After last season's 12-0 record, Urban's track record in year two, and a Heisman trophy candidate under center, it is easy see why expectations are so high for 2013.
There is not an obviously challenging game on the Buckeyes' schedule next season (though The Game should never be underestimated), where the toughest out of conference opponent is a rookie coach-led California.
Even Wisconsin, who the Buckeyes have somewhat struggled with recently, are breaking in new head coach Gary Anderson and lost all-everything Montee Ball.
Even though going 26-0 sounds difficult, even the national media is bullish over the Buckeyes' chances:
Another perfect season isn't out of the question for OSU in 2013. It doesn't play Nebraska or Michigan State during the regular season and gets Wisconsin, Iowa and Penn State at home.
However, who is to say that one of Ohio State's opponents doesn't have a big turnaround in 2013? A deeper look into the Buckeyes' strength of schedule in 2013 is warranted.
The problem with this endeavor is that strength of schedule is usually calculated after the first few games of the season. Who knows, maybe Cal comes out of nowhere and knocks off Northwestern on August 31? Or maybe San Diego State prevails over Oregon State?
One way we can try and get a handle on predicting strength of schedule is by totaling all opponents' projected F/+ scores.
The F/+ combines Fremeau and Connelly's FEI and S&P+ metrics to rank teams based upon efficiency, play success rate, and strength of schedule (among other measures). The projected 2013 scores are based on recruiting rankings following this year's National Signing Day.
So how does the Buckeye's 2013 schedule stack up?
I've found before that the Buckeyes were a little lucky to go 12-0 last season when looking at their statistical performances. Connelly's projections have the 2013 Buckeyes looking very similar to last season's squad - definite top ten material, but not close to challenging Alabama:
On the flipside, no, Ohio State really does not feel low [ranked] to me. On paper, that wasn't a Top 10 team in 2012, but ... damn, are they looking scary for the future. I'm just not sure "the future" will fully arrive in 2013.
He has the Buckeyes with a 2013 F/+ score of 25.3 compared to Bama's 46.2.
I added up the F/+ scores of every team the Buckeyes faced this season and last season to get a handle on how difficult the upcoming season will be compared to last year's 12-0 campaign.
This measure isn't perfect - one game against a really good or really bad opponent can really skew the overall season score - but I believe it gives us at least an introductory ability to compare schedules.
Based on projected scores for 2013, 2012 was a slightly more difficult, with an F/+ score of 33.6 for 2012 and 31.5 for 2013. Just glancing at the schedule confirms the numbers - the Buckeyes miss Michigan State, Nebraska, and UCF (who were ranked surprisingly high on the F/+!).
Wisconsin is by far the most difficult most difficult opponent on the schedule for 2013, though it should be noted that these projected F/+ scores have no way to capture the impact of coaching changes.
Michigan and Penn State appear to be the second and third toughest teams the Buckeyes face, and there's a pretty steep drop-off in talent following those three. There is also a nice rhythm to next season - a few easy games and then a more difficult one.
Finally, I took a look at the Buckeyes' schedule compared to the rest of the Big Ten.
Ohio State has one of the easiest schedules in the Big Ten next season - but it's not alone. Interestingly, all of the top candidates to win the Big Ten - besides Michigan! - have easy schedules. Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Nebraska all have relatively easy paths to the championship game.
This isn't great news if you're a Michigan fan, but that's what you get for playing the Buckeyes, Nebraska, Notre Dame, and Michigan State next season.