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Penn State frosh QB Hackenberg won't have it easy

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — What's brewing with the 2013 Ohio State Buckeyes ...

BUCKEYES BUZZ: Freshman Christian Hackenberg gets the start at QB for the Nittany Lions when they come to Ohio Stadium at 8 p.m. Saturday.

He'll be stepping into a frosty reception, both from 105,000 fans and from the weather.

Penn State coach Bill O'Brien doesn't anticipate any major problems.

"I think he focuses on his assignments," he said of Hackenberg. "That's the thing I like about big games, big stadiums. I mean, you're playing Ohio State in the Horseshoe. That's a great opportunity for everybody. But, I think when the game starts, everybody involved is really just focused on the game, not the 90,000 people, 100,000 people that are sitting in the stands."

The excitement of the moment can take over.

"It's just fun, coming from high school and you're on the big stage like that," said Ohio State QB Braxton Miller, who started as a freshman in 2011. "You just go out and lean on the guys. You've got to make the plays and keep the guys up because you're a freshman in the huddle so you have to take command."

But he added that it was difficult.

"It's hard," he said. "It ain't easy. It's hard."

Ohio State hopes to rattle Hackenberg by blitzing a lot.

"He's pretty poised for a freshman quarterback right now," LB Ryan Shazier said. "He's doing exactly what the team wants him to do, playing within their scheme. Like any freshman, you're just going to have to try to get to him and try to get him rattled and keep bringing pressure."

Buckeyes sophomore DE Noah Spence praised Hackenberg.

"He's doing pretty good," Spence said. "He's going to be really good. He's doing good for a freshman."

But he added that Ohio State would likely put more pressure on him than it would a veteran QB.

"I think we can go ahead and do that," he said. "You can get in their head a little bit."

IMPRESSING VOTERS: Ohio State was No. 4 in the initial Bowl Championship Series rankings, which determine the two teams who will play for the national championship.

Two-time defending champion Alabama is No. 1, with Florida State No. 2 and Oregon No. 3.

"We know what the BCS standings are that just came out," WR Corey Brown said.

He acknowledges that at some point it's not just enough to win close games to retain your spot in the rankings or even move up.

"It's got to be more than just beating teams. We've got to start doing it like we should," he said. "I feel like if we come out and like we've been doing this whole year, then we'll be able to impress."

Brown said no one was concerned about having to win in a rout.

"Nah," he said. "At the end of the day we're not too worried about that. At the end of the day if we get the win, then everybody will be happy."

DL Michael Bennett wasn't in total agreement.

"We're always trying to destroy teams," he said. "Obviously, sometimes it doesn't work out that way. But we're not going to try to keep the game close."

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: It was a year ago, in a 35-23 victory at Penn State, that Ohio State QB Braxton Miller made a big splash.

On a critical play at the Nittany Lions' 1, Miller almost handed the ball to TB Carlos Hyde, then pulled it back. He raced to his right where a defender was waiting for him, but he faked him and then turned toward the goal line. He made one stab and then a second at crossing into the end zone before he finally succeeded.

It became one of the top highlights in college football in 2012.

"That was kind of like a blur. I have no idea how that happened," Miller said when asked to recall the play. "It was supposed to go to Carlos. But the guy, he blitzed and he got in the A gap and he tackled Carlos when I was giving the ball to him. I'm, like, 'Wow. I might as well just grab it and see what I can do with it.' Something amazing happened after I grabbed it."

THIS WEEK, NOT LAST: CB Bradley Roby was ejected from last week's game for targeting a defenseless receiver in the first quarter of the victory over Iowa. He will be available to play from the opening kickoff against Penn State.

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, who questioned the call after the game, spoke with Big Ten officials on Sunday.

"We had a good talk," he said. "I asked if there was going to be anything (said to) the replay official. And they didn't share that with me. They think he was put in a tough position to overturn that call because there was contact made. I'm satisfied with it. I just think on a national level everything's going to have to be just relooked at."

Of bigger concern to Meyer is how Roby — who has struggled on pass coverage most of this season — plays this week.

"He's got to play well. He's got to play well and the whole back end's got to play well," Meyer said. "We haven't had our best game yet back there. So it's about time."

Coming into the season, many believed the secondary to be one of the strongest areas of the team. It has not been.

"It should have been a strength," he said. "I'm kind of counting on them to be a strength."

ESCAPEE: Ohio State DE Noah Spence grew up as a Penn State fan and even committed to the Nittany Lions during his senior year of high school.

But then came the Jerry Sandusky scandal, which led to a coaching change, NCAA problems and total chaos in the program.

Spence pulled back his verbal commitment and signed with Ohio State.

"I got out of it," Spence said. "I'm all Ohio State now."

He said he had been contacted recently by many people back in his hometown of Harrisburg, Pa.

Asked if most were wishing him the best against Penn State, he laughed and said, "Not most of 'em."

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