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It’s too early to handicap the Buckeyes

August 30, 2009
By ED PUSKAS Tribune Chronicle Sports Editor

September is not even here yet, and college football experts and fans are already looking at schedules and chalking up victories and defeats for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Good luck with that.

Depending on whom you choose to believe, the Buckeyes are going to completely miss out on a Bowl Championship Series berth by losing as many as three games, or they're going to ride the strong right arm and swift legs of sophomore quarterback Terrelle Pryor to another BCS title game.

Either way, it's just a bit early to put Ohio State in either box.

The Buckeyes host Navy in their opener on Saturday at Ohio Stadium. Coach Jim Tressel certainly would prefer his players remain focused on the Midshipman until about 3:30 p.m. that day, but everybody else - be they Ohio State fans or impartial observers - have been looking ahead to the Buckeyes' Sept. 12 game against Southern California.

If it's safe to assume Ohio State gets past Navy, the Buckeyes will learn a lot about themselves in a rematch against the Trojans. Southern California embarrassed Ohio State, 35-3, a year ago in Los Angeles.

The teams again will meet in a much-hyped early season primetime game in front of a national television audience, but this time it will be at the Horseshoe.

The fact Southern California will be starting a freshman quarterback in Matt Barkley and won't have wide receiver Ronald Johnson, who broke his collarbone over the weekend, should help Ohio State. But there are no guarantees, even if the Buckeyes figure to come into that game with a year's worth of motivation.

Unlike the last few years, Ohio State and Big Ten Conference rival Illinois will meet early in the season, Sept. 26 in Columbus, to be exact. That matchup is another that has the potential to be a pitfall.

The Buckeyes' other big test figures to come Nov. 7 at Penn State.

If Pryor is the impact player Tressel felt he could be when he recruited him, the Buckeyes should be a factor in the BCS come December, when the berths are determined.

But anything can happen between now and then. It usually does.



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