Written by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)
Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
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This article has been revised. Thank you very much to one of our readers for pointing out my error. At any rate, when I first wrote this piece, I picked Ohio State to play Michigan State in the 2014 Big Ten Conference Championship game in Indianapolis. There's only one problem with this, Ohio State and Michigan State are now in the same division, so meeting in the conference championship game is impossible. To see my thoughts on the situation (in italics), see below.
Long-time Buckeye Alum and hater, Kirk Herbstreit, predicted the Buckeyes to win the National Title this year, so it stands to reason that Ohio State’s quarterback would sustain a season ending injury the next day…before the season even started.
We know that Braxton Miller is the key to this team’s success, and we also know that Kenny Guiton is no longer here to bail us out if Miller is forced to miss playing time, which it appears he will be. We also know that since old Smooth Jazz is long gone, we have two young quarterbacks (neither of which have thrown a pass in college football) backing up Braxton Miller. Bottom line…the quarterback position is far from being locked down.
We also know that Ohio State lost four starters on the offensive line, and only Taylor Decker returns. Oh yeah, we also lost the guy that those lineman were blocking for, running back Carlos Hyde. Backing up Hyde is a laundry list of guys who just haven’t quite got anything accomplished yet. Sure, Ezekiel Elliott (Hyde’s heir apparent for the job) impressed everyone in the only game he played in last year against Florida A&M, but they were only scheduled just so we could watch their awesome band…that didn’t show up.
Oh yeah, we also realize that our defense sucks. Aside from a solid line (anchored by the 2013 Grown Ass Man of the Year, Joey Bosa) this defense has a heck of a lot of question marks on it as they work through fall camp. Who will fill Ryan Shazier’s place? Will the secondary actually wake up and play ball this year? We eliminated a massive hole at cornerback with Bradley Roby going pro, but who else will step up and make plays?
With all this uncertainty, it’s very hard to make a decent prediction for the season. So let’s just go ahead and look at what this season could look like without Braxton Miller under center. If we do, things can always get better, right? Sure.
August 30 @ Navy – Win
I may be a bit of a homer here, but Navy isn’t that good. So I think that regardless of who is under center, the Buckeyes will come out on top in this one. Without Braxton Miller, we still just have too much talent for Navy to contend with. Look for this game to be very similar to last year’s game against Cal. Now, some suspect that Ohio State will use two quarterbacks in this game in order to see who’s better. This is stupid. JT Barrett and Cardale Jones have been battling for the backup job all through fall camp. If you can’t decide between the two by the first game, then you’re screwed. If you have two quarterbacks, you don’t really have a quarterback…as the saying goes.
September 6 vs. Virginia Tech – Win
This game depends completely upon which version of Virginia Tech we end up facing. Do we get the end of the season Hokies who always seem to go on a run, or do we get the typical beginning of the season Hokies who seem to have trouble getting it together? That said, I think that no matter what version of the team we face, it will be difficult for redshirt freshman JT Barrett to lead the Buckeyes to a victory. This is a home game, so I think the score will be close, but ultimately JT Barrett will rise to the occasion and cement his role as Ohio State’s starter.
September 13 vs. Kent State – Win
Do I really need to break down this game? No. Why do we still schedule crap like this? Cardale Jones will play some at QB during this game, but only because it will be a blowout. JT Barrett will still be the starter moving forward. Who knows, you might even see a little Stephen Collier in this game.
September 27 vs. Cincinnati – Win
From everything I’ve heard and read, the Bearcats are supposed to be a quality football team this year. Not competing for a title quality, but probably as good as Navy, or maybe a little better. It’ll be a nail biter as JT Barrett settles into his role, but ultimately the Buckeye’s will come out on top. The X factor here: how will Ohio State look coming out of the bye week? This is key. If they come out sluggish, they’re screwed.
October 4 @ Maryland – Win
Ohio State kicks off conference play on the road against Maryland. Maryland to me seems a bit like Indiana at this point. They’re just good enough to be a thorn in your side, but not good enough to derail your season. Look for the Buckeyes to improve to 5-0 as they pick up their fifth straight win.
October 18 vs Rutgers – Win
Ohio State returns home after another bye week and absolutely wipes the floor with Rutgers. Okay, maybe they don’t wipe the floor with them, but by now the Buckeyes will have built up some confidence and it will start to show. Look for them to win this game by two touchdowns as they gear up for their next game…
October 25 @ Penn State – Close (Uncomfortably Close) Win
When I say uncomfortably close, I’m talking a field goal in the final seconds of the game close. After last year, Ohio State fans have gotten used to blow out wins, but this year will be a different situation. Sure, Penn State is a solid team, but they’re dealing with their second new coach in the last four years…which is no small thing.
November 1 vs. Illinois – Win
Illinois is terrible. In similar fashion to last season, the Buckeyes will allow this game to be unnecessarily close, but will ultimately come out on top. I don’t mind this, because with the new playoff system in place, style points don’t matter nearly as much as they once did. We’ll still need to impress the selection committee, but an undefeated season will be good enough…I think. Am I saying that an undefeated season is possible with a Braxton Millerless team? Sure, anything is possible. But what I’m really saying is that style points aren’t the focus that they were last year.
November 8 @ Michigan State – Loss
The Buckeyes will receive their first loss of the season at Michigan State. I would love to see them win this game, but Michigan State is just too strong of a team. Even if Ohio State can sure up their secondary, it still won’t be enough to contain this Spartan offense. Oh yeah, the Michigan State defense is no slouch either. Expect them to make JT Barrett’s life a little bit miserable. The game will probably be close, probably decided by a last minute touchdown, but ultimately Ohio State will come out on the short end of this one. The unfortunate part of this is that this loss takes Ohio State out of the running for the Big Ten Title, making this one of the longest periods in recent memory that the Buckeyes haven't had at least a share of the Big Ten Title.
November 15 @ Minnesota – Win
The Buckeyes will be more than a little upset about their loss to Michigan State and will look to take out their frustrations on some Golden Gophers. Jerry Kill is an idiot and this won’t be much of a contest. The Buckeyes will win by three touchdowns.
November 22 vs. Indiana – Win
No matter what goofy helmet the Hoosiers decide to bust out for this game, they will still lose. While Indiana has improved their program over the last few years, they still aren’t an Ohio State caliber football team just yet. Sure, this game has a little bit of the old “look ahead” factor to it, but after their loss to MSU, this team will be focused on the task at hand, knowing that they can’t take another loss.
November 29 vs Michigan – THE GAME – Win
The Buckeyes could easily lose this game. Shoot, they nearly lost it last year with Braxton Miller. But ultimately Brady Hoke and his stupid polo shirt will crack under the pressure in The Shoe. Of course, Michigan will be intimidated by whatever stupid uniform Ohio State decides to bust out for the big rivalry game (is this a tradition we can be done with? Please?). At any rate, this game will be won in typical rivalry fashion, with a big play in the final seconds of the game. But at this point, a win is a win.
The Bowl Game - TBD
Since the Buckeyes most likely won't be playing in the conference championship game, it now is time to figure out what bowl game they will be playing in. I'm almost 100% certain that they will be left out of the four-team playoff, but that doesn't mean that they won't be able to get a somewhat decent bowl bid. I don't think that a return trip to the Orange Bowl is completely out of the question. I won't predict a win or a loss in this one, because there are just too many possibilities (though a rematch with Clemson could be entertaining).
So, with this new information in mind, and with the Buckeyes looking to finish the regular season at 11-1 with a decent chance of playing in a high profile bowl game...will you be satisfied if the season transpires this way? After losing your starting quarterback for the season, is this expectation too high? Too low? Let us know in the comments below.