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2021 Ohio State Schedule Preview, Record Predictions

Comforting in the way that a 14th helping of hotdish is comforting.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 12 Ohio State Fall Camp
Somebody’s had a couple extra helpings...
Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Thus marks the end of my involvement with B1G 2021, I pray.

If you’ve read this far, thank you. If you’re new to Off Tackle Empire, what the hell took you so long? Get down to the comments and complain about how unprofessional this blog is and how we should be ashamed to be journalists.

Otherwise, here’s our preview of the Ohio State Buckeyes’ 2021 season. They play some games, they’ll win most of them, they’ll be in the College Football Playoff conversation while talking heads debate whether they beat Indiana by enough or Alabama’s 34-8 win over Ole Miss is more impressive.

Also, we talk about food.

The Traditions: A Nice Columbus Hotdish

I have probably had this at some point in my life, but I honestly know it because in Gilmore Girls, Richard prepared the dish* (which he referred to as “Johnny Machete”) for the family one night.
*Never mind that a wealthy WASP living in Hartford with a mother who clearly had an English accent was likely not from the Midwest at all, but whatever, we’ll suspend disbelief.

The claim goes that Johnny Marzetti was invented at a Columbus Italian restaurant called Marzetti’s in either the 1890s or 1920s, and that doesn’t really matter, because:

Johnny Marzetti is an American pasta dish in the cuisine of the Midwestern United States prepared with noodles, cheese, ground beef, and a tomato sauce that typically includes aromatic vegetables and mushrooms.[1] It is similar to American chop suey and American goulash.

We’ve all had it in some form or another. Richard’s looked a little more cream of mushroom soup-based than these more hotdish-style pictures above, but I’ll save that for the fan message boards.


  1. How are you?
  2. Johnny Marzetti: Anything special, or just another hotdish?
  3. Tell us your Gilmore Girls style guilty viewing pleasure.

WSR: 1) I’ve been better.

2) Looks like an Italian hotdish. And since it does swap out Cream of Whofuckingcares soup for foods I like, I would love to give it a try.

3) I watched part of an episode once? I do love Lauren Graham’s work in Bad Santa and appreciate that she wore Gophers gear in the trailer for the reboot of Mighty Ducks, though. (Note: I’ll probably never watch Mighty Ducks because the original was overrated enough. Come take my Minnesotan card whenever you’d like.) Anyway, I think my guilty viewing pleasure would probably be Scrubs. I accidentally find it, I watch it.

Kind of...:

1) See WSR above. Been worse, too, though, so...

2) Looks solid as these things go. Since I grew up calling “American goulash” just “goulash,” this looks like extra Americanized goulash, or something.

3) Gladiator is not really a “classic” movie, but I will never not watch it to the end if I stumble across it. Are shows that celebrate law enforcement guilty pleasures now? Because I cannot foresee a time in the rest of my life where I wouldn’t be entertained by episodes of Justified.

pkloa: [1] Awesome, as usual! I'm in the single digits of days wearing my uniform, and I am trying to cram some words in before a job interview. Being self aware, I know I'm dreadfully unqualified for this job, but I also know that everyone else is equally as pathetic as me.

[2] I'd have no issues sampling Johnny Marzetti's goods, but since goulash was brought up, I'd probably stick to that.

[3] For those who have seen Cannibal! The Musical, you know why that's a guilty viewing pleasure. For those who haven't, seek it out and have a shpadoinkle of a good time.

RU in VA: Meh. Not great.

This is Lasagna. I don’t know why the midwest has 10 different words for a mixture of noodles, cheese, beef, and tomato sauce. At least make the mixture different sometimes.

Like every other mid 30s man in existence, I will always watch The Wizard. The Power Glove was ahead of it’s time. It’s so BAD. How could that kid have ANY idea that warp whistle was in stage 1-3 of SMB3?

BRT: I’m ok. School started this week, so I’m sleep-deprived, but otherwise fine. The persistent feelings of failure and inadequacy will begin soon enough.

I’d try it, I guess. Cream of Mushroom and tomato sauce sounds kind of weird together though right? I love the Gilmore Girls reference though - you’re right there’s no way in hell Trix would have let a “Johnny Machete” within ten miles of her. Consequently, I’ve invented a backstory where Richard lived with a hard-working Midwesterner during his senior year of college and learned to cook it from him.

Does a guilty pleasure have to be crap? Or just something you don’t think you should like? If the former, I’m definitely guilty of taking in The Bachelor/ette, at least for a few weeks each season, until the forced fighting and manufactured villainy get boring again. If the latter... maybe just 90s rom-coms and teen movies? Perhaps I should be “above” them, but honestly, “10 Things I Hate About You” and “Legally Blonde” are good hangs.

MaximumSam: [1] I am good, better as the days get cooler and the time until football gets shorter. Ohio is undefeated in the fall.

[2] I can’t think of a single second in my life where I didn’t think Johnny Marzetti was cafeteria food. Like, not glorified cafeteria food. Actual cafeteria food, than you can only get in a school cafeteria. But I don’t know of any other food like that, so maybe it is special?

[3] That would have to be Power on Starz, which if not for all the drugs and nudity would be akin to General Hospital. General Hospital but with drug dealers.

The Football: 12-0 or 11-1?

Speaking of non-unique, tried-and-true topics, let’s just figure out if Ohio State is losing to Oregon or not, I guess.

Well, hold on.

You’ve got a new quarterback. Is THIS how you want to start the season?

Granted, the crowd noise at TCF Huntington Bank Stadium isn’t enough to mess with opposing quarterbacks, but CJ Stroud—or whoever—will go out of the frying pan and into the proverbial fire as Ohio State welcomes the Oregon Ducks in what will surely be a matchup of Top 15 teams.

Tulsa could be a tricky out at home, too, if the Buckeyes haven’t figured things out: the Golden Hurricane were 6-3 (6-0 AAC) in 2020—albeit four of those wins by one score—and their losses were a 16-7 slugfest at Oklahoma State and one-score losses to Cincinnati in the AAC Championship and 28-26 to Mississippi State in the Armed Forces Bowl. Philip Montgomery’s squad has to replace QB Zach Smith and Butkus-winning LB Zaven Collins, but it’s a stout 3-3-5 defense that’ll create an interesting challenge for the Ohio State offense.

Then there’s Akron. No self-respecting school would lose a non-conference home game to Akron. God bless MACtion.

In the Big Ten, the Buckeyes have a nice run through the conference set up. Ryan Day’s never lost a conference game, so there’s little point in going over this, but...yeah. Steamrollings of Maryland and Rutgers will happen, the Indiana “away” game on October 23 could be a real “Northwestern 2013” moment for the Hoosiers [CC to Candy: come out of retirement and write a “Get fucked, Ryan Day” piece, and I will love you forever], and then the meat of the schedule begins.

Well, not really the “meat”, because what a soft set of Big Ten West crossovers, but an October 30 date with Penn State should be fun.

You know how every Ohio State season finishes: scuffle unnecessarily with Michigan State, then piss-pound Michigan.

So tell me, writers:

  1. We talking College Football Playoff or just settling for a Rose Bowl?
  2. Other than the usual suspects of Cincinnati and Boise State, is there a G5 team—particularly a dark-horse like Tulsa or Louisiana—that you’re tipping to make a real run in 2021?
  3. Just tell us if Ohio State finishes 12-0 (9-0) or 11-1 (9-0), huh? Show your work.

WSR: 1) Playoff. Same as it ever was.

2) One of the things that has become very obvious over the past few seasons is that you don’t have to be a very good college football coach at all to win a lot of games at UCF. George O’Leary focused the machine, and it’s done some great things ever since. So what happens when you finally bring in a somewhat competent head coach (STOP LAUGHING!) in Gus Malzahn? He’s probably an entirely new man now that he’s escaped dealing with Auburn’s booster network. Food tastes good for the first time in a decade, he’s probably sleeping through the night, and he remembered his wife’s name isn’t just a bunch of muttering growls. They’ve got a ton of players coming back, and Gus smuggled a number of guys from the plains to the shadows of Disney.

3) The best chance for Ohio State to lose is Oregon. The next best is Minnesota just because it’s week 1. Is it likely? Oh hell no. Ohio State returns a lineup that’s as good as anyone in the country, they just need to get a few new cogs adjusted to life in the machine. 12-0, and then we can see if they lose to Clemson or Alabama.

beez: I’m out of office today. But OSU is losing to Oregon and steamrolling the rest of the conference this year. Almost no conference team is capable of exploiting OSU’s glaring weakness, and the ones that might be are not good enough to keep up with OSU in any other phase.

Kind of...: 1) I’m going to quote myself from the PSU preview:

Do I truly believe this? Maybe. Am I just trying to build up PSU fans so at least one of these two fan bases suffers a bit? STOP ASKING QUESTIONS!!!

However, I could see 11-1 OSU, with win over Oregon, but w/o B1G championship sitting out there like 2017 Alabama (or, maybe just 2016 OSU) and getting a bid anyway.

2) I know Louisiana was mentioned as a dark horse, but they’re ranked, so have some guts, “writers.” I’m going with Nevada as Carson Strong makes his move up the 2022 draft board.

3) 11-1/8-1. The loss will be in October. November will be a trail of wreckage, and the at-large CFP argument will be very, very loud.

pkloa: [1], [2], and [3] F Ohio

RU in VA: Who cares. No one watches the playoff or the championship anyway. The NFL is on... I don’t need to watch the 33rd and 34th best NFL teams.

I hope Liberty. Just so the world can see how academically, sleazy, and dishonest that “university” actually is - on a large stage. It’s the “University” of Phoenix for the East Coast.

Again, don’t really care. Just please don’t hurt my players when we play.

MNW: Nah, it’s 12-0 (9-0). They can have the Playoff, though, which allows the rest of the Big Ten to play in the bowl games that should actually matter.

If Nevada gets by Cal on September 4, watch out for the Pack. Carson Strong is a good quarterback, and in the wide-open Mountain West...uh...West Division, Jay Norvell’s team could make some noise. Non-conference games with Cal and K-State are winnable and missing Boise State in the conference season means there’s an outside shot, in my book, for the Wolf Pack to make some noise.

BRT: Sure, let’s throw them a loss to Oregon. It’s nice to dream for a couple of weeks.

You know what though? I’m going to say they lose to Michigan too. But Michigan at that point will have already fired Jim Harbaugh. It’ll be a delight - OSU melting down because of a stupid loss, and Michigan fans melting down because they got what they wanted, but now have to start all over again with someone new.

MaximumSam: It’s lowkey a big year for Ryan Day. Year 3 brings the most question marks he’s had as a head coach, as well as this really being his team and not Urban Meyer’s hand me downs. Speaking or Oregon, Mark Helfrich also lost the national championship game in year 2, lost his quarterback, and was fired two years later. Can Day get their pass defense fixed? Is the running game figured out? This is the year where we find out if Ryan Day coaches at OSU for another ten years or real cracks start to show.


9-0 in the Big Ten?

This poll is closed

  • 57%
    (114 votes)
  • 28%
    Nah, 8-1.
    (56 votes)
  • 13%
    Nah, 7-2.
    (27 votes)
197 votes total Vote Now


12-0 overall?

This poll is closed

  • 49%
    (100 votes)
  • 29%
    Nah, 11-1.
    (60 votes)
  • 20%
    Nah, 10-2.
    (41 votes)
201 votes total Vote Now