2010 CFBZ Prediction: 1st place in the Big Ten
2010 Actual Finish: Tied for 1st place in the Big Ten (12-1, 7-1)
Ohio State had another very good year in 2010 as Jim Tressel led the Buckeyes to their 6th straight double digit win total. It was also the 6th straight year that Ohio State lost no more than one conference game. Now that is an impressive stat. Ohio State's lone slip up this year was at Wisconsin where they fell by 13 when they were ranked as the #1 team in the country in the AP Poll. 2011 will be a very interesting year for the Buckeyes as they will start off their first five games without four offensive starters QB (Terrelle Pryor), RB (Dan Herren), OL Mike Adams, WR DeVier Posey.
For my money the most interesting games for the Buckeyes next year will be the Sept 17th game at Miami (Fl) where Al Golden and gang will look for a signature win and the first game that the suspended players are back- which is at new Big Ten school Nebraska. Will the suspended players be ready to compete at mid-season form or will they be rusty? To talk Ohio State football we summoned HD Handshoe of BlockONation to get the answers to some of our questions about the 2010 season and get a quick peak at 2011.
1. Ohio State had a very strong year going 12-1 and beating Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl. What were your favorite memories from the 2010/2011 season?
I have a couple. Beating Michigan is always great so that stands out. Tressel is now 9-1 and OSU has not lost to UM in 7 years, and then of course the Sugar Bowl win and finally ending the 0-for-forever (0-9) steak vs. SEC opponents in the postseason is a huge weight lifted off of the fans, Tressel, and the program as a whole.
2. Which players surprised you the most with their play?
Well, we always have high expectations of all of our players, especially our starters, so I was not overly surprised during the season by anyone's play, although I will say that Dane Sanzenbacher certainly exceeded all expectations, leading the Buckeyes in both receptions (55), receiving yards (948), and touchdown catches (11).
3. Which players are you most looking forward to watching play next year?
With the looming suspensions, it's going to be very interesting to see what happens this Spring as the Buckeyes prepare to replace QB Terrelle Pryor, RB Dan Herron, and WR DeVier Posey for the first 4-5 games.
Coach Tressel will do what's best for the team but I am hoping to see either Kenny Guiton or Taylor Graham at QB, but 5th year senior Joe Bauserman could get the call, or top recruit and early-enrollee Braxton Miller could burn what we all believed would be a redshirt season if he outshines the others.
At running back, it's hard to say who will emerge. The Bucks are loaded with young talented guys all looking for their shot. Jordan Hall, Jaamal Berry, Carlos Hyde, or Roderick Smith will get that chance. We may also see more than one of them get a lot of touches in the first 4-5 games, and perhaps beyond that if they are tearing it up. Herron may end up wishing he had declared for the NFL...
With Posey suspended, and Sanzenbacher graduating, the big shoes to fill are obviously at WR. It's too early to call but my gut says Corey Brown, James Jackson, TY Williams, James Louis, and Chris Fields could all potentially see significant time. All these guys were 4 or 5 star recruits, but Brown is the only one who has any real experience this far, so it is a concern due to that lack of experience.
4. Five Buckeyes are suspended for the first five games of next season. The two games to watch during this stretch are Miami (Fl) and Michigan State. Who do you think is going to step up in their absence and how difficult will it be filling the void these guys leave for 5 games?
I kind of touched on this already but I will also say Miami and Michigan State are good teams so there are no guarantees in those games, but if Tressel limits the risks for our young QBs and inexperienced WRs and leans on the slew of talented RBs and what should again be one of the best defensive units in the country, I'm pretty confident both games are winnable and 5-0 is still a very real and attainable possibility for OSU even without Pryor and company.
5. Heading into the 2011/2012 season, what are the major things that the Buckeyes need to improve in order to get back to the Rose Bowl or a BCS Championship Game?
They have to replace studs Chmidi Chekwa and Cam Heyward on defense, and the WR position is obviously the biggest concern based on the lack of game experience, but they are Ohio State - they have players and they always reload.
I can't help but think of the big kick/punt returns by Miami and Wisconsin against the Buckeyes last season, so Special Teams, specifically the kick and punt coverage units must be better. If Wisconsin didn't get the huge touchdown return they did against Ohio State, the Buckeyes just might have won that game and they would have likely played for the BCS title last year.