Ohio State Football: Buckeyes Positioned to Win Big Ten Title in 2013

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Ohio State Football: Buckeyes Positioned to Win Big Ten Title in 2013
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Not only did Ohio State go undefeated this season, the Buckeyes are set up to see some key starters return next year and they already boast an impressive 2013 recruiting class.

The 12-0 Buckeyes, who served a one-year bowl ban this season, finished No. 4 in the AP poll to end the 2012 campaign.

They did so with an electric dual-threat quarterback in Braxton Miller, depth in the backfield and a defense that was generally solid.

Miller was the key, of course. The sophomore rushed for 1,271 yards (second in the nation among quarterbacks) and 13 touchdowns, while averaging 8.0 yards per pass attempt (second in the Big Ten) and tossing 15 touchdowns to six interceptions.

Miller also played well against some top Big Ten opponents, like Michigan State (136 rushing yards), Nebraska (186 rushing yards) and Penn State (134 rushing yards).

Sure, Miller generally struggled tossing the pigskin against these opponents, but what does that matter when the Buckeyes still won all those games? 

Plus, while Miller wasn't that accurate, his running ability in itself opened up some big opportunities tossing the ball downfield, which opened up big plays. He had a 63-yard completion against Michigan State, a 72-yard completion against Penn State and a 52-yard completion in the final regular season game against Michigan.

But it wasn't all Miller in the backfield. That's what strengthens Ohio State's chances to capture the Big Ten title in 2013.

Beyond Miller, there was junior Carlos Hyde (970 rushing yards on 5.2 yards per carry, 16 touchdowns), sophomore Rod Smith (215 rushing yards on 6.7 yards per carry, two touchdowns) and freshman Bri'onte Dunn (133 rushing yards on 5.3 yards per carry, two touchdowns).

Even multi-talented senior Jordan Hall, who racked up 249 total yards and a touchdown on 43 touches, may get a medical redshirt after sustaining an injury during the season.

In the receiving corps, junior Philly Brown and sophomore Devin Smith will be back and, while Jake Stoneburner will have to be replaced, the Buckeyes have some young players like sophomore Evan Spencer and freshman Michael Thomas who could help fill the void.

And while some key seniors on defense will be departing (defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, defensive end John Simon, outside linebacker Etienne Sabino), they still have the formidable Ryan Shazier back and some depth.

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Plus, having a 2013 recruiting class ranked No. 6 by ESPNU (and just behind Michigan in the Big Ten) is certainly something to be grateful for, as well.

That recruiting class includes the No. 3 cornerback (Eli Woodard), the No. 6 cornerback (Cam Burrows), the No. 7 defensive tackle (Joey Bosa) and the No. 8 "athlete" (Jalin Marshall).

After a fantastic 2012 campaign, the Buckeyes already look like a force to be reckoned with in the Big Ten come next season.

 

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