Ohio State Football: Way Too Early Game-by-Game Schedule Predictions for 2013
Ohio State's first year under Urban Meyer was an amazing success, going undefeated despite NCAA sanctions and a team that had only won six games the year before.
Optimism around Columbus is very high as now that the Buckeyes are bowl eligible, they have a chance to win their first national championship since the 2002 season.
The road to getting there will be, as always, interesting as every college season is. There may not be many difficult obstacles for the Buckeyes, but the way the schedule plays out on paper is usually very different from how it actually plays out.
The new season may be over six months away, but here's an early look at the Buckeyes' 2013 schedule.
Week 1 vs. Buffalo
The MAC had a breakout year in 2012 as a conference, but the Buffalo Bulls struggled in 2012.
The Bulls went just 4-8 last year and had the No. 101 scoring offense in the country, averaging just 21.3 points per game.
Buffalo returns its top passer Alex Zordich, top rusher Branden Oliver and top receiver Alex Neutz next season. But going into Columbus is a tough task for any team, let alone one which only scored over 30 points twice last season.
Prediction: Ohio State 45, Buffalo 17
Week 2 vs. San Diego State
The Aztecs may be a mid-major football team, but Rocky Long's team is anything but a pushover.
San Diego State enjoyed a great 2012 season in the Mountain West Conference, going 9-4 including an upset win over Boise State. The Aztecs also return one of their best offensive weapons in RB Adam Muema, who rushed for 1,458 yards and 16 touchdowns in his sophomore season.
This will be a tougher test for the Buckeyes than most would expect. Look for this game to be tight deep into the second half before the depth of the Buckeyes allows them to pull away.
Prediction: Ohio State 38, San Diego State 24
Week 3 at Cal
Ohio State and Cal played in quite a thriller last year with the Buckeyes holding off the Golden Bears, 35-28, in the Horseshoe.
The rematch comes on the West Coast, as OSU travels to Berkeley and faces a Cal team with a new head coach, former Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes.
Cal loses Zach Maynard and Keenan Allen on offense, but they are bringing back speedster Brendan Bigelow who had two touchdowns and 160 yards rushing on just four attempts.
The trek will be tough enough, let alone having to face a Cal team that should pose a decent threat on offense. OSU's offense should be good enough, though, to get the big road win.
Prediction: Ohio State 38, California 28
Week 4 vs. Florida A&M
The Buckeyes finish off their Big Ten tuneup in Week 4 against FCS foe Florida A&M, a team that won just four games in 2012 and lost at Oklahoma, 69-13.
This game should be the one the Buckeyes put up the most points in, and one as well where the backups see plenty of playing time.
The only question is how long do the starters stay in the game? It shouldn't be very competitive for very long.
Prediction: Ohio State 66, Florida A&M 14
Week 5 vs. Wisconsin
This game will likely decide the Leaders Division in the Big Ten and should be a great prime-time game to kick off conference play.
OSU has taken two straight from the Badgers and has not lost to them at home since 2004.
Wisconsin has a new coach in Gary Andersen and should be able to keep on rolling, even though the Badgers may have a different look on offense, especially with the graduation of Montee Ball.
The prime-time atmosphere in the 'Shoe should be just enough to sway this in the Buckeyes' favor, especially if OSU's young speed on offense is able to make plays.
Prediction: Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 27
Week 6 at Northwestern
Other than Michigan, the road trip to Northwestern may be the biggest challenge for the Buckeyes this season.
The Wildcats went 10-3 a year ago and won their first bowl game since 1949. Even more tough for the Buckeyes is that the Wildcats return a large amount of their offensive talent in 2013, including QB Kain Colter and RB Venric Mark.
Northwestern's offense is tough for almost any team to match up with, but the Buckeyes should be pretty well prepared seeing a spread offense every day in practice.
Ohio State will have its hands full because this is not the same Northwestern team the Buckeyes beat up, 45-10, in 2008, their last trip to Ryan Field.
Prediction: Ohio State 35, Northwestern 24
Week 7 vs. Iowa
Coming off of a bye, Ohio State faces an Iowa team that has been very disappointing since it won the 2010 Orange Bowl.
Iowa was just 4-8 last season and had one of the worst offenses in college football, ranking near the bottom in every category, including scoring, where the Hawkeyes ranked No. 113. To make matters worse, Iowa graduates starting QB James Vandenberg.
The Hawkeyes usually play Ohio State tough, but it could be a long afternoon for Iowa.
Prediction: Ohio State 41, Iowa 16
Week 8 vs. Penn State
Few coaches were better in 2012 than Penn State's Bill O'Brien, overcoming unprecedented sanctions and winning eight games last season.
The Nittany Lions may take a step back in 2013 after graduating Matt McGloin, though they do add one of the best QB prospects in the country in Christian Hackenberg.
Penn State hung with the Buckeyes for a while in last year's game, but it couldn't keep up as the Buckeyes prevailed, 35-23, in Happy Valley.
The scene shifts to Columbus this year, and the Buckeyes should have another good game and another win against the Nittany Lions.
Prediction: Ohio State 38, Penn State 21
Week 9 at Purdue
Former Ohio State assistant coach Darrell Hazell made the move from a successful stint at Kent State back into the Big Ten to coach the feisty Boilermakers.
Purdue has been a matchup problem for the Buckeyes, and Ross-Ade Field has been an unexpected house of horrors for OSU with back-to-back losses in West Lafayette.
Hazell must replace both his starting quarterback and best defender in Kawann Short. But the style Purdue plays has frustrated OSU for the last few years.
That streak may continue, but the Buckeyes should be able to end their losing streak at Purdue.
Prediction: Ohio State 31, Purdue 24
Week 10 at Illinois
It was a disastrous first year at Illinois for Tim Beckman, as the Illini failed to win a Big Ten game and lost its last nine to end the season.
The Buckeyes are coming off of a bye week on their way to Champaign, and had their way with the Illini last year in a 52-22 drubbing in Columbus.
There's no reason to think that the Buckeyes won't win big once again.
Prediction: Ohio State 51, Illinois 24
Week 11 vs. Indiana
Kevin Wilson has proved to be a pretty good hire for Indiana, even though the Hoosiers' win-loss record in the last two years doesn't show it yet.
The Hoosiers offense has put up some good numbers against the Buckeyes in Wilson's first two games against OSU, but their defense is not up to par to beat them yet.
Indiana showed great improvement last year and should contend for a bowl game this season.
The Hoosiers should be able to get theirs on offense. Fortunately for OSU, the Indiana defense may be another story.
Prediction: Ohio State 48, Indiana 28
Week 12 at Michigan
The rivalry is back. Last year's game proved it as Ohio State edged out Michigan at home, 26-21, behind an outstanding second half by the Buckeyes defense.
The scene shifts back to the Big House, with both teams playing for division titles and possibly angling for a rematch the following week in Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship.
This time around, Michigan doesn't have Denard Robinson, but it should return a healthy Fitzgerald Toussaint, who had 120 rushing yards in 2011 against the Buckeyes. Devin Gardner will likely start at quarterback, and the Wolverines should have a much-improved defense, especially in the back seven.
OSU's offense will be much better with the speed it added, although its defense has big question marks.
If Braxton Miller has figured out how to beat Greg Mattison's blitzes, especially after he took some vicious hits last year, that could tip the game in the Buckeyes' favor, giving them their second straight undefeated regular season under Urban Meyer.
Prediction: Ohio State 34, Michigan 31
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