|Rested Buckeyes prep for stretch run after bye|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 04 November 2008 23:16|
That's been a common refrain for Ohio State in recent years. In games following a bye week the Buckeyes are 1-4 since Jim Tressel took over as head coach in 2001.
``We haven't done wonderful with byes since we've been here,'' Tressel said Tuesday ahead of Saturday's game at Northwestern.
The 12th-ranked Buckeyes have had an extra week to stew over a 13-6 loss to No. 3 Penn State on Oct. 25. They took a few days off last week to rest and recuperated before returning to a typical week of practice.
It's the same procedure the Buckeyes have always followed under Tressel - with little success.
In Tressel's first season in Columbus, they won their opener and were ranked No. 21 before taking a one-week hiatus. They came back to lose 13-6 at UCLA.
In 2003, they were 5-0 and ranked No. 4 until resting for a week. They returned to lose at Wisconsin, 17-10.
Northwestern provided the heartbreaker in 2004. The Buckeyes opened with three wins and were No. 7 heading into an Oct. 2 game at Evanston, Ill., but the Wildcats hung a 33-27 overtime loss on them.
In 2005, Ohio State (3-1) was ranked sixth - a 25-22 loss to No. 2 Texas marring the slate - before a week of rest. The Buckeyes returned with a 17-10 loss at Penn State.
The only time they have won after a bye was in 2002 - a 51-17 win over Kent State - the only time they've followed a week off with a home game. The Buckeyes have not had the luxury of taking a week off in the past two seasons.
Wide receiver Brian Robiskie feels the team needed time to heal, both physically from the bumps and bruises of a hard-hitting season, and also to mend its psyche after the Penn State loss.
``I felt it came at a good time,'' Robiskie said. ``At this point in the season, guys are obviously hurt, guys are obviously banged up. So any bye week you have is going to be beneficial. To have it this late in the season definitely helped.''
The Buckeyes practiced last Tuesday through Friday. That also gave them an opportunity to look at their mistakes and to make corrections.
``We went back to the basics,'' safety Kurt Coleman said. ``That was probably the best thing because there were some things that we weren't doing well.''
himself prepared for the Buckeyes' final games at Northwestern and Illinois, and at home against Michigan.
``It was a good time to just relax and get my mind right,'' he said.
With almost no chance of a third straight trip to the BCS national title game, Ohio State still has some major things on its to-do list. The Buckeyes (7-2, 4-1) are in a virtual tie with Michigan State (8-2, 5-1) behind Penn State (9-0, 5-0) in the Big Ten race. A slip by the Nittany Lions, and the Buckeyes still could grab a piece of a fourth straight conference title.
They can play themselves into a BCS bowl berth, again, if they win those last three games.
Tressel said he was unsure how his players would come away from the bye week.
``Coach (Earle) Bruce used to say November is what it's all about, who you are as a football team is really decided by what you do in November,'' Tressel said. ``So I'd like to think that we can come into November a little bit more rested and ready to go.''
Ohio State has gone 20-4 in November under Tressel and the Buckeyes realize the success of their season will be predicated on the next three weeks.
``Coach Tressel just wanted to kind of stress to us the importance of the month of November,'' Robiskie said. ``With what we've got in front of us, you can sense that a lot of guys are still excited, a lot of guys are ready to go.''