While Ohio State's 2010 schedule is not the most difficult I can recall in team history, I will suggest that Ohio State has arguably six games that will certainly challenge the Buckeyes.
As always, I am open to discussion and debate as to which game(s) should be toughest or easiest.
Category 1: Ohio State could be beaten and may be an underdog
1. @ Wisconsin, Oct. 16, kickoff 7 pm EST, ESPN or ESPN2 televising
Talk about a game that Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema has circled on his calendar. In 2008, Terrelle Pryor ran an option keeper into the end zone, and Ohio State escaped Camp Randall with the win. In 2009, a game I attended, Wisconsin outgained Ohio State in essentially every statistical category, except the point total.
I will be surprised if ESPN GameDay does not make an appearance at Camp Randall for this game, as it should be the game of the week. This game will be under the lights, and the fans will be out in full force with a day's worth of tailgating behind them.
2. @ Iowa, Nov. 20, kickoff and telecast TBD
Kickoff has not been established yet, but I will be surprised if this is not a 3:30 pm kickoff (no night games in November for the Big Ten, remember?) for ABC. This game could determine the Big Ten championship again in 2010.
3. Miami (FL), Sept. 11, 3:40 pm, ESPN telecast
How often do you think this topic will come up prior to kickoff?
Category 2: Ohio State will be favored, but an upset is possible
4. Penn State, Nov. 13, kickoff and telecast TBD
In 2008, Pryor's fumble was the play that allowed Penn State to defeat the Buckeyes in Ohio Stadium for the first time since they joined the conference in 1993.
Penn State may struggle out of the gates with a new quarterback, as well as other new starters, but should be ready to battle Ohio State when they come into town in November.
5. Purdue, Oct. 23, 12 pm EST, telecast TBD
Arguably the worst game of Pryor's Ohio State career last season, Ohio State will be out for revenge in this game. Something to remember is Ohio State unimpressively defeated Purdue in 2008 in Ohio Stadium.
Purdue lost several games last season in the final minutes. I believe Purdue will be a bowl team this year and could give Ohio State a good game this season.
6. Michigan, Nov. 27, kickoff and telecast TBD
THE GAME will be played in Ohio Stadium during Thanksgiving weekend, and Ohio State will be going for its seventh straight win in the series. This could potentially be a job saver, or job killer, for Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez.
Even when the teams are not evenly matched in terms of talent, this rivalry seems to bring out something special in both squads. I believe Ohio State wins, but like the 2009 game, this will come down to the fourth quarter.
Category 3: Ohio State should have the game won by the end of the third quarter
7. @ Minnesota, Oct. 30, 8pm EST, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 telecast
The last few seasons, Minnesota has not been competitive with Ohio State; Ohio State defeated Minnesota 38-7 in 2009. Considering this is a night game, Halloween weekend, and Ohio State's first visit to the new stadium, I think this game might be close until the end of the third quarter.
8. @ Illinois, Oct. 2, kickoff and telecast TBD
Something about the ghosts of the 2007 season loss to Illinois, as well as how challenging it was for Ohio State in 2008 when they last visited Illinois, makes me think this game will be tough until the end of the third quarter.
9. Indiana, Oct. 9, kickoff and telecast TBD
Ohio State handled Indiana easily in 2009 and should do so again in the friendly confines of Ohio Stadium. I rank this Big Ten contest the easiest of Ohio State's schedule, as this game is at home.
Category 4: Ohio State should substitute backups early and often in these blowouts
10. Ohio University, Sept. 18, 12 pm EST, Big Ten Network telecast
In 2008, Ohio State escaped with a victory over Frank Solich's Bobcats. This was the first game that season without Chris "Beanie" Wells, who had sustained an injury against Youngstown State in the season opener.
While I have respect for Solich and what he has done with the Ohio University program, I believe Jim Tressel will be showing his Buckeyes the film of that game, preaching to them how dangerous it is to allow an opponent to be within striking distance.
11. Marshall, Sept. 2, 7:30 pm EST, Big Ten Network telecast
In 2004, Ohio State needed a Mike Nugent field goal on the last play of the game to escape the Thundering Herd.
Considering this is the first game for new Marshall head coach Doc Holliday and a night game in Ohio Stadium, I believe Ohio State comes out and takes care of business against Marshall in the season opener.
12. Eastern Michigan, Sept. 25, kickoff and telecast TBD
I have tremendous respect for head coach Ron English and believe he will eventually make Eastern Michigan competitive in the MAC. This is the type of game that will be sacrificed when Nebraska joins the conference in 2011 for a nine-game conference schedule.
Ohio State should be able to have their starters resting right after halftime. I truly hope to see all of last year's redshirt freshmen playing in this game, as Ohio State will be favored by about 30 points.