Most important game: Ohio State

Is there ever really such a thing as an unimportant game for Ohio State? Not really for a program whose fans live and breathe Buckeyes football.

Still, not every game is created equally. We're examining the most important game on the 2012 schedule for each Big Ten squad, choosing those that will have the biggest impact on the league race or hold special meaning for one of the teams involved. So let's check in on those Buckeyes and the most important game in Urban Meyer's first season.

Most important game: Nov. 24 vs. Michigan

Why it's important: Wait a minute, some of you are probably saying. We didn't choose the Ohio State clash as Michigan's most important game earlier in this series. Have we forgotten that, or are we saying that The Game is somehow more important for the Buckeyes than the Wolverines? No. Well, OK, sort of, for this year at least. The difference between the two is that Ohio State can't play for the Big Ten championship or go to the postseason because of its NCAA probation. So while there will be many big games on their schedule, the Buckeyes will have to view their season-ender against the Maize and Blue as their bowl game. A loss there would send them into the offseason on a sour note with no chance to change that until the following September. And there's no way any Ohio State fan wants to see Brady Hoke go to 2-0 in the rivalry, especially not in the Horseshoe. Meyer is wildly popular now, but all he has to do is ask his predecessors how quickly that can wear off if he doesn't beat Michigan. That's why this is the most important game on the schedule for Ohio State this year, but not necessarily the Wolverines.