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Published: Thursday, 10/15/2009

OSU aiming for Big Ten record

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

COLUMBUS - When the Ohio State Buckeyes face Purdue on the road Saturday, they will be trying to hold on to the top spot in the Big Ten standings and chip away at the conference record for consecutive wins away from home.

Ohio State has won its last 16 Big Ten road games, and the Buckeyes are positioned to tie Michigan for the longest road winning streak in Big Ten history. The Wolverines won 17 straight Big Ten road games from October, 1988, through November, 1992.

Ohio State's last road loss in conference play came at Penn State on October 8, 2005, by a 17-10 score. The Buckeyes have lost just two conference games since then - both at home - to Illinois in 2007 and to Penn State last season.

"That's something we're proud of, because anybody who has played here knows how difficult it is to go on the road in the Big Ten," Ohio State junior wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher said earlier this season.

"These are all tough places to play, and these teams always seem to save their best shot for the Buckeyes. You have to really be able to maintain your focus when you go on the road in the Big Ten."

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said the Buckeyes, who are in pursuit of a fifth straight Big Ten championship, can expect to enter a rabid environment in Purdue's Ross-Ade Stadium, especially since the past couple of meetings with the Boilermakers have been very competitive games.

"Going on the road in our conference, each time you do it is a heck of a challenge," Tressel said. "They've played us before. They know they've gone toe to toe with us.

"They know what is ahead and we're going over to their place."

Tressel said that despite his team's inconsistencies on offense through the first half of the season, he remains confident that the Buckeyes can keep getting the job done as reflected on the scoreboard.

"As I look at our team after the midpoint here, I love the way we prepare. Our guys prepare extremely hard," he said.

Ohio State senior safety Kurt Coleman said the normally stoic Tressel makes certain that his players are aware they have to approach each road game with a sense of purpose, and expect nothing short of the opponent's best effort.

"He lets us know that it's never going to be an easy game and that we have to rise to the challenge," Coleman said.

"I've been around here for a while. I've heard it a few times, especially when we need it. I think at halftime and before the game is one of the biggest times when you can see the emotion in his face, and you can feel it."

The Buckeyes will have to face Purdue without the services of Indiana native Dexter Larimore, their starting nose tackle and ultimate run-stopper.

Larimore, who injured his knee in a win over Indiana two weeks ago, also missed last week's Wisconsin game. Tailback Dan "Boom" Herron aggravated an ankle injury against the Badgers and is expected to be out for one or two weeks.

Contact Matt Markey at

mmarkey@theblade.com

or 419-724-6510.



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