The Ohio State football team entered the Big Ten championship game on a 24-game winning streak, the longest such streak in the nation. A win meant a berth in the national championship game in Pasadena, California on January 6, 2014. However, the Michigan State Spartans had other plans. They controlled the game throughout, and sent the Buckeyes packing with their first loss in two years.
The Buckeyes were invited to play in the Discover Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida. It felt like a consolation prize at best. Many Buckeye fans had lost interest with the national championship out of the picture, and it seemed as if the Buckeyes had lost interest as well. They lost their second consecutive game to Clemson, and after an undefeated regular season, went home empty handed.
Now, the Buckeyes get a clean slate; a fresh start on their journey to a national championship. This year marks the first year that the playoff system will be implemented in college football. That means that the top four teams at the end of the season will have a shot a the crystal football. This will play to Ohio State’s advantage, as many experts do not believe an undefeated Big Ten team deserves to play for the national championship over a one-loss team from a stronger conference. It will be a long and difficult journey in order to survive this season without a blemish, though.
The Buckeyes lose 14 players to the NFL draft this summer including their first team All-Big Ten running back Carlos Hyde. It will be difficult to replace all of the talent that they have lost, but Urban Meyer has proven to be one of the best recruiters in the country. The positions to pay the most attention to come August 30 are running back and the defensive secondary.
Sophomore Ezekiel Elliot currently leads the way in the running back competition, but the Buckeyes are loaded with talent at the position, so expect competition to heat up as we near the season opener. The Ohio State secondary loses three starters from last season, including projected first round pick, Bradley Roby. The defense is where Urban’s recruiting presence will be felt most. There are holes to be filled at almost every position, and Urban has the personnel to do just that because of his successful first three recruiting class at The Ohio State University.
Ohio State’s schedule is a favorable one that offers few challenges. The key games to mark on the calendar are at Penn State on October 25, at Michigan State on November 8, and of course versus Michigan to end the regular season on November 29. If the Buckeyes are able to make it through these games without a loss, it is likely that we will see them enter another Big Ten championship game with an undefeated record.
The Ohio State Buckeyes had a major collapse at the end of last season. They enter 2014 on a two-game losing streak. However, this will serve as motivation to repeat their last two undefeated regular seasons, and this time, to take it one step further.
The Buckeyes are one of the most talented teams in the nation, and it is evident that they are out to prove it in 2014. Come December, expect to see Ohio State fighting for a shot to play in the first ever college football playoff championship game, and don’t be surprised if you see the Buckeyes hoisting the Coaches’ Trophy on Monday, January 12, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. Entering this season, Buckeyes around the world are all thinking the same thing; “championship or bust!”