Smoothies awaited the Ohio State Buckeyes when they walked off the practice field Thursday morning at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
Stacey Potter, a nutrition staff intern, made 105 strawberry/raspberry and peach mango smoothies. Defensive end Jalyn Holmes sipped one as he talked to reporters after the first practice of the season.
The Buckeyes need all the help they can get this summer. They have five weeks to get ready for the season opener against the Indiana Hoosiers in Bloomington, Ind. More often than not, the first game is a glorified exhibition game for the Buckeyes, a game they know they will win.
That wasn’t the case two seasons ago when Ohio State opened at Virginia Tech. It’s not the case this season, even though Ohio State hasn’t lost to Indiana since 1988. The Big Ten road opener adds extra motivation to training camp for the Buckeyes, who have an even tougher game nine days later, the home opener against Oklahoma on Sept. 9
“We love that honestly,” Ohio State linebacker Chris Worley said. “We love playing in our conference. We know we’re going to get the best shot from everyone. That does nothing but raise your level of play. It makes us better people and better players. We’re looking forward to it. It’s not just their big game. It’s our big game, too.”
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New Hoosiers coach Tom Allen called the game the “biggest opener in the history of Indiana football.” The game was originally scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 2. The Big Ten moved it to Thursday in December.
This will be the seventh time Ohio State has opened the season on a day of the week other than Saturday and the third time it has played a game on a Thursday.
Ohio State hasn’t opened the season with a Big Ten game since 1976. The return of new Ohio State coordinator Kevin Wilson, the former Indiana head coach, to Bloomington adds another wrinkle to the game.
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“I t’s kind of unique for me,” Ohio State center Billy Price said. “I’ve never opened up a season in my five years at Ohio State with a Big Ten Team. It’s a tremendous challenge. Everyone is trying to hype it up as coach Wilson vs. the world. It’s Ohio State vs. Indiana.”
Ohio State has won 20 straight games versus Indiana and leads the series 71-12-5. The Hoosiers made things interesting last season in Columbus, trailing 24-17 midway through the third quarter before Ohio State won 38-17.
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“Indiana always plays us tough,” Ohio State defensive end Tyquan Lewis said. “They’re probably going to have that same fast-paced offense. We can’t shy away from what we’ve been doing. It’s definitely going to be a challenge coming out of camp. You never know what you’re going to get. Teams are still trying to find their identity.”
Two seasons ago, Ohio State clinched a 34-27 victory at Indiana with an interception in the end zone on the final play.
“In recent years, it’s always been chilly and cold and kind of nasty,” Price said. “I expect the same thing. I know it’s the end of August and it’s a night game, but the stars are going to be aligned for another great atmosphere, especially in Bloomington. It’s going to be tough. You have to handle your business and execute on and off the field. The coaches are going to put us in a position to win.”