Opponent Preview: The 2nd Four

By Johnny Ginter on August 21, 2013 at 2:00p
The new hotness.Eleven Warriors 2013 Ohio State Football Preview

Hello Ohio State. Welcome... TO DIE!

The first four games are complete. The Ohio State Buckeyes find themselves sitting pretty at 4-0, having easily dispatched the sugary treats that comprise the first third of their schedule. Looming is the Big Ten season, a veritable murderer's row of teams all ready and willing to inflict maximum pain on Ohio State in payback for years of beatdowns and humiliations. Wisconsin, Northwestern, Iowa, and Penn State are just the beginning of the football equivalent of the '27 Yankees lineup.

- No one, ever

LET'S GET COCKY! Some people are saying that aside from the annual anxiety attack that is the Michigan game, this is the supposed stretch of the schedule where an unexpected team might jump up and bite Ohio State on the ass. The name "Northwestern" has been thrown around without the modifier "-now there's a team Ohio State thoroughly and consistently has destroyed with almost perfect consistency for the past 29 years." "Hey maybe Penn State could surprise some people!" "That Gary Andersen knows how to coach kids up, they might be a threat!" "...Iowa's bad."

And maybe there's some truth to all of that. Especially the part about Iowa being bad. But if Ohio State can get through this part of their schedule untouched, it might be time to start thinking big. And not B1G big, but BCS big.

Wisconsin – 9/28

The aforementioned Gary Andersen takes over for my personal favorite punching bag Bret Bielema, making Wisconsin slightly more likeable as long as you forget about their fans and Jay Valai giving Dane Sanzenbacher all those concussions. Andersen comes from Utah State, which is my secret Mountain West crush, and he should do pretty well in Madison. But who cares, this is E2B weekend. Wisconsin's screwed.

OFFENSE: Doing "pretty well" is likely the extent of it for 2013. The Badgers return a decent amount of their core team from last season, but there also probably won't be a marked improvement in any particular area. The running game will continue to be an emphasis, mostly because QB Joel Stave kind of blows and they don't have any reliable wideouts beside Jared Abbrederis. TE Jacob Pedersen will probably help out, but the truth is that they'll only be as dangerous is Stave can make them.

So it's the James White show! Montee Ball is gone, and White will take over along with fellow RB Melvin Gordon, who shows a ton of promise. I'm personally not impressed with White: he shows flashes against bad defenses, but can also be completely shut down by good defenses. Don't be surprised if the James White show is canceled after testing poorly in the target demographic and Gordon is brought in to appeal to advertisers.

DEFENSE: Speaking of defense, the Badgers should be solid (especially up front and with the linebackers) but need to replace starters in the secondary, which could end up being a big area of vulnerability.

Still, linebackers Chris Borland and Mike Taylor are both legit football players; Borland alone had 104 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 2012. Expect those numbers to go even higher this season as Andersen will likely try to funnel his opponent's offense toward his most talented defensive players.

PLAYER to WATCH: Abbrederis. 17.1 yards per catch is pretty good, and honestly if there's anyone on this team of having a dominant, breakout kind of season, it's this dude.

Northwestern – 10/5

My college football spirit animal. Yes, Northwestern has lost to Ohio State 28 out of the last 29 seasons, and yes Jim Tressel beat them four times in a row by an average score of 51-9, and no, they still don't really have the depth to run with the Ohio States and Michigans of the world but this time will be different dammit! At Ryan Field! In primetime! They won a bowl game!

OFFENSE: And the reason why they won that bowl game was because Northwestern had and continues to retain the services of some extremely talented offensive weapons. Last season Kain Colter split time with Trevor Siemian at quarterback, but this season it's his show alone. Colter is a dual threat QB, and he should easily improve on both his 894 yards of rushing and his 872 yards of passing.

Helping him out at RB is Venric Mark, an underrated back who probably rushed for the quietest 1366 yards in human history last season. The dude didn't just beat up on the pink frilly panties of the schedule either: he had eight games of 100 yards or more.

Both of these guys should be a really tough 1-2 punch all season, and probably will be the main reason why Northwestern gets to 7-9 wins again.

DEFENSE: This is why people are starting to take Northwestern seriously. In the past, you could say "yeah they have Tyrell Sutton/Mike Kafka/Dan Persa/whichever cardigan-wearing tortured soul poet they find wandering the streets of Chicago and convinced to play QB... BUT..." and the "but" always meant a pregnant pause before a quick "theirdefensereallysucks."

The problem for Big Ten opponents is that their defense seems to be transitioning from bad to average to sort of okay. Their linebackers are productive, their secondary is occasionally competent, and now they can bust out senior DL Tyler Scott (he of nine sacks last season) to do some damage. They won't be great, but they could be decent, which will be enough to scare some people.

PLAYER to WATCH: Kicker Jeff Budzien is really, really good. If it's a close game, at night, at Ryan Field, in early October, he might... gulp... make the difference? No... no. That's crazy talk. Iowa.

Iowa – 10/19

Iowa's bad. Kirk Ferentz probably doesn't care, offensive coordinator Greg Davis might care but isn't good enough to do anything about it, and Iowa fans have mostly resigned themselves to seething in a quiet Midwestern rage while nursing a flask of moonshine. Kirk Ferentz made well over $3,000,000 dollars to deliver a 4-8 season to Iowa City in 2012. He will get paid slightly more to deliver slightly more wins in 2013. Maybe.


OFFENSE: And by "maybe" I mean he might win more games this season, not "maybe" he'll get paid more. Because he'll definitely get paid more, it's built into his contract. Anyway, no one is really sure who the quarterback is going to be that'll try and get him that one or possibly two more wins. James Vandenberg and his hot mom are no longer with us, so Iowa will get to pick from three dudes, all with zero experience whatsoever. Fun!

RB Mark Weisman is holding down the starting running back spot in defiance of God's will (or at least, the Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God), and is actually pretty serviceable. He's got the ability to hit 1000 yards rushing this season. Assuming there are no... accidents...

DEFENSE: Once a strength, now not a strength, the Hawkeyes are going to have to find a way to replace outstanding DB Micah Hyde and also figure out how to prevent teams from knocking their defensive line on their butts every single play.

The linebackers are good. Anthony Hitchens, James Morris, and Christian Kirksey are tackling machines and are very active all around the field. The biggest problem for them will be deciding whether to back up a poor-to-mediocre defensive line, or trotting back to help out a green secondary.

PLAYER to WATCH: Whoever pops Kirk Ferentz in the gob if Iowa loses six straight to end the season like they did last year.

Penn State – 10/26

Bill O'Brien is a goddamn saint. He took the world's worst job, did an impossibly good job at it given the circumstances, and then stayed in said job even though he knows it's only going to get worse. And boy howdy is it about to get worse.

OFFENSE: I like Zach Zwinak, I really do. He's scrappy, does a great job against bad teams and plays really poorly against good teams. Truly a latter day Evan Royster, and he'll get to continue to prove that this season because guess what, Penn State has exactly the same problem that Iowa does in that they have zero experience at QB. WR Adam Robinson was the Big Ten's best last season (accumulating over 1000 yards) and their tight ends are excellent, so that should help out, but overall this offense is going to operate in fits and starts.

DEFENSE: Penn State had a surprisingly good defense last season. They were one of the better teams at defending the run, allowing only 124 yards per game, but that was at least partially thanks to terrific linebackers like Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges. Both of those guys are gone, which leaves a hole in the defense a mile wide. The secondary should be somewhat improved from last season to make things a bit easier, but expect them to lean on guys like DL Deion Barnes a lot more.

PLAYER to WATCH: Robinson. He was not given the pub he probably deserved last season, and though he'll be hard pressed to replicate what he did in 2012, he will still be one of the B1G's best wideouts.


Comments Show All Comments

avail31678's picture

"The aforementioned Gary Andersen takes over for my personal favorite punching bag Bret Bert Bielema, making Wisconsin slightly more likeable as long as you forget about their fans and Jay Valai giving Dane Sanzenbacher all those concussions..."
Fixed that for ya, Johnny.

jdagrava.1's picture

It won't be as fun beating Wisconsin up and down the field without Bert on the sidelines... is it wrong to say I will miss him??

"It takes a little something special to be a great player.  What you got in you, we're going to find out.  And if there's a touch of greatness in there, how cool would that be?"

-Urban F. Meyer

westlaneavenue's picture

Wisky should not be a problem since it's in the Shoe. But Gordon is the best offensive player in the Big 10 (sorry, Miller is awesome but ask any NFL guy and they'll tell you Gordon by a longshot), so we have to be careful there.  Not worried about Northwestern at all, athletically they don't stand a chance. Iowa will be a rout.  Penn State makes me slightly nervous because they have superior coaching and IF Hackenberg is developing quickly things could get interesting.  Regardless I see 4-0 during this stretch.

oregonianbuckeye's picture

Hmm, agree to disagree on this one, @westlane. I think Gordon is a good player, but what would happen if the players were traded for one another? Braxton would clearly start on Wisconsin and make them a top 10 team. If Gordon were on tOSU, he'd be in the mix at RB, but wouldn't improve the team substantially. Gordon may be the better pro prospect, but that doesn't mean he's the better college player. There is a long history of some players dominating the college game and not the pro game, especially at the QB position. 

Seattle Linga's picture

Men - do not pay attention to this troll - she just likes to get a rise out of people. And yes it's not the first knucklehead comment made by westlaneavenue.

avail31678's picture

Agree to disagree also - I think NW is fairly athletic...at least quick.  Mobile quarterback that is also a competent thrower could give us fits.  Let's hope not, but I am more nervous about this NW game than almost any other.
I agree Whisky shouldn't be too much of a problem though.  A challenge and will require us to be pumped up, but I am not worried about it per se.

TimmyZ's picture

PSU will have superior coaching? Compared to who, Urban? doubtful.

Squirrel Master's picture

I will also disagree! Superior coaching? To whom? not Ohio State! and that is a big IF there.
Gordon is not the best offensive player. He isn't even projected to be the starter. Braxton was the starter for a better team his freshman year. Braxton is a QB, which is a much bigger need in the NFL than a RB. You can find a good RB in the 5th round, but only a few QB's are found that low, so the need is greater for Braxton. Braxton also leads in the stats category, for RUNNING YARDS! He has accumulated more rushing yards than Gordon over each of their careers.
and I still don't think either are the best talents for the NFL (I assume you are talking NFL prospect because I know you aren't comparing Gordon to heisman candidate Braxton Miller). Venric Mark will be a better pro RB than Gordon. He is much more versatile and will probably get drafted higher. I also think Taylor Lewan is the highest rated offensive player in the B1G by everyone! so there is that as well.
Athletically, NU is by far a more athletic team than any of the other 3, so I think you are way off on that one. I would say they can stand a better chance than PSU athletically!

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

BrewstersMillions's picture

What NFL guys do you know? Or which do you ask about Gordon v. Miller? While I'm at it, how anyone projects to the next level doesn't take away from the fact that they are part of a greater whole-in the case of Miller.
What Penn State coach or coaches are superior to which Ohio State coach or coaches?

Mirror Lake Jump's picture

Wisky at home for the night game is going to be awesome.

JJB's picture

I am extremely curious about what exactly Kirk Ferentz knows that not only allows him to keep his job, but also get paid so much to lose.

Breakawayspeed's picture

Northwestern 's defense getting better?  They could not even hold a big 4 th quarter lead against Penn State!  Their D-line was pushed all over the place!  They are toast! 

BukFan's picture

"And boy howdy is it about to get worse."
When exactly does this start? 2014?   He is still getting good players (yea only 15/year)...I think if anyone could field a good team with 65 schollys....BOB could!
When do they become SMU?  Because, I don't see it.  I see middle of the pack in BIG...and easily too.  I see 9-10 wins if Hack develops as expected.

Squirrel Master's picture

they are currently rotating 4, that is 4, scholarship linebackers. If they get 1 injury, they will need to use walk ons for some major PT.
9-10 wins might be a bit much. even for 2014. I would be more inclined to say 5-6 wins. with games against: UCF in Ireland, Rutgers, UM, OSU, MSU and Northwestern, that is easily 4 loses or more. Can't get 9 wins with those games. At the most they could be 8-4.

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

BukFan's picture

These 4? (scholly LBs)1. Mike Hull (Starter)2. Brandon Bell (new 3* LB)3. Nyeem Wartman (Starter & future star LB)4. Ben Kline5. Glenn Carson (Starter)6. Gary Wooten


NWestern at night is the only game that worries me before TTUN and that is only because I still remember vividly that 04 loss up there in OT. Any other games, if its close, its because we have a letdown not because someone beats us.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

I like our chances to get to 8-0.  The Northwestern game will be a battle.  The CAL game is all about traveling well.  If we play both of them well that sets us up for the key part of our schedule at 8-0. 
Go Bucks!

pjtobin's picture

I'm going to the whiskey game. It does give me a scare. Hell, they all do. Yet I think we see another undefeated season. Just my opinion.  

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

Seattle Linga's picture

Dude - PJTOBIN - is that really your picture? If it is it rocks!!!

ChazBuckeye's picture

No Purdue huh???  I wouldn't sleep on an away trip to West Lafayette.  I realize OSU had problems with them in the Tress era.  However last years OT win wasn't going so well even before Brax360 got dinged up.  I wouldn't sleep on that trip as well as NW.  I'm not worried about Wiscy...sorry Cheese Heads...you're going to be eaten ALIVE!    

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.