"We will find out more about who we are." - This certainly could be a prophecy of Washington Coach Tyrone Willingham, as the continued renaissance of Husky football prepares to take its biggest leap yet when 10th-ranked Ohio State pays a visit to a resurgently raucous Husky Stadium on Saturday.

But no, these are the words of Ohio State coach Jim Tressel as he packs up his Buckeyes and hit the road for the first time after two scrimmage victories at home over Youngstown State (38-6) and Akron (20-2).

Sans bowl games, this will be the first visit to the west coast since 2001 for Ohio State, and Tressel has been paying attention to the resurgence on Montlake. "I think that every time we go into an intra-sectional game on the road," Tressel states, "we always get everyone's full attention. It's one of the things about being at Ohio State."

"We get a chance to play a PAC-10 team at their stadium – and I think you're going to see that by the end of the year Washington is going be very highly rated – that in itself should have everyone's attention."

While the Huskies are looking to blast their way back into national prominence with a nationally-televised victory, Ohio State – picked third in the pre-season Big Ten poll behind, um, Michigan (chuckles) and Wisconsin - is looking to match their school record of 21 consecutive regular season wins (their last such loss was in November of 2005 to Penn State). And despite the loss of a lot of offensive firepower from a year ago, the Buckeyes might even be better defensively.

Syracuse and Boise State were merely tune-ups for this game. Time for the real deal now.

And a reborn Husky Stadium can't wait.


OHIO STATE OFFENSE: Surprisingly, Boise State didn't offer much of their "Kitchen Sink" offense, choosing instead to play it level with Washington. This proved to be their downfall, as it enabled the game to become more of a "PAC vs. WAC" match-up. This week, Ohio State will also man-up the Huskies, but with more beef. Similar to BSU, tOSU is bringing in a first-year starter at quarterback in Todd Boeckman, though he will be working behind a veteran offensive line led by tackles Alex Boone and team captain Kirk Barton. Boeckman threw two first-half interceptions to Akron before settling down to pass for 131 yards and a pair of scores. The sophomore has completed 67 percent of his throws in his first two starts. Sophomore tailback Chris Wells ran for a career-best 143 yards against the Zips, and is listed as a co-starter with junior Maurice Wells. Their top receiver is junior Brian Robiskie, a third-year starter. The Buckeyes have been error-prone early on, with six turnovers.

OHIO STATE DEFENSE: Well, you can get much more perfect than 13-straight three-and-outs. That's what the Ohio State defense did to Akron, never letting them breathe while the offense struggled. The Buckeyes haven't yet allowed a touchdown, and they've rebuilt their defensive line with three new starters - only DE Vernon Gholston returns from a year ago. The tradition of outstanding tOSU middle linebackers continues in junior James Laurinaitis, the 2006 Nagurski Award winner. He's led Ohio State in tackles the first two weeks. Junior corner Malcolm Jenkins is the Buckeyes' best defender in the backfield, and the three-year starter figures to match up well with Marcel Reece. Surprisingly, Ohio State has only forced one turnover. Then again, it's hard to force them when the other team's offense is never on the field.

OHIO STATE SPECIAL TEAMS: Not only does Ohio State lead the nation in total defense (122.5 YPG allowed), but they also have a weapon in junior punter A.J. Trapasso, who tops the NCAA in total net punting (44.3 yards per attempt). Place-kicker Ryan Pretorius has been perfect so far in 2007, with three field goals (long 37) and six extra-points. Pretorius also has a pair of touchbacks even though the kickoff line has been moved back to the 30.

GAME OUTLOOK: Last week we expected a score-fest and got a trench war – and a sometimes ugly one at that. Most fortunate for Washington, who imposed their will upon the feisty but smaller Broncos. This week, the match-ups are going to be much closer in size and speed, with two young QBs leading the way. It has to help the Huskies that Jake Locker has been up against better competition than Todd Boeckman, and might be better prepared for the quickness of the game. One wonders if tOSU will employ some sort of spy on Locker, keeping him in between the hashes and daring him to throw to beat them. The Washington ground game will no doubt get its sternest test of the young season.

Offensively, Ohio State hasn't scared anyone with their performances against two inferior opponents, and they might find trouble on the road against an improving – and FAST - Husky defense. Last week was surprisingly low scoring, but this week would surprise me if the points start piling up. It's an early call, but I think Washington will get to 3-0.

RICO's PREDICTION: UW 23, OSU 13. Top Stories