Yesterday was the official one month mark until the start of college football.

Ohio State may not be eligible for postseason play in 2012, but that has no impact on the anticipation for Buckeye fans.

Urban Meyer is one month away from his debut as Ohio State’s head coach, and that is the main reason OSU fans are excited.

The Buckeyes begin the 2012 season with four non-conference home games—only one of which is against a team from a BCS conference.

While OSU may not have a big-name program on its non-conference schedule like years past, playing four games under coach Meyer before the Big Ten schedule will be extremely important for the team to get comfortable in a new system under a new coaching staff.

Here at The Buckeye Battlecry, we will have in-depth previews of each OSU opponent during the week of the game. This, however, is the first in a three-part series briefly looking at the 2012 season a month out.

Week 1, Sept. 1: Miami (OH) at Ohio State

(Ohio Stadium—Columbus, OH)

2011 record: 4-8 (3-5)

Returning starters: 16 (8 offense, 8 defense)

After a 2010 season that saw Miami win the GoDaddy.com Bowl against Middle Tennessee, expectations were high in Oxford in 2011. However, in his first season as head coach, Don Treadwell could only lead his Redhawks to a 4-8 record. Miami returns 16 starters from a season ago, but based on the results last year, that may not be such a great thing for them. Ohio State has had some trouble with MAC opponents on a number of occasions—most recently against Toledo in 2011—and the Redhawks will hope to stun the Buckeyes in Urban Meyer’s debut.

 

Week 2, Sept. 8: Central Florida at Ohio State

(Ohio Stadium—Columbus, OH)

2011 record: 5-7 (3-5)

Returning starters: 15 (7 offense, 8 defense)

It was announced earlier this week that Central Florida will also not be eligible for postseason play in 2012, which caused this week two match up to quickly be dubbed the “Battle of the Banned(s).” UCF was picked by many as the favorite in Conference USA this year, and with 15 starters returning it is justified. Ohio State is UCF’s biggest game this year, and although it is only week two, the Golden Knights may look at this one as its “bowl game.”

 

Week 3, Sept. 15: California at Ohio State

(Ohio Stadium—Columbus, OH)

2011 record: 7-6 (4-5)

Returning starters: 11 (6 offense, 5 defense)

Ohio State’s only BCS conference opponent comes in week three against the Cal Golden Bears. Cal has a lot of talent at the skill positions on offense which may present a problem for the Buckeyes defense- particularly with the relatively young and inexperienced linebackers. I’m not sure how a team could look past Ohio State, but Cal does have a date with rival USC just one week after their trip to Columbus. This game came in at No. 5 on my list of Big Ten non-conference games to watch and The Shoe should be rocking in what could be Meyer’s first real test as OSU’s head coach.

 

Week 4, Sept. 22: UAB at Ohio State

(Ohio Stadium—Columbus, OH)

2011 record: 3-9 (3-5)

Returning starters: 11 (7 offense, 4 defense)

The Blazers have a new head coach this season and his name is Garrick McGee. He and UAB will look to improve on a dismal 3-9 campaign in 2011. McGee hopes to bring the high-octane offense he created at Arkansas to UAB, but it will be difficult. UAB lost to FAU, who was 0-10 heading into the game, to close out their 2011 season. The returning players have a bitter taste in their mouths from that debacle that may have motivated them throughout the offseason. With that said, UAB should be no trouble for Ohio State, and I see the Buckeyes heading in to Big Ten play with a 4-0 record on the season.

Ohio State’s non-conference schedule is not nearly as strong as it has been in recent memory (Texas ’05 and ’06, Southern Cal ’08 and ’09, Miami (FL) ’10 and ’11) which is somewhat disappointing. On the other hand, it will give the Buckeyes an opportunity to improve every week under the new coaching staff which will be nice. Big Ten play will be grueling this season and Ohio State will need to be at their best.

Next Thursday, we will take a look at the first half of OSU’s Big Ten schedule.