September 23, 2009

Protect the house

It doesn't take some over-played Under Armour commercial to state the obvious when it comes to any sort of team sports with We must protect this house!. Dating back to 1988 the Buckeyes haven't done a great job of protecting its house against the Illini, a team that has come in and won seven of its last ten. It goes back far enough that most of the current roster of players were not even born when the streak started.

The 2007 game is what resonates in the mind of most of the team however and how the Illini, a heavy underdog, came into Columbus and escaped with a big win and for the moment derailed any chances of a Big Ten and National Title shot.

"We are really not going to harp on what happened two years ago," cornerback Chimdi Chekwa said. "Obviously they are going to mention it because it is the last time they played here and then after that we are going to move on and get ready for this weekend."

But to add insult to injury after losing the game the Illini celebrated at midfield and caused a bit of a skirmish between the two teams. The older players remember that and the feeling that came with seeing a road team celebrate in their house.

"We remember it and we can't really rely on that and can't really think about that," linebacker Ross Homan said. "This is a whole new year for us and for them so it is the start of the Big Ten season and we have to look at it like that and it is going to be a challenge for us and we are looking forward to it."

Though it might go much deeper than that according to several players and it might not necessarily be about Illinois specifically. Rather just a desire to protect home field for a multitude of reasons.

"Going into the season you have always got to protect your home field and try to win all of your home games," offensive lineman Bryant Browning said. "It probably stings a little bit more when you lose and home and you have got your fans there watching you to know you let those guys down."

But there is just something about Illinois and their success in the 'Shoe.

"It is not in the front of our mind but we are aware of it," running back Marcus Williams said. "It is always good to know your history and know the feeling… last time they were in the 'Shoe they beat us. We remember the feeling but that is in the past and we can't do anything about it. We have got to focus on the now."

"We show the stats every week on the team that is coming in and we have seen those stats so we are very aware of what they have done over the past 20 years," linebacker Austin Spitler said. "Obviously we know they are a great opponent and have great talent."

This weekend will be the first weekend that the students will be back on campus so it should be a wild scene in Columbus and the young guys don't want to have a repeat of two years ago, especially for the older guys who can vividly remember what it felt like walking off of the field.

"I came to that game as a recruit and I remember how our team felt after losing such a close game," wide receiver DeVier Posey said. "Seeing them walk off the field and the whole little scrap at the end, that kind of stuff hurts, especially for the seniors. We definitely can't let that happen to our seniors this year. We got a good game plan and they have a really good team. They have a ton of great players and we just have to practice hard this week for them."

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