OSU Should Do Well in 2011
August 22, 2011 5:00 pm EST
Finally the season is upon us and we can now focus our attention to what is happening on the field. New head coach Luke Fickell has his hands full with the aftermath of all the chaos that has transpired in the offseason. Questions at almost every position will keep the Buckeye faithful on edge this season but thankfully coach Fickell has a few creampuffs to get things started.
Akron: Don’t give me the “Any team can lose on any given Saturday” speech and start pointing to the Appalachian State victory over Michigan. While I still point and laugh at that game myself I can promise that no such thing will happen to the Bucks on the season opener. Akron was 1-11 last year and they have little hope of improving much on that record in 2011.
Synopses: Bucks break in a new quarterback and roll over the Zips.
Toledo: Unlike Akron, Toledo has shown signs of life in recent years and has been able to upset the likes of Colorado, Purdue and (again) Michigan. The Rockets are serious contenders for the MAC title and a post season Bowl appearance. Another OSU home game against and in-state rival will make things interesting for a few quarters but eventually Ohio State will wear them down.
Synopses: Toledo will have something to cheer about until early in the third quarter when OSU pulls away.
@Miami (FL): So you think Ohio State is in trouble? EGAD! The “U” is in such deep .. um ..” waters” that they may never resurface. I’m not really looking forward to all the sports comedians as they label the game “The Cheat-o’s Bowl” or “Cheat-gate” or something stupid like that. Both teams should have their quarterback situation figured out by now. This will be the first big road test for the young Buckeyes and their rookie coach.
Synopses: The Hurricanes have the tools to beat the Buckeyes. If Ohio State is to win, the Silver Bullet defense has to step up and shut down the super-fast Miami wide receivers. I’m still going with the Bucks.
Colorado: The move to the Pac-12 isn’t going to help the win/loss ratio for the Buffaloes. The trip to Columbus will be even worse. Giving up 30.8 points per game in 2011, the Buffs first year head coach Jon Embree has a great deal of work to do. The big question will be whether or not the Buckeyes can focus with the task at hand knowing that they open up the Big 10 (12) season starting the following week.
Synopses: Fear not, all will go as planned and the Bucks will roll into open the Big 10 (12) season 4-0.
Michigan State: The first true test of the year is also the game where Buckeye Nation welcomes back the three suspended players that were the focal point in this summer’s drama. You already know that MSU head coach Mark Dantonio is chomping at the bit to get into a BCS game and with 13 starters back, this is by far his most experienced and talented team since taking the position four years ago. It’s a good thing this one is in Ohio Stadium.
Synopses: The Buckeye defense is going to have to come up big in this one. The Spartans feature Kirk Cousins at quarterback and Edwin Baker at tailback; both legitimate first team All-Big Ten players. I’m on the fence on this one. Lemme flip a coin....HEADS! CRAP! Sparty wins.
@Nebraska: With all suspended starters back, a game under their belts and a stinging loss the previous week, Ohio State travels to Lincoln, Nebraska for the first time. Nebraska returns home after a knock-down-drag-out-dog-fight with Wisconsin the previous week. The Buckeyes have a chance to catch the Huskies licking their wounds but with a rookie quarterback and head coach I have a hard time picking the Buckeyes.
Synopses: When was the last time Ohio State dropped two regular season games in a row? 2004.
@Illinois: The Illini will live and die by their quarterback Nathan “Careful Pronouncing His Name” Scheelhaase. With questions at the tailback position, Scheelhaase (careful) is the best chance that Illinois has to get to the Big Ten Championship game. Illinois always plays the Bucks tough in Columbus but seem to be apathetic in Champaign.
Synopses: Say it with me… Scheelhaase Scheelhaase Scheelhaase Scheelhaase Shee..OOPS!
Wisconsin: The BIG revenge game! Or is it? The Badgers made departed quarterback Terrelle Pryor look silly last year in Madison and this was supposed to be the payback game for Pryor. Alas! Pryor got him, his coach and the entire program in a heap of trouble and he is now making his way to the NFL. Depending on the outcome of the Nebraska game, Wisconsin could easily be undefeated coming into Columbus. A lot will be on the line for this game.
Synopses: I wasn’t going to but I’m calling it. Bucks win and I hope they leave that damn band of theirs back at home.
Indiana: I’m thinking that if the Hoosiers are 3-7 coming into this game that it might be a minor miracle.
Synopses: Bucks win.
@Purdue: Man, I hate playing Purdue in West Lafayette. For whatever reason the Boilermakers seem rise to the occasion and always give the Buckeyes their best shot. That said, last year’s 2-6 conference record does not bode well for the Boilermakers.
Synopses: The Bucks get punched in the face early but eventually put Purdue in its place.
Penn State: Last year’s 7-6 season was a fluke and we will all see a much improved Penn State. The Bucks will have trouble moving the ball through the air against the Lions due to the outrageously talented PSU secondary. Penn State has only beaten OSU once in Columbus since joining the conference in 1993 and I expect the norm to hold true.
Synopses: I love Joe Pa. I’m just praying that one of his players doesn’t accidentally kill him by the end of the season. Bucks win in Columbus.
@Michigan: Honestly I’m pretty darn worried about the new Michigan head coach Brady Hoke. He seems to have that “it” factor Jim Tressel had when he first arrived on the Ohio State campus. While it’s yet to be seen, I can see the rivalry start gaining momentum with the new Hoke regime. I’m not calling for a Michigan victory here but I don’t think the Bucks will be the overwhelming dominant force in this rivalry in the near future.
Synopses: Michigan gets a loss here but they will not look like the cupcake we have seen in recent years.
Final Word: 10-2 will be enough to get the Buckeyes into the inaugural Big Ten Championship game but am I being too much of a blind homer? Worst case I see is the Buckeyes go 7-5 (losses to Miami, MSU, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan) but I don’t believe that will happen. Splitting those losses would give the Bucks a chance at the championship game with a 9-3 record and might save coach Fickell’s job. We will soon see. The season starts in a few short weeks and it can’t get here soon enough.
Bold Predictions - OSU and the Big Ten
July 25, 2011 2:30 pm EST
Bold predictions for this season: OSU makes the B10-11-12, (aw whatever) Championship game. Michigan loses to the Bucks again again, but Brady Hoke makes enough progress to resuscitate the rivalry. Wisconsin has a tough time integrating their new QB and goes 9-3. Michigan State Wins the Legends Division.
From Steven Smith
The Buckeyes, The Big Ten, and the National Scene
2011, Installment #2
June 26, 2011 3:00 pm EST
--Couple of the so-called “trap” games for the Buckeyes - the most concerning: at Illinois, October 15. This game is sandwiched between Nebraska and Wisconsin on this year’s schedule. The Buckeyes held on for an 11 point win in Champaign last year and I probably don’t have to remind people of the Illinois upset over #1 ranked Ohio State in 2007. Ron Zook’s team will be under the radar a bit this year and that is often when they are most dangerous. Another trap game is Toledo, September 10. The Rockets may be the best team in the MAC West and this one comes a week after Fickell’s debut and a week before OSU travels to Miami for a rematch against the Hurricanes. Obviously the Bucks will get Toledo’s best shot.
--Will Brady Hoke bring Michigan back to national prominence? Rich Rodriguez never seemed to “get it”, but the early signs are that Brady Hoke does. Hoke understands the rivalry and seems to be well liked. And Hoke’s first recruiting class (2012) is off to a great start. On the other hand, Hoke’s career record as a head coach is 47-50. He inherited a Ball State team that had gone 5-6 and 6-6 the previous two years, but his teams finished 4-8, 2-9, 4-7, and 5-7 in his first four seasons at Ball State. Granted he coached Ball State to 12-2 in 2008, but his 6-year stint at Ball State, I’d have to say, was not a successful one. Of course, Hoke did have better success at San Diego State. So is he the right man for the UM job? We shall see.
--Sleeper in the Big Ten this year? Maybe they are not so much of a sleeper anymore, but if Northwestern can stay healthy, they could just find themselves at the top of the Legends division. Loosing Dan Persa last year was huge. NU was 7-3 with Persa and 0-3 after Persa was lost for the season late in the Iowa game. The Wildcats have 16 starters back and a healthy Persa could take home Big Ten MVP honors. I think NU head coach Pat Fitzgerald is a 9+ win season away from hearing his name come up for many head coaching vacancies.
-- Pete Carroll, Urban Meyer, Jim Harbaugh and Jim Tressel, four of the best coaches in the nation, have left the CFB world in the last two years. Who does that leave as the top coaches in the nation heading into the 2011 season? Like him or not, Nick Saban has the premier football program in the nation and is the only active coach with two BCS titles. The next two names that come to my head are Bob Stoops and Mack Brown. Stoops draws some unfair criticism in my opinion; his 12-year run at OU is almost as impressive as it gets. Before last year’s slide, Mack Brown teams won 10 or more games 9 consecutive years. After these three, there are a lot of good coaches that could potentially make a top 5 list, including Frank Beamer, Bobby Petrino, Brian Kelly, Chris Peterson and Gary Patterson.
-- If the Buckeyes are going to win the Big Ten this year, the defense is going to have to bear the load. From my many discussions with Buckeye fans about the upcoming season, I think fans may underestimate this defense, and may be naïve about the potential problems OSU has on offense. There isn’t much depth on the D-line, but I don’t think there will be many Big Ten D-linemen better than Johnny Simon, Nate Williams and Jonathan Hankins this year. They just need to stay healthy, knock on wood. I think Andrew Sweat’s time has come and he will be the next All-Big Ten linebacker at OSU. Etienne Sabino should be solid at MLB. The return of Tyler Moeller and CJ Barnett will help this defense immensely and the Bucks are fine at corner with Travis Howard, Dominic Clarke and Bradley Roby.
-- Scouting the Huskers: One thing Bo Pelini can do is coach defense. They are the only team in the Big Ten that has a defense on par or better than Ohio State’s. Recruiting, on paper, hasn’t been great under Pelini, at least not what some would have expected. Not sure Pelini has the personality to recruit with the top dogs, but he certainly can hold his own as a game day coach. As for personnel, if QB Taylor Martinez can coexist with his coach (which is certainly not a given), Nebraska isn’t going to lose many games in 2011. They’ve got a nice stable of RB’s, but need the O-line to step up. On defense, DT Jared Crick and CB Alphonzo Dennard may be the nation’s best at their respective positions. The NU defense is not going to give up many points and they have to be your favorite to win the Legends division, in their inaugural Big Ten season.
--Remember how intimidating Florida State was 10+ years ago? I remember leaving the 1998 Sugar Bowl, shaking my head, after the ‘Noles had hammered the Buckeyes 31-14. The score was misleading; FSU dominated Ohio State on both sides of the ball. But after the loss to Oklahoma in the 2000 BCS title game, Bobby Bowden’s best days were behind him, and the ‘Noles went an unimpressive 74-42 over Bowden’s last 9 years. Florida State did however finish 10-4 last year, advancing to the ACC title game, and beat a solid South Carolina team in their bowl game. It looks like Jimbo Fisher knows a thing or two about football and with 16 starters returning, Florida State is the frontrunner in the ACC this year.
--Phil Steele, Lindy’s, Athlon and The Sporting News are the probably the 4 most well known preseason college football magazines. I combined the preseason top 25’s from each magazine to come up with a consensus poll, which I list below. Keep in mind that the rankings from each magazine were put together prior to Coach Tressel’s resignation and the ensuing departure of Terrelle Pryor.
1Oklahoma (tie) 1Alabama (tie) 3Oregon 4LSU 5Boise State 6Florida State 7Ohio State 8Virginia Tech 9Texas A&M
10 Stanford (tie)
10 Nebraska (tie)
12 Notre Dame
13 Oklahoma State (tie)
13 Arkansas (tie)
16 South Carolina (tie)
16 Georgia (tie)
18 West Virginia
19 Michigan State
20 Mississippi State (tie)
20 Wisconsin (tie)
24 Northwestern (tie)
24 Texas (tie)
From Brent Baver
The Buckeyes, The Big Ten, and the National Scene 2011
June 12, 2011 3:00 pm EST
Tired of hearing about off-the-field issues with Ohio State football? Me too. I’d like to get back to talking college football, which at least for now, I still believe to be the best sport there is. For the most part, these posts will be random thoughts about Ohio State football, The Big Ten, and the national college football scene (as the title above suggests). The first blurb below bids farewell to Coach Tressel and touches on the ongoing media smear campaign, but this will be the last I discuss off-the-field issues. Again, I think there are a certain amount of fans out there that just want to get back to football.
--Tressel’s dominance over his 10-year reign at OSU? He finished 66-14 in Big Ten conference games. The next best is a tie between Iowa & Michigan, both of which went 50-30. That’s a 16 game difference between OSU and the next best, over the past decade. I don’t think I’ll be alive to see this kind of dominance by Ohio State again. Thank you Coach Tressel for what you accomplished on the field and off the field. The number of positive things you’ve done for your players, the community, and those in poor health cannot be comprehended by the sharks in the media. Certainly, you have more than paid for your sins in the college football world. As a Buckeye fan, let me again just say, “Thank you”.
--At the time of this post, it looks like Wisconsin has a decent shot of landing former NC State quarterback Russell Wilson. NC State got tired of the time Wilson was devoting to baseball and released him from his scholarship in late April. Wilson graduated in four years and would be eligible to play immediately if he enrolls in grad school at another university, just as Jeremiah Masoli did last year. Wilson threw for 3,563 yards last season (at NC St), with 28 TD passes and 9 rushing TDs. He is a great dual threat QB. This would be a major pickup for the Badgers who had projected to start sophomore Jon Budmayr, who has thrown 10 passes at the NCAA level. And keep in mind that Wisconsin is now in OSU’s “Leaders” division of the new Big Ten. More on that below.
--Can Ohio State win the Big Ten? They could, but I think they have their work cut out for them. I think the O-line is going to struggle without Mike Adams in the 1st 5 games. I think Boom Herron is more valuable then many fans think. I think they have major problems at WR and really need true one of both of true freshmen Evan Spencer and Devin Smith to step up. The good news is on the defensive side of the ball (assuming there are no more suspensions). This team will go as far as the defense will carry them, in my opinion.
--This will be the only year Boise State and TCU will be in the same conference. Boise State joined the MWV conference this year, but TCU is headed to the Big East in 2012. Boise State hosts TCU on November 12th, a game that will likely have BCS Bowl ramifications. I think the Horned Frogs got some deserved respect with their win over a good Wisconsin game in the Rose Bowl last year. But, TCU was hit hard by graduation and may find the treading a little more difficult this year. The casinos that have early lines on their so-called “Games of the Year” have Boise State as a 13.5 point favorite.
--So who is “the man” at QB? Good question. Not sure if the coaching change helps or hurts Braxton Miller’s chances. The only guy I think has little chance is Kenny Guiton. I don’t have a lot of faith in Joe Bauserman, but if he wins the job, I will pull for him, like I would any Buckeye. Taylor Graham’s lack of mobility limits his upside, but the kid certainly has the best arm of the bunch. I wouldn’t be opposed to a Graham/Miller platoon, at least for a while. Miller is clearly the future, in my mind, and has to be worked in, in some capacity this year.
--Not that anyone wants to hear this, and I’m not going to be very bold, but Alabama is my pick to win the BCS title this year. They gave up 12.5 ppg last year and return 10 defensive starters. And for an SEC school, their schedule lays out pretty nicely. Oklahoma is probably not too far behind. They are loaded on both sides of the ball and if their highly touted true freshman TB Brandon Williams lives ups to expectations, the OU offense will score a bunch of points.
--We get started with a bang the first week of college football. Oregon plays LSU in Arlington, Texas, in a game that will feature two top 10 teams, if not two top 5 teams. Boise State plays Georgia in Atlanta. Phil Steele ranks Boise State #3 and Georgia #9 in his preseason poll. Two weeks later, Oklahoma travels to Florida State, another game that should match two top 10 teams.
For us Big Ten fans, Penn State gets a shot at redemption when the Crimson Tide visit Happy Valley in week #2.
--I will post some formal predictions later, but my current thoughts are that Wisconsin is the team to beat in the initial year of the Leaders division. The recently announced exit of Terrelle Pryor, I think, makes the Buckeyes an underdog in this division. I expect a dog fight when they come to Columbus in late October. Right now, I’d put the Badgers 1st, OSU 2nd and Penn State 3rd in the Leaders division. I’ve got to go with the popular pick of Nebraska in the Legends division, with Michigan State second and Northwestern third. Iowa, like Ohio State, has been killed by off the field issues lately and may take a bit of a tumble this year. Michigan, I think, has way too many problems on defense to get back to where they should be, at least this year.
--How about the happenings in Morgantown? Then head coach in waiting, Dana Holgorson, gets intoxicated and tossed from a casino a month ago, and the dominos fell. No, Holgorson didn’t lose his job; he got promoted to head coach. This, after (now) former head coach Bill Stewart was said to have asked the local media to “dig up dirt” on Holgorson. Needless to say, this is an odd way to get promoted. Holgerson, by the way, is an intriguing up and comer. He took over offensive coordinator duties last year for Oklahoma State. Holgerson inherited 4 returning starters on offense and the Cowboys went from averaging 28.4 ppg in 2009 to 44.2 ppg last year. Not sure about the guy’s character, but he looks like he knows a few things about football.
--The coaching search? Tell you want….my man is Luke Fickell. I hope he gets a fair shot. Will he get it? I’m not so sure. If he gets a fair shake and cannot cut it, then I will worry about a new coach. But for now, I’m 100% behind Coach Fickell and hope we won’t need to look elsewhere.
From Brent Baver