"Only three teams in the nation -- Florida State, Oregon, Marshall -- are projected to win more games than the Buckeyes. So, once again, Ohio State is favored to win the Big Ten and do big things on a national scale."
- Josh Moyer, ESPN.com
ESPN's Stats and Information department is actually very solid - much more solid than they get credit for. So when the Big Ten Blog used their Football Power Index to project conference and overall records, I definitely paid attention. After releasing the West division a few days ago, Josh Moyer released the East division projecitons earlier this morning.
However, the results are kind of wonky. The consensus has been that the rematch with Michigan State will definitely be the toughest test for the Buckeyes this season, but the FPI scores project that the Spartans will end up with approximately four losses, with three coming in conference play. They have just a roughly six percent chance of winning the Big Ten, meaning that ESPN's numbers project Michigan, Iowa, and Wisconsin (and Ohio State) to all have a better shot at the Big Ten title than the Spartans. I'm not sure I buy that - especially for Michigan.
Like Bill said in his Ohio State preview, it should once again be the Buckeyes' conference to lose. However, with Urban in town, the Buckeyes should be thinking much bigger than just the Big Ten.
"So while I think the Hokies' defense can keep things close, at least for a while, I wonder what exactly the offense will be able to do. So I'd put the odds very low."
- Andy Bitter, Roanoke Times, via Ari Wasserman
The Hokies may be the second-most likely to knock off the Buckeyes this season, but that doesn't mean they have that great of a chance. While it's strength (Hokie defense) against strength (Ohio State offense), and weakness (Hokie offense) against weakness (Ohio State defense), I'm betting the Buckeye weakness isn't bad enough for the Hokie offense to exploit.
The Hokies seem to be really counting on new transfer quarterback Michael Brewer from Texas Tech. Logan Thomas was consistently inconsistent in delivery, mechanics, accuracy, and decision making, so the Hokie faithful are just hoping that Brewer can be unremarkably stable. With Chris Ash and some new blood on the Buckeye defense, I don't think "stable" is enough to really hit the Buckeyes where it hurts. But then again, I thought Connor Cook was just average, too.
"Any margin for error that exists in the early part of the season will disappear against a defensive front that could ultimately have three first-round NFL draft picks in Noah Spence, Joey Bosa and Michael Bennett."
- Dustin Hockensmith, Penn Live
Doug Lesmerises gave the Nittany Lions just a nine percent chance of taking down the Buckeyes in his preview a few days ago, and now his Penn Live peer Dustin Hockensmith offered five reasons why the odds could get better for Penn State.
It's stupid to say that Penn State has no chance of upsetting the Buckeyes. Vegas has made the Buckeyes nine-point favorites so far and the Buckeyes don't have an insurmountable talent advantage over the rebuilding Lions. However, Hockensmith's five reasons (crowd noise, emerging freshmen, talented running backs/tight ends, good day for Hackenberg, and a better than expected offensive line) feel kind of squishy to me. Three of those are just hopes and one is ridiculous, so that leaves just the running backs and tight ends as bad matchups for the Buckeyes. Like he says in his preview, those don't mean anything at all if the offensive line is whiffing on blocks against future NFL defensive linemen.
But man, that Jesse James guy, though...
"The NBA has not yet released the preseason schedule, but when it is official, there is a good chance that the Cleveland Cavaliers will have a game in Columbus"
- Denise Yost, NBC4i
Rumors are flying that the Cavaliers might be playing a preseason game in Columbus, likely in mid-to late-October. That means LeBron, Ohio's prodigal son, would be in Columbus, too. And that means: (1) basketball tickets, (2) traffic, and (3) football recruiting.
We thought it would be nice to have LeBron on the occasional sideline for big football games, but he might be in Columbus very soon for basketball too.