Coming into the 2013 season, expectations are sky-high for the Urban Meyer led Buckeyes. With one of the most dazzling players in football playing quarterback for one of the most respected coaches in the game, fans in Columbus are expecting this year to be capped off with a crystal ball to replace last years agony. Here is a game-by-game preview for each opponent Ohio State will face this season, with a second part of the article, with the second half of the season, coming later.
Week One: Buffalo Bulls
With a flawless, 17-0, record versus teams from the Mid-American Conference and a 34 game streak of opening week victories, this might be Ohio State’s easiest game of the year. While Buffalo does possess a superstar running back in Branden Oliver and a top-40 defense with many returning starters, they just aren’t in the same class as the Buckeyes. Despite the Ohio State suspensions ranging from top RB Carlos Hyde to All-American CB Bradley Roby, look for the Buckeye’s to roll over the Bulls with relative ease (full preview here).
Prediction: 45-17 Buckeyes win (1-0)
Week Two: San Diego St.
In the last three games against the Aztecs, Ohio State has only managed to win by an average of 13 points. Much of the Aztec’s 9-4 success last season hinged on the productivity of school-record-breaking-quarterback Ryan Lindley. Gone is Lindley and the SD St. offense looks much less potent under the helm of junior Adam Dingwell. The defense is undersized and the underachieving secondary lost their top corner, not a good mixture when facing Braxton Miller and the spread offense. Expect Hyde to slice up the front seven in his first game back and Miller will have great success against last year’s 65th ranked passing defense.
Prediction: 38-13 Buckeyes win (2-0)
Week Three: California
After a fierce quarterback battle, true freshman Jared Goff has been announced as the starting slinger for coach Sonny Dykes and the Golden Bears. Growing pains are to be expected and the Buckeye’s top secondary, with the return of Bradley Roby, will look to capitalize. California’s strength will be in their front seven, which features five returning starters. The secondary lost it’s top three producers from an already poor group, ranking just 104th last season (passing yards allowed per game), look for Braxton Miller and the receiving corp to have a field day. The Golden Bears return only nine starters from last year’s 3-9 disappointment, look for the Buckeyes to make this a third straight blowout to open their year.
Prediction: 42-10 Buckeyes win (3-0)
Week Four: Florida A&M
This will be the first time the Buckeyes and the Rattlers ever meet and FAMU fans might be hoping its the last. A 4-7 FAMU team played just one FBS opponent in 2012, resulting in a 69-13 loss against Oklahoma. This will be the Buckeye’s first game against a FCS team since 2008, which was quite the stat-builder, a 43-0 blowout over Youngstown State. This game hardly needs a preview, the Buckeyes will easily move to 4-0 after this one.
Prediction: 63-14 Buckeyes win (4-0)
Week Five: Wisconsin
Week five opens conference play in the Big Ten, which means the fluff games and the gimme games are gone. Last year’s Wisconsin showdown was one of the most exciting games of the year, ending on a Carlos Hyde two yard plunge in overtime. This year’s game could be one to remember as well. Although Wisconsin lost collegiate legend Montee Ball, senior replacement James White is not much of a talent drop-off. Along with sophomore quarterback Joel Stave, the Badgers return their top four catch passers. But one of the only guarantees in college football is the strength of Wisconsin’s running games (have had a 1,000 yard rusher in 18 of last 19 seasons). Depending on the growth and maturation of Ohio State’s talented but young front seven, the Buckeyes could have problems here. Another strength for Wisconsin can be consistently found in their front seven, where they return six starters from last season’s group of run stoppers (held OSU to season low 139 yards). The area that Braxton Miller & co. will look to capitalize upon is the Badger’s secondary. Wisconsin’s 18th ranked passing defense lost it’s three top contributors and neither of the top two (projected) cornerback starters have starting experience. The key stat behind my prediction for an Ohio State victory? OSU has won 39 of their last 44 home conference games.
Prediction: 27-23 Buckeyes win (5-0)
Week Six: Northwestern
The Buckeyes head to Evanston to take on the Wildcats for their first of three road conference games. Northwestern returns many of the same starters from last years 10-3 ground and pound team. Dual threat quarterback Kain Colter will take over full-time, but his main job will be controlling the running game (the Wildcats ran the ball 85% of the time with Colter under center). Back is top running back Venric Mark, but only two members of the offensive line return from last year’s 19th ranked attack. The Buckeye’s strong secondary will do just fine keeping Colter in check, while the Buckeye’s front seven should be prepared for this Northwestern running attack after their game against Wisconsin. Northwestern returns three of their four secondary starters, but those are the same starters that got sliced up all last season, en route to a 84th overall ranking (passing yards allowed per game). The Wildcats lose two members of their front line and a linebacker from last seasons 21st ranked rushing defense, so look for Miller to exploit the Wildcats in every facet. The Buckeyes have swept their conference road schedule four of the last seven years, look for the Buckeye’s defense to hold strong in this one.
Prediction: 24-6 Buckeyes win (6-0)
Week Eight: Iowa
Coming out of their first bye week, Ohio State returns to Columbus to face the Hawkeyes of Iowa in what they hope is a relatively easy. At quarterback for the Hawkeyes is sophomore Jake Ruddock. Ruddock inherits one of the worst offenses in college last season, as they stumbled to a 102nd ranked passing offense and 104th ranked running offense. Their 19.3 points per game were
good terrible enough to finish the season ranked 113th. The passing offense is sure to be improved under Ruddock, but certainly not frightening enough to strike any fear into Bradley Roby & company. The Hawkeyes do return all three starting linebackers, but a poor pass rushing line means that Miller will have ample time to find Devin Smith and Cory Brown speeding down the field against Iowa’s 44th ranked pass defense which lost their best player, CB Micah Hyde. By week eight, the Buckeye’s young front seven will be firing on all cylinders and should leave the Hawkeyes terrible offense crying for mercy, expect a blowout.
Prediction: 38-7 Buckeyes win (7-0)