Having won 24 straight games under Urban Meyer before two consecutive losses to finish the 2013 season, the Ohio State Buckeyes knew one thing was for certain: they were building back into a national powerhouse. Losing Braxton Miller for the entire season will hurt the Buckeyes, however, as they are no longer the Big Ten favorites.
Opening the season with Ohio State at home has to be a dream come true for many Navy Midshipmen players as they now have the chance to upset one of the nation’s top teams in a game which no one is giving them a chance. Navy finished the 2013 season with a 9-4 record and it returns 15 starters.
Ohio State, as stated earlier, will be without top quarterback Braxton Miller who was forced out of practice last week with a shoulder injury and it turned out to be more serious than initially thought. The Heisman-hopeful quarterback is out for the season and redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett will be replacing the injured Miller. The freshman quarterback will have a few solid targets to throw to, including senior wide out Devin Smith who caught 42 passes for 655 yards and eight touchdowns last season. The run game is in limbo right now as Carlos Hyde moved on to the next level, leaving sophomore stud Ezekiel Elliott to carry the load.
Navy is consistently known for its running game and the 2013 season was no exception. Averaging over 325 rushing yards per game, the Midshipmen were the second-best running team in all of college football. With a solid run game, however, comes an inadequate passing game as Navy passed for just 85 yards per game behind run-first QB Keenan Reynolds. The junior quarterback is considered a dual-threat even though he passed for only 1,057 yards and eight scores last season. He did rush for 1,346 yards and an astounding 31 touchdowns on the ground. Reynolds in the machine that keeps the offense flowing.
Defensively, the Midshipmen were a middle-of-the-pack type of unit. Not excelling in any aspect of the defensive game, Navy ranked 40th in scoring defense and 57th in total yards allowed per game last season. Ohio State ranked 28th in scoring defense, ninth in rushing defense and 46th in total defense, but was lousy against the pass, ranking 110th in the nation. With just one returning starter in the secondary, the Buckeyes could be in serious trouble yet again.
Ohio State will travel to Navy to take on the Midshipmen at 12 p.m. EST on Saturday, Aug. 30. The game will be broadcasted on CBS Sports Network.
PREDICTION: Navy 16, Ohio State 30
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.