The 5 Key Games the Ohio State Buckeyes Need to Win in 2012
The Ohio State football program will encounter one of its oddest years in quite some time. For the first time in over a decade, the Buckeyes come into the season unranked and with low expectations from fans and analysts alike.
Low expectations may allow the Buckeyes to focus, relieving some of the pressure to win games. Although there is little to no optimism, Ohio State may make a surprise splash back into the Big Ten this season.
Let’s take a glance at the five key struggles that the Buckeyes must overcome this season.
1. Michigan State, September 29
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Michigan State hasn’t forgotten being muscled out of a BCS bid by Ohio State in 2010, and last season their defense put a stop to the Buckeyes.
This time Ohio State should come into the contest looking for blood in their first test of the season.
The game will be in East Lansing and the crowd will not be kind. It may be a tough match, but it’s a key game. Great teams win key games.
2. Nebraska, October 6
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Last season, the 34-27 loss against Nebraska could have been considered as one of the saddest collapses in recent Ohio State history. This season, the Buckeyes must make sure not to repeat the last half of that game in the upcoming matchup.
Braxton Miller must pick up where he left off prior to leaving the game injured last season, and his chances of duplicating the performance is high. Urban Meyer’s offense fits Miller, so the offense must put up large numbers to win this game.
3. Purdue, October 20
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The loss last season against Purdue stung the Buckeyes a bit. Had the 26-23 overtime defeat not occurred, the Buckeyes could have had a chance at chasing a spot in the Big Ten title game.
The upset sparked a four-game losing streak, with each loss suffered by no more than seven points.
If the previous two games are taken care of, then this one should come relatively easy for Ohio State. But they shouldn’t pretend 2009 didn’t happen either.
This game should be marked and circled on their calendars. It’s a huge potential revenge game for all involved in last season’s disappointing loss.
4. Wisconsin, November 17
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This year’s Wisconsin team will return 11 starters from last season's Big Ten title team. They will likely be looking for revenge after last season’s wild finish, which resulted in a victory for Ohio State.
This is an underrated rivalry in the Big Ten which reached new heights within the last two seasons. If Ohio State wants to continue its potential grand season under Urban Meyer, this game should be on their checklist.
5. Michigan, November 24
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Urban Meyer must lead his team to victory against Michigan this season. Denard Robinson is going to cause headaches by default, but it’s up to the defense to contain him as much as possible.
This will be Urban Meyer’s first game against Michigan in terms of the rivalry. He must rely on the leaders of the 2009/2010 teams who successfully helped defeat Michigan, and they all must step up to bring the title of bragging rights back to Ohio.