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Why a Road Letdown Was Never a Threat to Ohio State

Buckeyes' schedule fell perfectly with toughest opponents at home

It's that time of year when spooky things happen, nearly all of them imagined, and if you're expecting No. 3 Ohio State to face plant in the next few weeks like it has the past few seasons, you're definitely seeing ghosts.

The Buckeyes (8-0) are off this week and then play host to Maryland (3-5) on Nov. 9 and play at Rutgers (2-6) on Nov. 16.

After that, things get tougher, with unbeaten Penn State at home on Nov. 30 and Michigan on the road to finish the regular season the following week.

So there will be no Walking Dead performance by the Buckeyes in mid-season that renders them cowering in the corner, hoping for something to save them when the first College Football Playoff ratings debut next week.

OSU (8-0) will certainly be among the Top 4 teams and will remain there if it continues to win through the Big Ten Championship game Dec. 7 in Indianapolis.

"All it means is that you have a lot more to lose if you let it get away from you — that’s it,” Day said of the Buckeyes' hot start. "The more this builds, the more we have to lose."

Such protests ring loudly in Columbus where fans are still raw from inexplicable losses at Purdue last year and Iowa the season before when the Buckeyes had no business losing either time.

Iowa scored 55 points and Purdue 49 in routs the likes of which Urban Meyer suffered only one other time, that in the 2016 Playoff semifinals when shut out by eventual national champion, Clemson, 31-0.

No one ever did, or ever will, confuse Clemson's personnel that season with what Iowa and Purdue put on the field to to embarrass the Buckeyes.

Thankfully for OSU, it's no longer putting that defense out there, either.

Four new assistants on that side of the ball have, with almost exactly the same players, re-manufactured a unit that currently ranks first in the nation, allowing just 7.9 points per-game.

The other reason such out-of-the-blue face-plants were no threat to Ohio State this year is because no road opponent arrived on the schedule at the opportune time to pull such an upset, and none had the requisite talent to do so.

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OSU was bound to be awake for its Big Ten opener at Indiana and the Hoosiers were without starting quarterback Michael Penix for that one.

Nebraska is still at least two years away from being capable of surprising a top-tier team on Ohio State's level.

Northwestern gave OSU too much trouble in last season's Big Ten title game, and is undergoing offensive struggles so mammoth, it was never getting overlooked.'

Rutgers -- its narrow win over Liberty last week aside -- couldn't beat OSU's backups.

And you can forget any chance the Buckeyes will ever sleep on a season finale at Michigan.

 In 2016, unranked Iowa fell the week after OSU rallied furiously in the fourth quarter to defeat No. 2 Penn State and the week before it played host to No. 13 Michigan State.

Last season, Purdue was 1-3 at home, including a loss to Eastern Michigan, when it ambushed the Buckeyes on an emotional night that put the late Tyler Trent's courageous battle with cancer on nationally-televised, Saturday night display.

The only opponents with enough talent to surprise Ohio State this year all fell on the home portion of the schedule, starting with Michigan State, then Wisconsin and, yet to come, Penn State.

The Buckeyes don't play Iowa or Minnesota, unless they get one of them in the conference championship, and a Playoff berth would likely be an accompanying reward for a victory there.

So, no early bed time for the Buckeyes on that Saturday night in Nap Town.

"We know that we have a bigger bulls-eye on our chest week in and week out," Day said. "We have to work harder and harder and we’re more and more invested every week.”

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