MIAMI — They are expecting the venom to be flying. They are anticipating Miami’s vices to be on full display.
When Ohio State charges into Sun Life Stadium Saturday night, the Buckeyes will be waiting for the signs, the face paint, and the creative use of the English language.
The bitterness between these two college football behemoths traces its roots to the 2002 national championship game when Ohio State defeated the heavily favored Hurricanes 31-24 in two overtimes. Miami has had an extra dose of its usual nasty directed at Ohio State ever since then, and college football fans never forget.
Ohio State senior defensive back Tyler Moeller said it will be a hornets’ nest, but he plans to thrive in that setting.
"Personally, I love those environments. I love going to stadiums with the fans just booing you and hating you," Moeller said. "I love going in there and disappointing them."
Moeller and the Ohio State defense will have to play a prevailing role in the game in order for that disappointment to land in Miami’s lap. With the Buckeyes’ relative inexperience at quarterback, and overall youth, the veterans such as Moeller need to carry the moment.
"For the younger guys, I would tell them to just to play their game," he said. "You know, it’s just like last week, but more people and more hype, if you want to call it. But it’s still a game. Just play your game and you’ll be fine."
Ohio State senior center Mike Brewster, an all-American from Orlando, said he is anxious to soak up what promises to be a very animated setting. He said the key for Ohio State is to not get caught up in the energy inside the stadium.
"I’m curious to see how many Buckeye fans will be there and what the atmosphere will be like," said Brewster. "We all need to be on the same page ... kind of get out there for a series and get comfortable and get everything moving in the right direction."
Ohio State coach Luke Fickell, directing the Buckeyes away from Ohio Stadium for the first time, said he thinks his team will benefit from the turmoil of the past nine months and be stronger mentally in difficult situations.
"We’ve learned something about our guys — that regardless if things are happening good or bad, they are going to fight for us and they are going to continue to battle," Fickle said. "Hopefully, they are not going to allow the outside things to really affect them, and allow them to make excuses."
Brewster said Fickell’s steady demeanor will help Ohio State’s youthful group weather the challenges of a tough night game on the road.
"I think it’s to the point where not only will nothing surprise us, but it won’t affect us either," Brewster said. "We have gone through so much, and we have a great head coach that just pushes forward no matter what happens and doesn’t let anything affect him. And he doesn’t get nervous. He just — he’s full speed ahead at all times."
Moeller said he and the rest of the Buckeyes have an additional motivation to excel in their first appearance on the national stage after the tattoo and memorabilia scandal.
"People want to see us fail," Moeller said. "It’s kind of part of the deal. It makes me angry how people perceive this program, at times, but you just have to get over it. All you can do is move up."
Contact Matt Markey at: email@example.com, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @MattMarkey.
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