If you’re like me and many other Ohio State fans then you noticed that within the last week the upcoming 2011 football season has been graced with three prime-time games. To see the exact times and dates click here. While this isn’t earth shattering news in the sports world it does do two great things for residents of Columbus and Buckeye Nation worldwide. It gives us all something to look forward to and a chance to start putting our tailgating and game day plans in order (or at least start). It also gives us a chance to start thinking about the actual on the field stories for the upcoming season. While the offseason has been filled with negative coverage of the Buckeye’s it does help to produce a number of intriguing storylines for this season, and these three games pull attention to what could be the highlights or breaking points of the season.
Sept. 17th at Miami– The third game of the season in South Beach will produce the first big challenge of the 2011 season. Given a full complement of players this really should be a challenging yet very winnable game, however that won’t be the case with so many missing pieces. But the focus of the sports world will be on this game to discuss the suspended players and coach Tress. Will that added scrutiny break the remaining players and young assistant coach Fickell or will it cause everyone to band together? This will be the first real test.
Oct. 8th at Nebraska – The sixth game of the season brings the suspended players and coach Tress back to the sideline. At least that’s the plan. What will the team’s record be? 5-0, 4-1, 3-2? Will a back up QB take the reins the first five games regulating Pryor to the bench? Will more allegations come to the surface causing further suspension or even the dismissal of coach Tress? Or will sports fans all around recognize that the Buckeyes have taken their punishment and allow the team to move forward and forget the past? It will be a pivotal week for the program and will be the first opportunity to take a step in a new direction. The questions remain, what will that direction be and who will be leading it.
Oct. 29th vs. Wisconsin – The eighth game of the season has the Buckeyes welcoming the Badgers to The Shoe. This will be the third week back for the suspended players and coach Tress baring any additional revelations. At this point the team should have some semblance of who they are, and what they are capable of for the season. Will they be poised for a Big Ten title run, or will we have to chalk this up as a lost season, and begin building towards 2012. By week eight the picture should be a lot clearer and we’ll have the chance to see it all play out on national television.
Until then there is still plenty of time to debate and think about what the 2011 season holds in store for the Buckeye football program and its fans. But for now as a fan of the program and of sports, these are the conversations we get to start having now.
Is it September yet?