Ohio State Football: Game-by-Game Schedule Predictions for 2013
Urban Meyer's time at Ohio State has been quite exciting after he led the bowl-banned Buckeyes to a 12-0 season in 2012.
This year, the Buckeyes are off of a bowl ban and are among the favorites to unseat Alabama and win a national championship for the first time since the 2003 Fiesta Bowl.
Led by Heisman-hopeful Braxton Miller, the Buckeyes appear to be a much better team, at least offensively, than last year's undefeated team, which could be bad news for the rest of the Big Ten.
But how does their season look on a game-by-game basis?
For the sake of this breakdown, we will avoid speculating on the conference championship and bowl games, and focus solely on the regular season.
Here's a game-by-game breakdown of the Buckeyes' 2013 season.
Aug. 31 vs. Buffalo
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After Vanderbilt backed out of its originally scheduled opener with OSU this season, the Buckeyes looked to the MAC for an opening opponent and Buffalo was able to fill the void.
Despite a good season from the MAC including its first BCS bowl appearance, the Bulls struggled in 2012 with a 4-8 record. Buffalo averaged just 21.3 points per game last season, but returns its top quarterback (Alex Zordich), top rusher (Branden Oliver) and top receiver (Alex Neutz).
Ohio State will be without Carlos Hyde, Rod Smith and Bradley Roby in the opener due to suspensions. Even so, the Buckeyes should have no problem starting the season off 1-0.
Prediction: Ohio State 45, Buffalo 20
Sept. 7 vs. San Diego State
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San Diego State is one of the best-kept secrets in college football, and one team Ohio State should not sleep on this season.
Rocky Long's Aztecs went 9-4 last season including a victory over Boise State and return top back Adam Muema, who rushed for 1,458 yards and 16 touchdowns as a sophomore last year.
OSU will return Roby and Smith in time for this game. That help will be crucial because the Aztecs should be able to give the Buckeyes all they can handle.
Prediction: Ohio State 38, San Diego State 28
Sept. 14 at California
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Sonny Dykes is the new man in charge at Cal, bringing with him his explosive offense that made Louisiana Tech dangerous last season. He does have some weapons to work with, including RB Brendan Bigelow and WR Chris Harper. But the wild card for the Golden Bears will be true freshman Jared Goff, who won the starting QB job for this season.
The two teams met a year ago and the Buckeyes won 35-28 in a thriller.
OSU has to make the trek out west which is not normally a kind omen. However, OSU should find just enough to escape Berkeley with a win.
Prediction: Ohio State 35, California 27
Sept. 21 vs Florida A&M
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OSU's non-conference schedule concludes on Sept. 21 as the Buckeyes host FCS school Florida A&M.
The Rattlers are OSU's first FCS opponent since Youngstown State in 2008 and have some improvement to do, winning just four games in 2012. Carlos Hyde is expected to return from his suspension, so OSU should have its full roster intact.
The only concern for Meyer will be how long he chooses to leave his starters in the game.
Prediction: Ohio State 63, Florida A&M 13
Sept. 28 vs. Wisconsin
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For all intents and purposes, this game will decide the Leaders Division championship and has quickly become one of the most anticipated games in the Big Ten every year.
OSU and Wisconsin have played their fair share of thrillers in the last few years. The Buckeyes get the Badgers at home and under the lights this year, but the Wisconsin will look a bit different under new coach Gary Anderson. The Badgers are switching to a 3-4 defense this year and must replace RB Montee Ball, but should still be a very strong team this year.
Ohio State should have a speed advantage against Wisconsin's defense which may be a big difference along with the home-field advantage they will have playing in prime time.
Prediction: Ohio State 35, Wisconsin 24
Oct. 5 at Northwestern
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It's amazing the difference one bowl win makes for the Northwestern Wildcats.
After a 64-year drought came to an end in the 2013 Gator Bowl, the perception of Pat Fitzgerald's team changed dramatically as the Wildcats are among the top contenders in the Big Ten. And with QBs Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian, as well as dynamic RB Venric Mark all returning among others, Northwestern doesn't look like a fluke.
Ohio State will have its hands full against this explosive Northwestern offense in a game which very well could turn into a shootout. Ryan Field should be full of fireworks when these teams meet up.
Prediction: Ohio State 42, Northwestern 30
Oct. 19 vs. Iowa
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It's hard to imagine how hot Kirk Ferentz's seat has become just four years after an outstanding year when the Hawkeyes went to the Orange Bowl and beat Georgia Tech. Now Iowa has quite a bit of work to do following a 4-8 season, including trying to find a QB who can help improve an offense which finished No. 113 in points per game.
The Hawkeyes haven't been the easiest team for the Buckeyes to deal with in the past. But OSU is coming off of a bye week and should be able to dispatch of Iowa in order to stay perfect.
Prediction: Ohio State 45, Iowa 14
Oct. 26 vs. Penn State
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Penn State's eight-win season in 2012—amidst all the controversy around the school—was one of the great success stories of the year.
This year, replicating that won't be quite so easy.
Bill O'Brien has plenty of good-skill players on offense, but must find the right QB to lead the way whether it be Tyler Ferguson or Christian Hackenberg. Whichever guy O'Brien goes with will have a tough time as PSU heads to Columbus for another prime-time encounter with the Buckeyes.
OSU pulled away late last year and should be able to do it again.
Prediction: Ohio State 35, Penn State 23
Nov. 2 at Purdue
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Ohio State must have been happy to see Purdue bring in a new coach after Danny Hope got the better of the Buckeyes in two of their four meetings.
But the new face on Purdue's sideline is a familiar one as former OSU co-offensive coordinator Darrell Hazell will lead the Boilermakers after turning Kent State around.
Hazell does have some experience to work with on defense, including DT Bruce Gaston and DB Ricardo Allen. The offense will be interesting to watch as well, as it transitions into a pro-style attack. There may be some bumps along the way, but by this time Purdue should have some things smoothed out.
OSU should have more than enough talent to not only beat one of their former assistants, but to shake off the recent bad luck it has had against Purdue.
Prediction: Ohio State 28, Purdue 14
Nov. 16 at Illinois
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Tim Beckman and the Illini had a 2012 to forget, going winless in the Big Ten and losing their final nine games of the season. Illinois had trouble scoring last season but should improve as Nathan Scheelhaase returns for his senior season under center.
Ohio State made short work of the Illini last year in a 52-22 blowout win in the Horseshoe last year.
Coming off of a bye week, very little may change this time around.
Prediction: Ohio State 55, Illinois 20.
Nov. 23 vs Indiana
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Kevin Wilson has brought some exciting football to Indiana the last two seasons and should continue to improve in his third year at the helm.
The Hoosiers know how to score points as well as anyone in the Big Ten, but their biggest question is on defense. They lose their best defender in Adam Replogle, but do have plenty of experience returning as well.
Indiana has had no problem scoring against Ohio State, but has not been able to slow the Buckeyes down. That might continue this year.
Prediction: Ohio State 48, Indiana 31
Nov. 30 at Michigan
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Brady Hoke has officially brought Michigan back, but faces his first test after losing Denard Robinson to graduation. The Michigan defense should be much better with experience, despite graduating Jordan Kovacs and an ACL injury to LB Jake Ryan, which will keep him out for most of the season.
QB Devin Gardner showed plenty last season in relief of Robinson and should continue to grow as the full-time starter.
These two teams will meet in The Big House to end the regular season in Round 2 of Hoke v. Meyer, with the possibility of a rematch the following week in the Big Ten Championship Game. The biggest key will be whether or not Ohio State can shore up its defense by then to handle a very diverse Michigan offense, especially in a hostile environment like Ann Arbor.
Even more important will be if Braxton Miller has learned how to take less hits because last year's game revealed that he still has work to do with hot reads and making quicker decisions. If he improved on that, Ohio State has a good chance to end the regular season undefeated.
Prediction: Ohio State 27, Michigan 21
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