Ohio State may have a setback this year with the bowl ban resulting from the violations Jim Tressel, Terrelle Pryor and others committed in the past few years.
That doesn't mean that the 2012 season will be a throw-away year for the Buckeyes.
Urban Meyer's arrival as head coach has been a shot in the arm to an Ohio State program that was very lifeless through most of last year.
He has already brought in a top-five recruiting class and brought in a staff that should maximize the potential of young players like Braxton Miller.
With that in mind, 2012 should not be considered a waste.
USC had every reason to not play hard in 2011 going through the second year of a bowl ban and more significant scholarship losses.
They went 10-2 and are now in position with an explosive offense—led by Matt Barkley and Robert Woods—to contend for a national championship.
Ohio State can do the same type of thing if they are able to adjust to their new offensive system.
There will definitely be some bumps in the road this year with the change to a full spread offense, and not too many players that fit the system right now.
Guys like Corey (WR) Brown and Devin Smith are perfect fits in the Urban Meyer spread attack. Miller is even the prototypical spread quarterback.
But Ohio State still lacks that explosive player that can turn a three-yard catch into a 30-40 yard run.
They may have that one the roster that no one knows about, but it remains to be seen.
While they will likely use the power running backs that are already on the roster, they still lack that speed complement that will take them to the next level as an offense.
This type of personnel situation will make the transformation to Meyer's spread offense much more interesting to watch.
At times, Buckeye fans might be ripping their hair out if it doesn't look like the Gator offense did in the past under Meyer.
But that's where Ohio State does have an advantage.
Not too many teams have a strong year in the first year of a new head coach, which means a national championship was unlikely to begin with.
This year, it's about making sure that the players figure out the system and learn how to play for their new staff more than just with the goal of winning games.
Winning is the ultimate goal, although the end result is the same this year regardless of the record.
That makes this year yet another reprieve for the Big Ten, where no matter what Ohio State does, it will have no impact on the conference championship picture.
But the talent on their roster, combined with a full season and two springs in their new systems, has them lined up for getting back on track in 2013.
Can they win six straight Big Ten championships again?
Probably not, but there is no doubt that Ohio State should be the odds-on favorite to win the Big Ten in 2013 barring any catastrophic circumstances.
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