2008 CFN Ohio State Preview
Ohio State RB Chris Wells
Ohio State RB Chris Wells
Posted May 9, 2008

Sorry, America, but Ohio State is going to be good again. Really good. As in third straight national championship game good. Chris Wells leads an all-star cast of veterans that should make up the best Buckeye team in the Jim Tressel era. Now can it close? Check out the CFN Ohio State Preview.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Preview 2008

By Pete Fiutak

- 2008 CFN Ohio State Preview | 2008 Ohio State Offense
- 2008 Ohio State Defense | 2008 Ohio State Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Ohio State Preview | 2006 CFN Ohio State Preview 

- The CFN Conversation with James Laurinaitis

It's not like Ohio State got waxed in two straight Poinsettia Bowls.

It's not like the Buckeyes have been pummeled by Vanderbilt and Kentucky.

The team lost two straight national championship games (let that sink in for a moment) to teams that would've beaten at least 115 other teams in a BCS Championship game. Yes, it really is possible Ohio State was very good and just plain lost two really big games.

Head coach: Jim Tressel
8th year: 73-16
23rd year overall: 208-73-2
Ten Best OSU Players
RB Chris Wells, Jr.
2. LB James Laurinaitis, Sr.
3. CB Malcolm Jenkins, Sr.
4. OT Alex Boone, Sr.
5. WR Brian Robiskie, Sr.
6. LB Marcus Freeman, Sr.
7. DE Lawrence Wilson, Jr.
8. OG Steve Rehring, Sr.
9. PK Ryan Pretorius, Sr.
10. P A.J. Trapasso. Sr.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record: 0-0

Aug. 30 Youngstown State
Sept. 6 Ohio
Sept. 13 at USC
Sept. 20 Troy
Sept. 27 Minnesota 
Oct. 4 at Wisconsin
Oct. 11 Purdue
Oct. 18 at Michigan State
Oct. 25 Penn State
Nov. 8 at Northwestern
Nov. 15 at Illinois
Nov. 22 Michigan

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Record: 11-2

Sept. 1 Y'stown St W 38-6
Sept. 8 Akron W 20-2
Sept. 15 at Washington W 33-14
Sept. 22 Northwestern W 58-7
Sept. 29 at Minnesota W 30-7
Oct. 6 at Purdue W 23-7
Oct. 13
Kent State W 48-3
Oct. 20 Michigan State W 24-17
Oct. 27 at Penn State W 37-17
Nov. 3
Wisconsin W 38-17
Nov. 10 Illinois L 28-21
Nov. 17 at Michigan W 14-3
BCS Championship
Jan. 7 LSU L 38-24

Sorry sports world, but this year's Buckeye team is better than the last two, could be the best in the Jim Tressel era, and is loaded enough to be the early favorite to get back to a third championship game in three years. 20 starters are back with the talent level helped by the stunning decisions by LB James Laurinaitis and CB Malcolm Jenkins to come back for their senior seasons.

Not only is the nation's No. 1 defense getting back everyone of importance outside of DE Vernon Gholston and LB Larry Grant, and not only does the perfectly balanced attack (197 yards per game rushing, 197 yards per game receiving) get back everyone but OT Kirk Barton, but the kicking game will be the best in the country with the return of PK Ryan Pretorius and P A.J. Trapasso.
Yeah, the team really is good.

But for everyone desperate for some new blood in the national title game, there is hope. There's a trip to face USC early on that could all but end the debate right away. The road games at Wisconsin and Illinois are certainly going to be challenging, and there will be Purdue, Michigan State and Michigan to still deal with.

Realize that this is a juggernaut of a program that deserves its due. Realize that Tressel has put together a monster that by ever measure possible is an all-timer of a success. However, realize that anything less than a national title win, and it probably has to be over an SEC team, will do. No pressure there.

What to watch for on offense: The season long question about what to do with Terrelle Pryor. Ohio State is good enough to win the national title with the players in place; it doesn't need anything to upset the apple cart, and it definitely doesn't need to massage any egos of young players. QB Todd Boeckman is a veteran who knows the offense, and is a fringe NFL prospect good enough to make the attack roll, but if he struggles even a wee bit, the grumbling will start to get the superstar recruit on the field.

What to watch for on defense: Even more of a pass rush. It's not like the Buckeyes had a problem getting into the backfield last year making 43 sacks and 103 tackles for loss, so how could things be better with Gholston off to the NFL?
Dexter Larimore appears to be on the verge of big things at tackle, Lawrence Wilson is back from a broken leg, Cameron Heyward is expected to blossom on the other side, and the tackles should be improved and should do even more to make big plays. With all the returning overall experience, the pressure is going to come from everywhere.

The team will be far better if … it forces more turnovers. For having such a dizzying array of talent and with so much overall success, the D should've been far better at taking the ball away after finishing near the bottom of the rankings with just 19. Tressel ball might not necessarily be the way the Buckeye offense works anymore, but OSU still needs to win the turnover battle to be more dominant.

The Schedule: The entire sports world will focus on the September 13th mega-showdown against USC that'll be certain to have national title implications, but there are other landmines to worry about. Going to Wisconsin won't be easy and dealing with a road trip to Illinois won't be a plus. The Michigan game is in Columbus, but it comes after going on the road to face Northwestern and the Illini. If this is the national title contender it's supposed to be, the home schedule, including the date with the Wolverines and the October battles with Purdue and Penn State, shouldn't be a problem. Outside of the USC game, the non-conference slate is a breeze facing Youngstown State, Ohio and Troy. The Buckeyes miss Indiana and Iowa.

Best Offensive Player: Junior RB Chris Wells. Is he the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NFL draft? That might be getting way too ahead of the game, but he has the skills to be a franchise back at the next level. Size? He's 6-1 and 237 pounds. Speed? Check out the touchdown run in the loss to LSU and the 52-yard scoring run against Michigan in 2006. He's a star the offense will work around.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB James Laurinaitis. Could he be on the list of one of the greatest linebackers of all-time? He could submit his name for the list is he has another season like his previous two. He might not be a freak of athletic nature, but he's always around the ball, he's always making plays, and he has the utmost respect from the rest of his team. Don't blame him for the loss to LSU; he had 19 tackles.

Key player to a successful season: Junior DE Lawrence Wilson. He was supposed to be Vernon Gholston before Vernon Gholston, albeit a much bigger version. Things didn't quite turn out that way with a broken leg and the emergence of Gholston, among others, shining. Now if Wilson can be the player many envisioned him being a few years ago, the defense won't skip a beat.

The season will be a success if ... the Buckeyes win the national title. Pure and simple. It's not fair, but anything less will be a failure for a team this good.

Key game: Sept. 13 at USC. In a weird way, the October 4th date at Wisconsin could turn out to be more important overall, OSU can probably still play for the national title if it loses a close battle in L.A., but it probably can't get to Miami with a loss against anyone else. Even so, college football fans live for games like Ohio State at USC, and that it's happening in mid-September will get the juices of the season flowing early on.

2007 Fun Stats: 
- Rushing touchdowns: Ohio State 21 - Opponents 3
- Penalties: Ohio State 72 for 574 yards - Opponents 53 for 483 yards
- First quarter scoring: Ohio State 121 - Opponents 32