Ohio State Football: Breaking Down the No. 20 Ranking in ESPN Preseason Poll

Randy ChambersAnalyst IMay 2, 2012

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 28:  Urban Meyer speaks to the media after being introduced as the new head coach of Ohio State football on November 28, 2011 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

All of the hype for the Ohio State Buckeyes' spring practice and spring game is over and done with.

Now it's time to get excited about the regular season and where they'll be ranked when the season actually arrives.

ESPN couldn't wait that long and have decided to release a preseason Top 25 poll to get you talking.

USC opens up as the top team in the country, and the Alabama Crimson Tide are the No. 3 team, despite winning the national championship last season. The Ohio State Buckeyes are ranked No. 20 in the poll.

Did ESPN get it right with the Buckeyes?


Returning Starters: 19


Too High?

You could make an argument that the Buckeyes are too high, and if you want to really make a few people upset, you could make a case that they shouldn't be ranked at all.

After all, aren't they banned from the postseason? Why do they deserve to be ranked when they won't even be able to participate in a bowl game this year?

This is an entire new coaching staff with Urban Meyer stepping on campus. He's installing his notorious spread offense, but you can bet it's going to create a few growing pains throughout the season. The plays won't be as vanilla as they were last year, and it's going to require a lot of players to learn a lot in a short amount of time.

Ohio State may also lack the playmakers to make this offense work right away. Meyer is used to guys with world-class speed. Do the Buckeyes have that on this roster? He's been searching all offseason for playmakers, although I'm not sure he's found much yet.

Jordan Hall is listed as this year's starting running back, but he has yet to live up to his expectations coming out of high school. Devin Smith showed promise in his freshman season, and Corey Brown has big-play potential but also has a serious habit of dropping the football.

We have to remember this is a team that was ranked 81st in scoring offense last season. They do return majority of their offense, but it's questionable if they can make a dramatic turnaround in one season just because of the change of the head coach.

Defensively, they're a very solid unit, but the defensive line needs to produce a lot more. John Simon is a beast, but he's the only player who finished with more than three sacks a year ago.

There are also changes on the defensive coaches, with Everett Winters taking over the safeties and Kerry Coombs coaching the cornerbacks.


Too Low?

In short, you could argue that the Buckeyes are too low because it's Ohio State and they have Urban Meyer as their head coach.

That's a great combination that should win you a lot of football games and is worth a solid ranking in itself.

Seriously, though, the Buckeyes have an answer at the quarterback position in Braxton Miller. He played well last season, despite being a freshman and having the majority of his key players around him suspended. He's now in the perfect system and will only continue to grow as the weeks go on in this new offense.

Ohio State also returns 10 starters from a defensive unit that was ranked fifth in the Big Ten and 19th in the country.

They didn't give up much defensively last season. Returning all but one starter, they should be even better this season and could sneak into the top 10 as an overall unit this year.



You have to like the direction the Buckeyes are going and all of the talent they have returning this season. The defense should be as good as advertised this year—it's the offense that has more questions to answer. If the offense can pick up the system early in the year, they should win a lot of football games.

The main question is how this team will stay motivated knowing there won't be a postseason this year.

Regardless, this is a talented team that should be ranked, and No. 20 isn't a spot that many Buckeyes fans can argue with. It could be a lot worse to start the year.


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