COMMENTARY | After a disappointing finish to the 2013 season, a lot will be expected out of the Ohio State Buckeyes this fall.
Despite flaming out in losses to Michigan State and Clemson to close out the year, Las Vegas sportsbook LVH has given the Buckeyes odds of 12/1 to win the national title in 2014. According to the book, OSU has the fourth-best odds of taking all the marbles this coming season, as only newly crowned national champ Florida State and perennial powers Alabama and Oregon were given better odds to win the inaugural College Football Playoff.
After seeing OSU get exposed once it faced some quality teams at the end of 2013, is it even realistic to think that the Buckeyes are a legitimate national title contender at this point?
My answer would be no.
OSU’s defense wasn’t very good even with star linebacker Ryan Shazier around, and now that he has decided to leave school early to enter the 2014 NFL draft, the Buckeyes could struggle even more in 2014. After all, OSU allowed opponents to score at least 30 points six times in 2013. FSU, Alabama, and Oregon allowed that many points to opponents eight times — combined.
Luckily, for the Buckeyes, they have a powerful enough offense to keep them on the right side of the scoreboard when shootouts occur, as they often have over the first two years of the Urban Meyer era. Quarterback Braxton Miller is the man that makes the OSU offense go, and he recently committed to playing out his senior season in Columbus.
The problem for the Buckeye offense is that there will be some big shoes to fill at the skill positions heading toward 2014. Running back Carlos Hyde and wide receiver Philly Brown just completed their senior seasons with Buckeyes and won’t be back in the fall. That means that the returning tailback with the most yards in 2013 for OSU will be Ezekiel Elliott, who had 262 yards that came primarily in garbage time of Buckeye blowouts last season.