Fade Alert - Ohio State
July 25, 2014
By Lance Blankenship
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Since head coach Urban Meyer became head coach of Ohio State in 2012, the Buckeyes have posted a 24-2 record and that includes back-to-back 12-0 marks in the regular season.
Oddsmakers at Sportsbook.ag have posted a win total of 10 ½ (-120) for the 2014 regular season. While a lot of experts believe Meyer and company should dominate the Big Ten this season, I’m not one of them.
I believe UNDER 10 ½ is a great play and I also believe this Buckeyes squad is incredibly overrated.
Before going over all 12 of the Buckeyes' games this upcoming season, I would like to make some general observations about the team.
Defensively, Ohio State will field their worst secondary in 20-25 years on opening day against Navy. OSU returns only one starter (Doran Grant) in the defensive backfield. The other three DBs are greenhorns and will get torched all year.
Another glaring weak point for Ohio State is their offensive line. Again, I believe the Buckeyes will feature their worst offensive line in 20 seasons. Taylor Decker is the only returning full-time starter. He is moving from RT to LT in order to give Miller time to work his magic. Teams will pour through OSU's blockers and force Miller to make mistakes. The Buckeyes lost three great linemen to graduation in Andrew Norwell, Corey Lindsey and All-American tackle Jack Mewhort. The drop-off in protection will be profound.
Ohio State will also feel the loss of four more great players, in particular Ryan Shazier, Bradley Roby, Carlos Hyde, and Corey "Philly" Brown. All four were winners, plus Drew Basil was a steady placekicker and he also departs.
Again, it’s hard to ignore the 24-2 record the last two seasons but we can’t forget that the Buckeyes ended last year’s season with a two-game skid.
Some novice bettors might’ve forgotten that Miller was injured last season and fortunately Ohio State had a stable backup in senior Kenny Guiton. He’s gone and there isn’t much experienced behind Braxton this fall. If Miller were to be injured early in the season and unable to return, OSU could finish 7-5 or 6-6.
Let's look at Ohio State's 12 opponents.
Game 1 vs. Navy (at Baltimore): Quarterback Keenan Reynolds will burn the young OSU secondary. Reynolds is fast and shifty on his feet and accurate when passing for short gains. The Midshipmen return 15 starters and this is essentially a home game for them. Navy's secondary features four returnees with starting experience. Their offensive line is also a seasoned strength. Ohio State opened as a 19-point favorite and I believe Navy is the play. Ohio State will probably wear down the Midshipmen late but they won't win by 20. If Keenan Reynolds is hot and Navy can get to Miller two or three times, an enormous upset could definitely happen.
Game 2 vs. Virginia Tech: The Hokies bring back 14 starters. They will feature an unknown at QB. I would grade their offensive line with a B+ but the strength of this roster is the secondary. They have two 1st round draft picks in the defensive backfield. VT will treat this game as if it were the National Championship. Ohio State will probably be an 11 to 13-point home favorite at kickoff. I have no opinion on the point-spread because VT could fold early. Or, Frank Beamer may call a sterling game and the Hokies may get a few lucky bounces and leave Columbus in victorious fashion.
Game 3 vs. Kent State: Kent State has a terrible QB and no chance of winning this game. Ohio State will be favored by five TDs, maybe a little more. Ohio State has not lost to an in-state foe in a century. Kent State will mount no offense while allowing Miller to rack up TDs. Ohio State should be 3-0 or 2-1 after this contest.
Game 4 vs. Cincinnati: Ohio State will benefit from a bye week in the lead up to Cincinnati. The Buckeyes will be heavily favored and with good reason. UC always has a shot to win games with a gambler like head coach Tommy Tuberville calling the shots. Cincinnati also has the #1 QB prospect from three years ago in Gunner Kiel, who originally signed with Notre Dame. Look for OSU to go to 3-1 or 4-0 after this contest. UC's lack of blocking power will allow Ohio State to stop them quickly and force plenty of 3-and-outs.
Game 5 at Maryland: I believe this is the key spot on the Buckeyes' schedule. Most pundits don’t have much faith in Maryland this season. I do. The Terrapins have a diamond in the rough in QB CJ Brown. In between injuries, he has shown moments of brilliance. Maryland also has three outstanding six-foot-plus WRs, all NFL prospects. Ohio State will not move the ball steadily against Maryland. The Terps have nine starters back on defense. Ohio State will go off as a slight road favorite here. Look for Maryland to beat OSU soundly by avoiding OSU's front four with quick slant passes. Randy Edsall will best Meyer here. Ohio State falls to 4-1 or 3-2.
Game 6 vs. Rutgers (Homecoming): Both teams will be coming off bye weeks. Rutgers returns 16 starters but they will be outclassed in Columbus on Homecoming. Nova, the unpredictable Rutgers QB, will not evade OSU front seven. Rutgers' front seven is very light for a Big Ten school. They will get pushed around all day. Take Ohio State here. The Buckeyes may be laying 23 at home but they'll cover. Ohio State moves to 5-1 or 4-2.
Game 7 at Penn State: This game will be played on Oct. 25 in Happy Valley. This could be an extremely tough spot for OSU and bad weather is always possible. A hostile crowd is guaranteed as OSU has excelled at PSU in its last three trips there. Ohio State scored 63 against PSU last year and this will motivate Penn State. Look for new head coach James Franklin to get his first signature win as PSU's boss in this contest. PSU gunslinger Christian Hackenberg will burn OSU's secondary. Ohio State goes to 5-2 or 4-3.
Game 8 vs. Illinois: Ohio State will put up a huge number against Illinois. The Buckeyes may not cover, but they will win this game easily. Last year Ohio State scored 60 but still didn't cover. (They won 60-35 as 34 point favorites). Ohio State goes to 6-2 or 5-3.
Game 9 at Michigan State: I believe Michigan State is going to beat Oregon on Sept. 6. This could very well make the Spartans front-runners for the college football playoff. A win over Ohio State will stamp the Spartans' ticket to the four-team playoff. Look for QB Connor Cook to outplay Braxton Miller and for the Spartans to beat Ohio State as soundly as they beat them in the Big Ten Championship Game last year. Ohio State goes to 6-3 or 5-4.
Game 10 at Minnesota: Urban Meyer will not allow his team to fold. They are four touchdowns better than Minnesota and will win this contest by roughly that margin. OSU goes to 7-3 or 6-4.
Game 11 vs. Indiana: Ohio State destroys Indiana on a yearly basis. This year's contest may be very high scoring. OSU will win by 15-20. The Sudfeld/Roberson duo at QB for Indiana will put up points but not enough to beat OSU. Ohio State moves to 8-3 or 7-4.
Game 12 vs. Michigan: Ohio State was favored by 16 in Ann Arbor last year and won by one point on the last play of the game. This Michigan club is better and they enter this game with revenge on its minds. Ohio State may be deflated by not having a shot at the playoff. They could be beaten at home. This game is a toss-up, leaving Ohio State either 9-3, 8-4, or 7-5 for the regular season.
My prediction is that Ohio State will win eight games, nine perhaps, at best, and that’s only if Braxton Miller doesn’t get hurt.
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