After a 12-0 season in 2012, Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes feel like they still have a lot to prove. The second-year head coach brought this team to greatness last season with an unbeaten campaign, but it was unfortunate because of their postseason ban. They would have likely played for a national title if it weren’t for a one-year bowl ban.
With 13 total returning starters from last year’s team, the Buckeyes will look to make the best of the guys coming back from an undefeated squad.
The Buckeyes last Big Ten title came in 2009, the latter of their five-straight conference titles. Meyer will look to get them back to that level and possibly even bring them their first national title since 2002.
Let’s see how this squad stacks up against the competition in 2013.
The key players on the offensive side of the ball are pretty obvious. The Buckeyes have a talented quarterback that goes by the name Braxton Miller. Oh yeah, I’m pretty sure he’s also an early Heisman candidate. The junior quarterback accounted for 3,310 total yards and 28 total touchdowns last season.
Carlos Hyde will be another offensive weapon that Miller can use to his advantage. Hyde will definitely be able to take a lot of pressure off the top quarterback.
Defensively, linebacker Ryan Shazier is back and ready to do even more damage in 2013. He racked up 115 tackles, five sacks, 15 tackles for loss, 11 break-ups and an interception last season.
Like I said earlier, the offense is lead by the quarterback, Miller. He passed for just over 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns last season while throwing just six picks. He also ended up with over 1,000 yards rushing and is the teams lead returning rusher in 2013.
Hyde was facing suspension for some off-the-field issues about a month ago. If he can get his act together, he will be able to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark this season and help this offense out tremendously. He would be the first running back to rush for over 1,000 yards under Meyer.
Both of the top wide outs are back from 2012. Philly Brown is the lead returning receiver and he will look to pass his mark of 60 catches and 669 receiving yards last season.
This group ranked 21st nationally in points per game in 2012.
The defense is returning just four starters from a year ago — a linebacker, a cornerback and two safeties. However, they don’t rebuild at Ohio State anymore — they reload.
Although they have an all new front four, the Buckeyes aren’t at all worried about their seemingly dismantled 34th nationally ranked defense. With Ryan Shazier returning, this team has a proven leader and it won’t be too long before he records his 100th tackle in yet another season.
While the Buckeyes may have just four starters returning, they actually finished as the top-four tacklers from 2012 — and that bodes well for the Buckeyes’ unit.
The Buckeyes don’t have the toughest schedule in the country, but some top-25 opponents sprinkled in will make their run to a conference title that much harder.
The best thing about the schedule is that a conference regular season title could come down to the final game of the season against their biggest rival. I believe the Buckeyes will go 11-1, losing the final game of the 2013 season. Great season for Ohio State under Meyer once again.
Related: Ohio State Prediction