In a development befitting a physical first game of the Big Ten season, head coach Urban Meyer awarded player of the week distinction collectively to his offensive line on Monday.
All five starters – tackles Jack Mewhort and Reid Fragel, guards Marcus Hall and Andrew Norwell and center Corey Linsley – received "champion" grades after film study of the Buckeyes' 17-16 win at Michigan State on Saturday.
"Very proud of their effort and what they did," said Meyer, who was a vocal critic of the state of the offensive line for much of the offseason. "It's great to have an offensive line grade out as your player of the game. You usually win that ballgame."
They were not the only blockers to stand out, though. Joining them in the champions club were fullback Zach Boren and tight end Jeff Heuerman, both of whom helped the Buckeyes rush for 204 yards against the Big Ten's top rushing defense. That included 38 yards (prior to three kneel-downs) on the team's last possession as Ohio State ran the last 4:10 off the clock in East Lansing.
On the defensive side of the ball, Etienne Sabino was named player of the game after making eight tackles, including a sack, and breaking up a pass. He was credited with a pair of quarterback hurries, including one on Michigan State's final offensive play when Sabino forced an errant pass.
Joining Sabino in the champions club on defense were fellow linebacker Ryan Shazier, linemen Johnathan Hankins and John Simon and cornerbacks Bradley Roby and Travis Howard.
Roby was named special teams player of the week for blocking a Spartan punt.
"We finally blocked a frickin' punt around here," Meyer said with a smile. "We worked really hard around here. Hope there are some sharks in the water after this week looking for another one."
The head coach also addressed two incidents that came out of the win at MSU, one on the field and one off.
Regarding a video circulating around the Internet that appears to show a Spartan offensive lineman poking fingers into Hankins facemask, Meyer said he believed something had been submitted to the Big Ten offices for review.
"I think it gets turned in, and then I believe it's in the conference offices or the team's way of handling it," Meyer said.
Contrary to an initial report from a Detroit paper, no league involvement was necessary to take care of a pregame video issue.
"The first I heard about that was after the press conference (Saturday)," Meyer said in regards to allegations Ohio State sent Michigan State game films with pre-snap motions edited out. "A guy grabbed me and said, 'What about the videotape?' I said, 'I have no idea.' I asked my guy and he said he had no idea either. So I went back on Sunday and asked again. I asked our video staff. They said there was an issue on Tuesday, it was corrected immediately, and that's all I was told. There was no intent or deception or hiding anything, nothing like that."
Next the focus for the undefeated, 12th-ranke Buckeyes turns to Nebraska. The 20th-ranked Cornhuskers are headed to Columbus after a dramatic come-from-behind win over Wisconsin, and they bring a unique look on both sides of the ball.
Offensively, Meyer praised quarterback Taylor Martinez and the Cornhuskers' option-based attack while noting Nebraska's famed "Blackshirt" defense plays a unique style up front and in the backfield.
The defensive line plays a two-gap technique while the secondary engages in pattern reading, a combination of zone and man principles harder to read at the snap than more traditional defenses.
Healthwise, the Buckeyes could again be short-handed in the backfield after Jordan Hall suffered a partially torn PCL against the Spartans. Meyer called the senior running back doubtful at this point in the week.
"I'm going to see more about him today," Meyer said. "He didn't practice yesterday. I hate to see it, because he is a kid that works his tail off. So we'll evaluate that."
He does expect to have the services of Braxton Miller, the Buckeyes' star quarterback who was knocked out of the game at Michigan State twice but still threw for 179 yards and ran for 136. The coach acknowledged a concern over Miller taking a lot of big hits.
"He didn't do much yesterday," Meyer said. "He's a little sore, but Braxton doesn't need a lot of conditioning. His stamina's pretty good. You just need to get him healthy. He'll practice fine."
Meyer called C.J. Barnett, a junior safety who missed the past two games with an ankle injury, probable for facing the Huskers.
"I got the thumbs up on him yesterday," the coach said. "So I'll know more later and I'll let you know. Probable at this point."
Nebraska will visit Ohio Stadium for the first time since 1956, when the Buckeyes beat the Cornhuskers 34-7 in the season opener for both teams.
Ohio State leads the all-time series 2-1 and is 2-0 against Nebraska at home. The first meeting came in 1955 when the Buckeyes won 28-20 thanks in large part to the exploits of halfback Howard "Hopalong" Cassady, who scored three touchdowns that day and would go on to win the Heisman Trophy.
This game will offer a national showcase to both teams as ABC will broadcast it at 8 p.m.
One player who will not take part is Tyrone Williams, a sophomore receiver who was dismissed from the team for violating team rules.
"I'm disappointed with Tyrone's dismissal," said Meyer, who added there is no Chance Williams will be allowed back on the team.