CFB: Top 25 Countdown: No. 4 Ohio State
By Randall Perry
No. 4 Ohio State
Coach: Jim Tressel
Record: 83-19 at Ohio State,
Last season: 10-3, 7-1 Big Ten
Bowl games: Lost to Texas 24-21 in the Fiesta Bowl
Overview: Coach Jim Tressel has established Ohio State as a legitimate BCS Championship contender every season. The Buckeyes won the BCS title in 2002 and played in the title game in 2006 and 2007. Last season was considered an off year for Ohio State, even though it won 10 games and only had one blemish on its Big Ten record, a one-touchdown loss to Penn State. The Buckeyes suffered heavy personnel losses, with seven players taken in the first five rounds of the NFL draft.
Key returnees: QB Terrelle Pryor, Soph.;
DE Cameron Heyward, Jr.; DE Thaddeus Gibson, Jr.; DT Doug Worthington, Sr.
Why Ohio State is dangerous: Terrelle Pryor was probably the No. 1 recruit two years ago and watching him play shows why. At 6-foot-6 and 235 pounds, he looks like Vince Young and runs like a deer. But heís a work in progress as a passer. Last season he threw for 1,311 yards and 12 touchdowns and ran for 631 yards.
Defensive end Cameron Heyward, the
son of former NFL running back Craig "Ironhead" Heyward, appears ready for
a breakout season. Every starter on the defensive line returns.
Why Ohio State is vulnerable: Replacing running back Chris Wells, who rushed for 1,197 yards and eight touchdowns, will be a chore. The Buckeyes lost a lot of talent, particularly at linebacker, and Terrelle Pryor must work harder on being a prolific passer.
Prediction: Ohio State has another early-season game with Southern Cal. Last season the Buckeyes fell to the Trojans 35-3. This time they play them at home. November road games against Penn State and Michigan will be a challenge. Ohio State should match last seasonís record.