Ohio State Football: 3 Possible Outcomes for the 2011 Season
For the first time in a long time, this Ohio State team is a little more up in the air.
The past few seasons, fans have confidently been able to advocate their Buckeyes as a legitimate title contender, or at the least, a definite contender for a conference championship. We've had multiple Heisman Trophy candidates and a plethora of preseason All-Americans.
This team lays out a little differently with a new head coach, a new quarterback and plenty of starting underclassmen. However, in no shape or form, does this team lack talent. These fresh faces have a great chance of continuing the program's success but could also lead us fans down a disappointing road we haven't been familiar with in recent years.
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The Buckeyes don't miss a beat in 2011 and get off to a fairly good start. Despite the suspension of several key players, Ohio State goes 4-1 to start the season after just barely losing at Miami. Ohio State handles Colorado well and gains a ton of confidence in a huge win against Michigan State.
Throughout the first five games, junior running back Jordan Hall responds to the preseason hype with valuable and versatile production. Joe Bauserman and Braxton Miller handle the two-quarterback system well and offer a good change of pace for the offense. On the defensive side of the ball, the Buckeyes are pressuring the quarterback well and sixth-year senior Tyler Moeller begins to stand out as the leader of the defense.
Week 6 welcomes back the suspended players, as well as new Big Ten member Nebraska. Unfortunately the Buckeyes struggle to integrate their new additions to the team and take a loss to the Cornhuskers.
During the Illinois game, OSU gets back to their old ways and becomes more comfortable with their recently reinstated players with a blowout win. This sets the stage for the biggest game of the year in Columbus, versus Wisconsin. The Buckeyes are hungry for redemption and this opportunity for the top spot in the Leaders Division, and come out firing. In a captivating and passionate game, Ohio State pulls off the upset and puts themselves on top of their new division.
With their confidence now sky high and their butts firmly set in the driver's seat, the Buckeyes run away with the rest of the schedule and surprise a lot of the college football world.
Their regular-season record grants them a bid in the first annual Big Ten championship game for a rematch against Nebraska. With the Buckeyes' new-found confidence and comfort with their personnel, Ohio State wins the Big Ten championship in a fairly competitive game and lands a spot in the Rose Bowl.
This is the season Buckeye fans are more commonly used to and Luke Fickell looks like a great option as the head coach for years to come. Bauserman and Miller work well together and the defense is as strong as it normally is. The future looks very bright in Columbus.
Regular-Season Record: 10-2 (7-1)
Big Ten Champions
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Ohio State looks primed to continue its recent success as it gets off to a 4-0 record to begin the season. However during this stretch, fifth-year senior Joe Bauserman struggles at quarterback a decent amount but not enough to lose a game yet.
In Week 5, the wheels completely fall off for Bauserman as he turns the ball over several times and gives away a very winnable game to Michigan State. Now Buckeye Nation is screaming for freshman Braxton Miller to take over full time, and interim coach Luke Fickell responds by starting him the next week against Nebraska.
Although Miller has a ton of potential and could very easily be great in the future, he's still a freshman and struggles mightily against the new members of the Big Ten. After dropping two straight games, the Buckeyes head to Champaign, Ill., and look much better and come away with an easy victory. Miller shows his potential, and fans grow excited for their future with the young freshman under center for years to come.
Unfortunately, Illinois isn't Wisconsin, and the Buckeyes aren't able to produce enough offense to pull off the upset. With three losses in the Big Ten, the Buckeyes are basically out of contention for a conference championship.
In the following two weeks Ohio State grows more comfortable with its new offense with Miller at the helm, and look great against Big Ten opponents Indiana and Purdue. These two games give the young offense a load of confidence and catapult them to finish the season strong with HUGE wins against Penn State and archrival Michigan.
With a flashy freshman quarterback and a strong defense, the Buckeyes land a bid in the Capital One Bowl.
The defense performed strong all year but didn't always have the backing of their offense in the bigger games. What would be a solid season for plenty of programs doesn't match up to recent success, but their is plenty to look forward to in the next few years.
Regular-Season Record: 9-3
Third in the Big Ten
Capital One Bowl bid
...and the Ugly
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Despite two victories to begin the season Ohio State looks unimpressive. Heading into Miami, the team and their faithful fans lack confidence.
Bauserman never really performs well during the season and struggles mightily against the Hurricanes. After a disappointing loss to Miami and an even more disappointing performance by Bauserman, Braxton Miller is called upon to take over the quarterback duties full time.
Along with woes at the quarterback position, the Buckeyes struggle in the defensive secondary and defensive line. Throughout the first few games, the coaching staff is constantly switching players out and trying different personnel combinations. The defense is able to pull out a win against Colorado, but both sides of the ball struggle terribly against MSU and Nebraska.
Throughout the second half of the season, Buckeye Nation is looking for potential in younger players and a light at the end of the tunnel. Miller struggles like any freshman would and the defense isn't as solid as it has been in the past. Ohio State takes two more losses to Wisconsin and Penn State, but finishes the season on a high note with a win over archrival Michigan.
After an uncommonly rough season for the Buckeyes, it is hard to see Luke Fickell keeping his position as head coach. Miller shows some potential but more fans are concerned with the future of the defense. Fortunately, Ohio State does continue their dominating streak against the Wolverines. They receive a bid to the Gator Bowl to end the year.
Regular-Season Record: 7-5 (4-4)
Fifth in the Big Ten
Gator Bowl Bid