Big Ten

2010 NCAA Football Preview: Ohio State

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Between now and the September 2nd season kick-off, Danny Hobrock will be previewing all the major college football teams with new teams being released daily.

2009 Season Breakdown

2009 final record (overall, conference): 11-2, 7-1
Bowl Game: Rose Bowl (W 26-17 vs. Oregon)
Final Ranking (AP, Coaches'): 5, 5
Conference finish: Big Ten Champions
Offensive rank: 68
Defensive rank: 5

2009 Individual Statistical Leaders

Rushing: Terrelle Pryor, 779 yards, 7 TD; Brandon Saine, 739 yards, 4 TD; Daneil Herron, 600 yards, 7 TD
Passing: Terrelle Pryor, 2,094 yards, 18 TD, 11 INT
Receiving: DeVeir Posey, 828 yards, 8 TD; Dane Sanzenbacher, 570 yards, 6 TD
Tackles: Ross Homan, 108 total tackles; Brian Rolle, 94 total tackles
Sacks: Cameron Heyward, 6.5 sacks (6 solo, 1 assisted)
Interceptions: Kurt Coleman, 5 interceptions (1 touchdown); Ross Homan, 5 interceptions

2010 Season Outlook

(* denotes conference game)

Key Matchups

September 11 vs. Miami: This will be a rematch of the 2002 national championship game, and if you think back, it didn't end so well for the Hurricanes. Miami was celebrating after an incompletion in the end zone in double overtime seemed to give them their second consecutive national title, but a controversial pass interference call stopped them in their tracks and the Buckeyes were able to put it in the end zone the next play. If Ohio State can get by a Hurricanes team with revenge on its mind, they'll almost certainly start 6-0 on the season. But it won't be easy. Fun fact: Miami head coach Randy Shannon was the defensive coordinator of the 2002 Hurricanes squad.

November 13/20 vs. Penn State/@ Iowa: These seem to be the final two hurdles separating the Buckeyes from the Big Ten title and possibly a spot in the BCS National Championship. Penn State at home isn't a guarantee, but it's a more comfortable thought than traveling to Iowa City to take on the Hawkeyes who could be neck and neck with Ohio State in the conference standings. This might prove a de facto Big Ten title game in the second to last game of the season.

November 27 vs. Michigan: It doesn't matter the records or the rankings, Ohio State/Michigan is always one of the most anticipated matchups of the rivalry week.


Coaches': 2

Key Losses

Jim Cordle, C; Thaddeus Gibson, DE; Doug Worthington, DT; Austin Spitler, LB; Kurt Coleman, S; Anderson Russell, S; Aaron Pettrey, K; Jon Thoma, P

Key Returning Players

Terrelle Pryor, QB; Brandon Saine, RB; Dan Herron, RB; DeVeir Posey, WR; Justin Boren, G; Michael Brewster, C; John Simon, DE; Cameron Heyward, DE; Ross Homan, LB; Brian Rolle, LB

Offensive Overview

Only one starter from last year's squad is missing this season. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor has reportedly committed himself to becoming a better teammate and even received an affirmation of his commitment from one of his teammates. Pryor is entering his junior year and expectations have never been higher. He's a preseason Heisman candidate and is at the wheel of an offense many expect to catch up somewhat to their defense in terms of production. He's a playmaker behind center and while his passing leaves a bit to be desired, it's safe to say he's improved this area of his game since arriving as a freshman. He'll be allowed to take more chances downfield and should get the chance to establish himself as more of an effective mid-range passer as a junior.

The running game returns its three leading rushers in Pryor, Brandon Saine and Dan Herron. Saine and Herron will split carries in the backfield, but Jaamal Berry and Jordan Hall could push for playing time as well in a deep and talented group of running backs. What's more, a more effective passing game could possibly open a few running lanes this season. Fullback Zach Boren is an underrated member of the backfield with Adam Homan a formidable backup behind him. The leading receivers return in DeVeir Posey and Dane Sanzenbacher with Jake Stoneburner getting the nod at tight end. Stoneburner could be a nice outlet for Pryor as a short- to mid-range target and wide receiver Taurian Washington will be looking to produce more in his senior season. Duron Carter's academic struggles will keep him away from the field in 2010, but the talented wide receiver hopes to be back next season.

The offensive line will return four starters to a veteran line that should do well in opening lanes for their talented backfield. If there's one area where they could improve, it's pass protection. We could see Pryor pass more this season rather than take off with the ball, so this is an area where improvement is going to be important. Mike Adams and Andrew Miller are battling for the starting left tackle spot, while J.B. Shugarts will man the right side. At guard will be Bryant Browning and Justin Boren, a former Michigan Wolverine. Mike Brewster will return as the anchor of this line at center. He's a member of the Rimington Watch List and perhaps the top junior center prospect in the entire nation.

Defensive Overview

A top five defense in 2009, we could very well say the same thing about this 2010 squad when all's said and done. Up front, the Buckeyes return Cameron Heyward, one of the nation's top defensive ends. He isn't a pass rush specialist or anything, in fact he's more of a 3-4 end than a 4-3 end, but he did record 6.5 sacks last season and could see that number creep up in 2010. Opposite Heyward will be Nathan Williams, who is more of a pass rusher at 6'3 and 260 pounds. With so much attention given to Heyward, Williams could find himself reaping the benefits. On the interior is Dexter Larimore, a 310 pound tackle with next level ability. He's excellent against the run, but can even get in the backfield with his quickness. Next to him is John Simon, the future of this defensive front.

Ross Homan is one of the leaders of this defense at the weakside linebacker spot. He led the team in tackles last season with 116 and while he's a bit undersized at 6'0, 227 pounds, he and middle linebacker Briane Rolle, also undersized at 5'11, 218 pounds, make up a tremendous duo at the second line of defense. At strongside is Etienne Sabino, who looks more the part at 6'3 and 240 pounds. Dorian Bell, Storm Klein and Andrew Sweat will also get time in the rotation.

Cornerbacks Chimdi Chekwa and Devon Torrence are solid and should hold up well this season, even if they aren't mentioned on the nation's short-list of top cornerback duos. Jermale Hines made 57 tackles last season as a part-time starter and is the third leading returning tackler with 57. Hines has the speed to make up ground on receivers in a hurry and he'll man the free safety spot with Orhian Johnson taking over at strong safety. Johnson replaces Kurt Coleman and will be one of the more interesting players to watch on this defense with talented players behind him. Donnie Evege and Travis Howard could also see time at corner, with Zach Domicone and Tyler Moeller lurking behind Hines and Johnson at safety. Moeller is one of the team's most watched players this preseason after returning from an offseason incident in which he suffered a serious head injury after taking a punch in a bar.

Special Teams Overview

Both the punter and kicker need to be replaced heading into the season. Taking over for Aaron Pettrey at kicker is former MLS player Devin Barclay, who last played for the Columbus Crew. He is best known among Buckeyes fans for hitting the game winner against Iowa that ultimately sent Ohio State to the Rose Bowl. After taking over for an injured Pettrey, he went 7 for 10 in field goals and hit all 12 of his extra point attempts. At punter, Ben Buchanan takes over for Jon Thoma, who averaged 42.8 yards per punt and placed 23 punts inside the 20 yard line. Buchanan has nice distance and accuracy, similar to Thoma. The running backs, Brandon Saine and Dan Herron, should get the chance to return kicks, while DeVair Posey could see time as a punt returner.

Head Coach: Jim Tressel

Jim Tressel is one of the game's most respected coaches after a wildly successful decade (just about) as head coach at Ohio State. The head coach at Youngstown State from 1986 to 2000, Tressel doesn't appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. He coached the Penguins to four Division I-AA titles, losing in the title game on two occasions. Since arriving at Ohio State, Tressel has guided his team to three BCS National Championship games, winning once after the 2002 season, and seven BCS bowl games overall. He has enjoyed double-digit win seasons in seven of his nine seasons at the 'Shoe.

Yes, the Buckeyes have fared quite well under Tressel, who continues to reload each recruiting season with future NFL-caliber talent. In fact, finishing with a recruiting class outside of Rivals' top 25 classes is a rarity for an Ohio State team who finishes with a top ten recruiting class quite often. His teams have finished as Big Ten Champions or tied for first in the standings on six occasions, and at this early stage he has his team in good shape to do it again.

Top 2011 Draft Prospects

Brandon Saine, RB; Dane Sanzenbacher, WR; Justin Boren, G; Bryant Browning, G; Cameron Heyward, DE; Dexter Larimore, DT; Ross Homan, LB; Brian Rolle, LB; Chimdi Chekwa, CB; Devon Torrence, CB; Jermale Hines, S

Season Prediction

Big Ten Champions

This is one hell of an Ohio State team. They lose some good defenders, but the core of their defense is back to go along with an offense that loses just one starter. The schedule is built in such a way that if they get by Miami, against whom they'll be favored, they will start the year 6-0 before heading to Madison to take on Wisconsin. The second half of the schedule is tough with road games against three teams that went to a bowl game last year and home games against Purdue, Penn State and Michigan. There is plenty of potential to slip up somewhere in there, or in the second week against Miami, but Ohio State has the inside track to the BCS National Championship Game if they can get by unscathed.

The Buckeyes should know what they're getting on offense with 10 starters returning, but they'll still be looking at Pryor to be more of a leader. He'll throw more, which should take a little pressure off the running game, but whether he is successful in getting teams to respect his deep pass and his mid-range passing game is something we'll have to wait to see. Some questions will have to be answered on defense as well, notably if their safeties can prevent big plays and whether their front seven can get pressure on the quarterback. There aren't a lot of world-class quarterbacks on the schedule, but if the secondary cannot hold their own and the opposing quarterback has time to throw, teams could find a way to exploit this defense. That said, expect another premier effort from this team as a whole. - Danny Hobrock

Danny is a sports journalist primarily covering college football and professional baseball. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. Danny is the former editor of a political and current events website and the editor of our college football content.

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