2011 Ohio State Buckeyes Predictions and College Football Futures Odds
by Robert Ferringo - 7/18/2011
Jim Tressel was apparently the opening act of the Summer of Scandal.
From Willie Lyles to Dana Holgorsen to Jim Donnan, it has been a banner year for college football’s scumbags. Top programs from across the country – USC, Georgia Tech, Oregon, Auburn, and West Virginia, among others – had to brace themselves amidst accusations, sensationalism, investigations, NCAA sabre rattling, and worse. But Tressel and the mess at Ohio State set the tone and was by far the biggest story of the college football offseason.
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At this point there is no reason to look backwards; if you don’t know the story by now, please, for your own sake, don’t consider betting on college football. But in the case of one of college football’s most successful, most estimable programs it’s tough to move forward when the entire 2011-12 Ohio State season will simply be seen as aftershock to the scandalous quake that began last December.
Bottom line: Ohio State will move on without its coach and quarterback and they head into the first season of the New Big Ten with a dark cloud of negativity, accusations, humiliation, and uncertainty hanging over their heads.
Here is Doc’s Sports 2011 Ohio State Buckeyes college football preview:
Former co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell has been tagged as Tressel’s replacement. The 37-year-old Fickell has never been anything more than a position coach, first with Akron and then at Ohio State.
Perhaps the most interesting dynamic of this season will be how Fickell works with his two primary coordinators, Jim Bollman (offense) and Jim Heacock (defense). Both are older and more experienced and they have to be at list a little miffed about being passed over for the younger Fickell. It’s always dicey when someone becomes promoted to be the boss of friends and people they used to work alongside.
It will be interesting to see how this virgin coach handles the pressure of not just the fan and media scrutiny, but the behind-the-scenes angling as well. Continuity of system won’t be a problem. But chemistry could be.
Terrelle Pryor’s decision to leave school has definitely put this unit in a bind. That leaves senior Joe Bauserman and his 47 career attempts as the front-runner to be Ohio State’s starting quarterback this year. However, as recently as early July Fickell wasn’t willing to name Bauserman the starter and declared that the quarterback battle is “wide open”. Not good.
There are three other players, all sophomore’s or younger, vying for the crown. But the reality is that OSU is going from Heisman front-runner to unproven no-name under center to start the year.
Not only do the Buckeyes not know who is going to be chucking, but also they don’t know whom their quarterback will be chucking to. They lost their top wideout and their top returner, DeVier Posey, will miss the first five games. That leaves just one proven target, tight end Jake Stoneburner. But even he is coming back from injury.
So with no quarterback and no wideouts it is safe to say that this will be a fairly conservative attack. Tressel was never a very daring guy with the ball, but we can expect the Buckeyes to ground and pound even more this year. Their strength is in the backfield, where they have a solid three- or four-back rotation. And they return three starting offensive linemen, all seniors, including All-American Mike Brewster.
The Buckeyes have been winning with defense for the majority of the last decade. This side of the ball is where their true identity lies and this is the unit that they will be counting on to set the tone for the 2011-12 season. There’s only one big problem with that: Ohio State has just four starters back from last year’s team and none of them are all-American or even all-conference performers. They lost their top four tackles as well as first-round pick Cameron Heyward, and overall just four of their top 12 stoppers are back in uniform.
Ohio State still has quality depth along the defensive line. But graduation and the draft have really depleted their back seven. Both the linebackers and secondary will be weaker this year, and they should be tested early in the season. However, Ohio State has been losing No. 1 draft picks for the last decade and yet they consistently crank out one of the top defenses in the nation. This is a system team. And a lot of the guys that will be stepping up this year are at least sophomores and juniors, so they are familiar with that system. However, who will lead this group and whether it can continue to dominate remains to be seen.
2011 Ohio State Buckeyes Football Schedule Analysis
This is where things go from bad to worse for the Buckeyes. They were expecting to have Pryor leading a group ready for another Big Ten title. But instead they will face a brutal slate with an inexperienced team facing some teams hell-bent on revenge.
Ohio State opens with in-state patsies Akron and Toledo. With all of the emotion built up from this offseason those two games should be bloodbaths. However, then they have to travel to Miami to face a Hurricanes team that lost 36-24 last year in Columbus. That game is big, big trouble. It doesn’t get any easier after that, as the Buckeyes come home in a letdown spot to face Colorado right before opening the conference slate against Michigan State.
Then things really get tough. Ohio State has to head to Lincoln, a place no Buckeyes team has ever roamed. After that they head to Champagne to take on an Illinois team that has always been a thorn in OSU’s side. Ohio State will then have two weeks to prepare for a huge home game against Wisconsin on homecoming. They close out with a see-saw of home and road games vs. Indiana, at Purdue, vs. Penn State and at Michigan.
2011 Ohio State Buckeyes College Football Futures Odds
WagerWeb presently has the Buckeyes at an optimistic 5-to-1 to win the Big Ten Conference title. (Remember: this year that means winning the Big Ten Championship Game.) That makes them the No. 4 favorite behind Wisconsin, Nebraska and Penn State to win the title. According to Bodog, Wisconsin is currently 25-to-1 to win the 2012 BCS National Championship.
2011 Ohio State Buckeyes Predictions
At this point I think that anything is going to be better than what Ohio State fans are expecting. Pride goes a long way, and this program has as much of it as any in the country. This roster is still populated by some future NFL players and by some guys that have had a lot of experience playing in big games. After all, these guys were 12-1 last year and have 23-3 in the last two seasons.
But the fact of the matter is that this team has been kicking ass in the Big Ten for a long time and now that they are weak and wounded there are a lot of rivals that are just waiting to take a big piece out of them. They have a load of uncertainty in the passing game, their defense is shaky and inexperienced, and we have no idea how the coaching dynamic is going to play out. Further, some of the upperclassmen that this team desperately needs to fill the leadership vacuum – guys like Posey and all-American tackle Mike Adams– are going to be suspended for the first five games of the year.
You can’t completely write the Buckeyes off. The Big Ten is still filled with a bunch of mediocre-to-terrible teams and the full impact of Tressel’s ouster won’t be felt for a couple years.
However, we have seen the end of and era for one of the most profitable teams for bettors over the last decade. Ohio State went 10-2-1 against the spread last year and was an absolutely phenomenal 50-24-1 ATS over the last six years. That is all over now. And just like we’ve seen from USC over the last two years (17-9 straight up, 9-17 ATS), it doesn’t take long for a dynasty to sink.
I think that Ohio State is going to lose all of its biggest games (Miami, Nebraska, Wisconsin) and I think the season will be determined by whether or not they can stave off an upset in one of their conference road games or in home games against challengers like Colorado, Michigan State, or Penn State. I think that 8-4 is a pretty reasonable prediction (even if they win one of their “big” games) and then this team should go beat up on some middling ACC or Pac-10 team in some garbage Christmas Week bowl game. (That is, if they are even eligible to go bowling.)
Robert Ferringo is a professional football handicapper and is coming off an exceptionally profitable 2010-11 football betting season (college and pro). Over the last year his clients have more than tripled their bankrolls with his predictions in all sports. He is looking forward to building on his stellar football handicapping resume again this fall and you can check him out here.
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