Opportunities and Pitfalls in the 2014 Football Schedule

By Joe Beale on March 5, 2014 at 1:30p
The Buckeyes will open the 2014 season against Navy in the home of the Ravens.

Last season fans and commentators alike lamented the lack of schedule strength for the Ohio State football team. As it turned out, it would not have mattered much, but some still feel the soft early games were not adequate to prepare for Big Ten play.

Things will change somewhat in 2014, with OSU opening on the road against a quality opponent for the first time since 1999 and then playing perennial ACC power Virginia Tech in Columbus the next week. The Big Ten should also be an improved conference overall, which makes that part of the schedule tougher.

It's time to take a look at some of the games we are looking forward to in this year's schedule, and provide warnings about some match-ups that might be "trap games" for the 2014 Buckeyes.


Quick trivia question: name one of the four teams that rushed for more yards per game than Ohio State last season. No need to think about it, the answer is at the top of this paragraph. The Midshipmen finished second in the nation in rushing, averaging over 325 yards per game on the ground.

They were less than stellar through the air, passing for less than 86 yards per game, but their offense presents many problems for a team like Ohio State. For one, the cut blocking is something they don't often see, and thus is hard to prepare for. OSU is accustomed to seeing teams that spread to pass, not old-fashioned triple-option teams.

Navy gave Ohio State all they could handle back in 2009, and that was in the cozy confines of the Shoe. Playing on the road in an NFL stadium in week one will test the poise of the team right off the bat.

The Midshipmen wrapped up a 9-4 season by whipping Middle Tennessee in the Armed Forces Bowl. Quarterback Keenan Reynolds returns for his junior season after rushing for over 1300 yards and passing for eight touchdowns against only two interceptions in 2013. The Buckeyes will need to be sharp early in order to pass the opening test in Baltimore.

virginia tech

The Hokies finished second to Duke in the ACC Coastal division in 2013 with a 5-3 conference record and an 8-5 record overall. They finished the season on a sour note, losing badly to UCLA in the Sun Bowl 42-12. Three-year starting quarterback Logan Thomas has departed, but to be honest they didn't exactly roll with him in his last season. 

The Hokies struggled on offense in 2013, averaging just over 22 points per game. While Ohio State struggled to defend the pass late in the season, this Virginia Tech squad will probably not be able to take advantage of them. All in all, this is a great opportunity for OSU to score a win over a high-profile team from the ACC, and I expect the Buckeyes to make a statement here.

penn state

On October 25th, Ohio State will travel to State College for their annual tilt against the Nittany Lions. Undoubtedly, the PSU faithful will unleash yet another "white out" against the Buckeyes, especially if this ends up being a night game. Combine that with the revenge factor after OSU smacked them 63-14 last season and you have all the makings for a classic Big Ten clash.

New head coach James Franklin runs a pro-style offense, and that means a lot of passing for Big Ten Freshman of the Year Christian Hackenberg in his sophomore year. Will this spell doom for the young OSU secondary? This will be the first big test for Chris Ash and a win here would go a long way toward building more confidence in the defense.

michigan state

This is the game that everyone is looking forward to, and it also might become a night game if the stars align right. The Spartans are a confident bunch these days, and quarterback Connor Cook has to be licking his chops after torching the Buckeyes for over 300 yards last season.

MSU has an open date the week prior to facing Ohio State this season, while the Buckeyes will be entertaining Illinois. It all seems set up right for the Spartans to roll, but if OSU is able to pass the test at Penn State and avoid a letdown against the Illini, they will be on a pretty good roll themselves. In that case, this game might actually live up to the immense hype that it is already receiving.

It is impossible to underestimate what a victory here would do for the OSU program. This is easily the toughest test on the schedule, and if the Buckeyes emerge from East Lansing with their perfect record intact, the rest of the schedule sets up nicely for another run to Indianapolis. Well, except for one more potential trap.


The Gophers had a breakout season in 2013, or at least they were having one until a late-season skid. Minnesota was 8-2 before closing the season with losses against Wisconsin and Michigan State and then they were upset by Syracuse in the Texas Bowl. 

Ohio State hasn't played Minnesota since traveling to Minneapolis in 2010, and the team they will face is completely different from that one. Quarterback Mitch Leidner, leading rusher David Cobb, and leading receiver Maxx Williams all return to lead the Gopher offense that, though inconsistent at times, showed flashes of brilliance in victories over Nebraska, Indiana, and Penn State.

Appearing on the schedule the week after the huge clash with Michigan State, this is a potential trap game if the Buckeyes prevail against the Spartans. If not, it's a "get well" game. Assuming the best, OSU will have to recover quickly for a road game against an unfamiliar opponent in a situation where they have little to gain and everything to lose.  

Remember Ohio State's last game against Navy? Bit of a nail-biter, eh? Well, this should warm your heart. 


Comments Show All Comments

Buckabroad's picture

Don't we have a final game against some Team up North? Oh right, you said big games.

"The minute we stop expecting greatness, we become Wisconsin."

+8 HS
hit_the_couch's picture

Let's hope that Va Tech is actually remotely decent this year, the B1G steps it up and tOSU finds a defense for the time in 3 years.

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

Nutinpa's picture

The bigger question vs. VT is how the offense plays.  I don't fear their offense but I do respect the heck out of their Defense. 

We shall see. 

+1 HS
d1145fresh's picture

Don't sleep on the 9/27 matchup against Cincinnati. While I think OSU should win that is another team that will win some games next year. I could easily seem them finish with 8-10 wins in 2014 and is a good addition to the schedule.

+1 HS
bleedscarlet's picture

I'm thinking Cincy will be tougher than both Navy and VT. They've got Gunner Kiel there now also, he's young an unproven but was a big time recruit.


Slingin' swag since 1970


+1 HS
NoVA Buckeye's picture

Question: Where HASN'T Gunner Kiel played?

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

+6 HS
ab1993's picture

I agree, they'll come seeking buckeye blood.

Ahh Saturday's picture

The schedule is definitely much improved over last season, but VT doesn't really fill the bill as a marquee OOC opponent.  Given the way our "undefeated" team finished last season, no respect will be given, and none will have been earned, until the Buckeyes beat MSU.

phxbuck's picture

This was Alabama's "marquee" OOC opponent last year so it should be fun to listen to the pundits downplay the match-up this year. 

+7 HS
Ahh Saturday's picture

Alabama's schedule was a joke last year, but they were given the benefit of the doubt because of the amazing run the team had been on, and because SEC, SEC!  The Buckeyes will not be given the benefit of the doubt by the media next year, nor should they, at least not before they beat MSU. 

+1 HS
Buckeyeneer's picture

Isn't funny how "we suck because we don't play anybody" but yet the fact that MSU beat us, legitimized them as a really good team (and then they had the opportunity to beat Stanford, which they wouldn't of had if they lost to us). If we had beat them last year they would be considered to be only average in a down B1G. Kind of ironic that only by losing to them last year, they gained legitimacy in the eyes of the nation, which we can use to legitimize ourselves in 2014.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

+8 HS
Ahh Saturday's picture

Not sure what you're getting at with this post, but OSU had plenty of respect going into Indy last season.  Beat Sparty and the Buckeyes were off to play in the NCG.  However, MSU won that game and the next against a highly regarded Stanford squad.  They earned the respect they're being given.  OSU squandered the respect we had been granted.  This year it's all about earning it back.

+2 HS
OSUBias's picture

Technically they were likely going to the Rose Bowl to play Stanford win or lose, since we would have gone to the NCG and the Rose Bowl would have picked them as the replacement.

But I agree that it seems counter intuitive that we were not considered upper echelon based on our schedule strength, but as soon as MSU beat us they are immediately a top tier team. Difference is, they backed it up and won against Stanford, reinforcing that they belonged in that discussion as one of the best teams in CFB. We reinforced that we were not elite and did not belong in the discussion by losing to a not that spectacular team in Clemson.

7 yards and a cloud of dust is a beautiful thing

Nutinpa's picture

At the end of the season, I would Sparty received more street cred by beating Stanford than by beating us.  Which may be what some of you are saying. 

Losing to BOTH Sparty and then to an athletic, but mediocre Clemson team, put the Buckeyes' credibility back on the ocean floor with the rest of the whale sh*t.

buckeyeEddie27's picture

All these Buccaneers?  Wtf is he talking about in that clip?

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

+5 HS
Alpo's picture

Think he meant to say "buckaroo" and got confused.

+2 HS
johnjy78's picture

HAhaha! I was thinking the exact same thing....wtf?!


+1 HS
Buckeyeneer's picture

That Navy game in 2009 cost me a bunch of money. I had USC alumni tickets which I was going to sell online (2009 was a tough year, financially). My auction was to end a day or two after the Navy game, because the prices tend to go up when both teams are undefeated going into the game. Well, the Buck's poor showing against Navy caused the average sale price to go down like $100 to $150 per ticket on average for all the sales that week compared to the previous week because OSU looked so beatable.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

DUMP the chUMps's picture

You'll want MSU to beat Oregon so that both Ohio STATE and MSU enter that game as highly ranked as possible. It is plausible that if the Spartans do pull the upset at Oregon, they could be ranked 3, 2 or dare I say, 1 when the two giants collide in November. A lot of land mines to avoid before then...

The Michigan Difference is a marketed illusion. They are not who they say they are. You can't spell chUMp without UM.

+1 HS
Ahh Saturday's picture

Huge game for Sparty.  I would've liked your chances against Oregon last year, but early in the season it sets up better for the Ducks: experienced, high-powered offense playing at home against a defense that is replacing a lot of starters.  Good luck.

gunni070's picture

I would argue that a soft big ten schedule didn't adequately prepare us for post season play.

Woodysghost's picture

I don't think many people would make you argue that point. 

Nutinpa's picture

If you are talking about Purdue, Indiana and maybe Illinois, yes.

Then again, we had to sweat out victories against NW, Iowa and Wisky not to mention beating TTUN by the skins of our azzes.  All decent but hardly great teams.

Had the Bucks destroyed those teams, some credence might be given to the weak B1G argument and how it polluted us for the season end. . As for me, it has some holes in it especially when you look at how FSU waltzed through their season and still beat Auburn.

What set this team up for late season failure was also the laughable OOC schedule as well.  The only thing it did was to put Kenny G in the record books for passing TDs as a backup QB against a lowly FAMU team.

andyb's picture

Hate the way scheduling works...Sparty hasn't been to the shoe since the 6-7 season when they beat us in that crappy weather.

Philly_Buckeye's picture

I do too. I'm bummed especially because I'll be a Freshman at OSU next year. I was looking forward to games against Mich State and Penn State and both are on the road. At least scUM is at home.

Ohio State class of 2018

45has2's picture

Great, Navy. Why schedule those knee breakers at all? Extra exposure to injury and no respect garnered for a win over them. Hooray for the armed forces but let them play ND.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

+3 HS
BuckeyeinToledo's picture

I was in the open end of the shoe that game. Never heard the place so loud! 

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

-Woody Hayes

nburns18's picture

November 8 will be the game of the year for the Big Ten. Revenge will be on the our mind and i think Urban will have them ready to go

"You win with people." -Woody Hayes

Seattle Linga's picture

So glad we escaped with the W that day - the last game I went to before the big move out west.

Thanks for the upload of the video 

Mikefletcher24's picture

11 scrimmages and 1 GAME. Beat michigan

AngryWoody's picture

I know it's been mentioned earlier in this thread, but the Cincy game is going to be huge when it come to judging our secondary. Cincy is our fourth game and before that we will have played Navy(triple option almost never passes), VT (anemic offense last year who is replacing their QB), and Kent State who has pretty much ran an offense called "give Dri Archer the ball" for the last few years. None of those teams are going to be very good throwing the ball. Cincy on the other hand, had a pretty good pass offense last year and will be running the air raid with Gunner Keil. If you have questions about our secondary that is gonna be the first game to give you some of the answers.

Our Honor Defend!