2008 CFN Ohio State Preview
Ohio State RB Chris Wells
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.
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Conversation with James Laurinaitis
It's not like Ohio State got waxed in two straight Poinsettia
It's not like the Buckeyes have been pummeled by Vanderbilt and
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
Best OSU Players
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 Record: 0-0
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. 1 OPEN DATE
Nov. 8 at Northwestern
Nov. 15 at Illinois
Nov. 22 Michigan
2007 Record: 11-2
Purdue W 23-7
Penn State W 37-17
Michigan W 14-3
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
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
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 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
Key player to a
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
... 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.
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
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