The Buckeyes have looked vulnerable after a controversial year off the field.
We all know how bad the offseason was for Ohio State football, but how that drama would affect the Buckeyes on the field was one of September’s most interesting college football storylines. It has not been pretty. After Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor departed OSU amid a laundry list of NCAA violations, new coach Luke Fickell was left with a depleted roster and no answer at quarterback. The Buckeyes are currently 3-2, and it could have been worse if they had not squeaked by Toledo. Tressel set the bar high — a 106-22 record, minus some vacated games — during his time in Columbus, even if it wasn’t all above board. Fickell has not been able to find solutions on offense, with the Buckeyes scoring a combined 13 points in losses to Miami and Michigan State. There are four more Top 25 teams on the schedule, including trips to Nebraska, Illinois and Michigan plus a home date with Wisconsin.
Will Ohio State finish the season at better than 6-6?
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
Looking at the rest of the Buckeyes’ schedule, I find three more wins — Indiana, Purdue and Penn State, so my answer is no: Ohio State will not finish with better than a 6–6 record. Ohio State is a double-digit underdog at Nebraska this week, and my guess is that the Bucks won’t be favored against Illinois, Wisconsin or Michigan. That obviously doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t win those games, but it does indicate that this program has taken several steps backward in a short amount of time. The offense has been miserable against quality opponents; the Michigan State game, played in Columbus, was painful to watch. The Buckeyes are still very good on defense and will get better on offense as Braxton Miller matures and some of the playmakers return to the lineup, but it’s tough to envision this club breaking .500.
Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden)
Despite the poor showing from the offense, Ohio State still has pretty damn good football players on its roster. And the most important missing cog is returning this weekend as one of the nation's elite left tackles returns to the field in Mike Adams. The rest of the suspensions should end shortly thereafter. Therefore, you toss out the Nebraska game as a loss. After this weekend in Lincoln, however, only Wisconsin looks like a sure-fire loss. Indiana and Purdue will be easy wins. Illinois and Penn State are not nearly as talented as Ohio State, and the game against Michigan has gone the way of the Buckeyes for the better part of a decade. If Ohio State can go 2-1 against Penn State, Michigan and Illinois, they will finish at 7-5. I will take the nation's No. 13-rated defense and the over.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
No, I think 6-6 is going to be the Buckeyes’ record at the end of the regular season. And I’m not sold they can even get to that mark. Ohio State has three wins and should pickup victories against Indiana and Purdue. However, the swing games are going to be at Illinois and Penn State. The Fighting Illini is playing well this year, and if Penn State can generate any kind of offense, it can pull off the upset against the Buckeyes. There’s no shortage of talent in Columbus, but it’s very young and there doesn’t appear to be a lot of energy on the field. With what transpired over the summer, it’s really no surprise Ohio State has looked flat this season. Freshman quarterback Braxton Miller should get better with more snaps, and with running back Daniel Herron rejoining the lineup soon, it should give the Buckeyes’ offense a boost. It’s going to be a battle, but I’m going to say Ohio State will somehow find a way to get to six wins.
Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
It’s hard to have much faith in the Buckeyes after their pathetic offensive performances against Miami and Michigan State, but I believe Ohio State can finish 7-5. Outside of Wisconsin, how good is the Big Ten? Nebraska’s defense has been awful, Illinois has barely squeaked by average opponents so far, and Michigan has faced one good offense in Notre Dame and gave up 31 points despite five Irish turnovers. There is a ton of talent on the Ohio State roster, and there is a ton of pride in that program. Getting left tackle Mike Adams back this week will help the offense tremendously, and the Buckeyes may also have receiver DeVier Posey and running back Dan Herron back from suspension soon. Indiana and Purdue should be easy, and I can see OSU winning at least two more games against Penn State, Illinois and Michigan.
These are not Jim Tressel's Buckeyes; and Terrelle Pryor is not going to run from the Black Hole into the Horseshoe anytime soon. But that doesn't mean Ohio State's season is over after a 3–2 start — with wins over Akron, Toledo and Colorado, and losses to Miami (Fla.) and Michigan State. As strange as it sounds, however, seven wins would be considered overachieving for this year's OSU club. A brutal three-game swing at Nebraska, at Illinois and against Wisconsin could KO the Bucks. But that stretch is followed by favorable matchups against Indiana, at Purdue and Penn State. The season finale at Michigan is always a toss-up. Still, seven wins? I'll cop out with a conditional yes. If suspended running back Boom Herron and receiver DeVier Posey return to the lineup next week in Champaign, the Buckeyes will pull off the upset. Boom and DVP would be huge additions to an Ohio State team that has zero consistently explosive playmakers on offense. Without a shot in the arm — as opposed to a tattoo on the biceps — OSU's 11-year bowl streak is in jeopardy.
Kevin Noon - BuckeyeGrove.com (@Kevin_Noon)
I think this team is going to finish at 6-6 but if I had to pick and over/under then I would say over but just barely. I think that Purdue, Indiana and Penn State are all winnable game and that would get this team to 6-6. After that there are no 50-50 games in my opinion. Really a lot of it is going to come down the evolution of the game plan. Right now the team is not running anything that will allow it to win big games. The defense is not the defense of years past but it is still pretty good, at least for 30 minutes a game. An offense that is going three-and-out over-and-over again however is not doing any favors for that defense. Braxton Miller right now needs a little bit more of a tailored offense to his skill set. Just having him throw vertical routes and have reads between two receivers (neither who are getting open with simplistic patterns) is not a recipe for success. And leave Braxton in there to grow, playing with the Shepherd's Hook around his waist all game is not going to instill any confidence in a QB that is only months removed from high school.