Ohio State enters the 2010 College Football season as the favorite to emerge triumphant out of what figures to be a very deep and competitive Big Ten Conference.
The Buckeyes kick off the season tonight in a rare Thursday night contest against Conference USA foe Marshall in a game many believe will serve as a relatively easy tune up for next week's matchup with mighty Miami.
Will it really be that simple, or will Ohio State at least be challenged by the Thundering Herd?
Here's a closer look at all of the games on the Bucks' schedule heading into tonight's opener.
The Skinny on EMU: The Eagles weren't just bad, they were horrendous in 2009. An 0-12 season saw EMU outscored by an average of 38 to 16, and the offense mustered 21 points or more just three times. Aside from running back Dwayne Priest, there isn't anything to be impressed by.
Bucks' Advantages: Ohio State has a huge edge all over the field, pure and simple.
Bucks' Hurdles: Themselves. However, EMU makes Ohio State's traditional non-conference cupcake Youngstown State look like Alabama, so don't expect the Bucks to struggle no matter how many mistakes they make.
Prediction: Ohio State 55, Eastern Michigan 0
The Skinny on Marshall: The Herd parted ways with Mark Snyder and brought in longtime assistant Doc Holliday to elevate the program. His first order of business will be to find a capable quarterback to get the ball to talented receiver Antavious Wilson. Clemson transfer Willy Korn was expected to compete for the job, but was moved to safety and left the program two weeks ago.
Bucks' Advantages: Marshall's offense doesn't appear to have a chance against Ohio State's solid defense.
Bucks' Hurdles: There isn't much to worry about, but Ohio State's struggles against Navy in last year's opener might at least give a little cause for concern.
Prediction: Ohio State 42, Marshall 10
The Skinny on Illinois: A program that appears to have lost its magic in both recruiting and on the field finds itself at the crossroads. A signature win over a team like Ohio State would work wonder's for Ron Zook's chances of keeping his job, but a redshirt freshman quarterback and holes on both sides of the ball isn't reason for optimism.
Bucks' Advantages: As with most of the weaker games on the schedule, Ohio State has the edge across the board. If Ohio State comes to play, they should have little difficulty putting away the Illini early.
Bucks' Hurdles: The trip to Champaign marks Ohio State's first road game of the season, something that isn't unusual for the Buckeyes, who routinely load the non-conference schedule with home games. The first road game of the season is always at least a bit of a challenge.
Prediction: Ohio State 31, Illinois 10
The Skinny on Ohio: Besides being a terrific party school, Ohio boasts a solid football program under former Nebraska head coach Frank Solich. The Bobcats have two capable quarterbacks in Boo Jackson and Phil Bates and also boast a talented collection of running backs, including USC transfer Kenny Ashley.
Bucks' Advantages: Ohio State will need to score, but should be able to against Ohio's defense. Terrelle Pryor will likely exploit the inexperienced Bobcats' secondary.
Bucks' Hurdles: Ohio is well coached and has more talented skill players than many of Ohio State's traditional non-conference opponents. The Bobcats will put points on the board and won't go quietly.
Prediction: Ohio State 28, Ohio 17
The Skinny on Minnesota: The pressure is on Tim Brewster to win and win now. With Adam Weber heading into his final season and underwhelming performances in recruiting, this appears to be Brewster's last chance to show he belongs. The Gophers should be better defensively, but still have work to do.
Bucks' Advantages: Minnesota probably won't be able to move the ball against Ohio State, and Weber could succumb to Cameron Heyward and the Bucks' pass rush.
Bucks' Hurdles: Minnesota has one of the better defensive backfields in the Big Ten, so Pryor will need to value the ball and can't afford to take chances. Ohio State can't afford him to play as poorly as he did in last year's similar trap game at Purdue.
Prediction: Ohio State 31, Minnesota 10
The Skinny on Indiana: The Hoosiers will be able to score on just about anybody in 2010, with senior quarterback Ben Chappell leading the way and NFL-caliber receivers Tandon Doss and Damarlo Belcher. Darius Willis provides a versatile option out of the backfield.
Bucks' Advantages: Indiana can score, but they can't defend. Bill Lynch has turned to the JUCO ranks to try to plug holes on the defensive side of the ball and is likely to struggle stopping people all season.
Bucks' Hurdles: Ohio State will need to stop the spread and tackle well. Doss and Willis are especially dangerous, and the Hoosiers have the talent to test the Buckeyes' defense.
Prediction: Ohio State 38, Indiana 19
The Skinny on Purdue: The Boilermakers are going in the right direction, but they aren't there just yet. Miami transfer Robert Marve will need to prove his many doubters wrong and show he can lead a team. If that happens, Purdue has what it takes to make a bowl game and pull off some upsets along the way.
Bucks' Advantages: Ohio State's offense will be a key in almost every game this season, including against Purdue. The Boilermakers will put up points, and Ohio State should be able to as well barring untimely turnovers.
Bucks' Hurdles: Blocking Ryan Kerrigan would be a nice way to make Terrelle Pryor feel at home. The underrated defensive end has a knack for making plays in big games.
Prediction: Ohio State 26, Purdue 14
The Skinny on Michigan: Rich Rodriguez could be coaching Michigan for the final time when he leads his team into Columbus. The Wolverines face a difficult schedule and quarterback questions and aren't likely to be good defensively either.
Bucks' Advantages: If Terrelle Pryor can throw the ball, Ohio State should score early and often. Michigan's secondary could be among the worst in all of College Football this season.
Bucks' Hurdles: Even though it's been 2,476 days since Michigan last beat Ohio State, rivalry games are never easy. Michigan has talent and will be hungry for a victory.
Prediction: Ohio State 24, Michigan 10
The Skinny on Penn State: Freshman quarterback Robert Bolden figures to endure hardships early in the season, but by November he might not be overwhelmed by stepping on the gridiron at the 'Shoe. The Lions are going to be a running team in 2010, with Evan Royster and Stephfan Green creating headaches for opposing defenses.
Bucks' Advantages: Bolden is talented, but he is a freshman. If Ohio State can shut down the running game and force Bolden to throw the ball, it will have a big edge.
Bucks' Hurdles: Penn State has all sorts of questions ranging from quarterback to linebacker to special teams, but things should be ironed out by November. Ohio State will need to be sharp to beat a team heavy on talent but light on experience.
Prediction: Ohio State 19, Penn State 17
The Skinny on Miami: If not for a brutal schedule, Miami would be more of a sexy pick to make the BCS in 2010. The 'Canes are loaded on offense, with receivers and running backs capable of breaking the game open. The defensive unit has plenty of speed and Miami also has one of the most reliable kickers in the country in Matt Bosher.
Bucks' Advantages: Much like his counterpart Terrelle Pryor, Miami's Jacory Harris has shown a habit of being erratic at times. If Ohio State's strong defensive line can get the better of Miami in the trenches, Harris could be in for a long afternoon.
Bucks' Hurdles: Ohio State will need to be sharp, and a warm up game against Marshall might not be exactly enough to prepare them for facing a team like Miami.
Prediction: Ohio State 21, Miami 19
The Skinny on Iowa: The Hawkeyes enter the season as the hunted, a role they haven't flourished in under Kirk Ferentz. This year could be different, with one of the best receivers corps in the Big Ten and a dominant defensive line. The late November game could represent an unofficial conference championship game.
Bucks' Advantages: History is on Ohio State's side. The Buckeyes are 45-14-3 against the Hawkeyes all time, and Jim Tressel is 5-1 against Kirk Ferentz since taking over in Columbus.
Bucks' Hurdles: The frenzied crowd and Iowa's bruising defense will make things challenging for Ohio State. If the defense can't force Ricky Stanzi to make mistakes, Ohio State could easily be defeated.
Prediction: Ohio State 12, Iowa 10
The Skinny on the Badgers: Wisconsin might not be ranked in the top 10 heading into the season, but they certainly have as much or more talent as many teams ranked ahead of them. With veterans on both sides of the ball, running back John Clay gives the Badgers a big advantage against any opponent.
Bucks' Advantages: If any team can stop Clay, it is probably Ohio State or Iowa. Wisconsin has weapons on the outside but prefers to pound the ball, and the Buckeyes are certain to know what's coming.
Bucks' Hurdles: The first true road test of the year will feature the usually amount of crowd noise. Making matters worse for Ohio State, it's a night game. Camp Randall will be rockin'.
Prediction: Wisconsin 24, Ohio State 17