The 2013 USA Today Preseason Coaches Poll came out on Thursday, ranking Urban Meyer and THE Ohio State Football Buckeyes second behind none other than the two-time defending National Champions, the Alabama Crimson Tide. Most Buckeye fans would be extremely excited to see Ohio State ranked so highly, especially after the lack of respect given to last year’s undefeated, unblemished 12-0 team.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Does Alabama deserve to be No. 1 after winning the championship last year? Absolutely. Let’s not forget the subtle fact that had Ohio State not been facing a suspension, Alabama might not have even BEEN in the championship. With the Crimson Tide losing to Texas A&M in the regular season, the 2012 BCS National Championship very well could have been a battle of the final two undefeated teams, Notre Dame and Ohio State.
This is clearly all speculation, but looking at how Ohio State took care of Michigan in their final game of the season, one has to think that last year’s Ohio State team beats the living hell out of the Notre Dame team that showed up in the championship game. Theoretically, that leaves the Buckeyes at No. 1.
However, none of that happened. Despite none of that happening, the Buckeyes still received 3 of the 62 first place votes. Some say this is crazy, I disagree. If you look at who’s returning and let the numbers do the talking, you can make a case for Ohio State.
And here it is.
Ohio State returns nine of their 11 starters on offense. Said offense is still led by Heisman-hopeful junior QB Braxton Miller. Miller accumulated 3,200 yards of total offense last season, and it’s safe to say a similar, if not better year can be expected from Miller this season. With four senior offensive linemen returning to the trenches, Ohio State has a very experienced front to block for and protect their star QB.
Alabama is only returning two of their starting linemen, on top of three additional players who were first round picks in last year’s NFL Draft. Score one for the Buckeyes.
Even though starting RB Carlos Hyde was suspended for at least the first three games earlier this week, the Buckeyes are deep enough in the backfield to get through their relatively weak non-conference schedule.
The troubles for the 2013 Buckeyes reside on the defensive side. Coach Meyer was forced to fill six spaces in his starting front seven, including a huge leadership role vacated by LB John Simon. With the indefinite suspension of the leader of the secondary Bradley Roby hanging over the defense, Roby is still expected to have an All-American worthy season, as is returning upperclassmen LB Ryan Shazier.
The Buckeyes will also be bringing in the second best recruiting class of 2013. I’ll give you one guess who’s ranked first (Score one for Alabama). Coach Meyer was on The Herd with Colin Cowherd earlier this week, bringing up the little-known fact that there are at least four incoming freshmen who run sub 4.45 seconds in the 40 yard dash, and that they “have to play.”
Five teams from the B1G Ten made the top 25, showing the steady decline of the conference. The Team Up North is just the second team from the conference in the top 25, coming in at No. 17. Six teams from the SEC made the top 25, so you might say “well, that’s just one more team from the great, ever-so-powerful super conference!” But, if you look closer, you’ll see five teams in the top 10, with the sixth team at No. 13.
The chances of Alabama slipping up and losing are significantly higher than Ohio State’s. It’s fun to think and debate about all of this now, but in reality, it doesn’t matter one bit. What matters is who is first come January, so all we can do is sit back, and enjoy the season!