2012 Recap: Ohio State went 6-0 in one score games in their first year under Urban Meyer, laboring against some of the conference’s dimmer lights. They went undefeated despite finishing 13th in SRS and 14th according to Football Outsiders. Vegas had them as a dog heading to Madison late in the season. Nonetheless, they won those games. Had Gene Smith been less bullish on their NCAA prospects and self-imposed a bowl ban, they would likely have played Notre Dame for the BCS title (though both would have been heavy underdogs to Bama).
Offense: The Buckeyes should run over just about everyone on their schedule. Braxton Miller is one of the most explosive quarterback runners. OSU depth at tailback. Their offensive line returns four seniors with starting experience. The passing game is still another matter. Ohio State doesn’t have a proven, consistent weapon at receiver or tight end. Miller, when forced to pass, was often found making poor decisions and winging it. To be fair, that still made him the Big Ten’s second best passer in 2012.
Defense: The Buckeyes have two of the nation’s best defensive players, Ryan Shazier and Bradley Roby. Beyond that, the defense faces a massive reconstruction project. Ohio State replaces their top four defensive linemen from last year, most notably John Simon and Jonathan Hankins. They also lose four of their top five linebackers and a starting corner. Ohio State has recruited well on defense, but needs some of those touted Meyer recruits to become touted players in 2013.
Schedule: Ohio State blogs are writing about the burden of expectations playing a weak schedule. That’s how weak this schedule is. Cal may be a four win Pac 12 team. That’s OSU’s toughest non-conference opponent. They dropped Michigan State and Nebraska from their cross-division slate. They get Wisconsin at home. Before Michigan, their biggest “roadblock” is playing Northwestern in Evanston. Ohio State has lost once there since 1959.
Ohio State is favored to roll through that slate unscathed. One could have said the same for about 12 other teams.
Big Ten Title Game: For those betting them into the BCS title game, remember they must go 13-0. That title game could be Michigan State. That could be Nebraska. That could be round two against Michigan. That has the potential to be a roadblock.
Ceiling: 12-0. Ohio State beats all the teams they are favored against, which is all of them. The star-recruits emerge. Braxton makes a Heisman run. Urban Uber Alles.
Floor: 9-3. The Buckeyes are as unlucky in 2013 as they were lucky in 2012. The front seven on defense does not really materialize, as Urban contemplates the first major defensive staff overhaul of his career.
Prediction: 11-1. Go Blue.
[Photos via USA Today Sports]
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