Talkin' Tressel: Northwestern Edition

Ohio State will host Northwestern on Saturday for an important game in the history of Ohio Stadium, but the Buckeyes are apparently more focused on how important the game is for this season. Find out which players might not see the field and get the latest updates on the likes of Grant Schwartz, Curtis Terry, Jermale Hines and more.

On Saturday, the Buckeyes will take to the field against Northwestern in what will be the 500th game played at Ohio Stadium.

As he looked ahead at the contest, head coach Jim Tressel said that not only were his players aware of that fact, but also that it made him realize how much history has taken place in the stadium outside of his tenure.

"It's amazing, when you think about it that there's been that many football games there," Tressel said. "It just reminds you again of the tradition of Ohio Stadium. They can tell their grandkids someday that they played in the 500th game."

The first game Tressel attended at Ohio Stadium, he said, was his first game as an assistant coach in 1983. On that date the Buckeyes defeated Oregon by a 31-6 score.

While this time OSU will be aiming to improve to 4-0 on the season, they might do so with a few different faces on the field. After picking up 263 rushing yards one week prior against Washington, the OSU offense might be without starting fullback Dionte Johnson and backup tailback Brandon Saine, both of whom Tressel deemed "questionable" for the game against the Wildcats.

Both saw playing time against the Huskies. After Johnson was sidelined with what he called "a little nick," he was replaced by former center-turned-fullback Tyler Whaley.

On Tuesday, Johnson seemed optimistic about playing this weekend.

"I'll be fine this Saturday," he said.

Saine, who rushed for 83 yards on 9 carries, has apparently been nursing some slight injury Tressel said the team felt "would come along, but it just hasn't as good as we'd like."

With Saine possibly sidelined for the contest, Tressel said two players are "in the ready room" to replace him: classmate Dan Herron and walk-on Marcus Williams. Herron has been on the bubble as a possible redshirt player this season.

"We always tell kids that redshirting around here is a day-to-day situation," Tressel said.

OSU will be without freshman Dane Sanzenbacher, who suffered a concussion in the game against the Huskies, as well. After serving as the team's No. 3 wideout for the first three games after injuries and a strong camp performance helped him ascend the depth chart, Sanzenbacher will now give way to a player whose injuries helped him get on the field in the first place: sophomore Ray Small.

Also at the wide receiver spot, the Buckeyes now have converted defensive back Grant Schwartz. A redshirt freshman, Tressel said Schwartz was switched because the coaching staff felt he would be a better fit on the offensive side of the ball.

"We just felt like that would be a good thing for him," Tressel said of the position change. "He was an offensive player in high school. We just thought that would meet the things that he can do best. His most significant role right now is on special teams."

His move to wide receiver was not influenced by injures at that position, Tressel said.

Senior linebacker Curtis Terry, who has been recovering from an ankle injury suffered during fall camp, was hoping to be back on the field by early in the Big Ten schedule. Now, it appears the coaching staff is weighing more heavily the thought of redshirting Terry for the season.

One player on the mend is kicker Aaron Pettrey, who has missed the first three games with a groin injury.

"Aaron Pettrey is feeling good," Tressel said. "He's going to be able to help us Saturday."

The status of freshman linebacker Jermale Hines, however, remains uncertain. Tressel said they still have not "gotten the go-ahead" yet to have Hines available, but he is with the team.

The game against the Wildcats will also give the Buckeyes a chance to break a school record for most consecutive regular-season victories. Currently, OSU has won 21 consecutive regular-season games dating back to a loss to Penn State on Oct. 8, 2005.

The record was first set during the 1967-69 seasons.

Tressel said he had not heard that statistic mentioned this week.

"What's important is this game," Tressel said. "Breaking the record would be very significant. That would mean we won this game. The record itself won't do anything for us."

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