Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Ohio State is the team that can't win big games any more.
The Buckeyes are the team carrying the banner for a battered Big Ten Conference.
The Buckeyes are trying to rebound from three consecutive BCS bowl losses and a 35-3 setback against USC last September.
And the Buckeyes are playing at home, where their fans demand excellence.
So who has more pressure heading into Saturday's clash between No. 8 Ohio State and No. 3 USC in Columbus (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET)? Not the Buckeyes.
"As a human being, you never like anything bad being talked about you," Ohio State cornerback Chimdi Chekwa said Wednesday. "But we try not to focus on that stuff. We hear it, but there’s really no pressure on us.
"People don’t expect us to do well in these big games."
Ohio State finds itself as a home underdog Saturday night, an unfamiliar position for a team that is 39-4 at Ohio Stadium since 2003. You would think the sense of urgency for the Buckeyes would reach a fever pitch.
Instead, the lower expectations outside Columbus could work in Ohio State's favor Saturday.
"Recently, we've been expected not to do well in big games," Chekwa said. "I don’t know how other guys feel, but if somebody doesn’t expect you to win or a lot of people are doubting you, you go out there with nothing to lose."