Ohio State Football: Ranking Biggest Tests for Buckeyes in 2013

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Ohio State Football: Ranking Biggest Tests for Buckeyes in 2013
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

After an undefeated campaign in 2012, Ohio State sets its sights on the national championship with its bowl ban now lifted.

The Buckeyes went 12-0 last season (8-0 Big Ten), knocking off Michigan State, Nebraska and Wisconsin before defeating rival Michigan in "The Game."

Ohio State returns plenty of talent, including dual-threat quarterback Braxton Miller. The Buckeyes also landed the No. 2 recruiting class of 2013, according to 247Sports.com.

But there has also been plenty of unrest in the offseason, with second-leading rusher Carlos Hyde and tight end Marcus Baugh being suspended, offensive lineman Tim Gardner being kicked off the team and star cornerback Bradley Roby facing disciplinary measures.

It will be an uphill battle in 2013-14 for the Buckeyes, but there is hope that Urban Meyer can lead them to the promised land.

Here's a look at the greatest tests of 2013 for Ohio State.

 

3. Sept. 28 vs. Wisconsin

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
James White rushed for 806 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.

In the recently released USA Today Coaches Poll, Wisconsin was ranked 23rd in the nation. 

As you may remember, it took overtime for the Buckeyes to knock off the Badgers last year, with a Carlos Hyde touchdown run being the difference.

Of course, the Badgers had running back Montee Ball back then (who rushed for 191 yards and a touchdown), but second-leading rusher James White returns, the Badgers have two capable quarterbacks in Curt Phillips and Joel Stave and top receiver Jared Abbrederis and tight end Jacob Pedersen return.

Bret Bielema is no longer with the program, but new coach Gary Andersen proved his worth at Utah State, leading the Aggies to an 11-2 record in 2012.

 

2. Oct. 5 at Northwestern

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Ranked No. 22 in the coaches poll, there's a lot to like about Northwestern this season.

The Wildcats will pretend like they're underdogs like they were last year, but nobody should buy it. They won 10 games in 2012, defeating Michigan State in the regular season and Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl, and they lost by one point to Nebraska and fell in overtime to Michigan.

Fifteen starters return for the Wildcats this season, including running back Venric Mark, who posted over 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground in 2012.

 

1. Nov. 30 at Michigan

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

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It's hard to imagine this not being a challenging game for the Buckeyes.

While the Wolverines posted only eight wins in 2012, they are ranked No. 17 in the coaches poll because four of those wins came to the Buckeyes, Alabama, Notre Dame and South Carolina.

In "The Game" against Ohio State, it took 146 yards and a touchdown from Carlos Hyde—as well as a great performance from Braxton Miller—to come out on top in Columbus.

This year, the game will be played in Ann Arbor. The last time the Buckeyes played in Ann Arbor, they lost in a 40-34 thriller.

The Wolverines do only return 12 starters from the 2012 squad, which includes the loss of dual-threat Denard Robinson. They also have questions at receiver, running back and on both lines. But quarterback Devin Gardner showed strides late last season, proving to be more effective than Robinson in the pocket, and it always seems to be a close game against the Wolverines.

 

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