Sure we could focus all of our attention on the Buckeyes big week two matchup against Miami, but there’s more to this schedule than meets the eye.
The Buckeyes seem to luck out by getting rivals Penn State and Michigan at home this season when the Nittany Lions will have a new quarterback under center and reload on defense, and Michigan is going through the era of hell under Rich Rodriguez. However they get the wonderful task of having to go to two of the toughest stadiums in America for two road games against the teams that threaten them the most for the Big Ten crown, Wisconsin and Iowa.
The Badgers are coming off of a surprising 10-3 season, which ended with a beat down of Miami in the Champs Sports Bowl. They return starters Scott Tolzien at QB and John Clay (who could be a dark horse Heisman candidate) at tailback on offense and a stout defense lead by hard hitting safety Jay Valei. The last time the Buckeyes went to Camp Randall Terrelle Pryor was a freshman QB and the Buckeyes came out with a 20-17 victory on a last second touchdown by Pryor. Though it was two years the Badgers haven’t forgotten that loss and with possible BCS or national championship implications this re-match will be a nail-biter for sure.
Iowa poses the biggest threat for the Buckeyes this year for two reasons; one, the Iowa d-line led by Adrian Claiborne is one of the best in the nation. It gave Georgia Tech fits in the Orange Bowl and made quarterbacking a nightmare for Darryl Clark, Juice Williams and others in the Big Ten last year. Two, Kinnick Stadium has been the place where BCS title hopes have come to die in the last two years. Undefeated Penn State was 9-0 coming off of a victory versus Ohio State in 2008 when Iowa sent them home crying with a last second field goal, and it happened to Iowa last year when Northwestern came in and took advantage of four Iowa turnovers and sent the Hawkeyes reeling. If the Buckeyes make it past Penn State the previous week they should be on red alert for a possible heartbreaker in Iowa City.
The game that I believe the Buckeyes should be most weary of is October 23rd versus Purdue. The Boilermakers gave the Buckeyes their most humiliating loss last year and have improved mightily on offense this year with former Miami star recruit Robert Mavre under center. Also this is a classic trap game for the Buckeyes as it’s a week after their road trip to Wisconsin, and before its big stretch at Minnesota and Iowa and home games against Penn State and Michigan. If there’s any game the Buckeyes and their fans should be most concerned with it is this one.
So as exciting as the Miami game will be, don’t expect that to be the Buckeyes only test this year. The Bucks have tough contests throughout their schedule as the Big Ten has improved drastically this year as opposed to previous years.