As great as our podcast opportunities have been, we here at the Buckeye Battlecry are to the point where we’re really REALLY ready to talk some football (instead of rumor an innuendo and so forth). So, we’ve been tossing around a couple of questions that we find interesting, and wanted to let you in on the conversation. If you’ve got questions you’d like our for our band of experts to pontificate on, feel free to leave them in the comments.
What will be “The” game for Ohio State this year? Why? Which games do the Buckeyes lose this season, if any?
Joe D: I think the real test to see what to expect this season will be right out of the gates in the first game of the season against the Michigan State Spartans. If the Buckeyes can play their style of football against a very tough, clock running offense like the Spartans, then it will prove well heading into the following week against Nebraska. If the Buckeyes cant answer with a solid running game, or not be able to answer back quickly with the big play, then it could be the start of a downspin with Nebraska, Illinois, and Wisconsin on the schedule after the Spartans. Like the Badgers, the Spartans play an offense that can off-set a young offense.
With that being said, I don’t see Wisconsin coming into Columbus and stealing a win like they were able to last year on the road. So many variables play into the second half of the season, but I see the Ohio State finishing the season in the top two of the leaders division. If they can pull out big wins over Wisconsin and Michigan State, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in the championship game in a rematch of their regular season match up with Nebraska.
Final Record: 10-2 ( 6-2 Big Ten)
Eric: “The” game for the Buckeyes will clearly be Nebraska. They have to play an unfamiliar team, in an unfamiliar (and enthusiastic) environment in a night game on national TV with 5 suspended players returning. If Ohio State can get past that game with a win, with so many cliches working against them, they’ll be in good shape going down the stretch.
The scariest game on the calendar is Michigan State. One week before the return of the tat-5 minus one, and we have to play one of last year’s Big Ten co-champions. Worse yet, MSU is on the up-and-up and may have revenge in mind for getting left out of the BCS last year, even if they did later prove that they didn’t deserve to be anywhere near the BCS.
At worst, the Bucks lose 2 games all season. Possibly to MSU, Nebraska or Wisconsin. Outside of that, the Buckeyes should be more than sufficiently talented to take care of business. I officially predict that the Bucks will lose only one game all season, out of those one of those three games.
11-1, (7-1 B1G)
Mali: Wisconsin- Not that I see this being a loss for Ohio State (although it could be), but this is the game that most fans and many players will have circled on their calendars for months. Sure, the MSU and UNL games will be important, but this one is payback… at home, at night, against a team that never plays night games on the road. While I’m embarrassed by the ways that Ohio State fans have on occasion treated visitors, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I was curious to see how we return Wisconsin’s famous hospitality.
I also see Ohio State dropping two games this year, one to the one of the names that we’ve mentioned and one to a team we just overlooked. With some of the “trap” games on the schedule, with a number of new coaches on the other sidelines, and given the relative inexperience of the current Ohio State leadership (at least at the head coach level), it’s not inconceivable that a game that should be winnable might fall by the wayside.
Of course, it might also be true that having zero sweater vests on the sideline could mean that the foot never comes off the offensive gas pedal.
10-2, (7-1 B1G)
Joe D: The obvious answer is incoming five star linebacker Curtis Grant, who has the size to play inside as a tackle, but has the speed to have a impact at the college level on the exterior. Some are even tagging him the next best OSU linebacker in a line of legends. With some help needed in the linebacker corps, it will be interesting to see if Grant plays a big role, especially on passing downs. If he plays special teams, he could be a major part of field position allowed of the kick and punt right away.
Eric: Look for Devin Smith (WR) to be the most likely to make a big splash on the offense. With the Wide Receiver corps looking down this year (sans Mr. Posey), there is a big opportunity for a younger guy to get his foot in the door. I think Devin Smith will be that guy this year, particularly considering the attention he’s been drawing from observers of Fall Camp.
Mali: I’m going to cheat just a bit and go with Rod Smith. While I know he’s a redshirt freshman, I can’t help but be excited about the things we heard out of spring ball- comparisons to a Monsieur George of yore. For Hot Rod, the biggest question regarding his impact will be opportunity; Ohio State has a backfield that’s loaded with talent you’d normally expect to see stockpiled at USC (minus the payroll). We’re hearing the Carlos is impressing, that this will be Berry’s year to shine, and that Jordan Hall will get the ball at a number of different spots on the field this year- not to mention a bearded wonder who is spotting the conference 5 games to get their defenses ready.
But I’m convinced that, if given the opportunity, Rod Smith will be a name that Ohio State fans will be excited about during this upcoming season.