#2 Ohio State Football 2013 Preview

Ohio State Buckeyes

Overall Rank: #2
#1 Big Ten

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With a bowl ban, few paid too much attention to Ohio State as they swept through the 2012 campaign with a 12-0 record. Maybe the lack of pressure helped the Buckeyes finish the season strong. Or maybe Coach Urban Meyer knows exactly what to do when he has a ton of talent at his disposal. The schedule this year could have been much, much worse. OSU does not play Nebraska or Michigan State and the toughest road game will be the season finale at Michigan.

2012 Record: 12-0, 8-0
2012 Bowl: None
Coach: Urban Meyer (12-0 at Ohio State, 116-23 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Tom Herman
Defensive Coordinator: Luke Fickell

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Braxton Miller, QB, 1,271 yards
Passing: Braxton Miller, QB, 2,039 yards
Receiving: Corey Brown, WR, 669 yards
Tackles: Ryan Shazier, LB, 115
Sacks: Ryan Shazier, LB, 5.0
Interceptions: Bradley Roby, CB, 3; CJ Barnett, S, 2

Other Key Returnees: RB Carlos Hyde, RB Jordan Hall, RB Rod Smith, WR Devin Smith, OL Corey Linsley, OL Andrew Norwell, OL Jack Mewhort, S Christian Bryant, K Drew Basil

Key Losses: WR Jake Stoneburner, OL Reid Fragel, DE Nathan Williams, DT Johnathan Hankins, DT Garrett Goebel, DE John Simon, CB Travis Howard

Braxton Miller is developing into a true dual-threat quarterback. In 2012 he had nearly as many attempts on the ground as he did through the air. On 227 rushes, he tallied 1,271 yards with 13 scores. Through the air he totaled 2,039 yards with 15 touchdowns and six interceptions. Miller is a smart enough passer to do what he needs to do with his arm without forcing anything. However, with a more consistent passing threat, Miller and the Ohio State offense will be nearly impossible to stop. And there is plenty of talent for Miller to work with in the passing attack. Corey Brown led the Buckeyes with 60 catches and found the end zone three times. Devin Smith is the big play option. He averaged over 20 yards per catch and is always a threat to find the end zone. The options at running back are immense and impressive. Carlos Hyde emerged as the workhorse and rushed for 970 yards and 16 touchdowns in ten games. Hyde is suspended for the first three games of the year so Coach Meyer will have to reach into his stable of talented backs early. Rod Smith is a big back who is next in line, but he will miss the opener. That gives the opportunity to Jordan Hall, Briā€™onte Dunn and Warren Ball. Hall is a dynamic playmaker who is best suited to play in the slot, while Dunn is an emerging sophomore who could take the starting job in game one while Hyde and Smith are out and ride it to a very productive season. Behind a great offensive line that returns four starters, the Buckeyes ground game is going to be difficult to contain and nearly impossible if Miller passes more efficiently.

The Buckeyes defense has talent, but they ranked 11th in the conference in pass defense and sixth in total defense and lose seven starters. The secondary that gave up so many yards does return a trio of great playmakers though. Cornerback Bradley Roby is probably the best in the Big Ten, although he too is suspended for the opener against Buffalo. Safeties Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett ranked second and fourth on the squad in tackles, respectively and will be the senior leaders on the defensive side of the ball. Linebacker Ryan Shazier had an amazing sophomore season, totaling 115 tackles, 5.0 sacks, 17.0 tackles-for-loss and three forced fumbles. Curtis Grant and Joshua Perry will be thrown into the mix. Once again, the talent is there to build around Shazier, but the lack of experience could be an issue for a little while. The case is the same in the front four where all four starters need to be replaced. Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington totaled four sacks in limited action as freshmen and must be ready to play more snaps in 2013.

The Bottom Line:
If this Buckeye team is going to repeat what they did in 2012, the defense is going to have to find some new faces to fill in for the likes of Jonathan Hankins, Zach Boren, Etienne Sabino and John Simon. With Shazier, Bryant, Barnett and Roby back, the Buckeyes do return their top four tacklers and that is a great place to start. Of course Coach Meyer has talent and there is not much stopping this team from being just as good as they were last year. How they handle the pressure of a real championship run could make all the difference. One slip up at California or Northwestern would likely spell the end of their title hopes.

Projected Bowl: FBS National Championship Game

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 242.25 (10th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 181.50 (101, 8)
Total Offense: 423.75 (47, 3)
Scoring Offense: 37.17 (21, 1)
Rushing Defense: 116.08 (14, 2)
Pass Defense: 243.50 (76, 11)
Total Defense: 359.58 (34, 6)
Scoring Defense: 22.83 (31, 6)
Turnover Margin: 0.25 (46, 4)
Sacks: 2.50 (28, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 2.50 (90, 10)

Madness 2014 NFL Draft Rankings:
#14 Bradley Roby
#18 Ryan Shazier
#53 C.J. Barnett
#103 Braxton Miller

Madness 2013 Football Recruit Rankings:
#18 Vonn Bell
#23 Jalin Marshall
#25 Joey Bosa
#50 Eli Apple
#52 Dontre Wilson
#57 Ezekiel Elliott
#58 Cameron Burrows
#75 Evan Lisle
#78 Mike Mitchell
#93 Trey Johnson
#99 JT Barrett
#126 Michael Hill
#132 Gareon Conley
#181 Billy Price
#182 Marcus Baugh
#205 Jayme Thompson
#210 Donovan Munger


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