Here in Urban Meyer's very first season as the head coach of the Ohio State football team, the Buckeyes have officially gone 10-0 for the first time since the 2007 season. Meyer is essentially making a statement to the rest of the conference that he means business, and they hear him loud and clear.
While Meyer is a pretty good coach, even he knows that he couldn't do it alone. There has to be a certain amount of talent on the field, and the players have to give their all. It appears as if Meyer has gotten the very best out of his players thus far, as he has always seemed to do.
That leaves us with a question. Which players are the biggest keys to Meyer's success? Here I will rank every one of Ohio State's starters from the ones who have the least amount of value to the team to the ones who have the most.
Storyline: Garret Goebel is one of five seniors to start on Ohio State's defense this year, but you hardly ever hear his name being mentioned on a play. He is one of the least effective starters on this year's team.
Stats: 37 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 1 sack
Storyline: Ohio State hasn't been big on utilizing tight ends in the passing game as long as I've been alive. With guys like Nick Vannett and Jeff Heuerman on their roster, they have two pretty big threats for Miller to throw to downfield.
Stats: 8 receptions, 118 yards (14.8 AVG)
Storyline: While the kicking position isn't too vital to a team's success, a single made or missed field goal could be the deciding factor of a football game. Two of Ohio State's games were decided by a field goal or less this season.
Stats: 52 extra points attempted, 51 extra points made, 6 field goals attempted, 4 field goals made
Storyline: Known for simply throwing his hands up in the air after recording a sack, Nathan Williams has had a quietly productive career at Ohio State. Pretty decent for a guy who came in as only a 3-star prospect in 2008.
Stats: 35 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss and 2 sacks
Storyline: Guys like C.J. Barnett can line up anywhere in the secondary and still have the same impact. Unfortunately for Ohio State, however, his impact isn't very apparent. Nevertheless he's still a pretty decent football player.
Stats: 40 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss and 1 interception
Storyline: Highly touted out of the state of Florida, Sabino came to Columbus as the No. 1 linebacker recruit in the country in the 2008 class. However, he hasn't quite lived up to the lofty expectations fans once had for him, as he is just now getting into the starting rotation in his senior year.
Stats: 37 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and 1 interception
Storyline: As a former tight end, Jake Stoneburner has made a pretty good transition to wide receiver this fall. The 6'5" 245 lb senior out of Dublin, Ohio is currently third on the team in both receptions (15) and receiving yards (260), and he has hauled in a 72-yard touchdown grab.
Stats: 15 receptions, 260 yards (17.3 AVG) and 4 touchdowns
Storyline: Ohio State hasn't had too many hard hitting safeties in recent memory. However, you could qualify Christian Bryant as one. Even though the junior has given up some big plays in the air this season, he has good closing speed and a knack for snuffing out the ball carrier. Bryant is second on the team with 61 total tackles.
Stats: 61 tackles, 0.5 tackles for a loss and 1 interception
Storyline: Don't let Boren's tackling numbers fool you: He put up these numbers in just the last three games alone. During his entire career at Ohio State, the senior has strictly played the fullback position. Though he has been used as a linebacker since he was in high school, he has been very consistent so far.
Stats: 29 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss
Storyline: Though he has blown coverage in the past while giving up big chunks of yardage, Travis Howard has been a pretty good corner at Ohio State. He typically covers the opposing team's best wideout, and in doing so, he is leading the team in interceptions thus far on the year.
Stats: 34 tackles, and 4 interceptions
Storyline: Every major football team needs to have at least one deep threat at wide receiver. For the Ohio State Buckeyes, Devin Smith is just that guy. Even though he has 20 fewer receptions than Philly Brown, he has 67 more receiving yards and five more touchdowns.
Stats: 24 receptions, 514 yards (21.4 AVG) and 6 touchdowns
Storyline: Ohio State hasn't had a good underclassmen at the corner position since Malcolm Jenkins came onto the scene of things as a sophomore back in the 2006 season. Out of Suwanee, Georgia, sophomore Bradley Roby is a guy who plays a lot like Jenkins did during his sophomore season.
Stats: 48 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack and 2 interceptions
Storyline: The punting position is actually more significant than most people think. Former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel once said the punt is "the most important play in football." I don't know how much that is true, but the punters do have the greatest impact on the game when it comes to the starting field position of opposing teams.
Stats: 47 punts, 1952 yards (41.5 AVG), 3 touchbacks, 12 inside the 20 and 4 for 50-plus yards
Storyline: After only Braxton Miller, Philly Brown is the most exciting player on this year's Buckeyes football team. Being a tripl- threat player, Brown is third on the team in terms of total yards and has touched the football more than anyone but Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde this season.
Stats: 48 receptions, 526 yards (11.0 AVG), 2 TD's, 8 carries, 70 yards (8.8 AVG), 1 TD, 11 punt returns, 122 yards (11.1 AVG) and 1 TD
Storyline: As huge and talented as Jonathan Hankins is, you would think that he imagines as if the players on opposing teams were Big Macs from McDonald's or something! Perhaps that's the key to his success as he is third on the team in tackles.
Stats: 50 tackles, 4 tackles for loss and 1 sack
Storyline: As the season progresses, Hyde's importance has become increasingly more apparent. With a dual-threat quarterback like Braxton Miller taking a lot of hit, Ohio State needs a guy like Hyde to take a load off of Miller's shoulders. Hyde has been the second most consistent player on the Buckeyes' offense this season when he has been healthy.
Stats: 144 carries, 737 yards (5.1 AVG), 13 TD; 7 receptions, 43 yards (6.1 AVG) and 1 TD
Storyline: When considering the many greats to play for Ohio State over the years, it must be an honor to be named the MVP of the silver-bullet defense. John Simon has been named just that, and his motor never seems to stop running. The senior out of Youngstown, Ohio, has more sacks than anyone on the team, and he is second on the team in tackles for loss.
Stats: 38 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, and 5 sacks
Storyline: We all know of the skill positions who make the offense special, but essentially everything starts up front with the offensive line. Jack Mewhort, Marcus Hall, Corey Linsley, Andrew Norwell, and Reid Fragel make up one of the most talented offensive lines in the conference.
Storyline: As only a sophomore, Ryan Shazier is by far the best player on the Buckeyes' defense. He leads the team in both tackles and tackles for loss, and he is second on the team in sacks. No one on Ohio State's roster has looked more like an All-American than him this season.
To put Shazier's numbers into perspective, he has had more tackles, tackles per game, tackles for loss and sacks than Heisman hopeful Manti Te'o this season.
Stats: 98 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks and 1 interception
Storyline: Let's face it, Braxton Miller is in the Heisman race for a reason. Game in and game out, he carries the entire team on his shoulders and proves that he may not be just Ohio State's most valuable player, but the Big Ten's most valuable player as well. The scary thing is that Miller is just a sophomore!
Stats: 124/218 (56.9%), 1,753 yards (8.04 AVG), 14 TD, 6 INT, 184 carries, 1,166 yards (6.3 AVG), 13 TD
Feel free to express your thoughts on the rankings. Until next time, though, God bless and GO BUCKS!