Navy presents real challenge for Buckeyes

COLUMBUS (AP) — This much is certain when it comes to No. 6 Ohio State’s recent series of opening-game opponents: Navy is no Youngstown State.

While the Penguins were almost grateful to open the season at Ohio Stadium the last two seasons, the Buckeyes recognize that Navy won’t be nearly so star-struck.

The Buckeyes opened with 38-6 and 43-0 routs of Youngstown State, the only Football Championship Subdivision team Ohio State has ever played.

Navy is at another level.

“We’ve got a great Navy team coming in week one,” offensive guard Bryant Browning said. “First off, those guys have won a lot of games. They go to bowl games, and they win. We’re usually facing, I guess you could say, a lesser opponent sometimes — you could say it that way. But Navy is not one of those teams. They’re going to come in here looking for a big upset.”

Ohio State’s contest against Navy on Saturday — the first regular-season meeting between the teams since 1931 — is not expected to be so lopsided as recent debuts for the Buckeyes.

“Navy’s no pushover,” quarterback Terrelle Pryor said. “And you know they’re going to be tough. They serve our country. You also got to appreciate that too because they serve our nation and protect us.”

There are also a couple of other reasons why the game could be a problem for the Buckeyes.

For one, the Midshipmen’s triple-option attack is something foreign to a defense that regularly faces spread attacks.

“Whenever you play someone like Navy it raises the urgency because you can’t look at them and say, ‘Well, I know what they do. Yeah, this is what they run. We know how to stop that,’ ” coach Jim Tressel said. “Plus our guys have a tremendous respect for the people who choose to go into that particular world. You’ve got to be courageous and our guys know that. ... It’ll be an eye-opener for us.”

For another, a date with No. 4 Southern California, which ravaged the Buckeyes 35-3 in SoCal a year ago, is looming a week later. The Buckeyes know they can’t be distracted by that, since they’ll likely have their hands full with the Midshipmen.

Unlike Youngstown State or the Mid-American Conference schools the Buckeyes usually open against, the Midshipmen won’t be intimidated by the more than 100,000 in attendance. They’ve played on big stages and in big games, winning their last 13 against Army and Air Force to take the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy the last six years.

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