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Fast 40 countdown: Ohio State Buckeyes

August 31, 2011  |  By Benjamin Miraski

Ohio State Buckeyes

Last season: 12-1, 4th in the MRI

The good: For all the suspensions and issues with the NCAA, the Ohio State Buckeyes are still one of the most talented teams in the country. That includes the loss of Terrelle Pryor, who may have been the most overrated quarterback ever in the college game.

Pryor had a knack for piling up stats in games that didn't mean much, and then disappearing in those games that did mean a great deal to the Buckeyes.

Sure, he won a lot, and he got better over the course of his career. But when the big game came, there were always questions about which Terrelle Pryor would be on the field.

He may have had flashes of brilliance, and he could create with his legs. But if he were really the star that he was purported to be over the three years he spent in Columbus, someone in the NFL might have spent more than a 3rd round draft pick in the supplemental draft to take him... and turn him into a wide receiver.

So yes, the Buckeyes can still compete in the Big 10 this season, even without Pryor.

They will be going with senior Joe Bauserman at quarterback against Akron, which shouldn't be an issue for even a shorthanded Ohio State group. His performance will show if he can continue in the role throughout the season. So don't be surprised to see Braxton Miller at times to guage how well the freshman who was in for spring has picked up the offense.

Whoever is there will have a solid line in front of him and should have the time needed to get ready for Miami in the third week. Until then, Akron and Toledo will stand as the patsies who will take the fall to continue the tradition in Ohio.

The bad: There is no way to judge how well Luke Fickell will do in his tryout for the permanent head coaching job. Succeeding Jim Tressel, for all of his faults, is a hard task for anyone. You don't want to be the guy who replaces the guy. You want to be the next guy.

Fickell has to replace the guy, and one that was well loved by the players and fans, which is a rarity. Just look at how much blame fell on Pryor's shoulders for the entire mess over the summer. Tressel, who tried to cover up the scandal and back his players, has gotten away without a scratch from the die-hard fans.

The defense is also a little light after last season. Just nine of the 23 sacks from last season are back, and a large chunk of the top tacklers will be missing.

Again, Akron and Toledo won't exactly pressure them (although Toledo could be close), so this could resolve itself before Miami (aka The Extra Benefit Bowl), which will be still be without some of its defense come Sept. 17.

Best name: While Andrew Sweat is a great football name, Jake Stoneburner takes the win. He should resist having this award tattooed on his arm until after he graduates.

Trending: Down - No matter how good the players stepping up in wake of the losses are, Ohio State will be down this season. There is just too much surrounding the program and not enough strong leadership at the top to overcome it. Fickell may turn out to be a great coach, but he isn't Tressel, and that is going to hurt the Buckeyes this season. They play Wisconsin in the division and have to go to Nebraska and feel the wrath of the Black Shirt defense. Add in Michigan State and Ohio State could have three losses in conference for the first time since 2004. The Buckeyes will still probably be good enough to be in the MRI top 25, but closer to the bottom of the ranked team, rather than having their helmet featured week after week.


Posted August 31, 2011 11:00 PM

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