Analyzing Ohio State's 2012 Schedule

It’s time to turn our attention to Ohio State in my schedule analysis series, as I take a closer look at the 2012 football schedule for the Buckeyes. My previous schedule analysis posts are still available as we’ve now covered Illinois through Ohio State. The rest come out this week. Agree or disagree with any of my assessments? Come tell me in the comments section, or find me on Twitter and Facebook. See my Ohio State analysis in this post.

Toughest non-conference game: In recent years, the Buckeyes played one marquee foe like Texas, USC or Miami (Fla.). Not so in 2012. On Sept. 15, Cal visits from the Pac-12 coming off a 7-6 season, but Jeff Tedford’s program is sliding. The Golden Bears—one of four non-conference game all at home for Ohio State–are just an aggregate 20-18 the past three seasons.

Toughest Big Ten game: The Big Ten opener is at Michigan State on Sept. 29. And it could have been a preview of the Big Ten title game, had the Buckeyes not been on probation. Still, it will be a great litmus test for both teams, which will feature top-notch defenses. This shapes up as a burgeoning rivalry.

Who they don’t play: Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern. Hmmm. Are you thinking what I am thinking? You know, that the Buckeyes are getting no breaks? These arguably are the three weakest teams in the Legends Division.

Easiest game: UAB is the last of four non-conference games—all in Columbus. And the Blazers—coming off a 3-9 season and led by new coach Garrick McGee—don’t figure to be much more than a speed bump for the mighty Buckeyes, who will travel to East Lansing the next week. Let’s go ahead and call this a “tune up.” Ya, that sounds about right.

Rugged stretch: The season ends with a tough 1-2 punch: a trip to Wisconsin—Ohio State’s chief rival in the Leaders Division–on Nov. 17 and a visit from “that team up North” on Nov. 24. Interestingly, the Big Ten season opens with a bang, too, with a trip to Michigan State on Sept. 29 followed by a visit from Nebraska on Oct. 6.

Interesting factoid: In Big Ten play, the Buckeyes alternate home and road games, never playing two in a row at home or on the road.

Best chance to be upset: Ohio State is likely to be favored in every home game, including the season-ending visit from—OK, I will type it this time–Michigan on Nov. 24. The Wolverines ended a seven-game losing skein to the Buckeyes last year with a 40-34 victory in Ann Arbor. Ohio State hasn’t lost at home to Michigan since 2000.

Best chance to pull an upset: Gotta like the Buckeyes’ chances to knock off Michigan State in East Lansing on Sept. 29. It will be the first Big Ten game for each school. Will the Spartan offense—particularly the passing game—be ready to face Ohio State’s rugged defense? And the Buckeyes will be the looser team because of probation. MSU took an ugly 10-7 decision in Columbus in 2011. Ohio State also may have a shot to win at Wisconsin on Nov. 17 in what should be a battle between the two best teams in the Leaders Division. The Buckeyes pulled out a wild 33-29 win over the Badgers last season, when Braxton Miller hit Devin Smith with a 40-yard touchdown toss with 20 seconds left in the game.

Must win: NCAA probation means Ohio State can’t win the Big Ten or play in a bowl. But pride is still on the line for the Buckeyes in their debut season under Urban Meyer. And the season finale vs. Michigan on Nov. 24 will have to serve as Ohio State’s de facto bowl. The Buckeyes’ seven-game winning skein in the storied series ended last year. No doubt, Ohio State wants to make sure Michigan gains no more momentum under Brady Hoke as the next era of this rivalry unfolds.

Bye week: Nov. 10. This will come very late in the season—too late?–after the Buckeyes have played 10 games. But the timing is good, as the week off will allow Ohio State to catch its breath as it preps for a rugged end to the season: at Wisconsin at Nov. 17 and vs. Michigan on Nov. 24.

BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is on Twitter and Facebook, all of his work is at btn.com/tomdienhart, and you can subscribe to it all via his RSS feed. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below.

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9 Comments

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Pero on 5/14/2012 @ 10:29pm EDT Said:

What exactly about OSU makes their defense suddenly stout in a game against MSU in East Lansing? I say MSU wins by double digits as Dantonio continues to prove the old guard of U of M and OSU is over.

Matt on 5/15/2012 @ 12:27pm EDT Said:

Really, the same defense that held MSU to 10 points, and you guys are loosing your starting QB and top WR. OSU gets back 9 starters on defense, including what should be a one of the nations best defensive backfields. You guys would be lucky to make it past the 50 yard line next year.

OSU 17, MSU 3

Will B on 5/15/2012 @ 12:44pm EDT Said:

You must be crazy OSU returns almost the whole offense where MSU loses its skill players right? Thats why we will win in East Lansing by double digits MSU has beaten OSU 1 time under Dantonio, and we had to lose Tressel for that to happen game won’t be close go bucks!

TheObvious on 5/15/2012 @ 12:52pm EDT Said:

Come on, MSU struggled to put up 10 on OSU last year. Now without their veteran offense, you really think they’ll march against a veteran Defense? The determining factor in this game is Meyer’s offense…..does it work or does it flop…..that’s the decision maker.

David on 5/15/2012 @ 12:57pm EDT Said:

MSU barely earned double digits last year with an offense that had talent. How could their noname O best Cousins & Co. against a defense that will be better than they were last year?

Lee on 5/15/2012 @ 1:24pm EDT Said:

The MSU game last year should not be looked at when talking about this year’s game. If you were at that game, which I was, then you know how incredibly cold and awful the weather was at the stadium. Cousins was a big loss but he played absolutely awful that game. MSU was still figuring out their offensive line at the time. And don’t forget OSU was almost shut out had it not been for playing a little prevent d at the end. It will be an interesting game this year and close, but it’s time to take the blinders off Buckeyes!

RyMan on 5/15/2012 @ 2:24pm EDT Said:

Wouldn’t it have been great to get Gene Smith to schedule the Buckeyes to play @ Hawaii for their 13th game and act as a de-facto bowl game? :)

Tony on 5/17/2012 @ 11:14am EDT Said:

RyMan – you are hilarious. Are you a stand up comedian?

Giinneta on 6/11/2012 @ 9:25pm EDT Said:

Lee — How can you say the weather was cold and awful?? Weren’t BOTH teams playing in the same weather??!?!? O-H