The Ohio State University opens its football season Saturday against the Miami RedHawks at Ohio Stadium.
The Buckeyes have eight home games in the 2012 season, including the first four.
They get Nebraska and Michigan at home and Michigan State and Wisconsin away.
OSU isn’t eligible to compete for the Big Ten title or go to a bowl game because of NCAA sanctions.
But new coach Urban Meyer and his staff are still going to want to set the tone this season in hope of competing not only for the Big Ten championship but a national title in the next couple of years.
Still, with a favorable schedule, the Buckeyes are likely to attain nine or 10 wins.
Here’s a breakdown:
Miami: The Buckeyes have won 37 straight games against in-state schools. Zac Dysert and Nick Harwell are formidable combination passing, but the Buckeyes get the job done. OSU wins.
Central Florida: OSU welcomes in Central Florida for the first time.
The Knights are most known for producing National Football League quarterback Dante Culpepper.
In 2012, veteran coach George O’ Leary has nine starters, including six from a defense that ranked ninth in the nation in points allowed last season.
Central Florida finished 5-7 overall, but went 0-6 in games decided by seven points or less. OSU wins.
California: The Buckeyes’ stiffest non-conference game, although the Cal program isn’t once what it used to be with a 12-13 the last two seasons.
Wide receiver Keenan Allen grabbed 98 passes for 1,343 yards in last season and has NFL potential. Former Penn State linebacker Khairi Fortt is now with the Bears. OSU wins.
UAB: The Blazers ranked nearly the bottom in the nation on defense in scoring, rushing, passing and total. First-year coach Garrick McGee, who led Arkansas’ high-powered offensive attack in 2011 and won the Broyles Award as the top assistant in the country, gets the task of trying to turn UAB around. OSU wins.
at Michigan State: OSU’s first road test of the season comes against the Spartans, who are ranked 13th in the preseason Associated Press poll.
Michigan State plays strong defense and strong defense can overcome a first-year quarterback. This is a close one, but I like the Spartans to win, even though OSU plays well in East Lansing.
Nebraska: Nebraska makes its first appearance to Ohio Stadium for the first time since 1956.
The Cornhuskers are solid, led by quarterback Taylor Martinez and running back Rex Burkhead. Nebraska ranked 15th in the nation in rushing last season.
Another close call, but I like OSU because it’s at home.
at Indiana: The Hoosiers went young last season, starting with a freshman quarterback (Tre Roberson). Indiana wasn’t good in scoring points, as well as stopping the run in particular. It’s going to take coach Kevin Wilson a few more years to get the situation turned around in Bloomington — if it happens at all. OSU wins.
Purdue: At least the Buckeyes get the Boilermakers at home this season. OSU has lost twice in West Lafayette. Purdue is starting to acquire talent and give teams fits at time. OSU wins.
n at Penn State: I’m not sure even where to begin. Two teams that aren’t eligible to compete for the Big Ten title and no bowl game clash in Happy Valley Oct. 27.
Event with the departures, the Nittany Lions still have enough to win eight games or so. OSU has won the last two games in Happy Valley. OSU wins.
Illinois: Former Toledo coach and OSU assistant Tim Beckman will try to get the Fighting Illinois past mediocrity. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase is a good dual quarterback and the defense ranked 15th in the nation in points allowed (19.6) per game. OSU wins.
at Wisconsin: The Badgers are one of the favorites to win the Big Ten this season. They have a new quarterback — Maryland transfer Danny O’ Brien and running back Montee Ball is a Heisman Trophy candidate. The defense is also very stout.
This rivalry was racheted up a notch when Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema was not too happy with Meyer for snagging offensive lineman Kyle Dodson, but had verbaled to Wisconsin. Too much Wisconsin for OSU this season. Wisconsin wins.
Michigan: This one could be a blood bath. The Wolverines are a top-10 national team and Big Ten championship contender. Coach Brady Hoke did wonders in his first year in Ann Arbor with an 11-win season and Sugar Bowl win and getting the Wolverines back to prominence. They have the talent to repeat that feat. Another close call, however, I like the Buckeyes because they have nothing to lose and the Wolverines have everything.
And it’s in Columbus. OSU wins.
We all know where the Buckeyes are going in January — back to offseason training for the 2013 season.