Ohio State Football: 1 Good Reason Why the Buckeyes Can Beat Every Opponent
A variable in a situation that could have the most significant impact on the outcome—this is the dictionary's definition for "x factor."
In football, the point of the game is to win, obviously. Not all victories, however, are achieved simply through X's and O's. That is where the x factor or edge comes into play. It may be extra motivation to beat a certain team or exposing a weakness that teams can exploit.
Whatever the case may be, teams are always looking for an edge to gain an advantage over their opponent. What are the edges that Ohio State will have for this upcoming season?
Here is a game-by-game outlook on one edge that will allow the Buckeyes to beat every opponent in the 2012 season.
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Ohio State's Edge: Expectations to Meet
Ohio State hired one of the biggest names in college football this offseason in Urban Meyer. As soon as Meyer was announced as the new head coach, some people were claiming that Ohio State would be the SEC team of the north, they would own the Big Ten and that multiple national titles would be won right off the bat.
When a big-name coach goes to a powerhouse program, it comes with the territory that high expectations will be made for the program to live up to. They do not fall upon deaf ears either.
This is why those expectations give the Buckeyes the edge in this game against the RedHawks. The players and coaching staff would never say it to the public, but they want to try to live up to the hype they have been hearing about since the end of last season.
All eyes will be on them in Columbus, and the players will want to put on a show.
Ohio State's Edge: Quarterback Experience
Ohio State took a huge blow when quarterback Terrelle Pryor decided to leave to enter the NFL Supplemental Draft last June. Central Florida went through a similar situation at the end of last season when their quarterback, Jeffery Godfrey, decided to leave the team.
UCF will now likely depend on Tyler Gabbert, who transferred from Missouri after he was redshirted for the 2010 season. Gabbert has not played a down at the college level after sitting out last season and will have to face an Ohio State defense that brings back ten starters from last year.
If there is one position that you do not want to lack experience in, it is definitely the quarterback. To make matters worse for the Knights, who went 5-7 last year, the game will be played in Columbus.
The odds are stacked against UCF and their new signal-caller for this Week 2 matchup.
Ohio State's Edge: Cal's Schedule
Cal begins their 2012 season by opening up with two home games against Nevada and Southern Utah.
After that the schedule takes a tough turn. It all starts Week 3 when they travel to Columbus to take on Ohio State in what is sure to be a hostile environment. The next week they travel to USC to take on the Trojans, who may be one of the best teams in the NCAA next season.
The next two weeks they will host the top two teams from the Pac-12 South division last year (USC not being eligible) in Arizona State and UCLA. The Sun Devils have enough talent to beat any team, and UCLA brought in new head coach Jim Mora, Jr., who will give the Bruin football program a new identity.
It is highly unlikely that Cal will overlook the Ohio State game looking forward to the USC matchup, but will they be overwhelmed by the tough stretch of games? (Cal only won a single road game last year.)
They will likely be in the national spotlight when playing against Ohio State and USC, and it will be interesting to see how they respond to it. A cross-country flight through three time zones does not help Cal's chances versus the Buckeyes either.
Ohio State's Edge: Talent
The Blazers of UAB struggled mightily last year to a 3-9 overall record with their first win not coming until Week 7. They had trouble scoring points on offense and not allowing points on defense. UAB ended the season ranked 108th in the nation for points scored and 110th for points against in 2011.
With these statistics along with the quality of opponents that they played last year, it is not hard to see that UAB is lacking the talent to compete for wins on a weekly basis.
Comparing the potential depth charts of UAB and Ohio State for 2012, the Buckeyes simply have more talent at every position on the field.
Crazier upsets have happened in the past, but the Buckeyes should not have a problem sending UAB back home with a loss.
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Ohio State's Edge: Key Losses on Offense for MSU
Michigan State had a very successful year in 2011 in which they won the Legends division of the Big Ten and their bowl game versus Georgia.
The Spartans won an ugly 10-7 game against Ohio State last year in Columbus. The game will be played in East Lansing this year, but the number of key offensive players Michigan State loses from last year's team gives Ohio State an edge.
The loss of QB Kirk Cousins and the top four wide receivers will certainly have an impact in this game. Many players with very little game experience will have to step up against a tough OSU defense. These players will also only have four games to gain as much experience as they can before the Buckeyes come to town.
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Ohio State's Edge: Nebraska's Lack of Passing Game
Nebraska got a victory over Ohio State last year in one of the biggest comebacks of the season after trailing 27-6 in the third quarter. The Cornhusker's QB Taylor Martinez and RB Rex Burkhead are a very dangerous duo in the rushing game, as they both combined for over 2,000 rushing yards last year.
As well as Nebraska runs the ball in their option-based offense, they do not have a impressive passing attack. The Cornhuskers were ranked 101st in the nation in passing yards last year and only averaged 163 yards per game. With no legitimate passing threat, the Ohio State defense can focus on primarily stopping the run.
The Buckeyes should have one of the best defensive lines in the country next year that can cause issues for the run-based offense Nebraska likes to utilize.
When the running game is not working, Taylor Martinez will have to go to the passing game. Martinez has one of the worst throwing motions in college football and lacks the accuracy to win a game through the air, especially against a talented OSU secondary.
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Ohio State's Edge: Indiana is Still Rebuilding
Indiana won a single game with their first-year head coach Kevin Wilson last year, defeating FCS-school South Carolina State in Week 3.
Indiana has a very talented dual-threat quarterback in Edward Wright-Baker. Wright-Baker will have the luxury of returning with a majority of his offensive teammates that he played with last year.
Indiana's new coach will try to build the team around his quarterback and will have a lot of work to do to turn around an Indiana football program that has not won a Big Ten Championship since 1967.
Although they should improve from last year, improving from a one-win season does not equate to beating a more talented Buckeye team. Things should start heading in the right direction for Indiana, but a win over Ohio State will not happen in 2012.
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Ohio State's Edge: Home Field Advantage
Ohio State lost for the second straight time in West Lafayette last year. They seemed to have won the game when a last-second touchdown tied the game and a potential PAT would have sealed the deal. The kick ended up being blocked, and Ohio State lost in overtime 23-26.
The Buckeyes have had struggles getting victories when traveling to Purdue in recent history. OSU has only gone 2-4 at Purdue since 2000. The game in 2002 came down to a gutsy 38-yard touchdown pass on 4th-and-1 with under two minutes to go, giving the Buckeyes a 10-6 victory in their undefeated national championship season.
However, this year's game will be in Columbus where they have not lost to Purdue since 1988. With recent history on it's side, Ohio State gets the edge in this game, playing in front of the 105,000 fans in scarlet and gray.
Ohio State's Edge: Transition at Penn State
Saying that the offseason that Penn State has dealt with has been tough would be a gross understatement. An alleged sex scandal by previous football coach Jerry Sandusky that university personnel tried to cover up shocked the world and ultimately lead to the firing of their legendary coach Joe Paterno.
The media swirl that followed was a constant distraction, and a physical confrontation between two players added to the nightmare in State College. Then came the news late in January that their adored former head football coach Joe Paterno had passed away.
Situations like this simply just do not go away quickly as this will have a lasting impact on the university as a whole. The football team has already seen an immediate impact in recruiting, as numerous recruits decided to decommit from Penn State after the scandal.
Penn State now will try to move on to the next chapter of their football program. New head coach Bill O'Brien will lead the way. The departing New England Patriots Offensive Coordinator will bring an entirely new staff with him.
The state of transition that the program is going through along with the emotional roller coaster the players have had to go through will give an edge to their opponents this year, which includes Ohio State.
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Ohio State's Edge: Illinois' Defense
In one of the oddest games in college football last season, Ohio State threw the ball only four times and was able to beat Illinois in Champaign. Not only did they only throw four passes, but just one pass was caught.
Illinois knew Ohio State had a terrible passing offense and focused on stopping the run. However, they had little success actually completing that task as Ohio State ran up and down the field for over 200 yards rushing.
Illinois brings in a new head coach in Tim Beckman from Toledo, who is an offensive-minded coach. His Toledo Rocket team averaged over 40 points per game but allowed over 30 points on defense per game. If Ohio State could defeat Illinois on their home field by only completing one pass, how do the Illini expect to stop Ohio State this year?
The Buckeye offense is expected to be greatly improved from last year while Illinois lost its NCAA sack leader and hired an offensive-minded coach. The edge and Illibuck trophy go to Ohio State here.
Ohio State's Edge: Bye Week (Bret Bielema's Comments)
Ohio State will get a much needed bye week before traveling to Wisconsin for a late season showdown. The Buckeyes will have played ten straight weeks and will need the week off to both rest and prepare for the Badgers.
Wisconsin loses talented QB Russell Wilson and leading touchdown receiver Nick Toon. However, they will get Heisman-candidate RB Montee Ball and a majority of their offensive line back. This team should be one of the toughest teams Ohio State will see all season.
A bonus factor that will give Ohio State an edge will be the comments Bret Bielema made about Urban Meyer this offseason. Bielema had issues with the way Meyer recruited players that had already committed to other schools and even called his tactics "illegal."
Do not think that Urban Meyer will forget what was said about him and that it will not affect how this game turns out. These two programs are quickly becoming rivals, and this game should prove what these teams think truly think of each other.
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Ohio State's Edge: Revenge
The best rivalry in all of sports will add its next chapter on November 24th. The Wolverines beat Ohio State last season for the first time since 2003. Ohio State played its best game of the season but ended up just short, losing 34-40.
Many Ohio State players took offense to the way Michigan celebrated after the game, according to AnnArbor.com. Fullback Zach Boren tweeted, "I lost so much respect for Michigan after they won n threw the ball in the air acting like it was grenade." Tight end Jeff Heuerman also tweeted, "Karma is gonna be a (expletive) for that little 'celebration' at the end."
Ohio State players clearly want to return to the dominance over Michigan that they had over the past seven years. Look for the rivalry to be as heated as ever before and for Ohio State to play with a chip on its shoulder.
The game will be in Columbus with both fans and players wanting only one thing: revenge.