Welcome to The Ciskie Blog's 2008 College Football Preview. As usual, you can expect a rundown of every Division I-A (or "Football Bowl Subdivision", if you prefer) conference, as well as a brief look at the independents. Some of the information used to compile these previews came from various football preview publications that I took the time to review this summer. I give a full endorsement to Phil Steele's College Football Preview (the national edition, as well as his various regional magazines). I also have looked at Sporting News, Athlon Sports, and Blue Ribbon (via ESPN Insider). Information was also gathered from local newspapers and school websites. Please use the comments section or e-mail for feedback, questions, and any corrections you feel need to be noted.
OHIO STATE BUCKEYES
Last year: 11-2 overall, 7-1 Big Ten (1st)
Postseason: Lost to LSU, 38-24, in BCS Championship Game
In good shape
Virtually everything. The Buckeyes have a smart, accurate quarterback in Todd Boeckman. They have one of the best backs in the country in Chris "Beanie" Wells, a legitimate H*i*m*n threat on a team that is too loaded to really need one. They have Brian Hartline and Brian Robiskie back at receiver. Ohio State also boasts two of the land's best linebackers in James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman. If that's not enough, two-time first-team All-Big Ten corner Malcolm Jenkins is back along with the entire secondary. There's a lot of motivation for redemption, considering tOSU has lost the last two national title games by a combined 79-38. As much as you and I can't stand Jim Tressel's smarminess, there's no doubt he can coach, and the Buckeyes' systems are a great fit for the talent on hand.
You mean I have to pick something? An offensive line that was super in pass protection throughout the season allowed five sacks against LSU. Since Boeckman is something close to the polar opposite of "fleet of foot", the line has to do quite a good job of protecting him. Yes, many of tOSU's pass plays call for quick drops and quick, decisive throws, but when you have a virtually immobile quarterback, you have to protect him well. Then again, when you have Terrelle Pryor on the bench, maybe you don't worry about such things. As for other potential flaws on this team, the speed on defense is still not good enough for a national title, and the lost shoes of Vernon Gholston will be extremely difficult to fill.
I'd love to pick on tOSU for losing the last two title games by a wide margin, but the bottom line is that they've blown through the Big Ten the last two seasons with a combined record of 15-1. Their only loss was Boeckman's worst game of 2007. Outside of the game at USC September 13, there isn't a loss on this schedule. An 8-0 Big Ten run is at least a 50/50 proposition. If that happens, it's possible that the Buckeyes could absorb a loss to USC and still be in the title game in January.
Tressel could be on the verge of fielding his best team after seeing his team play for three national championships in six years. It's beyond scary to think of what this team can accomplish in 2008.