COLUMBUS, OHIO, SEPT. 23 -- Ohio State's football coach, Earle Bruce, says he gets his team ready for three or four big games a year. One of them will be played Saturday.

We must be ready to play a game like this," he said of his fifth-ranked Buckeyes' nationally televised game Saturday at fourth-ranked Louisiana State.

"Why not point for the tough teams on your schedule?" he asked during his weekly media conference Monday. "Why point for the easy ones? LSU is one of those games we've been pointing for. And I think we are a team that they've been pointing for, too."

The Buckeyes never have played the Bayou Bengals. LSU is 3-0, with victories over Texas A&M, 17-3; California State Fullerton, 56-12; and Rice, 49-16. Ohio State (2-0) has beaten West Virginia, 24-3, and Oregon, 24-14.

"If I had my druthers, I'd rather have a 'W' and play at home," Bruce said. "We prepared somewhat back in spring practice for LSU and a little bit more this fall. Now we'll just cut it loose."

Ohio State hasn't played outside Columbus this season. That prospect, and playing in the afternoon heat at Tiger Stadium, has Bruce concerned.

"I'll be learning something about our team on Saturday," he said. "This is our first trip. Some teams travel very well, and nothing fazes them. They just go into a place and play football. Other teams don't. We've always been a good traveling football team, but this is a new season and these are new people.

"But I want to put everything in perspective. I'm not saying LSU's not a tough place to play, because it is, but Minnesota's a tough place to play. So are Michigan, Iowa and Purdue. If LSU is any worse for a visiting team than those places, it's going to be pretty tough."

Still, he said he won't have any problems motivating his more experienced players.

"I guess we'll be the underdog," he said. "But I won't have to tell William White or Chris Spielman that it's an important game. If I see them sitting on the edges of their seats in the dressing room, I'll know that it's time to play."

His offense foundered in the victory over West Virginia, gaining only 213 yards. His rushers got 63 yards on 38 carries. But against Oregon, the offense gained 435 yards, with Tom Tupa completing 20 of 32 passes for 234 yards. The runners got 201 yards on 45 carries.

"I thought our offense was improved and our offensive line did a better job, although we've still got a ways to go," Bruce said. "I've seen some signs that we're getting better. Vince Workman ran for 162 yards and the running backs were much improved over the week before."

Bruce said flanker Everett Ross' bad knee should be fine and that starting right tackle Jay Shaffer could return after missing the first two games with a pulled muscle. Linebacker Fred Ridder, who sprained an ankle in the opener, will be available, too.