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Ohio State Preview 2006
Posted Aug 5, 2006

If you were wondering what kind of a monster Ohio State has become under head coach Jim Tressel, take a look at the respect the 2006 team is getting after losing an array of future NFL stars.

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

Seriously, who loses five number one draft picks, the entire defensive back seven, the number one receiver, and two tremendous offensive linemen and is supposed to be better than the year before?

It's partially due to the lack of a true number one team to start the season, and it's partially due to quarterback Troy Smith and an offense that should light up most defenses like a Christmas tree, but it's mostly due to the recruiting. Ohio State is one of the select few that can lose players like A.J. Hawk, Donte Whitner, Bobby Carpenter, Santonio Holmes, Nick Mangold, Ashton Youboty, Anthony Schlegel, Nate Salley, and Rob Sims, and immediately replace them with athletes just as strong, just as fast, and just as talented.

Of course, it's asking too much for all the new starters to immediately play like first round draft picks, but the expectations have gone out of control after winning fifty games, including four of the last five against Michigan, a national title, three BCS games, and four straight bowl games under Tressel. Simply put, anything less than a national title will be seen as a disappointment in Columbus.

No pressure there.

Head coach: Jim Tressel
6th year: 50-13
21st year overall: 185-70-2
Ten Best OSU Players
QB Troy Smith, Sr.
2. WR/KR Ted Ginn Jr., Jr.
3. DT Quinn Pitcock, Sr.
4. RB Antonio Pittman, Jr.
5. OT Alex Boone, Soph.
6. OT Kirk Barton, Jr.
7. CB Malcolm Jenkins, Soph.
8. C Doug Datish, Sr.
9. LB Marcus Freeman, Soph.
10. DT David Patterson, Sr.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 10-2

9/2 Northern Illinois
9/9 at Texas
9/16 Cincinnati
9/23 Penn State
9/30 at Iowa
10/7 Bowling Green
10/14 at Michigan State
10/21 Indiana
10/28 Minnesota
11/4 at Illinois
11/11 at Northwestern
11/18 Michigan

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2005 Record: 10-
Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 Miami Univ. W 34-14
9/10 Texas L 25-22
9/17 San Diego St W 27-6
9/24 Iowa W 31-6
10/8 at Penn State  L 17-10
10/15 Michigan St W 35-24
10/22 at Indiana W 41-10
10/29 at Minnesota W 45-31
11/5 Illinois W 40-2
11/12 Northwestern W 48-7
11/19 at Michigan W 25-21
1/2 Fiesta Bowl
Notre Dame W 34-20

But the makings are there for this team to get the job done. If it's not the number one team going into the season, it'll be in just about everyone's top three. It has a high profile showdown at Texas which could mean a rock-solid number one ranking with a win, and a loss would come early enough that a national title shot would still be a possibility by winning out. The secondary is full of big, fast athletes that looked like seasoned veteran throughout spring ball. The linebacking corps replaces the legendary trio of Hawk, Schlegel and Carpenter with seven talented options to form a great rotation. And then there's the offense.

Smith is expected to be this year's Vince Young. After two years of clutch performances in several big games, and with his knowledge of the Buckeye offense that will allow for more spread formations, it's all there to have a Heisman caliber season. He has Ted Ginn Jr. to throw to, and Antonio Pittman along with superstar recruit Chris Wells in the backfield. To make Buckeye haters even more nervous, the line might be the best yet in the Tressel era with two tremendous tackles and enough depth to form a solid second team.

Of course, with everything going for them, the Buckeyes will have to avoid a 2004-like letdown if there are problems early on. That team was much like this year's version; it was loaded with talent, but it had to replace a slew of stars. Experienced teams loaded with veterans win close games; teams with plenty of new starters, even talented ones, tend to have issues when things get tight.

And that's where Smith is supposed to come in. If he really is VY part two, he'll be the leader who gets the team out of jams and makes all the big plays he has to. Fortunately for OSU, he won't have to do it too often because of ...

The Schedule: Let's cut to the chase here. Games against Northern Illinois, Cincinnati, Bowling Green, Indiana, Minnesota, at Illinois, and at Northwestern will be mere formalities unless all the planets are aligned absolutely perfectly. Considering Wisconsin has beaten the Buckeyes in the last two meetings and that Purdue should be better, missing those two from the Big Ten slate isn't a bad thing. At Texas on September 9th is the one the world is waiting for, and at Michigan State will be much tougher than expected. The other two potential battles are in Columbus against Penn State and Michigan. In other words, if the Buckeyes can get by the Longhorns and survive a trip to Iowa, things are as favorable as can be reasonably asked for.

Best Offensive Player: Senior QB Troy Smith. Michigan fans liked to joke that Smith was the second best pro quarterback in Ohio behind Carson Palmer after the Buckeye star got suspended for taking money from a booster. Ohio State has had all the laughs recently in the last two wins against the Wolverines thanks to Smith after he completed 40 of 60 passes for 541 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions, 282 rushing yards, and two touchdowns.

Best Defensive Player: Senior DT Quinn Pitcock. While he doesn't get a lot of headlines and his stats are hardly eye-popping, the 6-3, 295-pound senior is one of the nation's best tackles. He's strong enough to occupy two blockers without a problem, and quick enough to force the action in the backfield.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore PK Ryan Pretorius and redshirt freshman PK Aaron Pettrey. Ohio State hasn't had to worry about field goals for several years with Mike Nugent and Josh Huston among the best in the nation. Can Pretorius and Pettrey be as clutch? If not, the offense might have to open it up just a little bit more in close games.

The season will be a success if ... the Buckeyes play for the national title. The schedule is too favorable and the Texas games comes just early enough that anything less than a game on January 8th, 2007 in Glendale, Arizona will be a major disappointment.

Key game: Sept. 30 at Iowa. Of course everyone is jacked up for the Texas game on September 9th, and the Michigan game is always one of the must-see games of the year, but Iowa has the type of team that can win the Big Ten title, and has a good enough schedule that it can reasonably dream about playing for a national title. If the Buckeyes aren't razor-sharp, national championship and Big Ten title dreams can go bye-bye.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- Sacks: Ohio State 44 for 291 yards - Opponents 18 for 110 yards
- Second quarter scoring: Ohio State 111 - Opponents 41
- Time of possession: Ohio State 32:00 - Opponents 28:00

The Last Time Ohio State…
…played in a bowl game…2005 (Fiesta Bowl vs. Notre Dame)
…missed a bowl game…1999
…pitched a shutout…2003 (Northwestern)
…was shutout…1993 (Michigan)
…scored 50 points…2002 (San Jose State)
…went undefeated…2002
…won a conference title…2005 (share, Big Ten)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…1998 (Joe Germaine)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2005 (Antonio Pittman)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2002 (Michael Jenkins)
…had a first-round draft choice…2006 (LB A.J. Hawk, DB Donte Whitner, LB Bobby Carpenter, WR  Santonio Holmes and C Nick Mangold)

Related Stories
Ohio State Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by  Aug 5, 2006
Ohio State Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by  Aug 5, 2006
Ohio State Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by  Aug 5, 2006

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