'' said linebacker Bear Woods. ``The whole Beanie Wells deal, them going out and trying to find a running back and them rotating quarterbacks. I think they were supposed to run through Ohio and that didn't happen.''
Sports Insights' Advanced Betting Tools - NFL Free 14-Day Trial

NCAAF Team Pages

Recent NCAAF Discussions