The Ohio State Buckeyes are off to a roaring start in NCAA football this year. They have completed all of the non-conference games, with a record so far of 4-0. With impressive wins over Marshall, Ohio U, and Eastern Michigan, the crowning moment of non-conference play was a decisive victory over the #12 ranked University of Miami. This win was particularly important, as many a football fan remember the semi-controversial pass-interference call which lead to a Buckeye victory in the 2002 BCS National Championship game. This year, Miami was looking for redemption, only to be pounded by the Buckeye defense. As October begins, so does the Buckeye’s Big Ten schedule. Over the next two months, the Buckeyes will seal their fate. At this point, a bid to Glendale is theirs to lost.
Saturday, October 2nd: Illinois
With a trip to Champaign, the Buckeyes will find themselves one game closer to a perfect record. Yes, it may be true that the Fighting Illini have proven to be season spoilers for the Buckeyes in seasons past, but the Scarlet and Gray haven’t lost on the road in Champaign since 1993. Additionally, without star receiver Arrelious Benn, the Illini find themselves in need of a breakout WR. The Illini defense will have their hands full keeping track of Pryor, both through the air and on the ground. Furthermore, Pryor is just the tip of the iceberg, and the Illini will need to kick it up a notch in order to reign in RBs Boom Herron and Brandon Saine. Count this one as a W for the Bucks.
Saturday, October 9th: Indiana
The Buckeyes continue their winning streak when hosting the Hoosiers at the ‘Shoe. Indiana’s biggest weakness so far seems to be their defense, which bodes well for Pryor and the Buckeye offense. The Hoosiers haven’t beaten Ohio State in over twenty years, and I don’t expect this year to be any different. Indiana just doesn’t have the talent on either side of the ball to beat the Buckeyes. Chalk up another W for the Bucks.
Saturday, October 16th: Wisconsin
Ahhh, finally, a game! And, at night, no less. The Buckeyes love night games, even on the road. They hardly ever happen at the ‘Shoe, so they’re fun and exciting. Usually a good match-up as well. The Buckeyes first true challenge comes on the road at Camp Randall. Wisconsin is currently ranked, and could prove to test the Buckeyes to their fullest. Badger RBs John Clay and James White prove to be a powerful team on the ground, and QB Scott Tolzien should see a few injured WRs added back into the lineup. Should be a good game for the Buckeyes, and they get psyched to see their true abilities tested. The Scarlet and Gray will find a way to win, however, as Pryor will just be too talented to beat.
Saturday, October 23rd: Purdue
After already losing two non-conference games, Purdue will be another solid victory for the Buckeyes. Ohio State hosts the Boilermakers at home, and it seems as though Purdue has their hands full with problems. With starting QB Marve out for the season with an ACL injury, the Boilermakers will be using back-up QB and freshman Rob Henry. The ‘Shoe will be a tough place for the inexperienced QB. This season alone, Purdue has also lost their starting RB and WR, also to knee injuries. A late scramble for Boilermaker talent leaves the Buckeyes undefeated.
Saturday, 30th: Minnesota
Yes! Another night game! A good time for all, for sure. At least, for Buckeye nation, that is. Minnesota went 1-3 in non-conference play, losing to teams including South Dakota and Northern Illinois. Don’t really need to say much more, other than that the Minnesota will certainly not be able to contain the Buckeyes. The Ohio State perfect season will remain in-tact.
Saturday, November 13th: Penn State
Here’s where it starts to get tricky. Ohio State’s last three games are by far their hardest. The Nitany Lions took a hard loss vs. Alabama during non-conference play, but I see them bouncing back from that game and giving the Buckeyes quite the match-up in the ‘Shoe. Evan Royster continues to be a star RB for Joe Pa’s Lions and will challenge the Buckeye defense more than anyone has yet. QB Robert Bolden has a lot to learn, however, and put up five interceptions just in non-conference play alone. Put Chimdi Chekwa in the mix, and it could spell trouble for the Nitany Lions. Penn State will certainly be the toughest game Ohio State will have seen to this point, but I smell a victory for the Bucks.
Saturday, November 20th: Iowa
Iowa will be another challenge on the Buckeye’s journey towards Glendale. Like Penn State, the Hawkeyes suffered a non-conference loss to a ranked team. Unlike Penn State, however, the Buckeyes will face the Hawkeyes on the road, which can make a considerable difference. Iowa senior QB Ricky Stanzi has improved every year and will lead with talent and confidence. Additionally, the Hawkeye defense is one of the best in nation, and Pryor will truly need to shine throughout this game. I have faith in Pryor, however, and feel confident that the Buckeyes will face this challenge with poise, and once again find themselves winners.
Saturday: November 27th: Michigan
As tradition dictates, the Buckeyes will end their season with their arch-rivals, the Wolverines. In recent years, Michigan has performed well under expectations, and the Buckeyes have enjoyed several consecutive years of success in this rivalry game. This year, however, Michigan has a breakout QB star in sophomore Denard Robinson and seems to be high on his talent thus far. He is already showing some early injuries, though, and has yet to face a defense as powerful as the Buckeyes. I imagine he will have his hands full with Brian Rolle, Cameron Heyward, and Tyler Moeller. Additionally, the game will be played in Ohio Stadium this year, presenting an even bigger challenge for the Wolverines. I believe the Buckeyes will win this battle, clinch the Big Ten title, and earn a trip to Glendale to play for the Championship. The only question that remains is who they will play…