The Ohio State Buckeyes open the season at noon Saturday.
Here’s my annual prediction of how I think the Buckeyes will fare this season.
I’d like to hear yours as well, so feel free to comment in the section below.
Aug. 30 at Navy: This is no pushover. The Midshipmen are a good team under coach Ken Niumataloto. Navy runs the triple option and it can create nightmares for opposing teams.
In 2013, quarterback Keenan Reynolds set an NCAA single-season record by a quarterback with 31 touchdowns. They ranked second last season in the nation in rushing at 325.4 yards per game. OSU wins.
Sept. 6 Virginia Tech: The Buckeyes’ signature non-conference game is at night.
But the Hokies, after eight straight seasons with 10 wins or more, have captured only 15 the last two seasons.
Veteran coach Frank Beamer has apparently settled on Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer to be the starting QB. The offense ranked 101st nationally last season.
The defense was much better, ranking fourth overall.
Virginia Tech may not be the team of the past, but is still a formidable foe. OSU wins.
Sept. 13 Kent State: OSU usually plays at least one Ohio team and this season it’s two.
The first is the Golden Flashes, who are led by former Buckeye assistant Paul Haynes.
Trayion Durham led the team in rushing with 766 yards last season.
But the Kent State scoring offense ranked just 104th at 20.8 points per game. OSU wins.
Sept. 27 Cincinnati: After a bye week, the Buckeyes host Cincinnati.
The Bearcats finished 9-4 last season. The top three rushers and five of the top six pass receivers return. Gunner Kiel, a Notre Dame transfer, is expected to start at QB.
The defense finished ranked No. 9 in the nation last season. OSU wins.
Oct. 4 at Maryland: OSU starts the Big Ten season against one of the two new teams in the conference. Quarterback C.J. Brown rushed for a total of 1,150 yards in 2011 and 2013.
The defense ranked 44th nationally. Maryland was 102nd in turnover margin last season. OSU wins.
Oct. 18 Rutgers: After a second bye week, OSU goes against the other Big Ten newcomer — the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers finished 95th in total offense, 73rd in defense and 119th in turnover margin.
Running back Paul James and five returning linemen will help the offense.
But veteran Gary Nova is sporadic at QB. OSU wins.
Oct. 25: at Penn State: The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions will play under the lights in Happy Valley. Former Vanderbilt coach James Franklin takes over a PSU program still under NCAA sanctions, but regrouping.
Quarterback Christian Hackenberg has potential to have a big year. Seven starters return on defense.
A tough one for OSU and first year QB J.T. Barrett. I’m calling for the upset and PSU to win.
Nov. 1 Illinois: A big year for former OSU assistant coach Tim Beckman. He is just 6-18 in two seasons in Champaign.
Oklahoma State transfer Wes Lunt is likely to start. V’ Angelo Bentley led the Big Ten in punt returns last year. OSU wins.
Nov. 8: at Michigan State: A big one in determining the Big Ten East champion.
Last season, the Spartans upset the Buckeyes to win the Big Ten title, en route to a Rose Bowl win as well.
Michigan State has a solid running game, an emerging quarterback in Connor Cook and still a stout defense, despite some big losses. Michigan State wins.
Nov. 15 at Minnesota: The Golden Gophers were 115th in passing last season. The defense was 43rd. Minnesota returns three linemen and six on defense. OSU wins.
Nov. 22: Indiana: Kevin Wilson has had a tough run with the Hoosiers, going 10-26 in three seasons. Indiana can score: Finishing ninth in total offense at 508.5 yards per game last season.
But the Hoosiers can’t stop anybody either: Ranked 120th, giving up 527.9 yards per game. OSU wins.
Nov. 29: Michigan: Big year for Brady Hoke, who started like a gangbuster with an Orange Bowl win.
It’s been tough sledding the last couple of years.
He’s hoping new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, who came over from Alabama, can help improve an 86th ranking last season.
Devin Gardner returns at quarterback and Devon Funchess is a huge target at tight end. The Wolverines also have experience at linebacker. OSU wins.
In the end, I don’t see OSU winning the Big Ten, despite missing Wisconsin and Nebraska on the schedule.
I can still see an Orange Bowl appearance, though, if the stars align.