COLUMBUS: What's brewing with the 2013 Ohio State Buckeyes ...
BUCKEYES BUZZ: After building a 17-point lead heading into the fourth quarter against Wisconsin, Ohio State all but shut down its offense last week.
Buckeyes fans were happy with the win, but felt that sitting back and relying on the defense and punter to hang on to a lead smacked of a return to the Tresselball era.
For what it's worth, the current coaches are aware of that complaint.
"Would we have liked to convert maybe a few more third-downs and keep drives alive? Absolutely," said QBs coach and co-offensive coordinator Tom Herman. "When you've got a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter, the way you approach how you're going to call the game changes significantly. Do the fans want to see everything they saw in the first quarter in the fourth quarter? Absolutely. Good for them. But it's not going to happen. It's just not. We don't have the responsibility to put up X number of points or X number of yards, but we do have a responsibility to win the game."
Head coach Urban Meyer is concerned that his team has pummeled teams 116-21 in the first quarter but has been outscored 17-10 in the fourth.
"In the last (game and against Northwestern on Saturday), facing two top-20 caliber competitors, that's very alarming," he said. "I take responsibility for that last week. With the kind of defense (Wisconsin was) playing, was not the type you can finish the game running the ball. We played the field-position battle and we won the game. But that is something we are aware of and are keeping an eye on."
Herman said as much as fans want to see the team continue to pile up points that is frequently not the wise way to get out with a win.
"We're not going to throw it 50 times a game," he said. "When we throw it, it's because (the defense has) inhibited our ability to run it. It's out of necessity not out of just fancy. 'Hey, let's call a pass play here.' No, we're going to run the football on first and second down and when you take that away we have to have some counters or some answers to that."
NO COMPARISON: Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald led the Wildcats to a Big Ten championship and the Rose Bowl in 1995, winning the Nagurski and Bednarik awards as the nation's top defensive player.
Before the Wildcats started winning, however, crowds were sparse at Ryan Field on Saturday afternoons, and the students were totally apathetic about the team.
Asked to compare the fan support early in his playing career with what Northwestern enjoys now, Fitzgerald cracked up.
"Night and day, my friend, night and day," he said. "That's all I'll say."
Northwestern sold a record number of season-ticket packages this year and there is substantially more interest by alumni, students and the general public.
"It's been terrific," Fitzgerald said. "The change in climate, more fans supporting us, some of the bowl experiences and the opener in Berkeley (against California). We're thankful for all of that support. There's been a ton of positive momentum. We're very thankful to be Chicago's Big Ten team. The city's really embraced us."
At the same time, there's a concern that Ohio State might just overrun the stadium on Saturday and adorn it in scarlet and gray.
"There'll be (Buckeyes) fans here," he said. "They probably have more alumni in Chicagoland than we do, just from a pure numbers standpoint with 50-thousand plus students compared to 8,000 a year here. Our fans have been incredibly supportive. I'm expecting a very pro and solid home-field advantage for us."
BRYANT UPDATE: Ohio State S Christian Bryant, who broke his left ankle on the penultimate defensive play against Wisconsin, won't play again during the regular season. The prognosis is that he'll be out three months, meaning that he could possibly be back for a bowl game.
But Meyer said that hasn't even been considered yet.
"We've been so focused on this game (against Northwestern), I have not asked that question," Meyer said. "The only thing I care about is his well-being. At some point we'll have that discussion, but not this week."
TURN DOWN THE VOLUME: P Cameron Johnston says he noticed something right away about Americans when he first came here last summer on his official visit. And it wasn't something good.
"When I got into the L.A. airport, I just couldn't believe how loud everyone was," the Australia native said laughing.
"It's not too bad," he said. "I'm getting used to it.