The Home Team vs. The Road Warrior
The BCS Championship may be a home game for LSU, but Ohio State is a road team
Jan. 7, 2008
By Carolyn Braff
Carolyn is an assistant editor and writer for CSTV.com.
LSU's campus is located just 80 miles from the New Orleans Superdome, the site of Monday night's BCS Championship game. That effectively makes the title game a home contest for LSU, but for No. 1 Ohio State, that's just fine.
"We know that we're going to have to come ready, because we are in their territory,"
What is the best way to prepare to play in a hostile environment? Play in other hostile environments. After taking home wins from the Big House and Beaver Stadium in front of crowds of more than 110,000 loud and inebriated college students, Ohio State figures to be in good shape to handle whatever - or whoever - awaits in the Superdome stands.
"We've been a huge away team this year," wide receiver Brian Hartline said. "We went into a handful of hostile environments and we've played a lot better on the road than at home. This is a perfect situation for us to have our backs against the wall. Sounds good to me, that hostile environment. There's really no room for error, and it's a good way to treat it."
For the most part, Hartline is right on - the Buckeyes have played some of their best ball on the road. The season finale against Michigan was the defense's best performance of the season, and it came against
What amounted to the Big Ten championship game was not the best for the Buckeyes in the passing department - Todd Boeckman was just 7-of-13 for 50 yards with an interception - but the running game picked up the slack. Wells rushed for a season-best 222 yards, obliterating his average of 121.9 yards per game, and the Buckeyes held the ball for almost 40 minutes, more than seven minutes longer than their season average.
Plus, Ohio State managed that performance against their most hated rival, on the road, in front of the biggest crowd they saw all season - 111,941, a much bigger group than will fill the Superdome on Monday. Even packed to the gills, the Superdome's capacity is around 72,000, and despite the widespread home-team lore, don't be surprised if a large contingent of
If the Buckeyes can bring the same fire to
In Ohio State's first road game of the season, at Washington (attendance 74,927), the receivers Brian stepped up - Brian Robiskie had four catches for 107 yards and a touchdown, and Hartline hauled in six catches for 88 yards and a score of his own. The receivers helped Boeckman pass for 225 yards, eclipsing his 180.9-yard-per-game season average. The run game was no slouch either, as Wells rushed for 135 yards.
In front of a white-out crowd at Beaver Stadium (attendance 110,134), Ohio State outdid its season average in points scored, passing yards, possession time, red zone efficiency and third down conversions. Boeckman had a particularly efficient afternoon in
"I know at Purdue, at Penn State, at
"Eighty or 90,000 LSU fans are probably comparative to 110,000
Ignoring the distractions of the stands is certainly an important aspect of this game, but the distractions on the field - in the form of players wearing purple and gold - are even bigger. One thing the Buckeyes have done well on the road is take care of the football, and they will need to do so again on Monday, especially considering the prowess of their opponent.
LSU ranks second in the nation in turnover margin, with an impressive +18 mark.
In their five road games, however, the Buckeyes notched a +3 turnover margin, fumbling the ball only once with three fumble recoveries and picking off six passes to Boeckman's five interceptions. As long as
But rest assured, should the Buckeyes give the ball away, they will quickly be reminded just whose house they are playing in.
"You know where you stand when you're in
Until the BCS scheduling powers that be put the championship game in