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2010 NCAA Football Preview: Ohio State Buckeyes

2009 Record: 11-2 (7-1 in Big Ten)
2009 Bowl: Rose Bowl (beat Oregon 26-17)
Final 2009 AP Ranking: #5
Head Coach: Jim Tressel (94-21 at Ohio State; 229-78-2 All-Time)
Non-Conference Schedule: Marshall (9/2), Miami, Fl (9/11), Ohio (9/18), Eastern Michigan (9/25)

2009 Offensive Statistics
Scoring: 29.0 points per game (4th in Big Ten)
Rushing Yards/Game: 195 (3rd in Big Ten, 19th in Nation)
Passing Yards/Game: 173 (last in Big Ten, 104th in Nation)
Total Yards/Game: 369 (8th in Big Ten) 

2009 Defensive Statistics
Scoring: 12.5 points per game (2nd in Big Ten, 5th in Nation)
Rushing Yards/Game: 90 (3rd in Big Ten, 7th in Nation)
Passing Yards/Game: 171 (2nd in Big Ten, 13th in Nation)
Total Yards/Game: 262 (1st in Big Ten, 5th in Nation)

2009 Misc Stats
Turnover Margin: 1.31 per game (1st in Big Ten, 5th in Nation)
Penalties: 43 yards per game (6th in Big Ten)

Returning Starters
Offense: 9
Defense: 6
Kicker/Punter: 0

Top Returning Statistical Leaders
Passing: QB Terrelle Pryor, Jr (166 of 294 for 2087 yds, 18 TD, 11 INT, 160 p/ypg)
Rushing: QB Terrelle Pryor, Jr (162 carries for 779 yds, 7 TD, 4.8 ypc, 59 ypg
Rushing: RB Brandon Saine, Sr (145 carries for 739 yds, 4 TD, 5.1 ypc, 56 ypg)
Receiving: WR DeVier Posey, Jr (60 rec, 828 yds, 8 TD, 4.6 rec/game)
Tackles: LB Ross Homan, Sr (108)
Sacks: DE Cameron Heyward, Sr (6.5)
Interceptions: LB Ross Homan, Sr (5)

2010 Pre-Season Rankings
Athlon Sports: #2
Lindy's: #3
Mark Schlabach: #2
Phil Steele: #2
Rivals: #2
Scout: #4
Sporting News: #2
Sports Illustrated: #2

2010 Pre-Season Big Ten Prediction:
Athlon Sports: #1
Phil Steele: #1

2010 Pre-Season Bowl Prediction:
Athlon: BCS National Title (vs. Alabama)
Phil Steele: BCS National Title (vs. Oklahoma)

Ohio State is in everybody's top 5 this year. The Buckeyes return 9 starters on offense and some very good players return from one of the top defenses in the nation last year. Can they win their 6th straight Big Ten title? HD Handshoe of BlockONation answers our questions as we try to figure out just how good Ohio State can be this year.

What are the major strengths and biggest weaknesses of the team?

The defense should once again be one of the best in the nation, but the offense could also be one of the best if Terrelle Pryor and company play as they did down the stretch in 2009, culminating with their huge Rose Bowl win over # 7 Oregon. The only real potential weakness I can see is on special teams, specifically the punting and kicking game.

Looking at the schedule who will be the first major test and why?

Without a doubt, the week two game vs. the Miami Hurricanes will be a true test of how good this Buckeye team is. "The U" has a solid QB in Jacory Harris and coach Randy Shannon has them heading in the right direction. Miami should be even better than they were in 2009, and they were a really good team so the Buckeyes must be ready and better be focused if they expect to win.

What team on the schedule do you fear the most?

I'd probably call it a tie between Iowa and Wisconsin. Both are good teams and although I believe the Buckeyes are better than both, going on the road to Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City and Camp Randall Stadium in Madison and coming away from both games with wins will be extremely difficult to say the least so those two games could be what prevents the Buckeyes from playing for a BCS title in 2010.

Who is the best player on your team that nobody talks about?

This is kind of a tough question to pick just one guy. On offense, I would probably say WR Dane Sanzenbacher. DeVier Posey has emerged as the # 1 guy, but Sanzenbacher reminds me a lot of former Buckeye Anthony Gonzalez. He is a clutch possession receiver but he is also capable of making the big play down field. On defense, Nathan Williams was a spot player last season but I believe you will hear his name a ton this season as a starter on the defensive line.

Who is the best offensive player on the team?

Hands down, it has to be QB Terrelle Pryor. He's fast, he can run, believe it or not he can also throw and he has a mean stiffarm when he takes off. He can hurt you in multiple ways.

Who is the most impactful defensive player on the team?

DE Cameron Heyward, son of the late Craig "Ironhead" Heyward is a great player and will command double teams all season long so he gets my vote.

Who is the top offensive newcomer that can make an impact this year?

WR Chris Fields may end up as the # 3 WR if Duron Carter doesn't get his head on straight, and I've heard nothing but good things about him. Also, if RB Jamaal Berry can stay healthy and find his way into the backfield, he could be great if he lives up to the hype he received as the top recruit in the OSU class of 2009.

Who is the top defensive newcomer that can make an impact this year?

He's actually a RS senior but my eyes are on Tyler Moeller, who missed the entire 2009 season after being sucker-punched while on vacation in Florida last summer. If he can make it back to 100% and get on the field, I believe he could make a huge impact. Jermale Hines is also a player to watch as he will likely replace Kurt Coleman and see full-time action in the defensive backfield.

Gut feeling on the teams final record at the end of the regular season and what makes this a successful season in your eyes?

I am somewhat of a homer and I admit that but in my most objective opinion I can muster for you, I will be very surprised if Ohio State doesn't win at least 11, if not all 12 regular season games in 2010. Miami, Iowa and Wisconsin are the only three teams that they could potentially lose to in my opinion if they play below their true capabilities.

Make sure you visit Block-O-Nation during the football season and follow them on twitter @BlockONation.

Previous Big TenPreviews
Illinois Fighting Illini
Michigan Wolverines
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Northwestern Wildcats
Purdue Boilermakers

Next Up: Interview with Rob Harley (former Ohio St Buckeye and player on 2002 National Championship Team)
Next Preview: Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles

2010 Previews
ACC- Boston College Eagles, Florida State Seminoles, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Maryland Terrapins
Big 12- Kansas State Wildcats, Missouri Tigers, Texas Tech Red Raiders
Big East- Cincinnati Bearcats, Pittsburgh Panthers, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, USF Bulls, West Virginia Mountaineers
Conference USA- Houston CougarsTulane Green Wave, UTEP Miners
MAC- Ball State Cardinals, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, Central Michigan Chippewas, Temple Owls, Toledo Rockets
MWC- Colorado State Rams, UNLV Rebels, Utah Utes
Pac-10- Arizona State Sun Devils, Oregon Ducks, USC Trojans, Washington Huskies
SEC- Auburn Tigers, Kentucky Wildcats, Mississippi Rebels, South Carolina Gamecocks, Vanderbilt Commodores
Sun Belt- Troy Trojans
WAC- New Mexico State Aggies

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