2009 Ohio State Football Pre-Preview
Summer practice is still weeks away but the realization of only having approximately three months until the season starts has gotten this reporters juices rolling. Last season was a disappointment of sorts as Ohio State lost two regular season games and dropped a thriller to their bowl opponent Texas. The Buckeyes were ranked in the top five by most of the preseason pollsters but the team just didn’t live up to its potential, especially the offense which didn’t seem to want to show up at all last year.
By Pete Quint
It’s been the modus operandi in the Tressel era to win the games you’re supposed to and lose consistently to higher ranked opponents. That’s not a jab at Tress, it’s the truth. The last time the Buckeyes beat a team ranked above them in the polls was Miami (FL) in the 2002 National Championship game. This is a disturbing trend in Buckeye football that needs to change or the team will continue to be ridiculed nationally as an above average team in a weak conference. This season, the Buckeyes will continue to load up on cupcakes in the preseason, play one legit out of conference and cruise through the Big Ten looking for another conference championship. Outside USC, Penn State and maybe Wisconsin, there’s not much competition for Ohio State in 2009.
While 12-0 is very realistic, albeit scarlet colored and optimistic, the Bucks are much more likely to go 11-1 than 9-3. Anything less than 10 wins and as least a share of the Big Ten title this season will be a big disappointment. Tressel will have his young troops ready to earn the Big Ten crown but how will the Bucks fare against USC and most likely an SEC bowl opponent? Here’s a quick look at Ohio State’s opponents for the 2009 season.
Don’t be too surprised if the Bucks go 11-1 and the “1” happens to be Navy. The Buckeyes are bigger, faster, stronger and easily more talented than the Midshipmen and on paper it looks like an easy warm-up leading into the USC game. However, not only will OSU be looking ahead to the colossal match-up in prime time, the Buckeyes will also be facing an offensive scheme they have never seen before. If you pick one game this year that has Appalachian State written all over it, it’s OSU v Navy.
Ohio State and USC are mirror images of each other this year in that both teams need to reload in 2009 losing a ton of talent to the NFL. The biggest advantage the Bucks have in this one is experience at quarterback. Terrell Pryor has most of a year under his belt and with a young nasty offensive line lead by Michigan transfer Jason Boren (I love saying that), the Bucks should match up well with the Trojans. What’s the biggest disadvantage going against the Buckeyes? USC will be ranked above OSU in the polls and favored to win. As stated before, Tressel has an embarrassing record against higher ranked opponents and if he wants to start being considered one of the best in the country he has to win this game.
@ Toledo (in Cleveland)
Toledo will give the Bucks a run for their money in the first quarter and a half but don’t expect it to last. The Rockets just don’t have the horses to keep up. We will see a lot of new faces in this one as Tressel and the coaching staffs start to develop some of the younger talent.
Illinois isn’t expected to do much this season but that’s usually when they come out of nowhere and have a 9 win season. After Ohio State it’s a toss up between Penn State and Illinois as to who is number two in the Big Ten this season. Juice Williams is back and is as always a legitimate threat. Even with a week off before they face OSU, I don’t think the Illini can hang with the Buckeyes in the Shoe.
Cupcakes come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. This one has Crimson and Cream icing. Delicious!
The Badgers have turned into an annual choker lately. They have sported excellent talent and have plenty ability to put teams away but they always seem to drop one or two games they have no business losing. Quarterback play has been the Badgers Achilles heal for the last few years and this year will be another struggle. This one’s in the Shoe. Badgers will go home with their tails tucked between their legs.
Purdue is a team I would like to see rise to the upper tier of the conference but they just can’t seem to attract enough talent across the board to muster an elite team. They return a most of their league leading pass defense while on the other hand lose nearly their entire offense. A defense can make a great offense…unless you don’t have an offense to speak of. Pryor will be ready to slice and dice them by October.
After a heartbreaking loss to Northwestern, Minnesota gave up on the season. In 2009, many of the skill players that made a great run at the beginning of the season are back. Again, this one’s in the Shoe and the Gophers don’t stand a chance.
New Mexico State
Extending the Big Ten season has caused a few odd-ball mid-season out-of-conference games to pop up here and there. Until the league gets a hold of the new calendar we will continue to see Whattsamatta U. and Whodaheckisthat CC. on the schedule. Bucks play a lot of youngsters in this one.
@ Penn State
For the first time since joining the Big Ten, Penn State tasted victory in Columbus…then promptly blew it by losing to Iowa in the very next game. Talk about a hangover. They did go to the Rose Bowl but lost out on a chance at an outright Big Ten title and a birth in the National Championship game. By this time in the season, the Lions will be seasoned and ready for the showdown with the Buckeyes but Ohio State has a long memory. Last year was a solid defensive stand by the Lions as the Bucks couldn’t get anything going on offense. Look for Terrell Pryor to redeem himself and put a whoopin’ on the Lions in Happy Valley.
It sounds like the Hawkeyes are on the right track and may be rising up the ranks in the Big Ten. This should be a fun game in the cold in Columbus, Ohio as the Bucks might be in the running for the national championship game and Iowa will be looking at a BCS game. Tag: Old School Slobber-Knocker Game.
Rich Rod got himself another stellar recruiting class…for the next coach that gets hired at Michigan. Michigan alumni will be calling for his head early and often as the “Victors” try to dig their way out of last years 3-9 season, all the way to 6-6. To help matters for the Wolverines and their search for a new head coach, they are starting a true freshman quarterback behind an average line. The emphasis will be on the running game and Kevin Grady. Is he out of jail yet? No? Then I guess they’ll have to rely on Brandon Minor. Good luck with that. Tressel continues his winning streak versus That Team Up North.
If the Buckeyes suffer a loss this season they will not play in the National Championship game, even if it’s early and to USC. I’m calling USC, PSU and Iowa as “Buckeye Up” games the OSU has to win and Navy being the “Look Out” scary sleeper team that won’t but might….but won’t…
2009 will loads of fun to watch as the next batch of Buckeye superstars make names for themselves. It will also make Buckeye fans pull out their hair in frustration as we see these athletes through their growing pains. In 2010, Ohio State will be a legitimate powerhouse and contend for the National Championship along with numerous awards (see Heisman). However, if the Bucks can develop quickly, rally under the leadership of Terrell Pryor and maybe catch a few breaks along the way, 2009 could end up a lot Rosier than originally thought.