Long before the season started, a lot of people said they would hold off judgment on Ohio State until after the first five games.
That means a lot is riding on Saturday's Big Ten opener against Michigan State.
Suspensions, injuries, departures, a lack of depth and integrating in several freshmen have all added up to a mixed bag for the Buckeyes (3-1). To knock off a talented Spartans (3-1) team would mean they're headed in the right direction.
Interim coach Luke Fickell is pleased with where his team is so far, but also realizes that it has a lot of work to do.
A setback this week at Ohio Stadium could mean trouble for a fragile team heading into a tornado of a four-game set to open conference play.
Following the Michigan State game, Ohio State travels to Lincoln, Nebraska to take on the Cornhuskers. Then Ohio State is on the road at Illinois and home to Wisconsin.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)