Ohio State Football: Why Buckeyes Will Be AP Preseason No. 1 in 2013

Tim Bielik@bielik_timSenior Analyst INovember 9, 2012

STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 27: Quarterback Braxton Miller #5 of the Ohio State Buckeyes dives into the end zone for touchdown against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the third quarter at Beaver Stadium on October 27, 2012 in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Ohio State, by virtue of NCAA sanctions, is the most irrelevant 10-0 team in the history of college football.

With two games to go, the Buckeyes have a chance at a perfect regular season, something they haven't done since the 2006 season. Ironically, that season ended with a loss at the hands of current Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, who coached the Florida team that beat the Buckeyes 41-14 in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game.

His first season as the coach at OSU has been nothing short of a great success. A 10-0 record speaks for itself, albeit against a very weak Big Ten this season.

2013 could be the Buckeyes' year and they may very well start the season ranked No. 1 in the AP Preseason Poll next August.

The scary thing about this Ohio State team and the fact that they could be undefeated at season's end is how young this group still is.

Only 32 of the 75 players on scholarship are draft-eligible, with 15 of them being seniors.

That young team has won 10 straight games, and a significant majority of the roster is coming back next season, including likely Heisman finalist Braxton Miller.

Only two players on the starting offense—WR Jake Stoneburner and RT Reid Fragel—will be gone. Add in explosive freshmen like Jalin Marshall and Ezekiel Elliott, and the Buckeye offense will only get better.

The Buckeyes are already ranked No. 9 in rushing and No. 12 in scoring offense, one year removed from only scoring over 40 points just once—against Akron in the opener of 2011. This year, they've done just that four times, scoring at least 50 all four times.

With a veteran group returning next season, including Miller, WRs Corey Brown and Devin Smith and RB Carlos Hyde, the ceiling for this offense is incredibly high.

Defensively, the Buckeyes do lose quite a bit of talent, including DE John Simon, LBs Etienne Sabino and (recently converted) Zach Boren and CB Travis Howard. In addition, DT Johnathan Hankins may very well leave school early because he has top-10 potential according to B/R's own Matt Miller.

The hope is that Ohio State's young talent, led by LB Ryan Shazier and CB Bradley Roby—who is also draft-eligible—can be the leaders of the defense and keep this unit going in the right direction.

Freshmen like Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington have showed that they have the ability to make plays at the collegiate level, but will need more experience. That's where the NCAA postseason ban hurts because the 15 bowl practices OSU won't have is going to stunt their development, at least for now.

Ohio State's schedule also plays favorably next season, with their only tough road games of the season coming at California and Michigan. They host Wisconsin, Iowa and Penn State, but could face other interesting road tests against Northwestern and Purdue.

On paper, Ohio State looks like a team that is absolutely loaded in 2013, with its one true weakness looming in the back seven.

This is a group that likely will finish the season undefeated, yet still have a chip on its shoulder. Take that motivation with a game-breaker at quarterback and one of the best coaches in the game and you've got a recipe for your typical preseason darling.

Look for the Buckeyes to be the ones atop most preseason polls for that particular reason. Their time is near, whether or not the country is paying attention just yet.


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


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