Buckeyes Turn The Page To N.C. State

After a dramatic win over Marshall, Ohio State now looks forward to its first road game of the 2004 season with its visit to N.C. State Saturday (3:30 p.m., ABC regional telecast). We have comments from various players, including linebacker Bobby Carpenter, about getting ready for this tough road trip.

Members of the Ohio State football team were still basking in the glow of their dramatic final-play victory over Marshall when reporters began to change the topic to their impending road trip to N.C. State.

The Buckeyes (2-0) moved up two spots in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll from ninth to seventh and stayed at No. 9 in the Associated Press poll after the 24-21 win over Marshall. N.C. State (1-0) is not ranked in either poll. But the Buckeyes know how good the Wolfpack, with 17 starters back from last year's 8-5 season, can be. Plus, N.C. State has all the incentive in the world after last year's bitter 44-38 triple overtime loss to the Buckeyes in Columbus.

"It's going to be a tough road game for us," said OSU defensive end and co-captain Simon Fraser. "It's going to be a huge test. We've got to prepare ourselves this whole week. We've got to put this one behind us and move forward.

"It's going to be a dogfight. They're going to be ready. It's in their house. They came in here last year and almost upset us. They're going to have that motivation going for them. They're going to have a look at this tape and see some things that maybe they can do. We just have to go out and do what we do best."

The game will be historic on several levels. It will be OSU's first-ever game in the state of North Carolina. Plus, it will be OSU's first-ever visit to an ACC stadium, although future home-and-home arrangements have been made with Miami (Fla.) and Virginia Tech.

"It should be fun," said outside linebacker A.J. Hawk. "Away games are definitely a different atmosphere than when we play here. It's going to be fun to play there at N.C. State. It should be a good atmosphere.

"We need to go and watch some film and figure out what their game plan will be. We know they're a great team."

The Buckeyes will be walking into a tough, if not intimate, environment at 53,800-seat Carter-Finley Stadium.

"We definitely know it's going to be like going to Wisconsin or Michigan or like other teams coming into our own stadium," said OSU defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock. "We know the situation is going to be a dogfight. We have to go out there as a defense and hit them first and make them change their game plan."

Of course, the Buckeyes will not have to face quarterback Philip Rivers, now with the NFL's San Diego Chargers. Rivers completed 36 of 52 passes for 315 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions last year. He has been replaced by junior Jay Davis, who completed 16 of 22 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns in his team's 42-0 win over Richmond Sept. 4.

The Buckeyes know they can again expect a pass-heavy spread offensive attack

"It puts a lot of work on us, but we have to handle that adversity and go hard on every play," Pitcock said. "They're going to drop the ball at times. They can't make every catch. I know we got to the fourth quarter and we should have stopped them then. We gave up too many points toward the end.

"They'll probably run the same offense with trick plays and quick throws. I don't know how the new quarterback is, but you know he'll be a good one."

OSU will be without senior cornerback and co-captain Dustin Fox, who suffered a broken arm against Marshall. He will be replaced by sophomore Ashton Youboty. But Fox believes the Buckeyes will still be able to handle N.C. State's spread attack.

"We'll be ready," Fox said. "I'm sure we'll throw 50 passes against our defense every day in practice. As far as the game goes, we did a good job last year except for the last nine minutes. We made some errors. We've watched that 10 times – I've watched it countless times. Our coaches will have a good scheme to go up against that offense. They like to run the spread offense with the quick passes. We'll be ready to go."

OSU linebacker Bobby Carpenter admitted the Buckeyes did not play their best game against Marshall.

"We'd like to think we can win some games by some bigger spreads," he said. "But we'll take them any way we can get them. Marshall is a good team. We know we need to get a lot better this week before we go down to ACC country."

Winning the game remains the bottom line, Fraser said.

"That's huge," he said. "But you can't be satisfied just with the victory. I am ecstatic that we got the victory today. We played a tough Marshall team. They came off a tough loss to Troy. They executed today and we made mistakes and they capitalized off of them. We've got to go in next week, dig down deep and just play hard."

Nugent Recognized

OSU kicker Mike Nugent was recognized as a co-Big Ten special teams player of the week after he hit the game-winning 55-yard field goal on the final play of the game against Marshall.


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