Joe Pasquali, our resident college football analyst, is back again this year to cover NCAA college football. He has completed a team preview for every team in the Big Ten. The first team he tackles is The Ohio State Buckeyes.
A losing season? A losing season?? Yes folks, Ohio State went 6-7 last year after a Gator Bowl loss to Florida, their first losing season since 1988. Sorry Buckeye haters, but the 2012 Ohio State team is going to be very, very dangerous. New head coach, new system and a chip on their shoulder because of a postseason ban. Ohio State will be a team no one is going to enjoy playing. The Buckeyes can still play in the Big Ten championship game, but to do so they will have to beat Wisconsin in Madison on Nov 17th. Oh yeah, and that is a week before Michigan comes to town, heck of a way to end your campaign.
Honestly who knows? Braxton Miller showed signs of brilliance in 2011 and as well signs of utter incompetence. Ohio State was 107th last season in total offense, yeah…not good. Urban Meyer has his work cut out for him molding Miller into a quarterback, but if anyone can do it it’s is the man who made Chris Leak and Tim Tebow National Champions. Elsewhere, the team is lacking experience and playmakers, both at running back and at wide receiver. Tight end Jake Stoneburner moves to wide receiver and is the one shining light when it comes to weapons on offense. He could easily lead the team in receptions. Luckily for Miller, the offensive line is very solid and led by junior guard Andrew Norwell, a massive young man who can play anywhere up front.
The 2012 Ohio State team boasts easily the best defensive line in the conference and maybe the best in the nation. John Simon (SR, DE) and Garrett Goebel (SR, DT) lead a front four which would terrorize offenses all season. Etienne Sabino will lead a youthful but talented linebacker core which will feature two Sophmores in Ryan Shazier and Curtis Grant. Ohio State is very high on Shazier and expects him to have a breakout 2012 campaign. The secondary is solid as always and CJ Barnett and Bradley Roby are experienced ball hawks. Ohio State’s defensive numbers were fairly bad last year for Buckeye standards, but that was mostly due to their offense never staying on the field. If the offense makes strides the defense should as well.
Special Teams (A)
Drew Basil is just another great kicker in a long line of great Ohio State kickers. He was 16-19 last season and has only missed 5 kicks in his career as a Buckeye, three of which were over 50 yards. Ben Buchanan is a solid punter and ranked 4th in the Big Ten last season in punting average. He was sixth nationally with 27 punts downed within the opponents 20.
Urban Meyer is one of the best coaches in college football, period. Everywhere he goes he wins and I expect nothing less at Ohio State. His recruiting class for 2013 is already shaping up very nicely and I expect the Tattoo-gate and other Ohio State drama to be in the rear-view very soon.
2012 Win/Loss Prediction: 9-3 (2nd in Leaders)