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2014 Ohio State Football Schedule Preview

2014 Ohio State Football Schedule Preview

Ohio State Football 2014 Schedule Preview
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

The Ohio State Buckeyes are Big Ten title favorites and serious contenders to play in college football's inaugural playoff. However, 12 regular season games, and eventually a Big Ten Championship game, stand between OSU and their goals. The new Big Ten East division will not be forgiving, with several marquee games already on tap, but the Buckeyes' non-conference slate also provides serious challenges. Can OSU reclaim conference supremacy?

Ohio State vs. Navy: Aug. 30 (at M&T Bank Stadium)

Ohio State vs Navy Football 2014 Schedule Preview
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State vs. Navy: Aug. 30 (at M&T Bank Stadium)

Ohio State vs Navy Football 2014 Schedule Preview
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Buckeyes kick off their 2014 schedule at the Baltimore Ravens' stadium to take on a Navy team that will have legitimate upset potential. The Midshipmen will trot out a very experienced offensive line (85 combined career starts), more senior starters and a higher percentage of returning offensive yards than Ohio State. However, the Buckeyes' stacked defensive line shouldn't let things get too out of hand.

Ohio State vs. Virginia Tech: Sept. 6 (Columbus, OH)

Ohio State vs Virginia Tech Football 2014 Schedule Preview
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State vs. Virginia Tech: Sept. 6 (Columbus, OH)

Ohio State vs Virginia Tech Football 2014 Schedule Preview
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

In what will be one of the best non-conference games of the early season, Ohio State will welcome Virginia Tech for a night battle at the Horseshoe in the first game of September. VT is replacing its starting QB, three of its top six defensive lineman and two key linebackers, but feature a very talented secondary capable of creating issues for Braxton Miller. If OSU can contain VT's special teams, they have enough advantages to secure a win.

Ohio State vs. Kent State: Sept. 13 (Columbus, OH)

Ohio State vs Kent State Football 2014 Schedule Preview
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State vs. Kent State: Sept. 13 (Columbus, OH)

Ohio State vs Kent State Football 2014 Schedule Preview
Raj Mehta USA TODAY Sports

The Buckeyes welcome the Golden Flashes to Columbus in Week 3 for a game that should serve as a simple tune-up following two challenges to open the season. Kent State has enjoyed a couple solid seasons recently, but there's little reason to believe they have any chance against Ohio State's elite speed and athleticism.

Ohio State vs. Cincinnati: Sept. 27 (Columbus, OH)

Ohio State vs Cincinnati Football 2014 Schedule Preview
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State vs. Cincinnati: Sept. 27 (Columbus, OH)

Ohio State vs Cincinnati Football 2014 Schedule Preview
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State should be wary of the in-state Bearcats, who will be a fringe top-25 team heading into the season with loads of incentive to storm Columbus and claw their way to a statement victory under the lights. Former five-star recruit Gunner Kiel appears to be the favorite at QB, and boy, does he have weapons around him. However, the Bearcats' linebackers and secondary are prone to the big play, which could be their undoing.

Ohio State at Maryland: Oct. 4 (College Park, MD)

Ohio State vs Maryland Football 2014 Schedule Preview
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Ohio State at Maryland: Oct. 4 (College Park, MD)

Ohio State vs Maryland Football 2014 Schedule Preview
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In their first Big Ten game of the year, Ohio State will travel to Maryland to take on a Terps program entering their inaugural season as a conference member. Hosting the Buckeyes in their first home Big Ten game will be a big deal for Maryland, making this a potential trap game for OSU if they don't show up ready to play. That being said, Urban Meyer's squad should not be overwhelmed by the atmosphere of Byrd Stadium.

Ohio State vs. Rutgers: Oct. 18 (Columbus, OH)

Ohio State vs Rutgers Football 2014 Schedule Preview
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State vs. Rutgers: Oct. 18 (Columbus, OH)

Ohio State vs Rutgers Football 2014 Schedule Preview
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The other conference newcomer, Rutgers, is in for a really tough challenge heading to Columbus to play a Buckeyes team that will have two weeks to prepare for them. Scarlet Knights QB Gary Nova has had an up-and-down career, but even if he has another strong start to open the season, his turnover issues will likely be exacerbated by his first experience playing at a stadium that averages over 100,000 fans screaming at him. Expect a blowout.

Ohio State at Penn State: Oct. 25 (University Park, PA)

Ohio State at Penn State Football 2014 Schedule Preview
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State at Penn State: Oct. 25 (University Park, PA)

Ohio State at Penn State Football 2014 Schedule Preview
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

After opening the conference slate with two of the East division's likely basement dwellers, the Buckeyes will travel to Happy Valley for what will be one of their toughest games of the season. A night game at Beaver Stadium is daunting as it is, but the Nittany Lions should be an improved squad on the field as well. The play of QB Christian Hackenberg will likely be the x-factor in this game if PSU is going to challenge the Buckeyes.

Ohio State vs. Illinois: Nov. 1 (Columbus, OH)

Ohio State vs Illinois Football 2014 Schedule Preview
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State vs. Illinois: Nov. 1 (Columbus, OH)

Ohio State vs Illinois Football 2014 Schedule Preview
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State welcomes cross-division opponent Illinois to Columbus Nov. 1 for another night game, which seems like a strange team to schedule under the lights, but was likely a calculated move to keep the Buckeyes from overlooking the Illini before the season's most pivotal matchup the following week. Illinois should be a little better than last season, but is an unlikely upset candidate with a new QB on the road.

Ohio State at Michigan State: Nov. 8 (East Lansing, MI)

Ohio State at Michigan State Football 2014 Schedule Preview
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State at Michigan State: Nov. 8 (East Lansing, MI)

Ohio State at Michigan State Football 2014 Schedule Preview
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

There's no questioning how important this game will be to Ohio State's championship hopes, as the winner could very well end up representing the East division in the Big Ten title game and then the college football playoff. No matter how well the Spartans have played prior to this game, OSU will be pining for revenge after falling to MSU in the 2013 Big Ten title game. This battle could go either way.

Ohio State at Minnesota: Nov. 15 (Minneapolis, MN)

Ohio State at Minnesota Football 2014 Schedule Preview
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State at Minnesota: Nov. 15 (Minneapolis, MN)

Ohio State at Minnesota Football 2014 Schedule Preview
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden Gophers will not present a favorable matchup for the Buckeyes on the road after taking on the Spartans. Minnesota should prove to be an eight-to-10-win team in 2014 and one of the contenders in the West division thanks to a strong ground game, but whether QB Mitch Leidner can provide sufficient balance is another story. How he progresses throughout the 2014 season will determine how much of a chance the Gophers have.

Ohio State vs. Indiana: Nov. 22 (Columbus, OH)

Ohio State vs Indiana Football 2014 Schedule Preview
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Ohio State vs. Indiana: Nov. 22 (Columbus, OH)

Ohio State vs Indiana Football 2014 Schedule Preview
Getty Images

In late November, the Buckeyes will welcome Indiana's high-tempo offense to Columbus in a game that could be a bit of a test for OSU's stamina after consecutive challenges. At this point in the season, we'll know whether Ohio State's secondary has been able to regenerate after losing key players. However, as long as the Hoosiers continue to suggest they only coach up one side of the ball, OSU shouldn't have any issues.

Ohio State vs. Michigan: Nov. 29 (Columbus, OH)

Ohio State vs Michigan Football 2014 Schedule Preview
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State vs. Michigan: Nov. 29 (Columbus, OH)

Ohio State vs Michigan Football 2014 Schedule Preview
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

College football's greatest rivalry resumes Nov. 29 in Columbus and while the Wolverines may not be any better than last season, as we saw in Ann Arbor in the 2013 game, you can basically throw out records when these two go head-to-head. After narrowly escaping the Big House with a win last season, OSU will have a very hungry opponent in UM. The Buckeyes' stretch run will be tough, but championships aren't won beating cupcakes either.

Michael Briggs is a Big 10 Writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.
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