Have you peeked at the schedule lately? The young offense of your favorite team that's looking to build some momentum is getting six setup games before the tilt with Penn State. Topping things off is the potential to close with games against three ranked opponents.
Upcoming defenses: Illinois (102nd), Indiana (40th), Wisconsin (55th), Purdue (105th), Minnesota (68th) and New Mexico State (47th). Just two against top 50 defenses and those two being the juggernauts of Indiana and New Mexico State.
The group on the whole is allowing 24.5 points per game and outside of Illinois' opener against Missouri and Minnesota's loss to Cal, there just aren't any high-powered offenses contributing to that average. I don't know about you, but if the Buckeyes can get 24 or so points on these teams, I feel pretty good about the defense taking care of business. It also doesn't hurt that Heacock's boys will be getting the two toughest outs on that stretch at home.
Maybe I'm getting a little ahead of myself. There's no question that Illinois, Wisconsin and maybe, maybe Purdue and Minnesota could trip up the Buckeyes, but for all we whine about with Jim Tressel and his big game shortcomings, these next six are what he does best.
For Pryor, this could be huge. He can make the throws. All that's left for him is taking care of what's in his head. This includes reads and firming up when to take off running or take a sack. That should come during this stretch (we'll appropriately recalibrate if that proves not to be the case). He should continue building rapport with his talented wideouts, the line will solidify (bonus if the Brew Crew comes of age) and the defense will continue to do it's thing (which largely consists of the front seven destroying fools).
What will be interesting is to see what direction the running game goes. If I were at the Xbox controls, we'd probably see a lot less power I and better utilization of the backs alongside Pryor as a running threat. Whether this means more running out of shotgun, passes to backs or whatever, Herron and Saine aren't cut from the Beanie mold and should be used in a manner that suits them. Even just doing more of what we saw against Toledo when the passing game was used to setup the rushing attack would be a good direction to go.
The offense will most certainly need to progress because when they head to Happy Valley in early November, they could very well be squaring off with an undefeated team ranked in the top two or three in the country. It's not inconceivable that Ohio State could be 8-1 and ranked within the top six or so themselves.
The following weekend, they welcome an Iowa team that should be ranked and then they close with what's looking to be the most meaningful Michigan game in the last three years.
Before the season, many of us thought a win in the Rose Bowl as a springboard to a big time run in 2010 would be ideal (if not completely perfect). Not only is that still in the cards, but the schedule has taken the form of an aircraft carrier catapult.