Ohio St. vs. N. Illinois
Talking Texas: Ohio State's postgame talk turned almost immediately to next week's game against Texas. "We took a step today," said Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel. "The next step is higher and we understand that." Texas rallied to defeat the Buckeyes, 25-22, in Columbus in the second game last season and the Longhorns, behind departed quarterback Vince Young, went on to win the national title. It was a game that many OSU fans thought the Buckeyes should have won. But not everyone thinks so. "I don't know that we deserved to win," said senior center Doug Datish, a Howland High graduate. "We did some very questionable things." The Buckeyes won't have the advantage of the home crowd this year, but Datish thinks the Big Ten schedule has prepared them for a hostile road environment. "I'm looking forward to it," he said. "We had a crazy atmosphere here last year and I hope they show us what we showed them."
Coaching connection: Northern Illinois coach Joe Novak, a Mentor native, coached at Warren Western Reserve from 1968-73, leading the Raiders to the 1972 Class AAA state title -- the first year of the state playoffs in Ohio. Reserve went 12-0 that season and defeated Cincinnati Princeton 37-6 in the championship game. Novak's Raiders lost to Mooney in the 1973 championship game. He was an assistant for the Raiders from 1968-1971 before being promoted to head coach from 1972-73.
Around the Valley: In addition to Datish, there are several area players on Ohio State's roster. Cornerback Shaun Lane, a Hubbard High graduate who was briefly shifted to running back last season, lettered last year playing on special teams and played on kickoff coverage Saturday. Lane tore the ACL in his left knee in the eighth game last year against Minnesota and missed the rest of the season. Other players on the roster include former Boardman kicker Andy Good, a junior who first attended West Virginia before transferring to OSU; defensive back Michael Doughert, a redshirt sophomore from Boardman; Dimitrios Makridis, a redshirt junior from Warren Harding who is the team's backup long snapper; and defensive back Zach Willis, a redshirt sophomore from Hubbard.
Joe Scalzo

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