2010 Record: (12-1, 7-1 in Big 10)
Head Coach: Luke Fickell (First Year Head Coach)
Last Bowl Game: 2010 Sugar Bowl (Beat Arkansas 31-26)*
Final 2010 AP Ranking: #5
Final 2010 CFBZ Ranking: #5
*Sugar Bowl win has been vacated due to NCAA violations
9/10: Toledo (2009 result: won 38-0)
9/17: at Miami, Fl (2010 result: won 36-24)
10/1: Michigan State
10/8: at Nebraska
10/15: at Illinois (2010 result: won 24-13)
10/29: Wisconsin (2010 result: lost 31-18)
11/5: Indiana (2010 result: won 38-10)
11/12: at Purdue (2010 result: won 49-0)
11/19: Penn State (2010 result: won 38-14)
11/26: at Michigan (2010 result: won 37-7)
2010 Offensive Statistics:
Scoring: 38.8 ppg (2nd in Big Ten, 11th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 220.08 yds/game (4th in Big Ten, 14th in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 228.5 yds/game (7th in Big Ten, 54th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 448.6 yds/game (2nd in Big Ten, 20th in Nation)
2010 Defensive Statistics:
Scoring: 14.3 ppg (1st in Big Ten, 5th in Nation)
Rushing Yds/Game: 96.38 yds/game (1st in Big Ten, 3rd in Nation)
Passing Yds/Game: 165.5 yds/game (1st in Big Ten, 8th in Nation)
Total Yds/Game: 261.9 yds/game (1st in Big Ten, 4th in Nation)
2010 Misc Stats:
Turnover Margin: +1.15 per game (4th in Big Ten, 4th in Nation)
Penalties: 44.6 yds/game (6th in Big Ten, 32nd in Nation)
*not including NCAA suspensions
Top Returning Statistical Leaders:
Passing: QB Joe Bauserman, Sr (16 of 22 for 174 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT)
Rushing: RB Dan Herron (216 for 1155 yds, 5.3 ypc, 16 TD)*
Receiving: WR DeVier Posey, Sr (53 rec for 848 yds, 7 TD)*
Tackles: S Orhian Johnson, Jr (50)
Sacks: DE Nathan Williams, Sr (4.5)
Interceptions: CB Travis Howard, Jr (2)
*suspended by NCAA for first 5 games
If we sat down with a group of Ohio State fans last year at this time and told them that going into this season Jim Tressel would no longer be their coach, Terrelle Pryor would be ran out of town and their starting RB, WR and LT would be suspended for the first five games of the season they would have laughed us out of the room. After a crazy off-season that's exactly where we are and the power grip that Ohio State once had on the Big Ten conference has been relinquished. Ohio State still has a lot of talent on it's roster but with so many question marks and a new Head Coach it's hard to see them having the same success that they had under Tressel for the last six years.
On offense, Ohio State made great improvements last year scoring over 10 points per game more than the previous year. They also increased their total yardage from 369 per game to 448 per game. But now they will be breaking in a new QB and their leading rusher and leading returning receiver won't play until the sixth game of the season. It's going to be a very interesting first six games as Ohio State goes to Miami in game three, plays Michigan State in game five and then travels to Nebraska in game six (which will be the first game that the suspended players are back for).
On the defensive side of the football the Buckeyes had a fantastic year last year. They were in the Top 10 Nationally in points allowed and yards allowed and were 12th in turnovers gained. This year Ohio State has a lot to replace on that side of the football. They must replace their four leading tacklers and six of their eight leaders in that metric. They also must replace two starters along the DL and 3 from the secondary. Ohio State has put themselves into a situation where they regularly re-load on defense instead of re-build but losing all of that talent means the Buckeyes will take at least a small step back (if not bigger) on that side of the football and with all the questions on offense the defense needs to be the leader this year.
Ohio State might be the most difficult team to get a read on out of any that we will preview in our Top 25. Ohio State will always have the talent to contend for Championships but it's unclear whether the team this year will be able to match-up with the teams that will challenge them for Big Ten supremacy like Wisconsin, Michigan State and Nebraska. To get a local perspective on the 2011 Ohio State Buckeyes we caught up with Phil Shie from the great Ohio State/West Virginia combo blog Eye and Eer.
How do you think the loss of Jim Tressel will affect how the Buckeyes play on the field?
As far as game-planning and philosophies, I doubt there will be much difference in Ohio State under Luke Fickell as opposed to Jim Tressel. The staff is returning almost entirely intact and is filled with veteran coaches who have been with Tress for a long time. I can't imagine Fickell is going to rock the boat in that aspect - for now. But, if he retains the job, I imagine there will be a lot of changes, just not for 2011.
But Ohio State will miss Tressel in a couple areas. Most of all, I think Tressel's incredibly calm demeanor was a huge positive for the program overall and especially during tight games. Rarely was there a sense of panic (although I was frequently panicking in the stands) from Tress and that permeated the team.
Secondly, Ohio State will miss Tressel's play-calling. That might sound counter intuitive when you consider the conservative nature of "Tresselball" but the Vest had a tremendous knack for saving plays and pulling them out at just the right time. That's not easily replaced.
Who do you see winning the QB job now that Terrelle Pryor has moved on?
The million-dollar question. I really don't know and I don't think anyone knows at this point. But it will certainly be the biggest decision of Luke Fickell's young head coaching career. Joe Bauserman is a senior who's been erratic in extremely limited playing time and I think he'll get his shot - at least to start the season. Sophomore Kenny Guiton has shown flashes but doesn't have the physical tools of either redshirt freshman Taylor Graham (think his Dad, Kent Graham - big arm, limited mobility) or true freshman Braxton Miller (think Tyrod Taylor). I imagine this is going to be a year-long evolution with Bauserman, Graham and Miller getting snaps and one of the two freshman eventually getting the job. I'll say Miller because of his mobility, but Graham has gotten strong reviews from some teammates.
What do you see as the biggest weaknesses of this team?
There's no doubt it's the passing game. A new quarterback combined with top receiver Devier Posey missing the first five games, makes you wonder how many passes Ohio State will even attempt. There's some talent at wide receiver in Corey Brown and T.Y. Williams among others, but it's very untested. Running back Jordan Hall will probably get a lot of snaps as a slot receiver and tight end is strong. I suspect you'll see lots of screens and short passes.
Who are some under-the-radar guys to keep an eye on for this Ohio State team?
Travis Howard at cornerback looks ready to step right in after a couple years behind some veterans. To non-Ohio State fans, "Star"(nickelback/LB) Tyler Moeller is probably under the radar but coaches have been talking him up while he missed the last two years with injuries. If Hall moves permanently to wide receiver, young running backs Jamaal Berry and Rod Smith could make a big impact until the suspended Boom Herron returns.
Looking at the schedule, what are the most important games this year?
There are some obvious choices, such as Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska, but I'm going to say that maybe the most important game is, wait for it ... Toledo. Yes, Toledo. The Rockets were a decent MAC team last year, have a good group returning and are probably licking their chops at a shot at Ohio State in what most see as a down year. With a big trip to Miami the next week, the Buckeyes could be looking ahead. A loss to Toledo would be disastrous and could dismantle Fickell's head coaching career almost before it begins. There's no shame in losing at Nebraska or Miami or against a loaded Wisconsin. There's plenty of it if you lose at home to a MAC team.
What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?
This is the most difficult Ohio State season to predict in a decade, but right now I'm leaning towards 8-4. I think defensively the Buckeyes will be very good again, but offensively there are just too many questions and it remains to be seen how the offensive staff will work without Tressel.
CFBZ Top 25
#19 Ohio State Buckeyes
2011 Team Previews