Ohio State football: A baseline for 2014 success

Kirk Irwin

The 2013 season did not end the way the Buckeyes would have preferred. What will they need to achieve in 2014 for the season to be considered a success?

It goes without saying that the Buckeyes achieved a great deal over the past two seasons. The Buckeyes won 24 consecutive games in 2012 and 2013, earned a trip to the Big Ten Championship, and locked up a BCS bowl bid as well. The Buckeyes spent the whole season ranked in the top four of multiple polls.

Of course, considering the way that the season ended, all of those accomplishments, which came on the heels of NCAA sanctions including a bowl ban, feel like less of a success than they were. With that in mind, what will the Buckeyes need to accomplish in 2014 for fans to consider next season a success?

Braxton Miller has said that he wants to help the Buckeyes win the Big Ten Championship next season, so clearly that's part of Miller's criteria for next season to e a success. It won't be an easy task, considering the Big Ten re-alignment and Ohio State's schedule. Ohio State will have to take on Michigan State--the team that beat them in last season't championship game--in East Lansing, and there won't be any room for error in the battle for the Big Ten East. Will it be sufficient for Ohio State to merely get to the conference championship, or will the Buckeyes need to win the Big Ten Championship next season for 2014 to be considered a successful season?

Will the Buckeyes need to be selected to the inaugural College Football Championship Playoff for next season to be considered successful in fans' eyes? Currently, Vegas has the Buckeyes odds at being selected to the playoffs at 12 to 1. Only reigning national champions Florida State University, Alabama and Oregon have better odds than Ohio State. Will being selected as one of four playoff teams be sufficient, or does the team need to advance in the playoffs for fans to consider 2014 a success?

What about offensive and defensive progress? Urban Meyer pointed out after the loss to Clemson in the Orange Bowl that, at Ohio State, they expect to field a top ten offense and a top ten defense. In 2013, the Buckeyes ranked fifth nationally in total net offensive yards for the season. Their total rushing yards for the season was good for second in the nation. Will comparable offensive production be considered adequate for the Buckeyes in 2014?

Ohio State's defense was a different story. Ohio State rushed the passer well, and finished the season ranked third among all FBS schools in sacks with 42 on the season, and Ohio State's run defense was good for ninth in the nation for rushing yards allowed per game with 109.4. The Buckeyes' pass defense, however, left a lot to be desired. The Buckeyes didn't even finish in the top ten in the conference, much less in the NCAA, for pass defense, allowing an average of 268 passing yards per game in 2013. If the Buckeyes' defense can turn it around and field a top ten unit in 2014, will that be enough for the coming season to be considered a success?

There's no doubt that a 24-game win streak, a conference championship appearance, and a BCS bowl bid in 2013 set the bar high for the 2014 Buckeyes. What do the Buckeyes need to accomplish in the coming season for you to consider 2014 a success for this program?

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