Moments ago, as part of their #CountdowntoKickoff series, ESPN asked us, "Will Ohio State win more than ten games in 2014?" (5Dimes, an offshore sportsbook, posted the over/under on Ohio State's regular season wins at 10 ½.)
Granted, something like Braxton Miller breaking his leg or Urban Meyer contracting an 19th century disease like the measles could happen, but barring anything calamitous, I don't see a scenario in which Ohio State loses more than a game this season.
Let's take a Hater's look at the schedule for confirmation.
at Navy (in baltimore):
I, like most Americans with a brain attached to my spinal cord, have an abundance of respect for our nation's military. After all, they're the greatest fighting force the world has ever known.
Unfortunately for the Naval Academy, they can't defeat Ohio State by launching a cruise missile from the cozy confines of the Baltimore Harbor. Well, they could, but I'm pretty sure there are laws against that.
The game will probably be a game closer than the nuttier fans will like, but I still expect a victory.
What the hell is a Hokie, anyway? Don't answer that, because I don't care.
Virginia Tech has lost 11 games in the last two years. They'll be replacing Logan Thomas with a quarterback who will be making his second career start (after debuting against the mighty William and Mary) in a night game in the Horseshoe in front of 106,000+ fans, many of which will have been drinking for 12 hours.
Sure, Matt Barkley did something similar once upon a time, but this Virginia Tech team will never be confused with that USC team.
I'm sure the Golden Flashes will have this one circled, but so have the hundred of other Ohio teams Ohio State has felled since a 7-6 loss to Oberlin(!) in 1921.
This has a potential to be the best game on Ohio State's out-of-conference slate. Old Me would've made a Cincinnati-Kentucky joke here, but the Queen City is within Ohio's borders and belongs to our great state as much as anyone else, even Steubenville.
What I don't like about this game is it's a classic lose/lose situation for OSU; it has nothing to gain by playing Cincinnati. If the Buckeyes demolish them, they were supposed to. If Cincinnati plays them close or even beats them, then it's further proof of how "overrated" the Buckeyes are.
Make no mistake, though, if the Buckeyes lose to the Bearcats we all will have severely overrated this team. While I'm probably more nervous about this game than most, I still think it ends with an Ohio State victory. (Hopefully the Bearcats don't tarnish the victory by falling off a cliff like Northwestern did last year.)
I'd be more nervous about this game if Ohio State didn't open the campaign with a trip to Baltimore. I do expect the Naval Academy to put up stiffer competition than Maryland. I'd also rather eat garbage than a crabcake.
"But Maryland is on the come-up!" Some of you might say. Whatever. Just give me the fourth quarter shots of a forlorn Stefon Diggs on the sideline as he wonders what could've been. THIS IS THE LIFE YOU CHOSE, STEFON.
Mark it down in stone: If Braxton Miller is healthy, Urban Meyer isn't dead and Rutgers beats Ohio State in Ohio Stadium, I will get a small (but tasteful) Scarlet Knights tattoo somewhere on my body.
AT PENN STATE
This one is going to be a lot of fun. James Franklin won't be saved by the United Postal Service, and despite his recruiting blitzkrieg, he'll still be inheriting the bulk of the team that got taxed last year to the tune of 63-14.
Think about that: Urban Meyer humiliated a renowned good guy like Bill O'Brien. I can only imagine what he's going to do to a guy who openly relishes the villain role like James Frankllin.
Expect Urban Meyer to send a message to those recruits who chose Penn State over Ohio State, namely there's still time to play for the good guys.
Why is this a night game? I don't know; recruiting, maybe? Why is Illinois still playing football? Another question for a mind a lot sharper than mine.
AT MICHIGAN STATE
We have arrived at the only regular season game I could see Ohio State losing. I'm not even going to talk trash on the Spartans because they won their bragging rights last year on the field.
Hopefully Michigan State handles their business against Oregon early in the season, because this could be a game that puts the Big Ten back on the map.
This is my vote for "Trap Game of the Year" because Jerry Kill is a baller. It also doesn't help the Buckeyes could be coming off an emotional win over Michigan State and could be ripe for an upset.
Regardless, a loss in any form would be a shocking turn of events. I'm glad Minnesota is back on the schedule, though; they're honorable opponents.
Urban Meyer doesn't lose rivalry games, especially at home. I expect the Silver Bullets to be humming along nicely when the Wolverines come a'knocking in late November.
Michigan State is the only game in which there's a chance Ohio State won't be favored by the gambling gods. Think about that.
Where else would the second loss come from? It's only the first week of June, but it's hard for me to see.