2013-14 Ohio State Buckeyes Predictions and College Football Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 7/23/2013
The Buckeyes are coming off an impressive unbeaten season. Thanks to a few too many free tattoos, though, that didn’t mean a thing. Now they have a chance to play games that actually matter, and the pressure is on to see if they can repeat their feats of last year.
From where I sit Urban Meyer is a pretty easy guy to find unlikeable. He’s smug, and the drama around his mini-retirement was ridiculous. Of course, he has also never coached a team I even remotely like. There is no doubt that if he and I were on the same side I would change my tune. After all, he took over a 6-7 team with all sorts of issues and almost instantly turned them around. The most striking change was obviously QB Braxton Miller. He’d always been promising, and had shown flashes of brilliance, but Meyer was the first guy to be able to get him to accentuate his strengths, minimize his weaknesses, and become one of the top players in college football.
Miller needs protection to do what he is capable of, and that’s far from a concern this year with the Buckeyes. Four offensive line starters return. Taylor Decker is the likely new starter at right tackle, and he may be the best lineman of them all. Surrounding the line is plenty of offensive talent. Tight end Jake Stoneburner was a huge force last year, so he will be missed, but there is plenty of depth to replace him. The running backs, led by senior Carlos Hyde, would have been the best unit that Meyer had ever had, but Hyde got himself suspended due to some legal issues and could miss the whole year. There is still depth and some nice talent, but with Hyde it seemed very likely that Meyer would finally have his first 1,000-yard rusher. Now there is much less certainty.
The biggest area for concern is on the defensive side of the ball. The linebacking corps lacks experience, and the defensive line is just plain raw. There is tremendous talent available thanks to strong recruiting by Meyer, but players like Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington are going to have to step up in a real hurry to avoid issues.
Ohio State Schedule Analysis
If you just looked at the nonconference schedule of the Buckeyes, you would think that they were an SEC team. The SEC isn’t known for challenging themselves when they don’t have to. Ohio State took a page form that playbook. Their most challenging nonconference game is probably a trip to play Cal, but that team is going through a massive and inevitably rocky transition to the Sonny Dykes regime and won’t likely test the Buckeyes. Aside from that, home games against San Diego State and especially Buffalo and Florida A&M will be easier than intra-squad scrimmages for this team.
The conference schedule is very manageable. Home games against Iowa, Penn State and Indiana, and road games at Purdue and Illinois will be easy wins barring a disaster. That leaves a home game against Wisconsin, and road trips to Northwestern and Michigan. Ohio State will be favored in all three and will be the better team in each case, but each one will be a challenge. Ohio State has the schedule to run the table, but it won’t be handed to them on a silver platter.
2013-14 Ohio State Betting Odds and Trends
Oddsmakers and the betting public are very high on the Buckeyes. They are the second choice to win the National Championship at +650, trailing only Alabama. They are also the very heavy -110 favorites to win the Big Ten and prohibitive -465 favorites to win the Leaders Division. Braxton Miller will lead this team to whatever success they enjoy, and he is the second choice to win the Heisman at +500. The oddsmakers are also reasonably comfortable that the Buckeyes will open the season with a win — they are early 33.5 point favorites against Buffalo. (All odds are from BetOnline) The Buckeyes were an underwhelming team to bet on last year despite not losing all year — they were just 7-5 ATS, and they went “over” six times in 12 games.
2013-14 Ohio State Buckeyes Predictions and College Football Picks
The Buckeyes are going to lose a game. I just don’t see them going unbeaten two years in a row, and I don’t have enough faith in this defense as it currently stands. Wisconsin, Michigan and Northwestern will all be tough, and one of those teams will get the better of the Buckeyes. The legal issues of Hyde and several other players will be an obvious distraction as well, and that is a sign that Meyer doesn’t have the tight control on the team that would be ideal. That being said, this team is a legitimate favorite in the Big Ten, and I would confidently pick them to appear in and win the Big Ten Championship Game and to represent the conference in a major bowl game. That result would be disappointing for everyone who thinks this team will win the big hardware, but it is still a strong result for a formidable team.
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