2010 Big Ten College Football Preview: Ohio State back on top

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 26: Quarterback Terrelle Pryor #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes hands off to running back Brandon Saine #3 of the Buckeyes during a game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Ohio Stadium on September 26, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Here’s a quick and dirty look at how I see things playing out in the Big Eleven this season:

#1 Ohio State
Some believe the Buckeyes’ offense might be close to catching up to their defense in terms of dominance, which is saying something with the way OSU’s D played a year ago. The Buckeyes return all three leading rushers from 2009 in Brandon Saine, Dan Herron and quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who some believe has become a more committed teammate over the offseason. The key to OSU becoming a national title threat is Pryor, or more specifically, whether or not he’ll make opponents respect his passing game. The good thing for him and the Buckeyes on a whole is that they return four starters to a veteran offensive line that will open up plenty of holes for a deep and talented group of running backs. Defensively, OSU was a top five unit last season and could be once again this year assuming they can generate a pass-rush and the safeties can hold up in coverage. Cameron Heyward is one of the nation’s best defensive ends and Ross Homan is a playmaker at the outside linebacker spot. The secondary isn’t flashy, but cornerbacks Chimdi Chekwa and Devon Torrence are solid. From a schedule standpoint, if they can beat Miami in Columbus in the second week of the season, they should be 6-0 heading into Madison on October 16. From there, they’ll be tested by Wisconsin, Penn State and Iowa, but this is your clear favorite to win the Big Ten.

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The Official Rose Bowl Smack Talk Thread: Ohio State vs. Oregon

The Big Ten Champion Ohio State Buckeyes will battle the Pac-10 Champion Oregon Ducks in the 2010 Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day. In order to help get you ready for the game, below is a viewing guide complete with TV information, kickoff times, odds and more.

2010 Rose Bowl Game Information
Matchup: Ohio State (10-2) vs. Oregon (10-2)
Kickoff: 4:30PM ET
TV: ABC
Odds: Oregon –3.5

Key Stats:
Ohio State comes into this game with the 19th best rushing offense in the nation, led by running backs Daneil “Boom” Herron and Brandon Saine, as well as quarterback Terrelle Pryor (who almost went to Oregon before deciding on OSU). The Buckeyes also have the fifth best run defense in country, the 17th best pass defense and are ranked fifth in both total defense and scoring defense.

Oregon has been an offensive juggernaut this season, averaging over 37 points (they rank seventh in the nation in scoring offense) and over 236 rushing yards per game (sixth in the nation). The backfield tandem of LaMichael James and Jeremiah Masoli has been tough to stop this season and the duo is aided with the return of one-time Heisman candidate LeGarrette Blount, who missed 10 games after serving a suspension. Defensively, the Ducks rank 32nd against the run and 37th against the pass.

The Bottom Line:
This game offers a great matchup between the Ducks’ sixth-rated rushing attack versus the Buckeyes’ fifth-rated run defense. But the key to victory might be whether or not the undersized, fast Oregon defense can match up to the physical (yet inconsistent) OSU offense.

Let the smack talk begin:

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Photo from fOTOGLIF

Ohio State smelling roses after win over Iowa

Ohio State edged Iowa 27-24 in overtime to win at least a share of their fifth consecutive Big Ten title and essentially book a trip to Pasadena to play in the Rose Bowl. It’ll be the Buckeyes first appearance in the Rose Bowl since 1997.

I’ll be honest, I expected more out of the Buckeyes today, who were 17-point favorites over a depleted Hawkeyes team. I figured OSU’s stingy defense would harass freshman quarterback James Vandenberg, who struggled mightily last week when Ricky Stanzi suffered an injury in Iowa’s loss to Northwestern.

But give credit to Vandenberg, who was awfully impressive while completing 20 of his 33 pass attempts for 233 yards and two touchdowns. He found Marvin McNutt for a 10-yard touchdown pass with less than three minutes remaining to tie the game at 24-24 and force overtime.

The problem is that Vandenberg also made a ton of freshman mistakes, which led to three Ohio State interceptions. The Buckeyes actually picked him off a fourth time and returned it for a defensive score midway through the fourth, but OSU was called for offsides and the touchdown came off the board. Vandenberg was also lucky another one of his passes wasn’t intercepted on Iowa’s game-tying touchdown drive, as the ball was deflected into the air around multiple OSU defenders but a Hawkeye receiver caught it for a first down.

Vandeberg’s counterpart, Terrelle Pryor, wasn’t asked to do much in the passing game. He completed 14 of his 17 pass attempts for only 93 yards and no scores. Jim Tressel played things ultra-conservative and allowed Brandon Saine and the running game to take over. Saine finished with 103 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns.

Iowa was the No. 4 team in the country heading into last weekend’s action, had the inside track to win the Big Ten title and at the very least, had a trip to the Rose Bowl almost locked up. After today, they’ll be lucky to be ranked in the top 15 when the new polls are released on Sunday and will likely head to the WhoCares.com Bowl.

On the flip side, everyone was ready to write Ohio State off after they lost to Purdue last month and now it looks like they’ll be crowned Big Ten champs again. It’s amazing how quickly things can change in college football from week to week.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

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