- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Nebraska visits Ohio State searching for its first signature road win as a member of the Big Ten. Ohio State wants to keep its perfect record alive in a year when the regular season is all that matters.
Saturday night's game between the 21st-ranked Huskers (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten) and 12th-ranked Buckeyes (5-0, 1-0) might come as close to a Big Ten showcase opportunity as we'll get in 2012. Both teams come off of hard-fought wins to open league play, as Nebraska rallied to beat Wisconsin in Lincoln, while Ohio State held off Michigan State at Spartan Stadium.
As I noticed on my flight from Chicago late last night -- and into this morning, flight from hell, I tell ya -- there will be a lot of red in the building tonight. Not surprisingly, Nebraska fans have traveled in large numbers, and Ohio State is encouraging its fans to wear scarlet for homecoming. The Shoe will resemble an inferno, one Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez must handle after struggling in his recent games away from Lincoln. Martinez was masterful last year against Ohio State, leading the largest comeback in Nebraska history, as the Huskers erased a 27-6 deficit and won 34-27. Most of the comeback took place after Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller suffered an ankle injury and didn't return. Miller had some success against the Huskers last year, and he's obviously a lot better in 2012. So is Martinez, who led last week's comeback against the Badgers.
Ohio State will be without top running back Jordan Hall (knee), as Carlos Hyde will get the start. Safety C.J. Barnett (ankle) should return after missing the past two games. Nebraska enters the game healthy for the most part.
Tonight is a significant moment for Bo Pelini and the Huskers program, which hopes to turn a corner in its new league. A win would validate Nebraska as the Big Ten's top team and give the Huskers confidence for tough division road games against Northwestern, Michigan State and Iowa. After embarrassing losses at both Wisconsin and Michigan last year, the Huskers can show they can beat a good team in a very tough setting. It would be extra special for Pelini, who played at Ohio State and grew up in Youngstown, Ohio.
The weather should be nice tonight: temperatures in the high 40s, cloudy but no rain and calm winds.
Should be a great one. Follow us on Twitter and check the blog for updates throughout the night.
5dDan Murphy and Austin Ward