While teams are just beginning spring practices, we're already looking forward to the regular season. Sure, it is still a good six months away, but it's never too early to think about everything that comes with college football and the games that actually matter.
Ohio State is coming off of one of their more disappointing seasons in recent memory, but the future is looking much brighter for the Buckeyes. Not only do they return 19 starters, but they have one of the top head coaches in the country in Urban Meyer. Ohio State may be banned from postseason play for a year, but they will surely have a say in who ends up winning the conference.
With a favorable schedule this season, here are four games the Buckeyes must win for this season to be a success.
Miami of Ohio is nowhere near on the same talent level as the Buckeyes. In fact, I'm not so sure the RedHawks' starters would be able to beat the Buckeyes' backups.
So why is this game on here as a must win?
Simple, it's the first game of the season and the first page of a new chapter in Buckeyes history. Urban Meyer has never lost the first game of the season in his 10-year head coaching career. This absolutely can't be the first year to get caught slipping.
Ohio State is coming off their first losing season since 1988. They have to start this season on a positive note; even if it's be against a team that went 4-8 last season.
Nebraska returns eight starters on both sides of the ball and can seriously compete for the Big Ten title this season. That's the reason Ohio State must win this game: to show the conference that the Buckeyes are a team with which to be reckoned.
The Buckeyes lost to the Cornhuskers last season in a very tight game. There's no better way to get revenge with a victory at home.
It will also show that while they may be banned from the postseason this year, they have the talent to win a national championship already. That would only make Buckeye fans even more excited about the future than they already are.
The Nittany Lions may only return 10 starters and are still going through a difficult time with the Sandusky scandal hanging over the university. But this remains a very proud program, a talented team and Happy Valley has never been an easy place to earn a victory.
It's also a team that features a new head coach in Bill O'Brien. This may not be talked about much, but I guarantee Meyer doesn't want to lose to a first year head coach.
Meyer is a head coach that has never taken a backseat to anybody and wants to continue to show why he's the real deal. He'll like to start by reminding O'Brien that he has to pay his dues.
Was there any doubt that this was the biggest must-win game for the Buckeyes this season?
It is Michigan after all, and they did snap a seven-game winning streak against their rivals last year.
Considering Ohio State is banned from postseason play, I'm pretty sure most Buckeye fans wouldn't mind if they lost every game this season so long as they beat the Wolverines.
Meyer has always been a big game coach and will have his players ready more than ever for this big game. It'll also give Ohio State fans more reason to love him more than they already do. You really haven't accomplished much as a Buckeye if you don't beat the Wolverines, right?