Forget this weekend for a moment, my concern is more with their running game.
Think about all of the running tradition in Columbus: Janowicz, Cassady, Griffin and George, all Heisman winners. Or modern marvels such as Robert Smith, Keith Byars, Raymont Harris and, yes, Maurice Clarett. But recently (Clarett experiment aside) the Buckeye run game has been lacking in star power. Where are the great backs?
Given the fertile midwest recruiting grounds, and OSU's ridiculous running tradition, star backs should be lining up to play in Columbus. But instead, the Buckeyes' roster is filled with fallback recruits: Antonio Pittman, Erik Haw and Maurice Wells. All three are decent backs, durable guys who know how to play. But they're not special, either. They are failing to elevate the sorry OSU offense.
It's particularly worrisome because OSU under coach Tressel is so heavily committed to a conservative offense and running the ball. I don't know if the mistake has been in evaluation (who allowed Clarett to get on campus? Why did they pass on Northwestern's Tyrell Gatewood, an in-state stud?), or dumb luck. But things are getting pretty sad for the Buckeyes.
Worse, they have some good athletes to run a successful passing game and balance their offense out (Santonio Holmes is quite good, and Ted Ginn is a gifted, if more complimentary option), but the running game is not good enough to give the passing offense room to breathe. A lot of the blame falls on the talent in the backfield, and not finding adequate solutions through recruiting.
That said, a big-time in-state gem, Chris Wells, has verbally committed to play for the Buckeyes. He's a big kid, around 230 pounds and fairly quick. He's a big name national recruit, and should do fairly well (if they can keep him away from other suitors). But he's still potential until he takes the field and gets a few college games under his belt.
In the meantime, the OSU offense will continue to suffer, particularly because of the inflexibility of coach Tressel and his staff in adjusting to the available talent. It has to feel like such a curse to have a gifted fleet of receivers and neither the system to make much of their skills, nor the backfield to give the quarterbacks room to get the receivers the ball. Maybe Wells can help out next year and we might see a revamped Buckeye offense. But maybe not.