Monday, December 28th, 2009
Homan ready for trip out west
By Gary R. Rasberry
Ohio State has been to big bowl games over the last few years, including several trips to the BCS Championship Game and trips to Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl.
But this bowl season may be a more sentimental trip.
For the first time since 1997, the Buckeyes are heading to Pasadena in California for the Rose Bowl, which for years was the only game the Buckeyes, or whomever else won the Big Ten title, would play in.
For junior linebacker Ross Homan, who grew up watching the Buckeyes playing against a Pac-10 team at the Rose Bowl, it's an exciting trip.
"Don't get me wrong, every BCS bowl game is a dream come true, but it's the tradition," said the Coldwater graduate, who made it home before heading out to Pasadena on Christmas. "The goal every year in the Big Ten is a Rose Bowl and a National Championship. For us to accomplish that and get back there for the first time since 1997 is huge for us."
The Buckeyes had some time to savor the outright Big Ten title, having won via an overtime win at Ohio Stadium over Iowa in the next-to-last game of the regular season. The Buckeyes then capped things off by downing Michigan for the sixth time in a row.
The Ohio State defense was a major contributor to the 10-2 record the Buckeyes take into Jan. 1. Nicknamed "The Silver Bullets," the Buckeye D gave up an average of 12.2 points per game and held teams to 262.5 yards of offense per game.
Homan led the Buckeyes with 96 tackles and was second on the team in interceptions with four. Homan, who earned the team's Randy Gradishar Award for top linebacker, also earned the respect of conference coaches and the media in earning consensus second-team All-Big Ten honors.
Since the Michigan game, the Buckeyes have had plenty of time to get ready for Oregon. Finals were done early, and the team finished work in Columbus in time to make it home for the holidays.
"Since we finished classes awhile ago, we could focus on Oregon, Oregon and Oregon," said Homan, who along with younger brother Adam, a freshman fullback who will head to Pasadena as well, earned All-Academic Big Ten honors. "We practiced, we had a lot of time for film, trying to understand who they are, what they do."
Getting home for the holidays didn't mean a complete break.
"Coach Tressel challenges us to study our playbook every day, read the scouting reports, just try and do some homework on them," said Homan. "He said to relax. Enjoy the time with family and enjoy the holidays. When we all make it out to California, it's business again."
As for the Ducks, Homan likes what Oregon brings to the table. Freshman running back LaMichael James has rushed for 1,529 yards and 14 touchdowns on the season, earning second team All-Pac-10 honors and Offensive Freshman of the Year in the conference. Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, also a second-team conference selection, has thrown for 2,066 yards and 15 touchdowns this season while running for 796 yards and 12 scores.
"They have a very good offense," said Homan. "The way they run it, primarily as a spread team, they run the ball very efficiently out of it. Their O-Line is good at what they do and they have great running backs like LeGarrette Blount and LaMichael James."