Predicting the Buckeyes toughest foe in 2012

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The football season is less than a week away and it can't come soon enough for any college football fan. The Buckeyes would be one of the favorites in the Big Ten this season if they were eligible to win the league and move on, but that doesn't mean that this team and the individuals on it still can't be successful.

For the rest of the week, the staff at BuckeyeGrove.com will be taking a stab at predicting how the 2012 Ohio State football season will play out. These predictions include educated guesses about everything from who will lead the Buckeyes in major statistical categories to which players will have breakout seasons. Today, we do our best to forecast which opponent on the 2012 season will be the most difficult for the Buckeyes to face.

Kevin Noon - Publisher

Michigan State will be the Buckeyes' toughest opponent in the 2012 season

I feel that Michigan State will be the toughest team for Ohio State this year because of the timing of the game, in being the first road game of the season and for the defense of the Spartans. A lot of people will feel that Wisconsin will be the tougher team but Ohio State will be an older team by that point and outside of the game being in Madison and the former staff having its issues with Wisconsin, the better (and by better, I mean tougher) game will be against the Spartans. MSU's offense will be a little better than Wisconsin's and MSU's defense is light years beyond the Badger defense.

Ben Axelrod - Lead Team Writer

Michigan will be the Buckeyes' toughest opponent in the 2012 season

There's no doubt that Urban Meyer gets 'The Game.' But so does Brady Hoke. The second-year Michigan made a huge impact in his first season at the helm of the Wolverines' program, taking a Michigan team that had the talent to barely be bowl eligible to a 11-2 record, a BCS bowl win, and a win over the Buckeyes for the first time since 2003.

It would be hard to imagine Meyer losing his first game against the Wolverines as the Buckeyes' head coach, but it's even harder to imagine either team blowing the other one out with their respective current head coaches in charge. It's too early to tell who will have the edge come Nov. 24, but it is clear to me that the 'The Game' will almost always be the toughest game on each its two participants' schedules for the foreseeable future.

Marc Givler - Recruiting Analyst

Michigan State will be the Buckeyes' toughest opponent in the 2012 season

The Buckeyes struggled mightily a season ago against the Spartans, particularly on offense where the blitzes weren't being picked up and the offensive line failed to get any sort of push against an outstanding MSU front four. Now this game is on the road, and not only that, but it's the first road test this young team will face this season. The Spartans are thinking Big Ten title this year and will undoubtedly be amped up for this game.

Jeremy Birmingham - Team Writer

Wisconsin will be the Buckeyes' toughest opponent in the 2012 season

It's gotten to the point where every year, Buckeye fans should expect that the answer to this question will begin with the letter "M", even if it's turned upside to form a "W". This year is not unlike any in recent history, where the pesky Badgers of Wisconsin will give the Buckeyes their biggest challenge.
Two years ago, the top-ranked Buckeyes rolled into Madison and got rolled by the Badgers, and last year's contest saw the Buckeyes' worst team in 100-plus years pull off the only signature win of the Luke Fickell head coaching era in dramatic fashion in front of the scarlet and gray faithful in Columbus.
This year, Ohio State will enter Wisconsin - in my opinion - undefeated with a chance to make their 2012 season one to remember, and the Badgers and head coach Bret Bielema will come out with guns blazing and chips on their shoulders. Can the Buckeyes withstand the early game onslaught that Terrelle Pryor was unable to bring them back from in 2010? Can Braxton Miller win his first game in a hostile environment? It's a season-defining moment for a team with a season that's been defined as "wasted" from its inception. It's exactly the type of game Meyer was brought in to Ohio State to win.
Tom Levenick - Time and Change Contributor/Former Player

Wisconsin will be the Buckeyes' toughest opponent in the 2012 season

The Wisconsin Badgers, always tough at Camp Randall stadium for the Buckeyes, will be again this year. This will be our toughest test and I think a great challenge for Meyer to "show his metal." Even though Wisconsin is always tough for us in Madison, I believe we can prevail. Having 14 returning starters and Heisman Trophy candidate, Montee Ball back will surely help the Badgers. Where I think they will need help, however, is in the passing game. New transfer quarterback, Danny O'Brien, will need time to get acclimated to the Badgers and the Big Ten. The Badgers will miss quarterback Russell Wilson and receiver Nick Toon and I believe our run defense will be outstanding.

This will be a grudge match after the Buckeyes upset of the Badgers in 2011 and also due to the recruiting quarrels between Meyer and Bielema. The Buckeyes have a bye week prior to the Wisconsin game and Meyer has a 33-3 record with his teams when they have more than one week to prepare for an opponent.