Jody Victor: In his five years at Ohio State, Jim Tressel has led the Buckeyes to 50 wins, two Big Ten titles and a national championship. During the past four years, Tressel's teams have won four bowl games, including three BCS contests, and finished in the top five three times. Last year, the Buckeyes closed out a 10-2 season with seven consecutive wins, including back-to-back victories over arch-rival Michigan and Fiesta Bowl-foe Notre Dame.
With that kind of track record, expectations will again be high in 2006. A look at the depth chart shows eight starters back on offense, including the undeniably talented foursome of quarterback Troy Smith, flanker Ted Ginn Jr., split end Anthony Gonzalez and tailback Antonio Pittman. Much of the excitement about the coming season revolves around that quartet. They were the major cogs last year in an offense that averaged 32.7 points and 422.3 yards per game.
The Buckeyes do have 20 lettermen returning on the defensive side of the ball, and judging by spring practice there is no lack of talent, speed or enthusiasm. Tackles Quinn Pitcock and David Patterson, the lone two returning starters, will be stabilizing factors, especially early in the campaign.
With a seven-game winning streak intact heading into the season, most experts have the Buckeyes ranked in their top five, more than a few have Ohio State at No. 1. One thing for sure, OSU will get tested early with a road game at Texas in week two and back-to-back Big Ten games against Penn State and at Iowa two weeks later. For more details on the season outlook go to www.osu.edu.