The Ohio State Buckeyes open their 125th season against Navy at Baltimore Saturday.
Fortunes of the Buckeyes took a sudden turn Aug. 18 when it was announced Braxton Miller would miss the 2014 season with a re-injured shoulder injury.
It was a significant blow to a team which had already lost its leader rusher, leading receiver and four offensive lineman from a year ago.
But, it’s OSU.
And schools like the Buckeyes, Alabama, Texas and others have no excuses.
They press on with who’s on the field and expectations don’t lower.
Here are five keys for the opener:
1. With Miller out, red-shirt freshman J.T. Barrett is expected to take over at QB.
The coaching staff and team are confident in Barrett’s abilities, but what will happen when he steps on the field that first time?
2. The Buckeyes have more than 3,100 yards of total offense to replace, including Miller, running back Carlos Hyde (1,521 yards) and wide receiver Corey Brown (771).
OSU has just 11 percent of its total offense back from a year ago.
3. It’s not just the offense OSU has key personnel to replace offensively.
The defense line in intact and should be one of the top units in the nation this season.
But just three linebackers/defensive backs return.
4. Yes, it was in December and early January, but OSU steps on the field for the first time since losing the final two games of 2013.
The Buckeyes went from a possible BCS National Championship Game to a 12-2 mark.
Still not a bad mark, but not a good way to end the season.
They will step on the field for first time since the Orange Bowl.
5. It’s not like Navy is a pushover.
This has been a solid program over the years, including 9-4 last season.
They return eight starters on offense and seven on defense.
Junior quarterback Keenan Reynolds helped the Midshipmen offense rank second in the NCAA in rushing at 325.4 yards per game last season.
He rushed for 1,346 yards and 31 TDs.
In 2009, OSU preserved a 31-27 win at Ohio Stadium, helped by Brian Rolle returning a two-point conversion attempt in two in OSU’s favor.
OSU wins 27-17.