A lot of college football players who grow up in Ohio look forward to their chance to play against Ohio State for a multitude of reasons.
St. Clairsville graduate and current Purdue wide receiver Dan Monteroso just loves the challenge of playing the No. 4 ranked and undefeated Buckeyes, who are 30.5 point favorites.
"We're excited for the opportunity," Monteroso said during a phone interview earlier this week. "Obviously, they're a really good team, ranked fourth in the country for a reason, but they aren't unbeatable. They're special, but not a team that can't be beaten."
Monteroso returned to the lineup three weeks ago when the Boilermakers played Nebraska.
He missed the first six games as he recovered from a broken collarbone he suffered during training camp.
The 6-3, 180 pounder was thrusted into the starting lineup immediately as the Boilermakers have been seeking an offensive sparkplug of some sort.
"It felt good to get back on the field," Monteroso said. "There's definitely a difference playing at this level, but I feel like I am adjusting well to it and I am ready to go. There's still somewhat of a learning curve for me, but I am getting it."
In that game against the Cornhuskers, which Purdue lost, 44-7, Monteroso was targeted for a pass once, but the ball slipped through his hands.
"It was a tough catch, but it's one that I need to make," Monteroso admitted. "I'm working hard trying to get that first catch and then make a play to help the team in any way that I can."
Monteroso, who was born in California, actually grew up a USC fan and never really rooted for the Buckeyes as a youngster.
"I never really bought into the OSU stuff when I was a kid," Monteroso admitted. "I think everyone who's from Ohio has their own little personal vendetta, but it's a special opportunity to play against them."
While not wanting to speak for head coach Darrell Hazel and the eight other Ohioans on the Purdue roster, Monteroso senses that this week's game has taken on a little bit more meaning.
"We can't look at Ohio State and think, 'Oh my God, this is the number four team in the country,'" Monteroso said. "We just have to go out and play. We fully believe we can go out and play with these guys. There's no pressure on us. No one outside of our facility is expecting us to win. We just have to go do our job and we'll be fine."
Monteroso is likely to be covered by all-American cornerback Bradley Roby, who is projected as one of the top defensive backs for next year's draft.
"Their pass defense is pretty good," Monteroso said. "Roby is good, but Jared Abbrederis (of Wisconsin) some work on him. I know he's a special player, but anyone can be beat. Our receivers coach just says, 'win, win, win. Win your individual battle.'"
The Boilermakers were off last week and will now play the next five straight weeks to round out their regular season. To become bowl eligible, Purdue can't afford another loss.
Monteroso hasn't been back in St. Clairsville since he left in June to begin summer classes and workouts. He considered coming home on the bye week, but elected to remain in West Lafayette to study tape and continue preparations for the Buckeyes.
"I thought about it because I would have been able to watch my brother (Michael) play, but it'll be easier for me next year when I have a car over here," Monteroso said. "
Not only is Saturday's game special for Monteroso because of the opponent, but his father, Jeff, will be in the stands watching him play for the first time in his career. Jeff is the defensive coordinator at West Liberty and they played on Thursday.
"This will probably be the only game my dad gets to see my play this season, so that makes it special, too," Monteroso admitted. "He's recorded all of the games and watches them on television, but the wide receiver play is kind of tough to watch on television."