After a tumultuous 2011-12 football season, where the Buckeyes finished with a dismal 6-7 overall record, a new era begins in Columbus as Urban Meyer and his coaching staff will take control over the Ohio State football program.
Although Ohio State is not eligible for a Big Ten or BCS National Championship because of the one-year postseason ban assessed by the NCAA, the Buckeyes still have a lot to play for next season.
Here are five must-see games during the 2012 football season.
The 2012 season opener places Ohio State in a matchup against the Miami of Ohio RedHawks of the Mid-American Conference. To make things simple, the Buckeyes are purely bigger, faster, and stronger at every position on the depth chart than their MAC opponent, who went 4-8 under first year coach Don Treadwell.
Although this game should not be a close one on the scoreboard, the media hype this game will surely produce is the main reason why it will be an important one. The fan hype will be high as well, as fans will be salivating to see a better product on the field than what they saw in 2011.
The first road game for the Buckeyes takes place during Week 5 in East Lansing against the defending champions of the Big Ten Legends division. Although Michigan State loses their starting quarterback from last year in Kirk Cousins along with other key offensive starters, the Spartans will likely have nine defensive starters back from their top-10 defense.
This will be a big test for the Buckeyes, who won a single road game last season, to see how they handle a game outside the friendly confines of Ohio Stadium.
The schedule does not do Ohio State any favors after the road test versus the Spartans, as Ohio State will return to the Horseshoe a week later to play the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Ohio State nearly pulled off a huge upset in Lincoln last year until a second half defensive collapse coupled with an injury to starting quarterback Braxton Miller led the Cornhuskers to a 34-27 comeback victory over the Buckeyes.
The Ohio State defense will have a tough task in slowing down Nebraska’s high-speed offense led by QB Taylor Martinez and RB Rex Burkhead, who scorched the Buckeyes with 28 points scored in the second half.
Ohio State travels to the hostile environment of Camp Randall Stadium to face the Wisconsin Badgers in a Big Ten Leaders division showdown on November 17. This memorable matchup from the 2011 season saw Ohio State pull off the upset thanks to a 40-yard touchdown pass from Braxton Miller with 20 seconds left in regulation.
The defending Big Ten champion Badgers should be one of the most talented opponents the Buckeyes will face all year, especially since Heisman candidate running back Monte Ball decided to return to Wisconsin for his senior year.
Expect a high-scoring and exciting matchup with Wisconsin’s talented run game versus Urban Meyer’s spread offense attack.
No surprises here as the biggest must-see game on Ohio State’s schedule next year is against their archrival Michigan. Ohio State fell to the Wolverines last year after QB Braxton Miller threw an interception late in the fourth quarter during a potential game-winning touchdown drive, ending OSU’s seven-year win streak versus Michigan.
The Buckeyes had a difficult time containing Michigan QB Denard Robinson, as he threw for 167 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 170 yards and two touchdowns.
This should be a hard-fought and bloody battle as Ohio State looks for revenge last year’s defeat, while Michigan looks for back-to-back victories versus the Buckeyes for the first time since 1999-2000.
Look for a highly-intense Ohio State squad, as this game is essentially the Buckeyes’ bowl game.