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Ohio State vs. Michigan State Brings an Uncomfortable Undercurrent

“I don’t want to see Ohio State fail,” Petrie said.

Petrie said he felt obligated to speak out because he preaches the importance of ending the culture of silent suffering in sports, and he noted how the basketball player Kevin Love spurred discussion about coping with mental illness and Serena Williams did the same for post-pregnancy depression.

But others do not feel as comfortable.

While some of the smallest victims, the gymnasts whose testimonies put Nassar in prison for life, have put their names to their stories, none of the biggest have done so yet — in part because of the spotlight that Buckeyes football players live in, during and after their careers.

“It’s something you’re always going to have the rest of your life — there aren’t too many athletes who say they could step out into the Shoe,” said a former Ohio State lineman, one of more than two dozen football players who have joined a series of lawsuits as a John Doe. “Are you, at that point, going to risk what you’re doing by rocking the boat?”

The player, who attends games in Columbus occasionally, said his experience probably explains why he is not more involved in the football program. He has never met any of the current coaches or staff.

“That’s definitely in the back of your mind,” he said. “Whether that’s the sole reason, I couldn’t tell you, honestly, but it has something to do with it. It is something that will always be there.”

It is hard to imagine that very many people who filled the stadium on Saturday night for the Ohio State-Michigan State game had any such thoughts. So much of what they saw in front of them felt familiar and comforting — from the sousaphone player in the marching band high-stepping out to dot the “i” in “Ohio,” to running back J.K. Dobbins sprinting 67 yards for a touchdown that put the Buckeyes well in front. Ohio State is now 6-0 and tied for third with Georgia in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

Even Michigan State walked away with some consolation: that despite a flurry of mistakes, its hardened defense had left Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields bruised enough that he was relishing a bye week.

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