Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Season Outlook: Ohio State Buckeyes

It feels like a confession to admit this, but I like Ohio State. There are two reasons: first, I have an Ohio State fan friend, and we have a fanship exchange whereby she roots for Texas A&M. Anytime I can create a new Aggie fan, I have to take the opportunity. Secondly, I think Jim Tressel is adorable.

O. M. G. So cute.

So for the sake of my Ohioan friend and Jim Tressel's sweater vest, I am interested to see how tOSU's (that is, the Ohio State University's) season goes.


This is a team up against some exacting expectations. Now, take for instance Alabama. It is generally agreed that they are the favorite to win the national title again. However, if they drop a game here or there, they will (again, generally) be forgiven. They play in the nation's toughest conference, and they have a very difficult schedule. (Fascinating tidbit from Yahoo's college football preview magazine: six of Alabama's conference opponents will have had their open week right before playing Alabama. Six! South Carolina, Ole Miss, Tennessee, LSU, Mississippi State, and Auburn get two weeks of preparation before playing Bama. All six.) If Alabama doesn't live up to the preseason projections of winning the national championship or even the SEC championship, people will understand.

On the other hand, it is practically unimaginable that Ohio State won't win the Big Ten. They are Expected to win yet another conference championship (to make it six, yes six, in a row). If they don't, it will be head-turning. Gasp-inducing. Monocle-dropping. If they are dominant enough in the Big Ten to go undefeated and win their one challenging nonconference game (see below), they should be a lock for the national title game. They are not, at this point, expected to win that game, but according to almost everyone, they're supposed to get there. And for the most part, the expectations seem justified.


Ohio State returns lots of starters on both sides of the ball. (Although admittedly not on the third side of the ball, where there will be a new kicker, new punter, and new returners.) It's not just the staff but also the players who are accustomed to winning, who know how to win.

There's a lot of hype for QB Terrelle Pryor in particular. This is where I start to get skeptical. Pryor (who my friend and I call '"Everybody Kills People" Guy') has always gotten a lot of hype and until last year's Rose Bowl, failed to live up to it. Yes, he had a great game in that bowl. On the other hand, he had a great game. Either he turned a corner and finally figured out how to use all his talent/potential, or he had one freakishly good performance just like he's had some freakishly bad performances. I think it's possible that it's the former, but I'm wary that it's the latter.

Ohio State doesn't need EKPG to be his Rose Bowl self every game to be extremely successful, but they're not going to live up to the expectations if he's only as good as he was (or only a little better than he was) in last year's regular season.

Nonconference games

tOSU only has one nonconference game of note. After all, they're not losing to Marshall, Ohio, or Eastern Michigan, so why worry about it? No, all we need to look at is their Week 2 matchup with Miami (the good one). Miami is expected to be a top twenty (but not top ten) team this year. Their schedule is murderous, but tOSU is the first of their challenging games, so they won't be worn out yet. It's in Columbus and tOSU should be the better team (although Miami's defense might be up to the task of exposing EKPG), so they should be able to start their season on a high note.

Conference games

Barring a bizarre loss like last year's flop at Purdue, Ohio State's biggest Big Ten challenges should be at Iowa on November 20 and at Wisconsin on October 16. Iowa's preseason projections are slightly better, but tOSU apparently has a track record of tough games in night games at Camp Randall. Either game (or both) may give them fits, if not losses.

Best player name

Jake Stoneburner

My prediction

I think Ohio State will succeed in winning the Big Ten and reaching the BCS championship game this year. They may be a little weaker than some sportswriters are expecting, and they may drop a conference game, but I'm predicting some weakness at the top of the polls this year. Even slightly less than tOSU's best might be better than most everybody else.

And hey, if they do that and then if EKPG is able to pull off another amazing bowl performance, maybe they'd even win the national championship. Wouldn't that be weird?!?

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