Phil Steele Projects Buckeyes at No. 2 in Preseason AP Poll
By Brandon Castel
The start of the 2013 college football season is a lot further away than most people would care to think about.
The Buckeyes don’t open their second season under head coach Urban Meyer until August 31 when they host Buffalo – who replaced Vanderbilt on the schedule – at Ohio Stadium in Columbus.
There will be ample excitement, as there typically is, surrounding the Ohio State football program this season, maybe more than there has been in years. The Buckeyes are coming off a perfect 12-0 season a year ago, but one in which they were banned from all postseason play.
They finished No. 3 in the final AP poll for the 2012 season, but had to watch as Alabama mopped up Notre Dame for its second-straight BCS national championship.
The Crimson Tide will almost certainly open as the heavy favorites for a three-peat in Tuscaloosa, but highly respected football prognosticator Phil Steele has the Buckeyes coming in right behind Alabama at No. 2 in the preseason AP poll this fall.
At least that is what he projected in his special to ESPN.com on Thursday.
“Most AP voters usually look at a couple of criteria when they evaluate a team for the upcoming season. First, they look at the number of returning starters the team has coming back, particularly at the offensive skill positions,” Steele wrote.
“A team that returns its starting quarterback and a combination of its running backs and wide receivers, for example, is often more highly regarded than a team that loses its starting quarterback but returns its entire offensive line.”
The Buckeyes return quarterback Braxton Miller, who will be a frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy in 2013. They also return eight other starters on offense, including tailback Carlos Hyde, left tackle Jack Mewhort and wideouts Corey Brown and Devin Smith.
The only player on the offensive line who needs replaced is right tackle Reid Fragel, but the rest of the group returns intact for 2013. That includes tight end Jeff Heuerman.
Steele points out that a lot can happen in the six months between January and August – including injuries, suspensions and transfers – but he correctly predicted the AP’s preseason top 10 a year ago, and has been right on 37 of 40 over the past four years.
Ohio State At a Glance
2012 Big Ten Rank: Total (3), Passing (8), Rushing (2), Scoring (1), Turnovers (6)
Key Losses: WR Jake Stoneburner, OL Reid Fragel
Key Returners: QB Braxton Miller, RB Carlos Hyde, RB Jordan Hall, WR Devin Smith, WR Corey Brown, OL Jack Mewhort, OL Andrew Norwell, OL Corey Linsley
Top Newcomers: WR Jalin Marshall, RB Ezekiel Elliott
2012 Big Ten Rank: Total (6), Passing (11), Rushing (2), Scoring (6), Turnovers (6)
Key Losses: DE John Simon, DL Johnathan Hankins, DE Nathan Williams, DL Garrett Goebel, LB Zach Boren, LB Etienne Sabino, CB Travis Howard
Key Returners: LB Ryan Shazier, CB Bradley Roby, DB Christian Bryant, DB C.J. Barnett
Top Newcomers: LB Mike Mitchell, DE Joey Bosa, DB Cam Burrows
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