Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ohio State Football 2010 Season Forecast: Sunny And Successful, Part II

I have been a little busy lately with work, and the birth of my second daughter on April 27th, so I haven't had any real free time to do much with the blog, or to just touch base with my "millions" of fans...

Until today!

Please, hold your applause until the end...

So anyway, I began a three-part series back in mid-April entitled Ohio State Football 2010 Season Forecast: Sunny And Successful, and am glad to FINALLY bring you Part II.

Part I didn't even have anything to do with Michigan, since as you know, "The Game" is the last game of the year for both teams, and yet I still managed to take a few shots at scUM in Part I.

Here's to doing my best to repeat that performance in this installment! And by the way, here's a link just in case you missed Part I of this series.

Just a reminder—Nobody can guarantee for sure how the 2010 season will play out, and it is only mid-May—several months before the games will actually be played—but if you want a general idea of how it might all go down before then, you can read this article and settle for some of my best educated guesswork in the meantime.

So without further delay, onward to Part II...

Game Five @ Illinois—October 2, 2010

The Buckeyes will open their 2010 Big Ten schedule on the road vs. Illinois in what could potentially be a very lopsided matchup.

I for one would have bet a large sum of money that Illinois Coach Ron Zook would have been fired after the 2009 season. Amazingly however, Zook is still in charge (for now), and that doesn't bode well for Illini fans as the Zooker is just 21-39 in his five seasons at the helm.

In my opinion, anything short of seven-plus wins and a bowl game invite would mean 2010 will likely be his last in Champaign.

Once-heralded QB Juice Williams and WR Arrelious Benn are gone, and it looks as though redshirt freshmen Nathan Sheelhaase and Florida transfer Jarred Fayson will be asked to replace them each respectively.

Zook, who "coached" the Illini to a 30-0 shutout loss in Columbus last season, is 1-4 against Ohio State in his career—his lone win coming in Ohio Stadium during the 2007 season, in which he led Illinois to a 9-3 record and a trip to the Rose Bowl.

That 2007 season is a distant memory now though. Whether at home, or on the road, I believe it is safe to say that there won't be much fight coming out of the depleted "Fighting Illini" in 2010, especially against the top teams in the conference, i.e. Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin, etc.

Sorry Zooker, but your hot seat is about to explode...

Win (5-0)

Game Six vs. Indiana—October 9, 2010

The Buckeyes will open their 2010 Big Ten home schedule by hosting the Hoosiers of Indiana.

Ohio State leads the all-time series (66-12-5) and since 1991, the Buckeyes are a perfect 17-0 vs. IU.

Coach Tressel is 7-0, and his teams have outscored Indiana 255-71 in those meetings, but this ain't exactly your Daddy's' Indiana Hoosiers heading into 2010—well, at least not on offense.

Coach Bill Lynch and his Hoosiers can actually run the spread offense effectively, unlike Dickrod and company thus far in that state to our North that smells of boiled hot dog water (hey, maybe they should consider hiring Lynch after they fire RR?).

Offensively, they should be fine moving the ball, and they shouldn't have have much trouble scoring against most of the teams on their schedule. Senior QB Ben Chappell, who will be one of the best passers in the conference, has plenty of talented options surrounding him, including wide receivers Tandon Doss, Demarlo Belcher and Terrence Turner, as well as RB Darius Willis.

I suspect we will see a lot of what you see in this video around the 1:25 mark from Chappell and his receivers.

The problem for the Hoosiers will be their defense. Will they be able to hold on in a shootout and win some of their sure-to-be high-scoring, down-to-the-wire games in the final minutes? It's hard to say.

The Ohio State defense should be just as good as they were in 2009, while IU should be better on offense than they were last season. For that reason, I will be kind of shocked if IU doesn't score a couple-three times, but in the end, they won't be able to "out-shoot" the Buckeyes. I'm thinking 38-17 ballpark for the final score.

See you in Maize and Blue in 2011 Coach Lynch!

Win (6-0)

Game Seven @ Wisconsin—October 16, 2010

A year ago, Ohio State was almost completely anemic on offense, yet still defeated Wisconsin 31-13 with defense and special teams.

In what looks to be one of the Big Ten's best matchups of the upcoming season, the Buckeyes will need much more from their offense if they expect to win in Camp Randall.

The defense will also have their hands full though as Wisconsin returns 10 starters on offense including Scott Tolzien, one of the better quarterbacks in the conference, and star running back and reigning Big Ten player of the year, John Clay. Of course, the Buckeyes held Clay to only 59 yards on 20 carries last season, so he may or may not be a huge factor in the meeting this coming fall.

Along with new TE Lance Kendricks, who is replacing the departed Garrett Graham, wide receivers Nick Toon and David Gilreath are underappreciated targets that could give smaller, less experienced defenses fits down the field. Unfortunately for the Badgers, Ohio State is not small or inexperienced on defense.

The Badgers will have to prove that they can live up to high expectations really for the first time since A.D. and former head coach Barry Alverez stepped down. That is often easier said than done.

Also, Wisconsin has some concerns on defense that could make that task more difficult, specifically on the defensive front, as only one of four starters returns. The Buckeyes should be able to exploit the inexperienced line with their stable of talented running backs, not to mention their extremely fast and mobile quarterback, Terrelle Pryor.

Pryor, who was integral in helping the Buckeyes win in Madison in 2008, running in the game-winning touchdown in the final 70 seconds to break the hearts of Badger fans everywhere, will be seeking his third win over Wisconsin in as many tries.

The Buckeyes lead the all-time series (53-17-5). Overall, Coach Tressel is 4-3 against UW in his career and 3-0 against current Badger coach Brent Bielema.

Wisconsin is a dangerous team and I expect another closely contested game like the meeting in 2008. I do not take them lightly, nor do I project that winning this game will be easy.

Both teams have the talent on offense to win, but for me the coaching edge, and the defensive advantage favors the Buckeyes and as was the case in both 2008 and 2009, each of those factors (along with how well Pryor plays) will once again ultimately be what decides the outcome in 2010.

Win (7-0)

Game Eight vs. Purdue—October 23, 2010

Terrelle Pryor played one of the worst games of his career, as he and the entire Buckeye Nation completely overlooked Purdue in 2009.

The shocking 26-18 loss was 100% absolutely a fluke, but upsets happen when the clearly superior team loafs off and shows no sense of urgency.

I really don't mean to be sound overly insulting to Purdue here, but if we could load up everyone from each teams' 2009 roster into the hot tub time machine, go back to that day, and replay that game 1000 times, Purdue might win once or twice.

This year, the Boilermakers return WR Keith Smith and RB Ralph Bolden, both standouts, but must replace QB Joey Elliott, who statistically was one of the better signal callers in the Big Ten for 2009. That responsibility will fall on Caleb TerBush and Coach Danny Hope can only "hope" TerBush is ready for the job.

Purdue should be OK and maybe even decent on offense, but their defense will be the pitfall yet again in year two for Coach Hope. In 12 games last season, opponents gained over 170 yards per game on the ground and scored 26 touchdowns.

I look for the Buckeyes to not overlook Purdue in 2010, and to thus have a field day running the ball. Furthermore, I will not be shocked one bit if multiple players score touchdowns, and if more than one rushes for near or over 100 yards.

Ohio State is (37-13-2) all-time against Purdue and Coach Tressel is 5-2 (3-0 at home) vs. the Boilermakers, not to mention, Purdue hasn't won in Ohio Stadium since 1988.

I see that trend continuing.

Win (8-0)

Be sure to stop back—The third and final installment is coming soon!

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