By all accounts, this Ohio State team is built to be a championship contender in 2013. Braxton Miller will be a third-year starter, he'll have the vast majority of his offense back, and the young defense will be filled with upperclassmen.
But if Ohio State's performance in Week 1 is any indication, the only thing standing in the way of a BCS-bowl run is postseason eligibility.
Ohio State dispatched Miami University 56-10 in the Buckeyes' season opener, and several of the Buckeyes' young stars shined in the victory.
Braxton Miller looked like a legitimate contender to Denard Robinson's crown as the most dynamic quarterback in the conference with an outstanding performance both through the air and on the ground. Miller threw for 207 yards and two touchdowns on 14-of-24 passing and added a long touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage in the second half before finishing with 161 rushing yards on 17 carries.
Again: Miller is a legitimate contender to Denard Robinson.
Miller's receivers did their part as well. Devin Smith made a leaping catch for the ages to put Ohio State on the board, and yes, it's something you need to see:
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Meanwhile, Philly Brown caught 14 passes in all of 2011, and compounding the depression there is the fact that he was still tied for the team lead in catches. Brown got halfway to that total in this game alone, hauling in seven passes for a team-high 87 yards and an easy touchdown. But "easy" is exactly what you want for your players, producing consistently and making positive plays look routine.
The Ohio State passing defense needs a lot of work. Miami's Zac Dysert is a good quarterback, and RedHawks WR Nick Harwell will likely be playing on Sunday. But we're not talking about Matt Barkley and Marqise Lee here or anything, and Ohio State still gave up over 300 passing yards—and if Miami's receivers were acceptably reliable, that number would have been higher.
But that rushing defense, goodness. Miami rushed for minus-1 yard. No, really. Negative three feet. For the entire game. Ohio State dominated the line of scrimmage for all 60 minutes, and fortunately for OSU fans, a good portion of that was with freshmen defensive linemen in the game. DE Noah Spence and DT Tommy Schutt in particular were standouts when they were on the field, and they look ready for Big Ten competition right now.
There aren't many true freshmen in all of college football you can comfortably and confidently line up against a Big Ten opponent. There are much, much fewer on the defensive line. And Ohio State has several of them.
Moreover, the fact that we're talking about a MAC opponent shouldn't discount the value of this victory—or Urban Meyer's presence at head coach—as much as some might think. Ohio just went to Happy Valley and beat Penn State by 10. Northern Illinois led for most of the game before losing to Iowa, 18-17. Even Bowling Green was tied with Florida in the second half before bowing, 27-14.
And just last year, Toledo gave Ohio State the fight of its life before the Buckeyes prevailed, 27-22.
So yes: This was the kind of win most teams in the Big Ten wouldn't be able to pull off. And it bodes extremely well for the future.