COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -Many of the top players for fourth-ranked Ohio State are first-year starters, and didn't play a major role in the team's last loss.
Yet the lessons learned from the 41-14 beatdown at the hands of Florida in the Bowl Championship Series title game in January are still with many of the Buckeyes (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten). And they hope those lessons will serve them well as they make another run at a title.
Heading into Saturday's game at No. 23 Purdue, the Buckeyes have a fresh look. The backfield starters are new as are the first-team wide receivers, several players on the line and three of the four starters in the secondary.
The hot start and high ranking has even rejuvenated some of the veterans.
``It's a great feeling,'' defensive tackle Doug Worthington said. ``But they're not about to give us a day off because we're fourth. It's great that they've seen our talents and we're a little bit more noticed. But at the end of the day, we still have to play Purdue and the rest of our schedule.''
Some veterans are nervous that the Buckeyes have climbed too far and too fast in the polls. They still remember everything lost in that debacle in Arizona last January.
``We worked so hard that whole season to get to where we were,'' punter A.J. Trapasso said. ``It's tough. Yeah, it is humbling. After that and what's happened with the top-ranked teams that were beaten over the weekend, it's constantly on your mind. You just can't let up for a second.''
Quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels said that the problem for the Buckeyes in the national championship game was that they lost sight of what they were there to do.
``Now, if we knew that as coaches, we certainly would have tried to avoid that. But that's a very delicate thing, so far as knowing the pulse of the team, as far as where they stand mentally,'' he said.
``Florida was really a good football team, there's no question about it. But I've always said I would like to have played them in a normal game. I don't know what would have happened but it would have been interesting.''
So far, Ohio State has had too much talent and depth for Youngstown State, Akron, Washington, Northwestern and Minnesota.
Tight end Rory Nichol said the Buckeyes' path to a third consecutive Big Ten title is relatively straight.
``Every game for us is for the Big Ten championship because the two teams we don't play (Indiana and Iowa) lost,'' he said. ``So all we've got to do is win out. It's really pretty simple for us.''
At the same time, Nichol recognizes that this season feels different from last year, when the Buckeyes were No. 1 in the preseason and throughout the year and had stars like eventual Heisman Trophy-winner Troy Smith.
``You kind of looked up to some of those big-name guys nationally on our offense last year,'' Nichol said. ``It's really newer faces, which is different. But some guys have come out and consistently produced. I guess it's a lot different in that sense. Maybe a little bit more calm, having been through it.''
Now that night in the desert last Jan. 8 is far removed from the new-look Buckeyes of 2007. For now, even the veterans are enjoying the moment.
``It's fun to be out here at 5-0 right now,'' Trapasso said. ``We've got a lot of challenges ahead. But we're a good team and I think we'll know how to handle it.''

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