KICKOFF: Youngstown State has said all the right things about approaching its season opener against Ohio State with the intention of showing up at Ohio Stadium and winning the game.
But the fact is, the Buckeyes are not the the Michigan Wolverines of a year ago, and the Penguins are not the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
So the outcome today at the Horseshoe - barring some type of completely unforeseen calamity or act of God - is not in doubt.
That said, there will be no lack of things to watch for today:
QUARTERBACK: YSU - Junior Todd Rowan is expected to make his first college start for the Penguins, and he'll be running YSU's new no-huddle offense. Look for Toledo transfer Brandon Summers to play, too. OSU - Todd Boeckman returns for his second season as the Buckeyes' starter, but backups Joe Bauserman and Terrelle Pryor also should play. Bauserman has a cannon for an arm, but Pryor is the player everyone wants to see in action. EDGE: Buckeyes.
RUNNING BACKS: YSU - Jabari Scott is a 5-10, 190-pound tailback. He rushed for 524 yards and five touchdowns last season. Scott suffered a season-ending ankle injury on a 60-yard run in a victory over Indiana State. Redshirt freshman Kamryn Keys is Scott's top backup. OSU - Junior Chris ''Beanie'' Wells is a Heisman Trophy candidate. Wells started slowly last year, gaining just 46 yards on 16 carries against YSU, but finished with 1,609 yards. Redshirt freshman Dan ''Boom'' Herron, a Warren G. Harding graduate, is listed as Wells' top backup. EDGE: Buckeyes.
RECEIVERS: YSU - Wideout Ferlando Williams caught 42 passes last season, but averaged less than 12 yards per reception. Tight end Derrick Bush had 30 catches and Wideout Da'Michael Horne had 16. Look for the Penguins to go downfield more than they did in their dink-and-dunk offense with Tom Zetts last season. OSU - The Buckeyes had no problem going vertical last season. It was one of Boeckman's strengths until the last three games, when teams began to put more pressure on him. The Brians, Robiskie and Hartline, combined for 107 receptions, including 17 touchdowns. It's about time Ray Small became a factor, too. EDGE: Buckeyes.
OFFENSIVE LINE: YSU - This is one of the biggest lines the Penguins have ever had, with four legitimate 300-pounders, including left senior tackle Tyler Booth. Senior Brad Samsa, a Howland product, moves back to center. He's a versatile, consistent performer. OSU - The Buckeyes are huge up front, especially on the left side with tackle Alex Boone (6-8, 312) and guard Steve Rehring (6-7, 335). Bryant Browning is the only new starter, replacing Kirk Barton. EDGE: Buckeyes.
DEFENSIVE LINE: YSU - Tackle Mychal Savage will draw plenty of attention. He is the Penguins' best defensive lineman. Redshirt freshman Joel Younkins, a Hubbard product, is an undersized (6-2, 225) starter at defensive end. OSU - The Buckeyes lost Vernon Gholston to the NFL draft, but they return an end they project to be just as good in Lawrence Wilson. The junior broke his leg against YSU last season and took a medical redshirt. If he is half as good as Gholston, OSU will be fine up front. They rotate liberally on the line. Nose tackle Doug Worthington, who was arrested on a DUI charge a few weeks ago, won't start. Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel said Worthington will play. EDGE: Buckeyes.
LINEBACKERS: YSU - The Penguins lost James Terry and Jeremiah Wright to graduation, so they're young at the linebacker spots. Strong side starter Nate Ward started only one game last season, but played in 11 and made 17 tackles. Mike Barlak, set to start in the middle, had just five tackles last season. Weak side starter Jordan Edwards was a backup tailback and special-teams player a year ago. OSU - James Laurinaitis might be the best linebacker in the country. He finished with 121 tackles. Marcus Freeman isn't far off. Freeman made 109 stops last season and would be a star on most other teams. Sophomore Ross Homan is probably the next big thing at linebacker for the Buckeyes. EDGE: Buckeyes.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: YSU - Cornerbacks Jarvis Richards and Lenny Wicks combined to make 13 starts last season. That is the most experience YSU has in its back seven. In addition to the linebacker spots, the Penguins will have new starters - sophomores Brandan Ross and Nick Gooden - at both safety positions. OSU - The Buckeyes are not as deep here as normal. Cornerback Donald Washington and backup safety Jamario O'Neal are suspended, and Eugene Clifford left the team over the summer after yet another legal problem. James Scott, a backup cornerback last season, was not invited to preseason camp for an unspecified reason. And just this week, strong safety Kurt Coleman hurt his ankle in practice and probably won't play today. Jermale Hines is likely to replace Coleman. Sophomore Chimdi Chekwa will start at cornerback opposite Malcolm Jenkins, perhaps the best cornerback in the nation. Hubbard product Shaun Lane, a backup cornerback, should play a lot today. EDGE: Buckeyes.
SPECIAL TEAMS: YSU - The Penguins will be without kicker Brian Palmer, who has an unspecified leg injury. Sophomore Stephen Blose, who had a 41-yard field goal against the Buckeyes last season, will replace Palmer. Ben Nowicki returns as the Penguins' punter. OSU - The Buckeyes' biggest concern here is getting its kickoff return team going. Ohio State was dead last in the Big Ten Conference a year ago, and among the worst in the nation, averaging just 17.6 yards. Small and Brandon Saine are listed as the top return men for kickoffs, but Saine has been bothered by a hamstring problem throughout camp. Look for Herron to return some kickoffs today. Watch the trajectory when Ryan Pretorius attempts a field goal. Four of his five misses last season were kicks that were blocked. EDGE: Buckeyes.
PREDICTION: OSU 42, YSU 6.