Ohio State Football: Early Game-by-Game Prediction for the 2014 Season
Ohio State hasn't lost a regular-season game since 2011, when Luke Fickell and the Buckeyes fell to Michigan in the Big House, 40-34. Since then, Urban Meyer has led the Buckeyes to 24 consecutive regular-season victories. Back-to-back postseason losses, though, linger with Ohio State as the 2014 season approaches.
How far will the Buckeyes' regular-season streak go this season? Can they go 3-of-3 in perfect regular seasons under Meyer?
Here's an early game-by-game prediction for Ohio State's 2014 season.
Ohio State is set to open the season in Baltimore against Navy and its vaunted triple-option offense. This is the second of a two-game series that started in 2009, when the Midshipmen invaded Columbus and nearly knocked off the Buckeyes with a fourth-quarter rally.
Things shouldn't be as close this time around.
The Buckeyes will need a quarter to adjust to Navy's option attack, but once they do, they'll take over. Ohio State will turn a 14-7 game into a three-touchdown lead by halftime before cruising to the 21-point victory.
Braxton Miller will throw for 250 yards and two touchdowns and run for 75 and another score in the easy win.
Ohio State 41, Navy 20
Ohio State's home opener will be a much tougher game. The Buckeyes will host Frank Beamer and the Virginia Tech Hokies under the lights in the 'Shoe.
Ohio State is a perfect 3-0 in home night games under Urban Meyer, and it will have to work very hard to keep that streak alive.
An improved Buckeyes defense will get the job done, though.
Joey Bosa will have his best game as a Buckeye, recording three sacks as Ohio State gives up just 10 points to the Virginia Tech offense. The Hokies will intercept a Braxton Miller pass and return it for a touchdown to cut Ohio State's lead to four, but a late scoring drive from the Buckeyes in the fourth quarter will ice the game.
Ohio State 28, Virginia Tech 17
The first real snoozer of the season will take place when the Buckeyes host Kent State in Week 3. Without Dri Archer to fuel their offense, the Golden Flashes will have no luck moving the ball against Ohio State's defense.
On the other side of the ball, the Buckeyes will do what they want. Miller will show off his arm and throw for 290 yards in just three quarters of action. Ezekiel Elliott will set a career high, rushing for 160 yards while adding three scores as the Buckeyes roll to a third straight victory.
Ohio State 59, Kent State 10
The Buckeyes will want to look forward to their conference slate, but a feisty Cincinnati team will keep them locked in.
The Bearcats will be looking to build off the momentum they gained last year in Tommy Tuberville's first year, when they won nine games and nearly knocked off Louisville in the season finale. Cincinnati will hang tough early, trailing 17-14 late into the second quarter. That's when the Buckeyes will turn it on, scoring two quick touchdowns before intermission.
Running back Hosey Williams will provide a bit of a boost in the second half, but Meyer and Ohio State's offense will be too much for Cincinnati to handle. The Buckeyes will enter Big Ten play with a perfect record.
Ohio State 41, Cincinnati 24
Will this be the game in which Ohio State really feels the impact of missing out on Stefon Diggs?
The elite playmaker was one of Urban Meyer's top recruiting targets when he took over at Ohio State, but Diggs—then a 5-star prospect, according to 247 Sports—chose to play for Maryland.
Now a junior, Diggs is expected to pace the Maryland offense. He'll be geared up to play for Maryland's first Big Ten game at home, but he won't be able to beat the Buckeyes single-handedly.
Ohio State's young offensive line will play its best game as the offense overmatches the Terrapins defense. The defense will also surge as the Buckeyes coast to an easy win to open Big Ten play.
Ohio State 42, Maryland 17
Back at home to face the Big Ten's other new team, Ohio State and Rutgers will square off after a bye week.
After showing some early rust, Meyer and the Buckeyes will continue to roll the way they did against Maryland.
The offensive line will flex its muscle as it powers the offense to 325 rushing yards. Miller will only play two-and-a-half quarters and will be pulled when the Buckeyes take a 42-13 lead midway through the third.
Ohio State 52, Rutgers 16
This time around, there will be no rout.
Ohio State gave Penn State a historic beatdown last season, crushing the Nittany Lions 63-14 in a prime-time game at the 'Shoe.
Penn State will come out hot under the lights in Happy Valley, scoring the game's first 10 points. Christian Hackenberg will dissect the Buckeyes' new-look secondary early as the home crowd turns into an inferno of electricity.
The Buckeyes will calm down in the second quarter, relying on the offensive line and the steady running game that surged the previous two games.
Ohio State will break a 17-17 halftime tie early in the third quarter, and the two teams will go back and forth until Penn State knots it up at 27 late in the fourth quarter.
With two-and-a-half minutes left, Miller will lead the Buckeyes down the field with his arm, completing five of his six passes and converting a key third down at midfield with his legs. He'll connect with Devin Smith for the go-ahead touchdown.
Ohio State 34, Penn State 27
The Buckeyes will get back-to-back night games, but this one against Illinois at home will be much easier than the week before.
Dontre Wilson will steal the show.
The speedy playmaker will be having a solid season up to this point, averaging 95 total yards of offense per game, but he'll break out against the Illini. He'll catch eight balls for 125 yards and a score while also breaking out two long runs—both for touchdowns—as he finishes the day with 210 total yards of offense.
Ohio State's defense will be solid all day, but a late touchdown against the second-team unit will make the score a bit more respectable.
Following the win, Ohio State will ascend to No. 2 in the polls behind top-ranked Florida State.
Ohio State 56, Illinois 20
The game Ohio State has been looking forward to all season won't go the way the Buckeyes want it to.
Away from home in the unfriendly confines of Spartan Stadium, Michigan State will best the Buckeyes again.
This game will play out much like the Big Ten title game did last year. The Spartans, who dropped two games early as the defense rebuilt, will be operating at a high level by November.
Miller will have his worst game of the season, completing just 12-of-22 passes for 180 yards. Elliott and the Buckeyes rushing attack won't have the same success Carlos Hyde did last year as the Spartans hold tough in front of the home crowd.
Noah Spence will force and recover a fumble deep in Michigan State territory, and the offense will capitalize to tie the game at 24 midway through the fourth quarter. However, a late Michigan State drive, keyed by Connor Cook and the Spartans' pass offense, will get them set up for the game-winning field goal.
Michigan State 27, Ohio State 24
Dragging from the first loss of the season and facing a tough Minnesota team, Ohio State will come out listless on the road against the Gophers.
Running back David Cobb and the Gophers offense will keep Miller on the sideline as they build a 9-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
That's when Ohio State will finally wake up.
The Buckeyes will rattle off two straight touchdown drives to take a 14-9 lead into halftime, and after the break, they'll add on another score to take complete control.
Minnesota will answer with a touchdown drive of its own, but the Buckeyes will close things out by scoring the game's final 17 points.
Ohio State 38, Minnesota 16
For the third straight year, Ohio State will have a hard time containing Shane Wynn.
For the third straight year, it won't matter.
The speedy receiver from Glenville High School—Ohio State's biggest instate recruiting pipeline—will catch seven passes for 130 yards and two scores against the Buckeyes. But that will be the highlight of the day for the Hoosiers, who will give up 340 rushing yards to Ohio State.
Miller will account for 150 of those yards, as well as three rushing touchdowns. Dontre Wilson will return a kickoff for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to squash any hope of an Indiana comeback.
Ohio State 45, Indiana 20
Brady Hoke will bring his Michigan team into Columbus with a 9-2 record, hoping for the first 10-win season since his first year with the Wolverines.
He'll have to wait until the bowl game for win No. 10.
The Buckeyes will race out to an early 17-3 lead that will ignite the home crowd. Michigan will respond with its first touchdown of the game, but Dontre Wilson will take a screen pass 65 yards to the house just before halftime.
The two teams will trade touchdowns to start the second half. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Braxton Miller will give Ohio State a 38-17 lead with a 35-yard touchdown run.
With the game essentially decided, the Wolverines will score 10 points on their last two drives before Meyer and the Buckeyes kill the clock.
After the game, Penn State will top Michigan State in a 27-23 battle. The Spartans' loss will send Ohio State to the Big Ten title game against Wisconsin.
Ohio State 38, Michigan 27
David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report.
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.