- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 1, 2010

COLUMBUS, OHIO (AP) - Call it “The Marshall Plan” for Thursday’s season-opening game at No. 2 Ohio State.

In his head-coaching debut, Doc Holliday wants his Thundering Herd to play error-free on offense, force turnovers on defense, to not get rattled by the crowd _ and for Ohio State to be thinking ahead to its showdown nine days later against No. 13 Miami.

Much as he hopes the Buckeyes are looking past his team, Holliday realizes the Ohio State coaching staff will take measures to make sure that doesn’t happen in their season opener.

“I don’t know if there’s a perfect time to play them,” Holliday said. “Everywhere I’ve been, at the University of Florida and all those stops we’ve made, (in the) first game the kids were excited about going and playing. And I’m sure Ohio State will be excited about playing us. I’m sure they’re not looking ahead. They’re looking to play us Thursday night.”

Ohio State counterpart Jim Tressel acknowledged that, tempting though it may be for many 20-year-olds, the Buckeyes cannot afford to let their thoughts wander to the Hurricanes on Sept. 11 in the Horseshoe.

“It’s human nature when you think, ‘OK, I’ve got this situation under control, I’m going to think about the next situation,’” said Tressel, who carries a 94-21 record into his 10th Ohio State opener. “This group, we’re a little older. There’s 25 seniors. But it still comes down to each and every day you have to try to stay focused on that task and no matter what’s going on, good or bad, that’s the great challenge.”

It’s a perennial problem for a team that’s been ballyhooed the way the Buckeyes have been this preseason. Many coaches say there are only so many games that players can get excited about. Catch them with their thoughts on the next big game instead of the current one against a mediocre opponent and surprising things happen.

How else to explain what happened just last season?

The Buckeyes had won five of their first six games, the lone loss to then-No. 3 Southern California, which scored eight points in the fourth quarter to win 18-15. Ohio State steamrolled the next four opponents to climb back into the national championship landscape at No. 7. Big games against Penn State, Iowa and Michigan were coming up.

Purdue had lost five of its first six and was 0-2 in the Big Ten. Yet the Boilermakers outplayed the Buckeyes, leading 23-7 heading into the final quarter and winning 26-18.

Ohio State linebacker Ross Homan concedes there have been times when the Buckeyes may have overlooked a team.

“A time like that could have been last year against Purdue,” he said. “We always look back anytime there’s a game we lose, to see if we learned a lesson. We learned the lesson that we’re not doing that this year. We’re all on Marshall. It’s one game at a time.”

Defensive lineman Cameron Heyward proposed that it might be better if the schedule came out one game at a time.

“Marshall is coming in with the mindset that they’re going to beat us. And if we don’t take care of business, they might beat us,” he said. “We haven’t even thought about the next week. We just need to keep a schedule where we only have the first game.”

It’ll be quite a setting for that first game.

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