After the Ohio State football program went undefeated with a record of 12-0 in 2012, expectations are sky-high for the Buckeyes heading into the 2013 season. A BCS title game berth is the goal, and, given the talent on Urban Meyer's roster, it's one that is attainable.
Quarterback Braxton Miller will look to improve upon a brilliant sophomore campaign that saw him finish fifth in the Heisman voting. He led an offense that scored over 37 points per game last year, and another year under Meyer's guidance could see those number inflate.
The defense, led by cornerback Bradley Roby and Ryan Shazier, will be a formidable unit capable of wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks.
This team has a chance to not only make it to the BCS title game but to also knock off whichever SEC team it will inevitably face for the national championship. That said, there are a few tough teams standing in the way of perfection, and Ohio State must find a way to defeat them.
Note: For a look at Ohio State's entire schedule in 2013, check out fbsschedules.com.
Wisconsin Badgers: 9/28/13 at Ohio Stadium
The Badgers gave the Buckeyes a run for their money last year in Wisconsin. Ohio State ended up winning the game by a score of 21-14 in overtime thanks to a two-yard touchdown by Carlos Hyde.
This year's contest will be a home game for Ohio State, which should make a big difference. That said, Wisconsin's new head coach, Gary Andersen, has a nice array of talent on both sides of the ball, and the Badgers are always a tough team to beat.
Miller struggled last year against this team, failing to score a single touchdown and completing just 10 of 18 passes for 97 yards. He'll need to be more efficient and productive in this game to ensure victory.
The biggest key to this game will be whether or not Ohio State's defensive line can control the line of scrimmage against the big boys on Wisconsin's offensive line. Should James White and Melvin Gordon be allowed to run wild, Wisconsin will control the clock and keep Miller and the Buckeyes offense off the field.
Purdue Boilermakers: 11/02/13 at Ross-Ade Stadium
The Boilermakers took the Buckeyes to overtime last year, too. Ohio State won the game at home by a score of 29-22 on a one-yard touchdown run by Hyde.
Miller struggled against Purdue even more so than he did against Wisconsin, completing less than half his passes while throwing an interception—though he did manage one touchdown run. It was Miller's worst game of the season as the Boilermakers defense seemed to sniff out everything he was trying to do.
Eight starters are returning to Purdue's defense, which means more of the same for Miller in this contest. He'll need to show improved accuracy and decision making, and his offensive line will need to give him excellent protection.
Purdue's new head coach, Darren Hazell, who transformed Kent State's program, brings energy and a fresh take to the Boilermakers in 2013. Quarterback Rob Henry and running back Akeem Hunt are a formidable duo in the backfield, and this contest won't be an easy one for Ohio State.
Michigan Wolverines: 11/30/13 at Michigan Stadium
Should Ohio State remain undefeated heading into this contest, you can be sure it will be one of the most highly anticipated games of the year.
The Buckeyes pulled out a close victory last year, winning by a score of 26-21 thanks to a couple of second-half field goals and a stellar second-half effort by the team's defense.
Michigan will be a dangerous team on both sides of the ball in 2013, and quarterback Devin Gardner will provide more balance to the Wolverines' offensive attack.
Miller outplayed Gardner in last year's contest, but Gardner will be more formidable this season with an entire offseason as the team's unquestioned starter.
A key player Ohio State must keep in check on offense will be tight end Devin Funchess. He's a big, athletic player with enough speed to beat linebackers up the seam, and, if he is allowed to run free, the Wolverines could pull out a shocker at home against the Buckeyes.
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