It’s here, Hive-sters. The week we’ve all been waiting for since last season ended. It’s finally game week for The Ohio State Buckeyes! Only 4 more days stand between us and watching our beloved Ohio State football team as the Buckeyes take on the Miami Redhawks this Saturday at Ohio Stadium. Luckily for me, I will be there to witness Urban Meyer’s first game as Ohio State’s head coach. But, more importantly, the last game Ohio State played in the Horseshoe was a loss to PSU for which I was in attendance, so, I’ve been anxiously waiting to go back to see an OSU victory.
Fortunately, Buckeye Nation, I don’t anticipate many, if any, home losses this year for the men of the scarlet and gray. In fact, I don’t see the Buckeyes losing more than 2 to 3 games this season. As I’ve spent a lot of time breaking down Ohio State’s football schedule for this season, there are 4 games that stand out to me–these 4 games will make or break OSU’s year. The 4 games: MSU, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and TTUN. These, by far, are Ohio State’s toughest tests of the year. Ohio State gets MSU and Nebraska back-to-back in weeks 5 and 6 then Wisconsin and TTUN back-to-back in weeks 12 and 13. As you all know, Nebraska and TTUN come to Columbus to take on the Bucks and Ohio State has to travel to MSU and Wisconsin.
Let’s break this down further and delve into this week’s Hive, what say you?
For me, honestly, I see Ohio State going 3-1 in this tough stretch, at worst 2-2, and I’ll tell you why. Ohio State went 1-3 against these 4 Big Ten foes last year, but only lost by a combined 16 points in 3 games. Last season, Ohio State, in Lincoln, had Nebraska on the ropes 27-6 before Braxton Miller got hurt and the Cornhuskers were able to storm back and beat the Bauserman-led Buckeyes 34-27. I don’t see Nebraska beating Ohio State in Columbus. Ohio State was dominating that game before Miller got hurt and let the air out of OSU. Even if Braxton were to get hurt this season, Ohio State has something it didn’t have last year: a formidable backup quarterback. Urban has stressed the importance of Kenny Guiton and the importance of developing him. And I think he and his staff have done that. That will be a huge benefit to Ohio State if Braxton is to go
In addition to Nebraska, last year Ohio State beat a better Wisconsin team than we’ll see this season. Granted, that game was in Columbus, but the Buckeyes handled the Badgers for most of that game. Also, Ohio State had a bye week leading into the showdown with Bucky and ultimately, I think that was the difference in Ohio State coming out on top that day. This season is set up the exact same way for OSU. They have a bye week before heading up to Madison then back home to take on TTUN. As you all are well aware, Camp Randall has proven to be a tricky place for Ohio State to win at, but with questions on defense, the offensive line, and at skill positions (besides RB), Wisconsin is extremely vulnerable–even at Camp Randall where they rarely lose. Also, seeing that the game is in mid-November, we are looking at a 3:30 kick for the contest rather than a night game. Which, for the Buckeyes, is a good thing because Wisconsin is almost impossible to beat in Madison at night.
Like Nebraska and Wisconsin, I think the Buckeyes will beat TTUN. ‘The Game’ was a thriller down to the end before Braxton Miller threw a pick on Ohio State’s final possession down 40-34 to the Wolverqueens. Ohio State is sure to correct the defensive mistakes it had in last year’s contest and contain the explosive Denard Robinson this season. The bright side, surprisingly, from last year’s game was the offense. It was the Braxton Miller show that day for the Buckeyes. The freshman signal-caller threw for 235 yards with 2 touchdowns and also ran for 100 yards and 1 touchdown. As a true freshman, in Ann Arbor, during his first OSU-UM game, Miller was sensational. I see him only getting better and building on that performance. With questions on the defensive side of the ball, TTUN, like Wisconsin, is totally vulnerable and I see OSU taking advantage of opportunities this season to beat the Wolverqueens. Last year, Braxton Miller missed a couple of deep balls that could have led Ohio State to victory, but I don’t see that happening this year especially at home in Ohio Stadium.
Lastly, we come to the game where I think Ohio State is the most likely to lose, the Michigan State Spartans. This will be a true test for the Buckeyes. It is their first Big Ten game of the season and first road game of the year. The Spartans offense has some tough tasks trying to replace the likes of quarterback Kirk Cousins and wide-outs BJ Cunningham, Keith Nichol, and Keshawn Martin, but Sparty’s defense will be one of the best in the country this year. Also, RB Le’Veon Bell is a top back in the B1G and will be back for MSU. Ultimately, I see OSU losing this game in a close, defensive game. However, this is a very winnable game for the Buckeyes, but we’ll see.
Overall, I think Ohio State’s final record will be 10-2. If they do end up going 3-1 in their toughest games of the year, I think they’ll drop one to a team that they are supposed to beat. It’s easy for a team to get fired up and ready for the top teams, but will they do that for every game? That’s yet to be seen.
A GIF and video of Carlos Hyde running over RB coach Stan Drayton can be seen here.
Yesterday, Ohio State released the two-deep depth chart for this week. The full chart can be seen here.
LET THE MAN SPEAK
Urban Meyer’s first game-week press conference as Ohio State head coach took place yesterday. To watch the full thing or get the highlights, click here.
As always and forever, Go Bucks, beat Miami!