Urban Meyer learned the sales trade from Lou Holtz, who with the flair of a boxing promoter would build up Notre Dame’s next opponent — be it Michigan or Southwest Sheboygan Barber College — into a stouter incarnation of the 1962 Packers. So this week, as Ohio State prepares to host San Diego State, he chalked up the Aztecs’ stunning 40-19 opening loss to an early injury to the "best tailback we’ll face all year" (Adam Muema) and FCS Eastern Illinois having "one of the best quarterbacks I’ve ever seen."
It is a weekly routine. Coming off a perfect season, the No. 3 Buckeyes’ most feared opponent on a schedule featuring no opponents currently ranked in the top 16 is themselves. Resisting complacency — a foe left tackle Jack Mewhort called a "monster" — is foremost on his mind. The thought of overlooking a four-touchdown dog like San Diego State? "I don’t want to say it horrifies me," Meyer said. But, really, it does.
The Buckeyes will treat the Aztecs as the Chargers, prepare as if they are a deer in the woods aiming his bow at a tree stand. For Meyer, the team’s outsized scarlet target does not define their place in the food chain.
"Some people think we're the hunted," he said. "I don't feel that way at all. We're the hunter."