The 2013 college football season is upon us, and the Ohio State Buckeyes will get their season underway on Saturday by hosting the Buffalo Bulls. The Buckeyes are heavy favorites here, and for good reason. They went 12-0 in Urban Meyer's first season at the helm in Columbus, and could have been in the national title discussion if not for a postseason ban. Do-it-all quarterback Braxton Miller is back for his junior season, and will lead the line for what should be a dynamic offense.
Can Buffalo do the unthinkable and ruin Ohio State's dream season on the opening weekend of the year? Well, it would probably be the most shocking upset since Virginia Tech-James Madison in 2010, but that's why you play the games, right?
Rankings and records: The Buckeyes enter 2013 ranked second in both the AP Top 25 and the USA Today Coaches Poll. Buffalo is unranked.
Vegas: As one might expect, the Buckeyes are huge favorites. They're laying 35 points to the Bulls, according to oddsshark.com. The over/under is 54.5 points.
Weather: High 80s with scattered thunderstorms and a 40% chance of rain.
Three names to know
Braxton Miller. Ohio State's star quarterback is on the short list of most people's Heisman Trophy favorites, and as he goes, so does the Buckeye offense. He is dynamic with the ball in his hands, and if he can sharpen his passing skills, he will be practically impossible to defend. Buffalo's defense is better than most would expect from a MAC team, but they will really have their hands full with Miller.
Ryan Shazier. The Buckeyes lost six players from their 2012 front seven, but the transition could be smoother than you would generally expect due to the presence of Shazier at linebacker. He is a freakish athlete that can do it all, and racked up 114 tackles, 17 tackles for a loss, ten passes defensed and five sacks in 2012. Buffalo will probably be in a lot of obvious passing situations in this game, so Joe Licata better keep his head on a swivel.
Khalil Mack. If the Bulls want to have any chance of keeping this game close late, let alone springing the upset, they will need their star to have the greatest game of his life. Mack is the best defensive player you've never heard of, collecting 94 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss, and eight sacks in 2012 while seeing extensive double teams. He'll face a tough test in Ohio State's experienced offensive line, but if he could very well throw a wrench in Ohio State's offensive plans.
Two things at stake
Ohio State's title hopes. The Buckeyes are in a position where they can play for the national championship this year, but thanks to a relatively soft schedule, they'll need to run the table to get there. One loss will knock them out of the conversation, barring some absurd 2007-level antics. This probably isn't the game Ohio State fans are worried about, but when a team's margin for error is zero, disaster could strike at any time.
Buffalo's big chance. Buffalo's program has not seen too many high points. Outside of a 2008 run to the MAC championship, it's been a tough go of things in Amherst. A lot of people have hopes that 2013 could be the breakthrough year for Jeff Quinn, though, and expectations seem to be set on getting to a bowl game. Losing to Ohio State won't really change much, but putting on a good show and keeping it close will give Bulls fans some positive reinforcement that maybe their hopes won't be dashed.
How to witness
TV: This game will be broadcast live at noon on ESPN2.
Radio: Columbus: 97.1 The Fan WBNS-FM - Buffalo: Sports Radio 1270 WHLD-AM
Online streaming: Online streaming is available through WatchESPN, if supported by your cable/satellite provider.
For more on the Buckeyes, check out Land-Grant Holy Land.
For more on the Bulls, head over to Bull Run.