Ohio State Football: The Ins and Outs, Highs and Lows of the 2012 Schedule

Randy ChambersAnalyst IApril 25, 2012

Ohio State Football: The Ins and Outs, Highs and Lows of the 2012 Schedule

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    A new era for the Ohio State Buckeyes is set to begin.

    After a horrible 6-7 season, the Buckeyes enter this year with a new head coach in Urban Meyer and return 19 starters from last year. Although they won't be eligible to participate in postseason play this year, they do have a talented team that will help determine who will.

    Things are really looking up for this program moving forward.

    With the spring practices and spring game over with, it's time to breakdown this schedule and see just how well this team will turnout this year.

    Here is your 2012 Ohio State Buckeyes complete schedule breakdown.

Easiest Game

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    Miami (Ohio) may not be the worst team on the schedule for the Buckeyes, but they should be no match for them. They're a team that went 4-8 last season in the MAC and has only made three bowl games since 1986. Another thing to point out is that Urban Meyer has never lost the first game of the season in his coaching career.

    I think this game is pretty safe for Buckeye nation.

Toughest Game

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    We'll get more into this game a little bit later, but I think there's little argument here that the Wolverines are the best team in the Big Ten heading into the season, which of course would make them the most difficult game on the Buckeyes schedule.

    Michigan won 11 games in their first season with Brady Hoke as head coach; just imagine what he'll be able to do with 14 starters returning and a year under his belt.

Potential Blowout

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    UAB is probably the worst team on the Buckeyes schedule. They only return 10 starters, including four on defense, and haven't won more than five games since 2004.

    We've seen some crazy things in college football, but seeing the Blazers upset a team coached by Urban Meyer simply won't be one of them.

Potential for Disaster

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    While Urban Meyer is still searching for playmakers, Wisconsin still has theirs in running back Montee Ball. He rushed for over 1,900 yards last season and finished with 39 total touchdowns. In the game as the Buckeyes, they held him in check to 85 rushing yards, but he still managed to get into the end zone twice.

    Ball is a game changer and a difference maker on the offensive end. With this game taking place in Camp Randall Stadium, this could get ugly if the Buckeyes defense doesn't have a plan on how to stop No. 28.

Most Intriguing Matchup

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    Ohio State really let one get away from them last year, as they jumped out to a 27-6 lead in the third quarter against Nebraska, but ended up losing the game, 34-27. This is one of those games you want to make sure you catch because it could provide another entertaining matchup.

    Head coach Urban Meyer came to Ohio State to build a championship contender; Nebraska is a team that has an outside shot at accomplishing those goals right now. They are a tough team that returns eight starters on both sides of the ball, runs the football well and plays solid defense.

    This game should tell us a lot about both teams once the outcome is revealed.

Trap Game

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    Purdue has the potential to be a surprise team in the Big Ten this season if they can play with any type of consistency. They return 15 starters from a team that won seven games last year and was ranked in the middle of the pack in scoring offense and scoring defense.

    The Boilermakers are loaded at running back, have weapons at wide receiver and on defense forced 21 turnovers last season. This is a team to really keep an eye on, and with this matchup taking place right before a trip to Beaver Stadium, it's important the Buckeyes don't get caught looking ahead.

Rivalry Game Prediction

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    Michigan is a team that's loaded and is returning the majority of their starters on both sides of the ball, including star quarterback Denard Robinson. Also coming back are their leading receivers and rusher Fitzgerald Toussaint, who turned it on at the end of the year.

    This team is stacked and in position to make a great run for another BCS bowl. With that said, I believe that Ohio State is still another year away from competing with the big boys.

    Michigan has already had a great year under Brady Hoke and with him returning nearly his entire team, there really isn't much drop-off. They also won't be going through the growing pains that Ohio State will at times with a new head coach.

    You have to go with the Wolverines in this game because they're the more polished team. They'll also have much more to play for with Ohio State being banned from the postseason.

    Wolverines win: 34-31

Upset Special

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    We know the big three Florida teams in college football (Florida State, Florida and Miami), but Central Florida is a program that's slowly making progress under head coach George O'Leary. Sure, they finished with only five wins last season, they also ranked ninth in scoring defense.

    They're also returning eight starters from that tough defensive unit and have seven players on the offense returning as well. This is a veteran team that won't back down from Ohio State and the big lights. They hung with the Cougars in BYU last season and knocked off the Georgia Bulldogs in 2010.

    The Buckeyes have more talent, but don't sleep on this up-and-coming Knights team.

Heisman Highlight Game

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    Although quarterback Braxton Miller is only a sophomore, he has the best chance to win the Heisman trophy, especially with Urban Meyer throwing him into the spread offense.

    The game I believe he could take a huge step with the voters is the prime-time game against Nebraska. Everybody will be watching, and performing well against a veteran team will really swing some of the attention his way.

    Miller played well in the limited time he saw against the Cornhuskers last season, a big game here would really set the tone the rest of the way with a few big games left on the schedule. 

Must-Win Game

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    Besides the potential upset to Central Florida, the Michigan State Spartans are the first true test for this Buckeyes team. The Spartans had one of the best defenses in the country last season and are returning eight starters from that unit. The problem with this team is that on offense, they lost their starting quarterback and top four receivers.

    Neither team could really do much of anything on the offensive end in last year's meeting. It'd really say a lot if the Buckeyes can go into Spartan Stadium and walk out with a victory. It'd be a huge step in the right direction for Urban Meyer and company.