But today, I'd like to take a look at the schedule, and do a REALLY short preview of all the games, from toughest to easiest.
So, Step One....here's the schedule!
|Sat.||9/13||at USC||8 PM|
|Sat.||10/4||at Wisconsin||8 PM|
|Sat.||10/18||at Mich. St.||TBA|
|Sat.||10/25||PENN STATE||8 PM|
Best case scenario - 12-0 and a fourth National Championship game in 7 years.
Worst case scenario - Going 1-4 on the road. Seriously. Losing to USC and Wisconsin are easily possible, Illinois will never be overlooked again, and Michigan State still scares me with Dantonio at the helm.
The upper echelon - best of the best
There are three of these, and fortunately, they're spaced apart far enough. The bad news is that two of these games will be on the road, in some of the worst places for a visiting team to win.
USC - September 13th - L.A. Coliseum
It'll be called, rightfully so, as the game of the year. Two teams in the Top 4 (maybe even Top 2). Two legendary coaches. All-Americans at every turn. What more do you need?
Wisconsin - October 4th - Camp Randall Stadium
The only team in the Big Ten to have a winning record against Tressel, having knocked off the Senator in 2001, 2003 and 2004. Don't let last year's 38-17 blowout fool you, the Badgers were playing without any RBs. They'll all back this time.
Michigan - November 22nd - Ohio Stadium
Yes, I know. No Hart, no Henne, no chance in hell. It's Michigan, though. And if the Wolverines are 0-11 headed into the game, I'm still worried. And if you're not scared too, then you don't understand The Rivalry.
The second tier - potential upsets
Three more games that could spell trouble, and again two of them are on the road.
Michigan State - October 18th - Spartan Stadium
Tressel's never lost to Michigan State, and the Spartans have never been closer than a 7-point fluke in 2006. But Mark Dantonio knows this team and is a hell of a coach. He'd be immortalized with a win over a team that could be #1 by the time they roll into East Lansing.
Penn State - October 25th - Ohio Stadium
The Lions are no slouch this year, and they're hungry for that one win that will give them a crack at a BCS bowl. Winning in Columbus would do it....just ask Illinois. Plus, dammit, we don't get much time to rest up after a tough road game at MSU.
Illinois - November 15th - Memorial Stadium
They lost Mendenhall, but they gained a world of confidence. The game between Illinois and Ohio State used to be legendary, then it got kinda boring. It's back to being a battlefield again.
Pitfall games - Don't take it for granted
These are the teams that are nowhere near good enough to make a BCS bowl, but could put together a game good enough to beat a BCS-Bowl team.
Troy - September 20th - Ohio Stadium
It's worth pointing out that last year, Troy was down 7 points midway through the 4th quarter to Georgia. They'll sneak up on you if you're not paying attention. Plus, we play them right after the big game at USC. Watch out for this one.
Purdue - October 11th - Ohio Stadium
Joe Tiller's Farewell tour, and Purdue is always a tough game for us.
The dregs - not a chance in hell
Hey, Terrelle Prior. Here's the playbook. Learn it and practice against these teams!
Youngstown State - August 30th - Ohio Stadium
Ohio - September 6th - Ohio Stadium
Minnesota - September 27th - Ohio Stadium
Northwestern - October 8th - Ryan Field
We'll get into much greater detail with all these games in the coming weeks.