No. 6 Ohio State embraces ‘March Madness’ mentality at Nebraska

NCAA Football

With the first game in November looming, the heat is increasing on Nebraska coach Scott Frost.

The Cornhuskers (3-6, 1-5 Big Ten) have lost three straight and are in danger of not being bowl eligible in all four seasons of his tenure at his alma mater.

Frost’s task does not get easier with No. 6 Ohio State (7-1, 5-0) rolling into Lincoln on Saturday with a six-game winning streak since a 34-28 loss to No. 7 Oregon on Sept. 11.

The Buckeyes are seeking their third consecutive appearance in the College Football Playoff and debuted at No. 5 in the first CFP rankings of the season Tuesday night.

“This is going to be a battle,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said Tuesday. “It truly is like March Madness. You win and you move on.”

Calls for Frost’s removal grew louder after a 28-23 home loss to Purdue last Saturday, dropping his career conference record to 15-26, including 6-15 in the Big Ten West.

“You learn as a coach not to pay any attention to that stuff,” Frost said on Monday. “I owe it to the kids to give them my everything, so do the coaches, and we are. And the kids are giving us everything they have right back because of our relationship with those guys. Everything else doesn’t matter. We can only control what we can control.”

The Cornhuskers in his four seasons have 17 losses by one score or less, including all six defeats this season. One was a 23-20 overtime loss to No. 5 Michigan State on Sept. 25.

Frost’s optimism is based on Ohio State’s vulnerability in its 33-24 win against No. 22 Penn State last Saturday.

The Buckeyes, who lead the country at 47.3 points per game and are second in total offense (548.1 yards per game), scored just one touchdown in six trips to the red zone while kicking four field goals. C.J. Stroud had one TD pass after throwing 14 in the previous three games.

Also, Ohio State had seven false starts — in a home game.

“You have to be able to win down in the red zone,” Day said. “Some things got us out of whack in terms of penalties. … To win ugly like that says a lot about our character.”

On the other side of the ball, Penn State’s Sean Clifford threw for 361 yards, although he was sacked four times, and defensive tackle Jerron Cage returned a fumble 57 yards for the Buckeyes’ sixth score on defense (four interceptions, two fumbles) this season.

Nebraska’s fate may depend on Adrian Martinez. After throwing just three interceptions in the first eight games, he was picked off four times by the Boilermakers and one was returned for a TD.

“I really want him to have the experience where he comes through and wins us a big game,” Frost said, “and kind of gets redemption at the end of the ups and downs he’s been through.”

The Buckeyes want to get running back TreVeyon Henderson untracked early. He rushed for 9 yards on six carries in the first half vs. Penn State but a 68-yard dash in the third quarter helped push his final numbers to 152 yards on 28 runs for a 5.4 average.

–Field Level Media

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