Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Delusions Of Grandeur: Miami Hurricanes Fans Expecting to Rout Our Ohio State Buckeyes?

As laughable as that sentiment seems, at least to most astute college football fans, it is apparently true....

Hotnuke and Sanford Lazarf are the most outspoken UM flag-bearers with that opinion thus far, but I'm sure there are plenty others of their ilk just waiting to jump on the Miami "in a rout" bandwagon.

Don't be surprised when they disappear and jump back off that same bandwagon sometime around 7PM on September 11.

I guess they forgot where all the talk and chest-thumping got them back in 2002....

Well, here's a friendly reminder for them. No need to thank me Canes fans!

But let's consider something a bit more current for some true perspective here.

The 2010 Buckeyes and the 2010 Hurricanes won't be all that much different than each were a year ago.

The then-No. 8 Buckeyes went 11-2 and dominated then-No. 7 Oregon in the Rose Bowl.

The then-No. 14 Canes ended up at 9-4 after losing to then-No.25 Wisconsin. The final score of 20-14 was much closer than the actual game.

Miami could not stop Badger running back John Clay all day as he rushed for over 100 yards and two scores.

Miami, trailing 20-7, scored a garbage-time touchdown with 1:22 left in the game to indicate a much closer game than was actually played.

Ohio State beat that same Badger team 31-13, while holding John Clay to only 59 yards on 20 carries and no touchdowns.

All that being said, the 2009 season doesn't guarantee what will happen in 2010, but on paper, "the U" sure looks to be a heavy underdog on September 11 in The Shoe, so I'm not sure why Miami fans are talking so much smack, but they are.

See for yourself.

Those are just a couple of examples (for now) from one particular overconfident UM fan.

I do know a few Miami fans that can actually carry on a sensible and logical discussion about the upcoming game and who understand that winning in Columbus will be extremely difficult if not darn near impossible.

Unfortunately and undoubtedly, they are few and far between.

As the start of the season, and the Ohio State-Miami game in particular draws near, there will surely be more posts like those of Hotnuke's and you can be sure I'll post them here for all to see when I find them.

Not to toot my own horn here so-to-speak, but I am the founder and owner of a pretty well-known Ohio State blog, so without name-dropping, but in response to one of your recent comments, yes Sanford, I do have connections to, and have interviewed and spoken with, several Buckeye players.

I also have access to various other media outlets and I will be sure to continue to forward these types of postings to every one of them as well if for no other reason than pure amusement.

We Buckeyes always enjoy a good, and the last, laugh...

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Young Guns: Five Offensive Buckeyes Ready to Break Out in 2010

Tim Bielik—Featured Contributor / Storm the Field Founder

Ohio State football in 2010 with an experienced Terrelle Pryor under center could mean a more explosive offense than in years past.

While the ability for the offense to be explosive is there, obviously the question will be whether or not Jim Tressel will let the dogs loose. And the dogs that Ohio State has, whether experienced or not, can be very explosive.

We all know about DeVier Posey, Brandon Saine, and Dane Sanzenbacher among others, but what about the guys we don't know? The guys that haven't seen time yet. The roster is full of players ready to break out and make an impact on the future—and maybe even the current season.

Here are five players that are very likely to do so.

5. James Louis, Fr. WR

The recruiting saga with James Louis was very strange, with the youngster from Atlantic High School stunning most by committing to Ohio State after Florida did not accept a commit.

Nearly a year later, Louis comes to Ohio State one of two Under Armour All-American WRs along with Cardinal O'Hara's Corey Brown, both of whom bring a strong combination of speed and explosiveness.

The early comparison a lot of experts out there have given of Louis is to former Buckeye standout Santonio Holmes, who was also a Floridian coming out of high school.

Louis, who runs a 4.45 40-yard dash, gained 682 receiving yards on just 38 catches and had 10 TD receptions as a senior with Atlantic in Delray Beach, Florida. The young man possesses great speed and a playmaking ability that should make him a favorite in Columbus, especially if he can win the third WR spot, which is very wide open after Duron Carter transferred to Colleyville CC in Kansas.

If he has a great fall camp and contributes right away, Buckeyes fans should feel very relieved that he came to Ohio State instead of staying in-state.

4. Carlos Hyde, Fr. RB

Another Florida product, Hyde brings a big body into fall camp after spending a full winter and spring with the football team.

At 6'1'', 235 lbs, and around a 4.55 40-yard time, Hyde actually was a commit for the 2009 class, but could not attend the university because of academics.

He spent the fall at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia, much like Eddie George did before he came to Ohio State—And strangely enough, the two players are very similar.

Hyde will be a running back at Ohio State instead of being a fullback as listed on many different recruiting websites. Reports out of winter workouts and spring practices read that Hyde performed pretty well, showcasing his speed and power, plus a strong work ethic, something that should give him strong support among the fans.

Because of the depth at the RB position right now, Hyde may see time mostly in 3rd-and-short or goal-line situations. But finishing drives could be a great start for this kid who already has overcome plenty to get to this fall camp.

3. Corey Brown, Fr. RB/WR

Ohio State may be one of the only schools if not the only one to have two players with the same name.

While there already is a Corey Brown who is a redshirt freshman DB, the coaching staff reeled in a strong prize in Springfield, PA product Corey Brown for the 2010 class. Brown committed in September 2009 but was actually given the offer to pick his position from Coach Tressel.

Brown is similar in build to Louis with a strong combination of speed and explosion, and has drawn comparisons to Percy Harvin.

Early word out of Columbus is that Brown has caught the eye of the coaching staff and that he may be a major candidate for the third WR spot along with Louis and others and may even get a shot at kick returner.

If he shines in fall camp, Brown may fit the mold of a player that is too talented to keep off of the field, but like everyone else in a school like OSU with so much depth, he will have to gain the trust of the coaches, especially when it comes to ball control.

2. Chris Fields, Fr. (RS) WR

Maybe an unheralded prospect after committing in 2009, Chris Fields apparently has caught the eye of many out there in Columbus.

Fields redshirted in 2009, but spent the year learning the game and played the role of Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli while on the scout team leading up to the 2010 Rose Bowl Game. His performances in the bowl practices and a stronger mental approach make Fields a very good candidate to see plenty of time on the field this season.

Fields came into Ohio State at 6'1'' and a 4.42 40 time, and enters 2010 as one of the leading candidates along with senior Taurian Washington for the third WR spot.

The advantage Fields has over Brown and Louis at this time is the year of practicing against college talent and adding strength to his frame.

Whether or not that equates to winning the job is a question to be decided at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center (WHAC) in a few weeks.

But don't be surprised if we see No. 80 making some big plays for the Buckeyes from the WR position in 2010.

1. Jaamal Berry, Fr. (RS) RB

For the past year, we have all heard about the young man from Miami who looked great in fall practices.

Unfortunately, injuries kept speedy back Jaamal Berry off the field for Ohio State in the fall, and during this year's spring game as well, to the disappointment of many fans. The word out of the WHAC is that the hype is justified, except that injuries have slowed him down early on in his Buckeye career.

He did redshirt in 2009 due to his injuries, but the year off did allow him to add some strength to his blazing 4.31 40 time.

Like Hyde, Berry may struggle to gain playing time because of the depth in the OSU backfield. As of right now, Berry is behind both Saine and Dan Herron as well as sophomore RB Jordan Hall, a high school teammate of Pryor.

But if Berry stays healthy, it might be a case, like Brown, of being too talented to keep off of the field. A strong fall camp and a clean bill of health could equal a chance for Berry to see the field, something that could scare opposing defenses in 2010.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

College Football's Top 10 Running Backs For 2010, Unbiased Edition

I usually only write about Ohio State football, but occasionally I like "talking shop" about college football in general.

As fall camps and the start of the 2010 college football season nears, I made a few changes to an article I had previously posted here on B/R, and this is the end result. I figured, where's the harm in getting a bit more mileage out of this topic, eh?

These, in my opinion, are the top 10 running backs in the country heading into the 2010 college football season, along with a few thoughts on why each of them made my list.

Honorable Mention—Brandon Saine—Ohio State Buckeyes

It has truly been a long time coming, but Saine, who is in his final season at Ohio State, should get his chance to be the No. 1 back for the 2010 Buckeyes, although Dan Herron will also see the field plenty as option 1-B for the Bucks.

If not for the fact that I am unsure of just how much Herron (possibly along with Jaamal Berry and Jordan Hall) might be used in place of Saine throughout the season, I'd probably have him in my top 10.

He possesses a nice combination of speed and power, which allows him to run inside or out on the edges, and he's also dangerous as a receiver out of the backfield or in the slot.

If he can avoid the injury big that has plagued his career at Ohio State, I fully expect Saine to have the breakout year every Buckeye fan has been expecting from him since he first arrived on campus in 2006, and ultimately for him to ascend into the top 10 by seasons' end.

No. 10—Roy Helu Jr—Nebraska Cornhuskers

Helu will be a senior in 2010, and will look to build on a solid 2009 campaign in which he rushed for 1,147 yards and scored nine touchdowns.

The Big 12 could be down in 2010, but many believe Coach Bo Pelini has Nebraska on the threshold of a return to the top 10. If they get there or not, Helu's production will be a big part of why they do or don't met those expectations.

No. 9—Lance Dunbar—North Texas Mean Green

Sometimes, depsite the team or the conference a player is on or in, you can't help but notice them and give them the recognition they deserve.

As bad as the Mean Green have been, junior-to-be tailback Lance Dunbar has been conversely outstanding.

In 2009, he gained 1,378 yards and scored 17 rushing touchdowns. He also added 300 yards receiving and caught three TD passes. You can bet Dunbar will be the catalyst if North Texas exceeds their 2009 win total of two in 2010.

No. 8—Montel Harris—Boston College Eagles

Last season, Harris quietly rushed for over 100 yards in eight of BC's 13 games, totaling 1,457 yards and 14 touchdowns.

In week seven against NC State, he had a career day, amassing 264 rushing yards and finding the endzone five times.

For much of 2009, the talk surrounding BC was about Mark Herzlich's battle with cancer, but in 2010, with Herzlich set to return after treatment, Harris is good enough that he might end up being the No. 1 topic of discussion pertaining to the Eagles. He could even find himself in the discussion as a darkhorse for the 2010 Heisman.

No. 7—Ricky Dobbs—Navy Midshipmen

Technically, Dobbs is a QB, but at Navy, the QB is a glorified running back.

He passed for over 1,000 yards and tossed six TD passes in 2009, so why is he on this list you ask? Because, it was the damage he did carrying the ball out of the Navy triple-option where he truly excelled and made his mark in '09.

Dobbs rushed for 1,192 yards and scored 27 rushing touchdowns in his first full season as a starter. Here's some perspective on just how good Dobbs was/is.

He missed two games last year or he might have had closer to 1,500 yards rushing and over 30 rushing touchdowns, numbers certainly attainable for him in 2010 if he remains injury-free.

No. 6—Noel Devine—West Virginia Mountaineers

Devine decided to return to Morgantown for his senior season and the Mountaineers and their fans are glad to once again have his services.

Last season, his first without star-QB Pat White next to him in the backfield, he rushed for 1,465 yards and scored 13 touchdowns.

In 2010, he could once again be asked to shoulder the bulk of the workload as outgoing QB Jarrett Brown must be replaced. Another 1,400+ yards and 15-plus touchdowns certainly is a likely possibility for Devine. That is, if WVU doesn't become too one-dimensional with a new, under-experienced signal caller.

No. 5—JacQuizz Rodgers—Oregon State Beavers

In two seasons, Rodgers has rushed for over 2,700 yards and scored 32 touchdowns.

With USC's dominance now in question, and Oregon having a Miami-Florida type offseason so far, Oregon State could finally be the team to beat in the Pac-10.

Rodgers, who has been mentioned as a possible early Heisman candidate, has done his part up to this point, and I expect nothing less than more of the same from him in 2010.

No. 4—John Clay—Wisconsin Badgers

Clay led the Big Ten in rushing as a sophomore in 2010 with 1,517 yards and he added 18 touchdowns.

He was voted the Big Ten Offensive POY, and should be on track for another big year with the progression of the Badger's passing game under QB Scott Tolzien. The passing game and running game should compliment each other very well in 2010, allowing Clay to post another huge year statistically.

He ran wild on practically every opponent but one last season. Ohio State held him scoreless and to only 59 yards on 20 carries in 2009. At least he only has to face them once in 2010, and it will be at home in Madison, witihin the friendly confines of Camp Randall Stadium.

No. 3—Ryan Williams—Virginia Tech Hokies

It's funny how things work out sometimes.

In 2008, freshman tailback Darren Evans was a beast for the Hokies. He gained 1,265 yards and scored 11 touchdowns, so when he tore his ACL prior to the 2009 season, Hokie Nation held it's collective breath, unsure of who, if anyone, could fill the void left by Evans.

Enter freshman Ryan Williams.

Not only did Williams fill the void, but he practically made Va Tech fans forget about Evans, as he gained 1,655 yards and hit pay dirt 21 times. With Evans returning, it's hard to say who will be Coach Frank Beamer's No. 1 guy, but that's a great problem to have.

No. 2—Mark Ingram—Alabama Crimson Tide

Despite not having the best overall numbers for a tailback last year, Ingram became the first-ever Alabama player to win the Heisman Trophy. Don't get me wrong—Ingram is a great tailback, but I can't help but think Stanford's Toby Gerhart was the more deserving of the two, but I digress.

Ingram had 1,658 yards and he scored 17 touchdowns for the Tide over the course of the season, including 113 yards and three scores, and 116 yards and two scores, against Florida in the SEC title game, and against Texas in the BCS title game respectively.

If Ingram can keep his "backup" Trent Richardson off the field (which may prove to be an impossible task) and if the Tide's O-line can fill a couple spots and open holes for Ingram in 2010 like they did in 2009, he might have a shot at etching his name in the record books next to Archie Griffin as the only two time Heisman winners in college football history.

No. 1—Dion Lewis—Pitt Panthers

If a true freshman has ever stated his case for legit Heisman consideration, Lewis was that guy in 2009.

When LeSean McCoy decided to skip his senior season at Pitt, I'm not sure anyone saw Lewis coming. After all, Lewis was only offered a scholarship from three schools—Pitt, Miami-OH, and Tulane. Regardless, he rushed for 1,799 yards (third best in the nation), crossing the goal line 17 times.

Did I mention, he was a true freshman who was barely recruited?

With QB Bill Stull graduating, Lewis may see even more carries and he could have an amazing season. Of course, the Panthers will have to hope they can replace Stull and be able to pass the ball down the field effectively enough to prevent defenses from stacking the box and keying on Lewis.

If they can succeed at that task, I believe Lewis could approach, if not top 2,000 yards and 20-plus touchdowns in 2010. There are a few "ifs" to overcome, but should Lewis puts up similar stats to those he posted in 2009, he very well could become the fourth straight sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy.

Whether or not he ultimately wins the Heisman, I believe that Lewis deserves this ranking as my No.1 running back in the nation.

That's it, that's the list.

So what do you think?

Who'd I miss?

Who should I have not included?


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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Block-O-Nation's All-Inclusive Top 10 Quarterbacks in College Football for 2010, Unbiased Edition

I hate to see any top 10 list that omits teams or players just because they are not from a BCS "power" conference.

To me, that sort of list would be authored by a clueless, shallow-minded person who has very little useless knowledge about the nationwide college football landscape as a whole.

For that reason, I now offer you "the real" rankings of the top 10 quarterbacks in the nation for the 2010 season, regardless of team or conference affiliation.

I hope you enjoy my take, and whether you agree or disagree, I welcome all replies.

Please post your thoughts in the comment section below—Thank you.

Number 10—Jacory Harris (Miami-FL)

Harris, who is very similar to Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor, is a slightly-more accurate passer, however, he lacks the explosive individual game-breaking ability of Pryor. His team does have a few other playmakers though, so be sure you do not miss their potential game-of-the-year battle on September 11, when Ohio State hosts Miami in The Horseshoe.

Number Nine—Jerrod Johnson (Texas A&M)

Johnson had a tremendous season in 2009. In my opinion, he is undervalued as both a QB, and as the leader of his team. Johnson could likely be the best field general in the Big 12 this coming season and could also be poised to will the Aggies to only their second-ever BCS Bowl game appearance—the only previous BCS appearance by the Aggies being a loss to our own Ohio State Buckeyes in 1999. Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas could each potentially derail that thought, but maybe, led by Johnson, the Aggies break through as the best team in the conference this season.

Number Eight—Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech)

A great supporting cast of dual-1000-yard-tailbacks (Darren Evans, Ryan Williams) should open up huge passing lanes for third best dual-threat QB in the nation. He sits only behind Pryor and Baylor's Robert Griffin in my estimation. If the Hokies are to meet expectations by winning the ACC and challenging for a BCS bid, Taylor won't have to shoulder the entire load, but he will have to make significant positive contributions.

Number Seven—Robert Griffin III (Baylor)

Griffin had an awesome—and I do mean awesome—freshmen season in 2008. He is second only to Pryor in my top dual-threat QB race, which begs the question—How has everyone forgotten about him? I know he missed nearly the entire 2009 season due to injury, but can I really be the only blogger and fan of college football who is not suffering from short-term memory loss? Wake up people...

Number Six—Terrelle Pryor (Ohio State)

I am a Buckeye fan so I may be accused of homerism (although I'd actually claim I'm being a bit modest) with my ranking and this statement about Pryor, but nobody can realistically dispute the fact that he is clearly the best dual-threat QB in the country. The 2010 Rose Bowl win vs. Oregon was his coming out party as a passer. He will be surrounded by great WR depth in 2010, so look for many more of his future performances to resemble the one he had against the Ducks.

Number Five—Andrew Luck (Stanford)

This kid is my runner-up to Washington's Jake Locker as the best QB in Pac-10, but only because of the experience factor. Luck is entering his second season under center for the Cardinal, while Locker is a fifth-year senior in his fourth year as the Huskies starter. The then-redshirt freshmen dazzled fans in 2009 as he led Stanford to wins over Oregon and USC (both were ranked in the top 10 at the time) in 2009 before breaking his finger against Notre Dame the last week of the regular season. The injury forced him to miss Stanford's Sun Bowl loss vs. Oklahoma. With the departure of running back, and Heisman runner-up Toby Gerhart, all eyes and hopes will be on Luck as the Cardinal chase the Pac-10 title in 2010.

Number Four—Jake Locker (Washington)

I'm sure there will some grumblings that I have Locker too low, and perhaps I do, but time will tell. While I believe he has the size, arm, and the play-making ability to succeed at the next level, I need to see him protect the ball and make better decisions on the field at this level before I can consider him top three material. In his three year career at UW, he has thrown 36 touchdown passes, but he has also been intercepted 26 times. That's not a great TD to INT ratio. Overall, his stats haven't been terrible, but he has a measly 9-20 win/loss record as a starter. I'm just not sold on him enough to put him any higher than fourth as of right now.

Number Three—Kellen Moore (Boise State)

Moore has put up big numbers and recorded an incredible 26-1 record in his two seasons at the helm for the Broncos, but can he continue those trends against BCS conference foes Virginia Tech and Oregon State this season? On paper, history says yes as BSU has defeated three of the four ranked opponents they've faced with Moore under center, but will that hold true in 2010? If indeed it does, Moore may be the first small-school player to legitimately challenge for, and possibly win, the Heisman Trophy since Houston's Andre Ware won it in 1989. Boise State will be favored in all of their games outside of the trip to D.C. to face Va Tech. They would likely become the first team from a non-automatic-qualifying conference to play for the national title since the 1998 inception of the BCS if they run the table. With Moore leading the way, it just might happen.

Number Two—Ryan Mallet (Arkansas)

Mallet possesses a strong arm, and he is all set for a statistically huge season in 2010. The Razorbacks might now win the SEC, but Mallet and crew will make some noise and it should be fun to watch them do it. He actually began his college career at Michigan, and played sparingly in 2007 behind current Miami Dolphins starting QB Chad Henne. When Rich Rodriguez came to Ann Arbor in 2008, Mallet withdrew soon after and transferred to Arkansas. Mallet was one of the best QB's in the SEC and the nation last year. After sitting out the 2008 season per NCAA transfer rules, he threw for over 3,627 yards and tossed 30 touchdowns, both Arkansas school records. Too bad UM didn't keep Mallet and reject Dickrod. Those poor Michigan faithful just can't catch a break...

Number One—Case Keenum (Houston)

Let's forget the "system QB" or "weak conference" excuses right now and acknowledge the facts about Keenum. He puts up ridiculously amazing passing stats, and pretty much all of Houston's wins in 2009 can solely be credited to him. If it wasn't for a pathetic defensive unit last season, Keenum, not Alabama's Mark Ingram, might have been the 2009 Heisman winner. Other than in Houston's bowl game vs. Air Force, Keenum blew up opposing defenses all season long. He passed for 5,671 yards and 44 touchdowns to only 15 interceptions. It's just too bad that his amazing play couldn't help Houston's wet-paper-towel defense. The Cougars, who went 10-4 last year, outscored most of their opponents comfortably thanks to Keenum. More of the same should be expected from him in 2010, and maybe for once the Heisman will actually be given to the best player in the nation instead of the best player on the best team as in recent years.

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2010 Ohio State Buckeyes Movie Trailer, Part I: The Regime

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ohio State's All-Time Head-To-Head Win/Loss Record Vs. Every Big 10 Team

In case you've ever wondered how Ohio State has fared historically against the rest of the Big 10, but were too lazy to look it up for yourself (just kidding), I went ahead and did all the work for you.

Originally, I was curious as to what the all-time series head-to-head W/L record was between Ohio State and Iowa heading into last season's meeting, and the idea for this article was born.

Up to and including the 2009 season and results, Ohio State's overall record vs. current and former Big 10 member schools is an impressive 457-190-28.

Here is how the Buckeye's overall conference W/L record breaks down team-by-team.

10 wins, 2 losses, and 2 ties vs. the Chicago Maroons (no longer in DI/B10)

61 wins, 30 losses, and 4 ties vs. the Illinois Fighting Illini (includes 2009 win)

66 wins, 12 losses, and 5 ties vs. the Indiana Hoosiers (includes 2009 win)

45 wins, 14 losses, and 3 ties vs. the Iowa Hawkeyes (includes 2009 win)

43 wins, 57 losses, and 6 ties vs. the Michigan Wolverines (includes 2009 win)

27 wins, 12 losses, and 0 ties vs. the Michigan State Spartans (DNP in 2009)

42 wins, 7 losses, and 0 ties vs. the Minnesota Golden Gophers (includes 2009 win)

59 wins, 14 losses, and 1 tie vs. the Northwestern Wildcats (DNP in 2009)

13 wins, 12 losses, and 0 ties vs. the Penn State Nittany Lions (includes 2009 win)

37 wins, 13 losses, and 2 ties vs. the Purdue Boilermakers (includes 2009 loss)

53 wins, 17 losses, and 5 ties vs. the Wisconsin Badgers (includes 2009 win)

As you can see above, the only team in the conference to have an advantage over the Buckeyes is Michigan, but since 1919, the series is even at 43-43-5.

The Michigan lead in the series was "padded" in the first 15 meetings between 1897 and 1919.

The Wolverines dominated a very young Ohio State program, with Michigan winning 14 of those 15 games—the only caveat for OSU coming in 1910 when the teams battled to a 3-3 tie in Columbus.

Even with the very lean John Cooper years (2-10-1 vs. UM), Ohio State still leads the head-to-head series 31-28-2 from 1950-2009, a span widely considered as the modern era of college football.

Michigan is the all-time wins leader in college football with 877, so to be trailing only them in Big Ten history is nothing to be ashamed of.

The Buckeyes are currently on a six-game winning streak against their hated-rival to the North, and Coach Jim Tressel has an 8-1 record since taking over in 2001.

I believe Ohio State has a chance to close the series gap significantly over the next 20 to 30 years and maybe even overtake Michigan during my lifetime (I'm 36 now so it could happen).

We all should cherish our teams history, but it gets old every time I have to listen to a UM fan, living solely in the past, throwing out the worn-out "57-43-6" comeback to my arguments about how the series is a dead-heat since 1919.

It sure would feel amazing to see the Buckeyes take the lead in the overall series vs. Michigan, so I really hope it happens before I check out. I'll add it to my Bucket List.

It may not happen, but it's not impossible either, especially as long as Jim Tressel is in charge in Columbus.

Just eight years ago, 57-43-6 was 56-35-6, and even though it is a rivalry game, talent-wise, I just can't see the Buckeyes losing to Michigan anytime before games in Ann Arbor in 2013 or 2015 at the earliest.

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Buckeye Beware: Ohio State's Biggest Test in 2010 is........

Grant Freking—Featured Contributor

A quick glance at Ohio State’s 2010 schedule reveals a few obvious big games:

Sept. 11 home vs. Miami(FL)

Oct. 16 at Wisconsin

Nov. 13 home vs. Penn State

Nov. 20 at Iowa

Nov. 27 home vs. Michigan

Which of those games will ultimately define the season? My answer may surprise you.

It’s the mid-October trip to Madison to face Bret Bielema and the Badgers.

Sure, the early season clash against the Hurricanes is sexy. It’s the first time the teams have met since their epic 2002 Fiesta Bowl—arguably one of the greatest college football games ever played.

And of course, “The Game” features one of the most heated rivalries in college football, though the Bucks have had the upper hand on Michigan since The Vest took over.

Thus, it is my prediction that the Badgers will give the Scarlet and Gray their biggest challenge in 2010. The Badgers return 10 starters on offense, including quarterback Scott Tolzien and reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year John Clay.

And although the Badgers will have some new faces in the secondary, this game reeks of a prototypical Big Ten slug-fest between two of the conference’s heavyweights.

In last year’s game, the Buckeyes won handily 31-13, thanks to 21 points from their defense and special teams. The Ohio State offense was largely stuck in the mud that game, something that will have to change if they expect to win in Madison, which will be rocking on a mid-October Saturday night.

Another thing of note—following their national championship in 2002, the Bucks saw their 19-game winning streak and repeat hopes end at the hands of Lee Evans and Wisconsin.

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