Everyone looks at a football schedule and tries to predict wins and losses. I want to go deeper.
What is Ohio State's easiest game? Toughest? Trap game?
From easiest to hardest:
12. Eastern Michigan (W) Sept. 25
Eastern Michigan didn't win a single game last season. The Eagles scored 16.4 points and allowed 38.3. They sucked. Ron English will try to get his first win in his second season. There is no way it will happen against Ohio State, as coach Jim Tressel will show that he owns ALL the teams in the state up north. Keep an eye on LB Javon Reese, he is a bright spot on a horrendous team.
11. Marshall (W) Thursday, Sept. 2
This will be the first game for John "Doc" Holiday, the new head coach at Marshall. No big deal, just a national TV night game at the 'Shoe. Piece of cake. Ohio State rolls in a laugher. Marshall's best player is Mario Harvey -- he could be an NFL-type LB.
10. Indiana (W) Oct. 9
The reason I list Indiana here is because the Hoosiers never seem to give Ohio State a tough game. They haven't beaten the Buckeyes the last 15 tries and it will be 16 after Oct. 9. Ben Chappell may keep it close for a quarter or so, but the backups should get plenty of time.
9. @ Illinois (W) Oct. 2
The first road game of the list. The fightin' Zooker poop canned all of his assistants from last season and has scrapped the wide open spread look for a more pro style offense. Gone are Benn and Juice. The cupboard is quite bare in Champaign and the Buckeyes should make quick work of the Fightin' Illini.
8. @ Minnesota (W) Oct. 30
A night game in the Gopher state. The Gophers may be better than people think. They have veteran offensive lineman and a veteran QB. Usually a good starting point for a good offense. Too bad they lost every single defensive line starter from last season. They will be young and talented. All this being said, Ohio State should have no issue getting a lead and using the run game to wear down an inexperienced defensive front. If you are looking for a player to watch from Minnesota, they have one of CFB biggest players in Jeff Willis (6-7, 365lbs.). He shouldn't be hard to miss.
7. Ohio (W) Sept. 18
The Bobcats gave the Bucks a scare in '08 before losing 26-14. The worrisome part of this season's matchup is that this game takes place one week after the much hyped, much anticipated Miami game. If the Bucks have some sort of letdown, the Bobcats have shown that they can hang in the 'Shoe. I have a sneaky suspicion that the Bucks will tighten the chin straps this time and take the Bobcats a tad more seriously this go round. Mark it down as a win for the Bucks, but possibly tighter than most expect.
6. Purdue (W) Oct. 23
Talk about payback. I have never seen a Jim Tressel team like I saw last year against Purdue. Out-coached, out-schemed, and out-played. Purdue has former Miami uber-prospect Robert Marve under center. I doubt it helps. I think the Bucks have a chip on their shoulder and it's at home. Bucks roll.
5. Michigan (W) Nov. 27
It has gotten this bad in Ann Arbor. Growing up as an Ohio State fan during the Cooper years, I never thought Michigan would turn into a mid-level opponent. Sure, I still hate them more than all other teams combined, but does anyone really think they have a shot unless Ohio State goes into self destruct? At least Tressel will get to put RichRod out of his misery, assuming he is still there by the time November rolls around.
4. Miami (W) Sept. 11
The early-season game that everyone seems to be talking about. Miami gets a chance to prove that they indeed are "back." They have a talented QB in Jacory Harris and have about a billion skill players that can run like the wind. If DE Allen Bailey and company are able to keep Pryor in the pocket, the Hurricanes may very well pull off the early season upset. I think TP makes enough plays with his arm and his feet to pull away late. I still think Miami wins the ACC crown.
3. Penn State (W) Nov. 13
The Bucks get JoePa at home this season. The best part of this is that I don't have to listen to that stupid lion soundtrack that they play every 10 seconds in State College. Gone is Darryl Clark, Navarro Bowman and Sean Lee, but Evan Royster stayed. Royster is probably the second best RB in the Big Ten and can be very dangerous. If center Stefen Wisniewski and the rest of a good offensive line can open holes, Royster can run his way to a dark horse Heisman Trophy campaign. I think the Bucks beat up the Lions' young QB, whoever it ends up being, and win this one by 10.
2. @ Iowa (W) Nov. 20
The reason that this game isn't No. 1 is simple. Iowa doesn't do too well as the lead dog. The seem to flourish as the underdog, but when they are viewed as a pre-season favorite, they seem to stumble. Will that hold them back this season? The Hawkeyes lost six draft picks from last season but was somehow able to keep presumed top 10 pick DE Adrian Clayborn. He won't be the only great defensive lineman in Iowa City this year, DT's Karl Klug and Christian Ballard may be the best DT duo in the country. Clayborn's bookend, Broderick Binns is no slouch himself. Add in the fact that Ohio State plays Penn State the week before, while Iowa goes to Northwestern, and this one could be a tough one for the Silver Bullets. If the Hawkeyes can live up to the pre-season hype, this late November game could be for the Big Ten title.
1. @Wisconsin (W) Oct. 16
A night game in Madison. Yuck. Madison, outside of Columbus, is the toughest place to place in the Big Ten. The rowdy fans, the close quarters, the sea of red. Did I mention the
drunken rowdy fans? To make matters worse the Badgers bring back Scott Tolzien and John Clay, the catalysts for last season's Big Ten No. 1 scoring offense (31.8) and number one yardage offense (416.9). Fun. On defense, the losses are more profound. The Badgers lose three defensive lineman, their leading tackler (Jaevery McFadden) and secondary leader, Chris Margos. They do return one of my favorite Big Ten players in LB/DE/FB/K Chris Borland. The Bucks are going to have to be on point in this one. Zero turnovers, big plays on special teams and big plays from No. 2 should be enough. If they can slow down Clay enough to let the defensive line do some damage, the Bucks just might slip out of Madison with a win.
So what do you think? What games do I have too low? What games do I have too high?