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Ohio State Football: An Early Preview of the Buckeyes' 2014 Opponents

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Ohio State Football: An Early Preview of the Buckeyes' 2014 Opponents
AJ Mast/Associated Press

Ohio State had an easy slate in 2013, but with new-look Big Ten divisions and a stronger nonconference lineup, the Buckeyes have a much tougher path to navigate in 2014.

Here's an early look at Ohio State's 2014 opponents.

 

August 30 vs. Navy (M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore)

Navy's 2013 record: 9-4

The Buckeyes will open the season against Navy and its vaunted triple-option attack. 

The Midshipmen averaged 325 rushing yards per game in 2013, which ranked No. 2 in the country behind Auburn. Quarterback Keenan Reynolds will be back to orchestrate what will surely be a dangerous ground attack.

Ohio State opened the 2009 season against Navy and was nearly upset in Ohio Stadium. Linebacker Brian Rolle picked off a late two-point conversion and returned it 100 yards to seal a 31-27 victory.

 

September 6 vs. Virginia Tech

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
With Logan Thomas gone, running back Trey Edmunds should be the focus of Virginia Tech's offense.

Virginia Tech's 2013 record: 8-5, 5-3 ACC

Ohio State's first game in The Shoe will feature a marquee matchup with Virginia Tech.

The Hokies got off to a good start in 2013, winning six straight games following a season-opening loss to Alabama. Things fell apart down the stretch, though, as Virginia Tech lost four of its last six games, including a 42-12 drubbing from UCLA in the Sun Bowl.

The Hokies will be replacing three-year starting quarterback Logan Thomas, but a defense that is always solid under Frank Beamer and Bud Foster will challenge the Buckeyes in this early season matchup.

 

September 13 vs. Kent State

Kent State's 2013 record: 4-8, 3-5 MAC

The Golden Flashes will be looking to turn things around under second-year coach Paul Haynes, who coached Ohio State's defensive backs from 2005-11.

According to Kyle Rowland of Eleven Warriors, the Buckeyes haven't been defeated by a MAC school since their 12-6 loss to Akron in 1894.

 

September 27 vs. Cincinnati 

Cincinnati's 2013 record: 9-4, 6-2 American

Ohio State's improved nonconference schedule will close out with a home-state matchup with the Cincinnati Bearcats.

Cincinnati had a lot of success under first-year coach Tommy Tuberville, but it will need to replace quarterback Brendon Kay, who threw for more than 3,300 yards and 22 touchdowns last season. The Bearcats will be playing a rested Ohio State team coming off its first bye week of the season.

 

October 4 at Maryland

Maryland's 2013 record: 7-6, 3-5 ACC

The Buckeyes will open conference play against the two new Big Ten members, starting with Maryland on the road.

The Terrapins started 2013 hot, winning four straight games to earn a No. 25 ranking. The wheels fell off the wagon in Week 5, though, when Florida State thrashed Maryland 63-0.  

Nick Wass/Associated Press
Urban Meyer wanted Stefon Diggs to be a Buckeye.

Ohio State will face a stiff challenge in containing playmaker Stefon Diggs, who was very nearly a part of Urban Meyer's first recruiting class with the Buckeyes.

 

October 18 vs. Rutgers

Rutgers' 2013 record: 6-7, 3-5 American

Following its second bye week of the season, Ohio State will get back to action with a home game against Rugters.

The Scarlet Knights are hoping to find new success in the Big Ten after a disappointing 2013 season that was capped by a 29-16 loss to Notre Dame in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Head coach Kyle Flood will need to settle on a quarterback, whether its senior Gary Nova, who has struggled mightily with turnovers throughout his career, or one of the many untested underclassmen. Flood will also need to find a defensive coordinator after firing Dave Cohen, who produced the worst defense in school history, according to NJ.com. 

 

October 25 at Penn State

Penn State's 2013 record: 7-5, 4-4 Big Ten

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
Penn State boasts one of the best home-field advantages in college football.

The atmosphere in Happy Valley will be electric when Ohio State hits the road for its matchup with Penn State.

New head coach James Franklin will be leading a group of angry players looking for revenge. The Buckeyes blasted the Nittany Lions 63-14 in Columbus last season, but State College has proven to be a house of horrors for Ohio State in the past.

 

November 1 vs. Illinois

Illinois' 2013 record: 4-8, 1-7 Big Ten

Illinois hasn't produced a winning season since 2010, the last year of the Ron Zook era. Tim Beckman has gone 6-16 as the Illini's coach over the last two season, producing just one conference victory during that stretch.

 

November 8 at Michigan State

Michigan State's 2013 record: 13-1, 8-0 Big Ten

It's safe to assume this game has already been circled on Ohio State's schedule. 

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Braxton Miller and the Buckeyes will be looking for redemption against Michigan State this November.

The Spartans spoiled Ohio State's historic run in the 2013 Big Ten Championship Game, halting the Buckeyes' 24-game winning streak and their ambitions of playing for a national title.

The rematch will take place in East Lansing, and Michigan State's defense, which replaces six key starters in 2014, should be hitting on all cylinders at this point of the season.

 

November 15 at Minnesota

Minnesota's 2013 record: 8-5, 4-4 Big Ten

Outside of Michigan State, Minnesota was the surprise of the Big Ten in 2013. The Gophers won eight of their first 10 games, but they failed to continue that momentum, losing their last three games.

Minnesota built that success behind the strength of a solid defense and a consistent running game. Both of those elements should carry over in 2014, and if the Gophers can get consistent play out of the quarterback position, they could make some noise in the West Division.

 

November 22 vs. Indiana

Indiana's 2013 record: 5-7, 3-5 Big Ten

The Hoosiers' football program, fueled by an explosive offense, is gaining steam under head coach Kevin Wilson. If Indiana could field even a mediocre defense, it could give a lot of Big Ten teams fits, including Ohio State.

That's what new defensive coordinator Brian Knorr will try to accomplish.

Knorr, who had success at the same position at Wake Forest, will bring his 3-4 scheme to Bloomington. If the Hoosiers adjust to the new system quickly, they won't be as easy to dispatch in 2014.

 

November 29 vs. Michigan

Michigan's 2013 record: 7-6, 3-5 Big Ten

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
The Buckeyes barely survived a trip to Ann Arbor last November.

The Wolverines nearly pulled off the upset of the year in the Big Ten last November, but a failed two-point conversion in the final minute of the fourth quarter preserved a 42-41 victory for the Buckeyes.

The rematch will take place in Columbus.

Head coach Brady Hoke is looking to right the ship, especially on offense, which is why he brought in former Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier to replace the recently terminated Al Borges.

Michigan made The Big Lead's "Way Too Early Top 25," but if Nussmeier turns things around quickly, the Wolverines could be ranked much higher when they travel to Columbus.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all stats via NCAA.com.

David Regimbal is the Ohio State Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. 
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

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