ESPN's David Pollack stated in a recent "Top 20 Roundtable" session that the Ohio State Buckeyes—who rank No. 18 in the "College Football Live" preseason Top 25—are the "most talented team in the Big Ten" heading into the 2012 season.
"I expect this to be a team that almost runs the table, or comes close to running the table," Pollack said. "On paper, they're the most talented team in the Big Ten."
Does he have a point?
Despite finishing the 2011-12 campaign with a 6-7 record,—its first losing season since 1897—Ohio State is being called the team to beat in the Leaders Division.
Since his hiring in November, Urban Meyer has done wonders for the program.
In just two months on the job, he took the Buckeyes from the outer abyss of the unranked to No. 6 on ESPN's Class of 2012 recruiting rankings, and he is currently dominating the competition with 12 high-profile prospects for 2013.
Meyer has implemented a dynamic spread-option offensive system that looked surprisingly crisp in the spring game two weeks ago. He plans on running 80-85 snaps a game and stated that it will mirror Oregon's style of play.
This is a huge deal for a team that has been used to the infamous "Tresselball" in years' past, battling for field position and leaving the game to the defense.
In fact, Meyer believes the new scheme will be faster than it ever was during his tenure with the Florida Gators, who scored 43.6 points per game and compiled nearly 450 total yards every time out in their 2008 National Championship season.
And finally, what I personally consider my favorite trait that Meyer brings to Columbus, is the fact that he creates a "win now, not later" atmosphere. He broke the conference's long-time "Gentleman's Agreement" (which I thought was complete nonsense in the first place) for a big-time recruit, showing he's not settling for No. 2.
Ohio State returns 19 starters to the field, including sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller, who has had an impressive offseason. Meyer has always been a fan of the dual-threat QB and has taken notice of his jaw-dropping abilities.
"He can really throw it," Meyer said, according to ESPN. "He has a really good release and his accuracy is improving. He's good. As with any quarterback, we have to make sure we surround him with good players. That's how you get a quarterback to go from good to great—to surround him with wide receivers."
In come seniors Jordan Hall (RB) and Jake Stoneburner (TE), who are expected to have huge roles in the Buckeyes' new offense. Receivers Devin Smith and Corey (Philly) Brown are also assumed to have big impacts, with younger guys like freshman running back Bri'onte Dunn and freshman wideout Mike Thomas—who exploded for 12 catches in the spring game—in the mix as well.
"Let's not forget that this was one of the worst offenses in college football last year," former Ohio State quarterback Kirk Herbstreit said. "I think they do have the athletes, they just didn't have the offensive philosophy to put them in the position to make plays. Now they will."
Although the 2010 memorabilia scandal will keep them out of the postseason, the Buckeyes have an exciting year up ahead. A favorable schedule is upon them, with Wisconsin's Russell Wilson and Michigan State's Kirk Cousins both departing for the NFL, along with key defensive players.
What potentially is the most intriguing part to their bowl-less season is Week 13 when the Michigan Wolverines visit the Shoe for "The Game." This will more than likely have a postseason feel—especially for Ohio State—in a battle for supremacy and a last look at Miller look-alike Denard Robinson (although Miller possesses more upside).
"I think by the end of the year they'll be really good," analyst Todd Blackledge said during the roundtable session. "I think that once they get to the second half, third quarter of the season they'll really develop."
If they aren't ready by September, fine. So be it—Buckeye fans know this is going to be a process. They have the talent and the incoming pieces for a future championship run.
As long as Ohio State is ready and "developed" by rivalry week, I'm sure we can all stay patient.
Follow this reporter on Twitter: @Tyler_Waddell