August 30, 2006

Northern Illinois Week: By the numbers

Although the first Ohio State game week of the season is upon us, and the preseason speculation is nearly finished, three days still separate the Buckeyes and the Northern Illinois Huskies from the 3:36 p.m. opening kickoff Saturday. For those Buckeye fans out there suffering through hump day of this long-awaited week, here are a few items to ponder, in no particular order.

Years since Ohio State lost to a team currently playing in the MAC. In 1894, Akron downed the Buckeyes, 12-6, in a game played Sept. 15 at the state fairgrounds.

Appearances in the Associated Press preseason poll. No school has more. Notre Dame and Oklahoma have both appeared in the AP's preseason poll 48 times.

Times since 1936 Ohio State has begun the season ranked No. 1 by the AP. Only Oklahoma, with nine honors, has more. The Buckeyes have never gone wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team, although they did finish the 1942 season in the top spot.

Number of consecutive home-openers won by Ohio State. The Buckeyes have not lost a home-opener since falling to Penn State to begin the 1978 season.

Percentage of passes completed in his Buckeye career by Troy Smith, the highest in school history. Smith has hit on 217 of 359 passes thus far, besting Joe Germaine's 439 of 741 (59 percent). Smith enters the 2006 season ninth all-time in career passing yards (3,178) and 12th all-time in total offense (4,142).

Percentage of passes completed by Northern Illinois quarterback Phil Horvath last season, best in the NCAA.

Freshmen (four true and five redshirt) on the Ohio State offensive and defensive depth chart for the Northern Illinois contest. Flanker Ray Small, running back Chris Wells and linebackers Tyler Moeller and Ross Homan all cracked the depth chart in their first Autumn on campus, while center Jim Cordle, slot receiver Brian Hartline, defensive tackle Todd Denlinger and defensive backs Andre Amos and Anderson Russell all made it a year after redshirting.

Consecutive winning seasons for Northern Illinois, the best for the school since it joined the major conference ranks in 1969. The Huskies preceded their current run with nine-straight losing campaigns. They are 54-60 under head coach Joe Novak in the Mentor, Ohio, native's 10 years at the helm.

Ohioans on the Northern Illinois roster, making the Huskies the only team in the Mid-American Conference without a native of the Buckeye State on their 2006 roster. Oddly enough, there are no Illinois natives suiting up for the Buckeyes this weekend, either.

Yards per carry for NIU tailback Garrett Wolfe in 2005.

Yards per carry allowed by the Ohio State run defense last season.

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