Monday Morning Kickoff - Magazine Madness

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Last updated: 06/17/2013 4:35 AM
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Football
Monday Morning Kickoff: Magazine Madness
By Tony Gerdeman

* I now have in my possession the three college football preview magazines that I buy every year. Depending on what gets released first, I'll generally buy the Big Ten version of Lindy's or Athlon, and then the national edition of the other. And always, always, Phil Steele's magazine, which I use on a near-daily basis.

Just based on these three magazines, there are some very telling trends emerging. None of it is earth-shattering, but it is definitely notable.

Of course, when there is too much consensus among the magazines, that pretty much guarantees that the consensus is never happening.

For instance, all three magazines have Alabama #1 and Ohio State #2, and they predict that the two teams will meet in the BCS Championship Game in Pasadena on January 6th.

Last season, Phil Steele picked Florida State and Oklahoma to play in the BCS Championship Game. Instead, it was Alabama and Notre Dame, and the only people who had the Irish in last year's championship game were Notre Dame fans.

There is also another Buckeye-related consensus that should disappoint some fans. All three magazines have Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller at the top of their Heisman lists. Granted, Lindy's has Miller listed as "1b" to Johnny Manziel's "1a", but Athlon's and Steele both have Miller as the clear-cut #1.

Personally, I can't remember the last time a magazine correctly picked a Heisman winner. They certainly didn't last year as Manziel was a virtual unknown outside of College Station.

Sure, maybe Braxton Miller can defeat the odds – the magazine odds, not the actual odds, which are essentially in his favor – but it's doubtful. Magazine consensus is an almost insurmountable hill to climb.

* There is one lone Buckeye who was a first-team All-American in all three magazines, and it isn't the Heisman front-runner, it's cornerback Bradley Roby.

Steele and Lindy's both declare Roby the top cornerback in the nation, and I'm certainly not going to argue.

Braxton Miller is a second-team All-American pick by all three magazines. Linebacker Ryan Shazier is a first-team All-American per Athlon and Steele, and a second-teamer according to Lindy's.

If Shazier is not a first-team All-American this season, it will be the longest All-American drought for Ohio State's linebackers in over 40 years.

Back in 2008, James Laurinaitis was the last OSU linebacker to receive the honor. Four years without an All-American linebacker matches the stretch between Steve Tovar (1992) and Andy Katzenmoyer (1997). You have to go back to the early 70s/late 60s to find a longer drought.

* The Buckeyes threw for just 182 yards per game last year. Phil Steele has them listed as his #2 most-improved passing team this year. This is a projection of yardage differential between last season and this season. Steele is not alone in expecting a better passing game from Ohio State, as the rest of the planet is expecting it as well.

Also, despite losing seven defensive starters, he has Ohio State as the #9 most-improved pass defense. How true this becomes will depend on an entirely untested front four.

When it comes to projecting the 2013 season, Steele likes just about everything about the Buckeyes. He has them with his #8 rushing offense, #6 scoring offense and #8 total offense.

He also has them with the #13 rush defense, #12 pass defense, #11 scoring defense and #9 total defense.

He is projecting the Ohio State offense to rush for 260 yards per game, throw for 266.9 yards per game, and score 41.3 points per game.

Basically, he is projecting the most passing yards in a season in school history, and the fourth-most rushing yards. The 41.3 points per game would be second to the 1969 team that averaged 42.5 points per game.

The 1998 offense still holds the school record with 497.5 yards of total offense per game. Steele is projecting the 2013 offense to obliterate that number with 526.9 yards of total offense per game.

* While each of the magazines picks the Buckeyes to make it to the Big Ten Championship Game, Athlon and Lindy's pick the Wolverines to win the Legends, while Phil Steele gives the slight nod to the Cornhuskers over the Spartans.

With Athlon and Lindy's picking the Buckeyes to go undefeated, this also means that they are picking them to beat Michigan twice in one season, which would cause the cranial explosions of more than a few Michigan fans.

So, as Buckeye fans, just remember this possibility when you are rooting against Michigan this season.

* Both Phil Steele and Lindy's have Carlos Hyde as the #7 running back in the nation. However, Lindy's is the only magazine to have Hyde as a first-team All-Big Ten selection. The other two have him on the second team.

Athlon has three Buckeye offensive linemen on their first team All-Big Ten team, as Corey Linsley, Jack Mewhort and Andrew Norwell all received recognition. Lindy's only has Norwell as a first teamer, while Steele has Norwell and Mewhort.

All three magazines had Roby and Shazier as first-team All-Big Ten members, while Steele also added safety Christian Bryant, and Athlon went out on a limb and put sophomore defensive end Noah Spence on theirs. Steele has Spence as a fourth-teamer, and Lindy's has him on their third team.

Somewhat amazingly, all three magazines have fellow sophomore defensive end Adolphus Washington on their second-team All-Big Ten teams.

Each magazine also has a Buckeye receiver on their second team, though for Athlon and Lindy's it's Philly Brown, and for Steele it's Devin Smith.

Perhaps the biggest stretch of the conference teams, however, was Phil Steele putting linebacker Curtis Grant on his second team. Steele will give the benefit of the doubt to the highly-rated recruits more often than not.

If you think about it, an Ohio State middle linebacker should always merit consideration for all-conference status.

* Phil Steele has nine Big Ten teams slated to go bowling, with just Penn State, Purdue and Illinois staying home. Athlon also has Iowa missing out on the postseason.

Both Athlon and Lindy's have Michigan in the Rose Bowl, as a sort of opening act for the Buckeyes and Crimson Tide the following Monday, while Steele has the Wolverines languishing in the Gator Bowl instead.

If Michigan was to play in the Rose Bowl after losing to Ohio State twice in one season, that would be a nearly ridiculous tragedy.

But don't worry, that scenario is very unlikely and there are plenty of other things to worry about before then – like Game One, for instance.

Until then, enjoy the magazines and predictions for what they are – a quick fix for a long-term problem. After all, like the common cold, there is no real cure for college football withdrawal.

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