COMMENTARY | Sometimes more doesn’t necessarily mean better, and that could ruin the Ohio State Buckeyes’ hopes for a national title in 2014. Next year, Maryland and Rutgers will begin their first seasons as members of the Big Ten. Chosen primarily because of the Big Ten’s desire to have a presence on the Eastern seaboard, neither the Terrapins or Scarlet Knights have what could be called a storied football program. That threatens to cause some major issues for the Buckeyes next season, as low-quality opposition in the Big Ten this season could’ve kept an undefeated OSU squad out of the national title game. While we will never know for sure after the Buckeyes’ loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten title game, there was always that chance that a one-loss Auburn team could’ve moved past OSU in the BCS standings due to its conference affiliation. A lack of respect for the current state of the Big Ten led voters in the USA Today coaches’ poll to demote the Buckeyes twice in the rankings in 2013, even as OSU racked up a 24-game winning streak. The additions of Maryland and Rutgers are not likely to change the perception that the Big Ten is on the decline. While both the Terps and Scarlet Knights will be headed to bowl games this season, neither team was impressive in 2013. Maryland finished 7-5, with a 3-5 mark in the ACC. Rutgers is almost lucky to even be going to a bowl game after finishing 6-6, with a 3-5 record in the mediocre American Athletic Conference. To make matters worse for OSU, both Maryland and Rutgers join the Buckeyes in the newly created East Division of the Big Ten, and OSU plays both teams in 2014. Mercifully, both games are in October, so hopefully the damage done to Ohio State’s strength of schedule will be minimal. The Bucks do play an upgraded non-conference schedule in 2014, and they are going to have to make the most of it to offset what is now an even weaker Big Ten. Games against Navy, Virginia Tech, and Cincinnati should garner the Buckeyes a lot more early-season respect than their matchups against Buffalo, San Diego State, and Florida A&M did in 2013. While I understand the logic of the Big Ten wanting to have a larger footprint on the national level, I just hope that adding two mediocre programs doesn’t blow up in the face of a conference that hasn’t had a team in the national title game since Ohio State lost to LSU to conclude the 2007 season. Shaun Heidrick is a Yahoo Contributor who has followed Ohio State football for over 25 years. Sports & RecreationAmerican FootballScarlet Knights
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