In a week in which then-No. 6 Texas A&M, then-No. 8 Notre Dame and then-No. 19 Wisconsin all fell to unranked opponents, third-ranked Ohio State made it through unscathed with a 45-12 win over Arkansas State.
Although the Buckeyes did not receive a wake-up call themselves over the weekend, they recognized the importance of not overlooking an opponent regardless of record, conference or roster make-up. With attention to the losses from highly-ranked teams, Stroud says it serves as a warning that Ohio State cannot take anyone lightly.
“That shows everybody that any week you can lose to anybody. It doesn’t matter who you play, everybody is coming to take your spot in the rankings,” Stroud said. “That’s something with our team, we don’t want to learn that the hard way this season. I know we did that last year, so we don’t want to learn the hard way again. We’ve really been harping on ‘It’s not about anybody else, it’s about us.’ If we come and play Ohio State football and we play like we know we’re supposed to play, then we shouldn’t have any issues.
“At the same time, we respect all of our opponents,” he continued. “We approach each opponent the same way and just try to get better each and every week in practice.”
Although Arkansas State entered the game as 44-point underdogs, the Red Wolves played the Buckeyes tough in the first half — battling to a 24-9 deficit entering the locker room. While it was still smooth sailing for Ohio State the whole way, Stroud expressed respect toward his unranked foe.
“Arkansas State was not a bad team, at all. They have a lot of good transfers. Their offense was pretty dynamic,” Stroud said. “They definitely had some good players and were well-coached.”
As the Buckeyes will square off with another unranked, Group of Five team in Toledo on Saturday, head coach Ryan Day said his squad still has plenty of things to clean up if they do not want to have a similar outcome as the Fighting Irish, Aggies and Badgers this past weekend.
“I’m very critical,” Day said. “It really doesn’t have anything to do with the team that we’re playing, it doesn’t. It has everything to do with Ohio State. We’re Ohio State, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing. It’s about the process and the way that we play.
“It doesn’t matter what the stage is, it doesn’t matter what’s going on. We only have 12 regular season games and in football, the rest of the stuff that goes on doesn’t mean anything,” he continued. “What matters is when you play in that game. That’s where the competitive stamina focus has been in the offseason and continues to be moving forward.”