Ohio State Football Schedule 2011: What to Know for Each Game
Ohio State has finally started their fall camp, which means they are finally getting ready to take the field after an offseason that seemed like it would never end.
Since January, Ohio State has lost its head coach and three-year starter at QB, as well as seen its perception hit lows that it never reached after losing back-to-back BCS National Championship Games.
But new head coach Luke Fickell and his new defensive assistant and friend Mike Vrabel are ready to help put Ohio State on a quest for redemption and for their seventh straight Big Ten title.
Their schedule does have quite a few ups and downs, as the Big Ten is definitely deeper than it's been in a long time with the addition of Nebraska.
Here is a look at the schedule and some of the things to know going forward.
1. Sept. 3 vs. Akron, 12:00 P.M, ESPN
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For an Ohio State team that needs some confidence to get off to a good start with a young team, the Akron Zips, a one-win team in 2010, is a perfect team to start against.
Rob Ianello's Zips, who had the third-worst scoring offense and the 106th-ranked scoring defense, don't seem like much of a challenge for the Buckeyes.
Regardless of who starts at QB between senior Joe Bauserman and freshman Braxton Miller, this game could be over very quickly, depending on how aggressive the play-calling will be.
2. Sept. 10 vs. Toledo, 12:00 P.M., Big Ten Network
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Coming off of a bowl game for the first time since 2005, Tim Beckman has the Rockets in a position to be a major player in the MAC.
1,000-yard receiver Eric Page is back along with their two starting QBs, Austin Danton and Terrance Owens.
Without a doubt, this game could present a slightly tougher challenge, especially with some Rockets who still have memories of being blown out in Cleveland Browns Stadium 38-0 in 2009.
Ohio State should still be able to win this game, though likely by a lesser margin than the Akron game. At worst, it could be like 2008 when the Ohio Bobcats almost beat Ohio State in the Horseshoe.
3. Sept. 17 at Miami, 7:30/8:00 P.M., ABC or ESPN
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Miami will be looking for their second dose of revenge against Ohio State, not only for the controversial 2003 Fiesta Bowl loss, but for Ohio State beating the U 36-24 last season in a game that wasn't quite as close as the score will tell.
Now the 'Canes have a new head coach in former Temple general Al Golden, who replaces Randy Shannon after a few mediocre seasons.
Golden's challenge is to try to find talented players to replace WR Leonard Hankerson, DB Brandon Harris and DE Allen Bailey.
But the U does have plenty of studs in DT Marcus Forston and LB Sean Spence. The question is can Jacory Harris play like a sophomore and not a junior, when he threw for 15 INTs compared to 14 TDs.
With Ohio State's inexperience at QB combined with the suspensions of DeVier Posey, Dan Herron and Mike Adams on offense, this game is a whole lot tougher than if the Buckeyes were at full strength.
4. Sept. 24 vs. Colorado, Kickoff Time TBA
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New coach Jon Embree has a unique challenge in Colorado, rebuild a program that slipped significantly under former coach Dan Hawkins and do it in the new Pac-12 conference.
The Buffaloes have left the Big 12 along with Nebraska, but unlike the Huskers who are now in the Big Ten, Colorado is in the Pac-12.
Embree and QB Tyler Hansen will have their hands full against Ohio State's talented defense, especially if the Buckeyes come with more motivation after a loss.
This game seems like one where Ohio State should have no problem getting the W and at worst, improving their record to 3-1.
5. Oct. 1 vs. Michigan State, Kickoff Time TBA
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This will be arguably the toughest team Ohio State plays with their three suspended offensive starters on the sidelines.
Were it not for Auburn's breakout title run, Michigan State would have been the biggest surprise in the country last season, going 11-2 and sharing the Big Ten title with the Buckeyes and Wisconsin Badgers.
Kirk Cousins is back after a big season in 2010, along with backs LeVeon Bell and Edwin Baker and WR B.J. Cunningham.
The Spartan defense will have its work cut out for them, as they have to replace stud LB Greg Jones. But make no mistake, the offense is among the best in the Big Ten.
This will be the biggest test for Ohio State in the early part of the season due in large part to Sparty's offense, but they are out to prove that last year's big run was no fluke.
6. Oct. 8 at Nebraska, 8:00 P.M., ABC
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Despite getting Herron, Posey and Adams back after Week 5, things don't get easier for Ohio State after what will be a big game against Michigan State.
The Nebraska Cornhuskers, who will have come off their first-ever Big Ten game at Wisconsin on Oct. 1, will host their first-ever Big Ten game against arguably the flagship program of the conference under the lights in Memorial Stadium.
This game should have special meaning for Bo Pelini, who played at Ohio State and is an Ohio native. But Pelini's Huskers could be his best team since he became the head coach in 2008.
QB Taylor Martinez, if healthy, is a deadly dual-threat player and has a good weapon in RB Rex Burkhead, plus freshmen Jamal Turner and Aaron Green can become big players in the offense this year.
The Husker defense should be as good if not better than Ohio State's defense, headlined by studs DT Jared Crick. LB Lavonte David and CB Alfonzo Dennard.
Even if Ohio State's defense plays well, which they are certainly capable of doing, they need to find ways to score, which could be a very tough thing to do.
7. Oct. 15 at Illinois, Kickoff Time TBA
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In case you might have guessed, October is not a friendly month for Ohio State.
And although Illinois is not the caliber of Michigan State, Nebraska or Wisconsin, the Illini could be a tough out for a Buckeye team that will have had a pair of very tough games back-to-back.
In addition, Ron Zook's squad has recently been a pest to Ohio State in recent seasons, including last year's contest, which was far too close for comfort.
QB Nathan Scheelhaase is back for his sophomore season, and he will have a solid go-to option in the running game with RB Jason Ford.
The Illini have a lot of work cut out for them, as they must replace three players taken in the first three rounds of last April's NFL Draft, including DT Corey Liuget and LB Martez Wilson.
This could be a tough trap game for Ohio State, as they have quite a bit to look ahead to, including a bye week and the big game of the year two weeks later.
8. Oct. 29 vs. Wisconsin, 8:00 P.M., ABC
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This game is pretty much Ohio State's chance to get into the BCS for a seventh straight year, unless the NCAA decides to ban them from this year's postseason.
Coming off a bye week and motivated by last year's 31-18 loss in Camp Randall, Ohio State has all kinds of reasons to be ready to score a big win.
Wisconsin appears to be a favorite in the Leaders Division, with the addition of former NC State QB Russell Wilson to a backfield that includes talented backs James White and Montee Ball.
The Badgers defense should return tackling machine Chris Borland, as he missed most of the 2010 season due to injury.
But the Badgers have some huge losses to overcome, with two first-rounders in J.J. Watt and Gabe Carimi gone, along with RB John Clay, who has been a workhorse for the Badgers for years.
Plus, most fans know that Wisconsin on the road is not as good as Wisconsin at home, especially going into the Horseshoe in primetime, which is no easy task for any opponent.
9. Nov. 5 vs. Indiana, Kickoff Time TBA
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After a rough October, Ohio State will finally get a breather against the two teams expected to bring up the rear in the Leaders Division.
Indiana was dominated in Columbus last year 38-7, and new coach Kevin Wilson will have to find a way to at least make this game competitive.
He will need to find a new starting QB, either Dusty Kiel or Edwin Wright-Baker, with the graduation of Ben Chappell.
The Hoosiers look like they might have a bright future with the surprising commitment of top high school QB Gunner Kiel.
But he won't be in Bloomington until next year, meaning it could be a bit longer before Indiana becomes competitive.
10. Nov. 12 at Purdue, Kickoff Time TBA
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With Penn State and Michigan looming in the wings, this game screams trap for Ohio State.
But given what happened last time the Buckeyes traveled to Purdue, a 26-18 upset loss, the Buckeyes should come into this game motivated and focused, especially if they hope to win the Leaders Division.
Danny Hope could be fighting for his job if the Boilermakers don't do well, because they have failed to go to a bowl game in back-to-back seasons.
QB Robert Marve and RB Ralph Bolden, if healthy, can be a very good offensive battery that should get the Boilermakers to the level of offense they were under Joe Tiller.
DE Gerard Gooden, though talented, must fill the big shoes left behind by first-round pick Ryan Kerrigan, who was one of the best pure pass rushers in the country.
11. Nov. 19 vs. Penn State, Kickoff Time TBA
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The final game for Ohio State in the Leaders Division brings them to a team that gave them a little bit of a scare.
Matt McGloin and Penn State came into Columbus last year and led 14-3 at halftime before the Buckeyes rang up 35 unanswered points to win 38-14.
The Nittany Lions lose Evan Royster, but RB Silas Redd showed plenty of promise last year. The defense should be much improved, as it is a young unit led by a good front four.
This series has become a mini-rivalry, especially considering how tough Penn State usually plays Ohio State.
Last year seemed like the first time in a while where a game between these two teams hasn't been a close contest.
12. Nov. 26 at Michigan, Kickoff Time TBA
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No matter how good or how bad these two teams are, this is the game fans on both sides circle on their calendars.
For the first time since 1929, Ohio State and Michigan will both have first-year coaches going into this matchup.
Brady Hoke has certainly been a talkative man in the past few months since his hiring, trying to wake up a downtrodden program while at the same time annoying the Buckeye fans with refusing to refer to Ohio State as "Ohio State," by dropping the "State."
Denard Robinson will be hard-pressed to duplicate the numbers he put up a year ago, especially in a pro-style offense. But new offensive coordinator Al Borges has a good resume and should be able to find ways to use his great running ability even from under center.
The problems for Michigan will be involving the defense, which was among the worst in the country last season and the lack of a feature RB which is needed to run the pro-style attack at its best.
This could be an interesting year for Michigan, as going from a pro-style to a spread is not as easy as the other way around, as Michigan is lacking a large amount of size.
But they are on their way back, without a doubt.