Breaking Down Ohio State's Ranking in the AP Preseason College Football Poll

Tim BielikSenior Analyst IAugust 20, 2012

COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 15:  Head football coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes is introduced to the crowd at halftime of the basketball game between the Indiana Hoosiers and the Ohio State Buckeyes on January 15, 2012 at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Saturday's release of the Associated Press preseason college football poll had the Ohio State Buckeyes ranked as the No. 18 team in the country.

Urban Meyer's Buckeyes are, of course, banned from this year's bowl season, which means they are subsequently banned from the USA Today coaches' poll. But they are still eligible for the AP Poll this year.

Fans around the country got a better glimpse of the Buckeyes last week during ESPNU's All-Access Training Days show, getting to know the players and coaches around Ohio State.

However, most of the things surrounding Ohio State's ranking just barely inside the Top 20 are mostly what we don't know.

We don't know for sure what the new offense featuring Braxton Miller will look like.

We don't know how much or how little OSU's skill players, especially at the receiver positions, have improved. We also don't know if the offensive line can improve after a disastrous 2011 season and losing three starters in the process.

What we do know is that Ohio State's defense should be improved, particularly in the linebacking corps where the Buckeyes looked surprisingly weak last year.

The freshman class that the Buckeyes have brought in this year has already started off strong, including Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington.

Both freshmen have a good chance to be in the rotation right away, even with the tremendous amount of talent on the defensive line.

The concern this season with the Buckeyes is going to be how motivated the team will be knowing all they can play for is pride and getting some much-needed revenge against Big Ten rivals who got the better of them a year ago like Penn State, Michigan State and especially Michigan.

But for Meyer, this year is about something else. It's about getting ready for 2013, when OSU has a chance to win a Big Ten title and possibly play for a national title.

They can follow the USC blueprint last year, where a strong 10-2 season has them in a great position now to play for a national title this year.

That isn't to say that Ohio State will for sure be a national title contender next season, but they have a chance to put themselves in a position to play for one.

Right now, Ohio State's uncertainty has them where they are in the rankings even though they have as much talent as anyone in the Big Ten.

That talent, though, is mostly young and needs to develop. That's what this year is about.

There's no reason to think that the 2012 Buckeyes won't be much better than they were last season.

But for now, the Associated Press has the young, relatively untested Buckeyes ranked 18th in the country in the preseason.


Follow me on Twitter @bielik_tim for the latest college football news and updates.