There isn’t a game the 2013 Ohio State Buckeyes will enter the field as underdogs in, at least before the start of the season.
CBS Sports’ Chip Patterson reports that the Golden Nugget, a Las Vegas casino, listed the Bucks in their early odds as one of five teams—Alabama, Oregon, Louisville, Georgia—favored in each of their regular-season matchups.
Ohio State will also enter the year as a 13-2 favorite to win a the BCS title, according to Bovada.
Last year, Urban Meyer led the team from a 6-7 finish in 2011 to an unbeaten 12-0 mark. As a result, the team’s expectations for 2013 are sky high.
Anything less than a Rose Bowl or BCS Champonship Game appearance will be a massive letdown.
With expectations come letdowns, though.
We’ll take a look at three trap games the Buckeyes must survive if they hope to realize the lofty expectations surrounding them this season.
San Diego State: Sept. 7
Don’t sleep on the San Diego State Aztecs. Brady Hoke’s former team was built tough defensively and is coming off of an excellent finish to their 2012 season. During their seven-game regular-season winning streak to end the year, SDSU knocked off top Mountain West schools Nevada and Boise State.
This is the type of game that could resemble last year’s near-miss against California. The Aztecs play tough, physical football. Their offensive line is solid and could challenge the new-look Buckeyes front seven throughout the contest. Junior running back Adam Muema went off last season behind that line, racking up 1,458 yards and 16 touchdowns.
The biggest question mark for the Aztecs is whether or not they can contain QB Braxton Miller with their 3-3-5 defense.
This one, albeit at Ohio Stadium, should be a lot closer than many think. If the Buckeyes buy into the hype they could be left scratching their heads and looking foolish early on in 2013.
At Northwestern: Oct. 5
Look out for the week after the Bucks battle the Wisconsin Badgers at Ohio Stadium. They head to Evanston to take on a Northwestern Wildcats team that is rapidly emerging as a credible threat in the Big Ten.
High off of a win or down following a loss against the Badgers, the Scarlet and Grey will need to avoid looking ahead to their week off following this contest. It’s going to be one of, if not the hardest games of their season.
While the conditions are certainly there for a “trap game” in Illinois, the nighttime venue at Ryan Field and recent success of the Wildcats should be enough to keep the Buckeyes from looking ahead during this one.
This is the type of game that may come down to whoever has the ball last.
At Purdue: Nov. 16
The Buckeyes will have a second off-week in 2013. A matchup preceding that second open week against Purdue, a team that nearly blemished their perfect season in 2012, is somewhat concerning.
If the Bucks head into Ross-Ade Stadium undefeated, they will face a formidable threat to that mark in the Boilermakers.
Last year, Braxton Miller was sent to the hospital and Kenny Guiton stepped in to save the game and the team’s season. The Bucks escaped with an overtime win despite being out-gained in total yardage 347-to-342 and on the wrong side of a lopsided turnover battle—four to one.
In 2013, the Boilermakers return eight starters on defense and seven more on the offensive side of the ball.
Added to the mix is head coach Darrell Hazell. If you remember, Hazell did great things at Kent State a season ago, nearly leading the Golden Flashes to their first BCS Bowl bid in school history.
Hopefully Meyer keys in on the two teams' 2012 matchup and utilizes it as motivation to propel his team onward.