Buckeyes Prepared For Primetime Matchup

From Christian Bryant's injury to Northwestern's spread attack, Urban Meyer has plenty to worry about these days. On Wednesday, the Ohio State head coach provided an update on the Buckeyes heading into their nationally televised contest with the Wildcats.

If Urban Meyer sounds more worried than he typically does heading into No. 4 Ohio State's matchup with No. 16 Northwestern, it's for good reason. Not only are the Buckeyes playing in their second primetime matchup with a nationally-ranked team in as many weeks, but they're doing so with senior leader Christian Bryant sidelined with a potentially season-ending ankle injury.

And, oh yeah, the Wildcats have only had a seven-day head start on their preparation.

"They had a bye week to get ready for us," said Meyer, noting that the 4-0 Wildcats didn't play in a game last weekend. "We have two days to get ready for them."

Meyer said that it's too early to tell how the Buckeyes will respond to Bryant's injury, which occurred in the final few plays of OSU's 31-24 win over Wisconsin last weekend. Starting in the safety's place will be fellow senior Corey Brown, who played in place of an injured C.J. Barnett in Ohio State's season-opening win over Buffalo.

Asked how the Buckeyes' defense has performed in practice this week, Meyer said "OK," but noted that he won't truly know until OSU's Thursday practice has concluded.

"In the middle of Tuesday and Wednesday is just so hard," Meyer said. "Tomorrow you'll see more of that. Right now is just a grind. You're trying to get ready."

Along with Brown, Meyer said that you can expect to see redshirt freshman Tyvis Powell and true freshman Vonn Bell take more snaps with the Buckeyes' first-team defense. Asked if Bell is ready to make that jump in playing time, the OSU head coach simply responded: "he has to be."

In addition to Bryant's absence, Meyer has expressed concern over the Wildcats' spread offense, which currently ranks 18th in the nation in rushing (249.5 yards per game) and 22nd in scoring (41.3 points per game). Northwestern is also expected to be with Venric Mark, who has missed the Wildcats' past three games with a leg injury.

"He's fast and he's a great returner. I went back and watched some film from last season and he's excellent," Meyer said of the senior running back and returner. "There's a lot of similarities between their offense and our offense."

With ESPN College GameDay headed to Evanston for the primetime kickoff between the Buckeyes and Wildcats, Ohio State again finds itself in a position to make a statement on national television. Meyer downplayed the external factors that will be present for his team's next contest, but is also well aware of what will be on the line.

"They should have hype. They're undefeated," Meyer said of Northwestern. "It's a big game for them. But I got news. It's a big game for us too. There's two teams out there playing for a lot."

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