Ohio State Football: Why Michigan Will Be Buckeyes' Toughest Competition in 2013

Ian BergCorrespondent IFebruary 26, 2013

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 24: Quarterback Braxton Miller #5 of the Ohio State Buckeyes hands off the ball to Carlos Hyde #34 of the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Michigan Wolverines at Ohio Stadium on November 24, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The Ohio State Buckeyes are looking for a second straight undefeated run when they head into the coming fall. The schedule that is ahead of them is very manageable, with the toughest game landing at the end of the year.

The Buckeyes will travel to the Big House on November 29th to face off against the Wolverines, closing the season with the annual rivalry game.

The game has been played 108 times, with the most recent win going to Ohio State in a 26-21 nail-biter last year. The game finished close, and this season is expected to bring another tight contest.

Michigan is bringing back a wealth of talent on offense, and the defense is set to have its best year under third year head coach Brady Hoke.

The Wolverines defense returns arguably the best linebacker corps in the Big Ten, and has talent in the secondary that will shut down the Braxton Miller air attack.

The star of the unit is Jake Ryan who finished with 88 tackles and 16 tackles for loss in 2012. Desmond Morgan also returns to help anchor down the middle of the defense with Ryan.

At safety the Wolverines will have to replace Jordan Kovacs at strong safety, but Jerrod Wilson, Marvin Robinson, Allen Gant and early enrollee Dymonte Thomas all have the talent to start and lockdown the secondary.

Wilson is thought to be the leader, but Thomas is a stud early enrollee who could muscle his way into playing time this spring.

On offense the Wolverines bring back quarterback Devin Gardner and playmaking tight end Devin Funchess returns.

The Michigan backfield will return Thomas Rawls, Deveon Smith and Fitzgerald Toussaint. Toussaint was the starter for the Wolverines through most of the season, but he fell to a devastating leg injury late in the year that could limit his role in 2013.

Incoming freshman Derrick Green will also be a name to watch from the Michigan backfield by the time this final game rolls around.

The Urban Meyer-led Buckeyes will counter with elite signal-caller Braxton Miller and stud runner Carlos Hyde.

The defense will rely on the secondary to provide leadership as a handful of the front seven has departed with graduation.

This Ohio State team will have its hands full when it travels to Michigan this fall. This rivalry game has the chance to have a national impact on the 2013 season and the eyes of the country will be watching this game unfold this fall.

The Buckeyes may make it to this game undefeated for the second straight season under Urban Meyer.

This year Ohio State is postseason eligible and finishing with a big win over rival Michigan would be enough to jump the Buckeyes back into the national discussion.