Ohio State Football: Biggest Threats to Buckeyes' Perfect Season in 2013
Urban Meyer led the Ohio State Buckeyes to one of the more improbable undefeated seasons in 2012, guiding the Buckeyes to a perfect 12-0 season despite obvious flaws.
Now with the Buckeyes eligible for postseason play, OSU appears poised to repeat the feat. But it's tougher to go undefeated the second time around.
The Buckeyes appear to be one of the best teams in the country, but do have legitimate problems that could derail a second straight perfect season.
None of these things in particular have to do with any opponent, particularly in-conference foes Northwestern, Wisconsin and Michigan, but rather with Ohio State's own development.
Here are some things that could threaten another run for perfection.
Braxton Miller's Health
Braxton Miller is without a doubt one of the top quarterbacks in college football. But his durability is a major concern, especially after going down several times due to injury, though none were extremely serious.
Miller hopefully will learn how to better protect his body while running and could reduce his carries with better talent around him.
The likely root cause of his high number of carries is that the Buckeyes didn't have a lot of weapons around Miller to take pressure off of him. As he gets more weapons around him, he should have more pressure lifted off his shoulders, which should allow him to take fewer hits.
Massive Defensive Overhaul
Ohio State's defense is going through a massive reconstruction project, especially on its front seven where it will replace six of seven starters.
Sophomore blue-chippers Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington will be expected to lead the defensive line in 2013, and a young crop of linebackers appears poised to push through and have an impact.
Just as concerning as the holes to fill are two returning starters at the safety position: C.J. Barnett and Christian Bryant.
Throughout the season, the safety play was wildly inconsistent, and very rarely did the Buckeyes get good games from both of their starting safeties. OSU has added some depth at the position through recruiting, but will need those two to be leaders at the back end to help stabilize the young defense in front of them.
Unproven Passing Game
While Ohio State's offense put up big numbers a year ago, it mostly did so on the ground as OSU finished the year ranked No. 105 in passing yards per game.
The Buckeyes' top receiver last season, Corey Brown, had just 669 yards receiving in 12 games and Miller threw for just over 2,000 yards.
OSU's receiving corps should improve with more experience in the system and with Miller's own development as a quarterback.
There's no reason to think OSU won't be a better passing team, but we will have to wait and see how much better they will be.
Last season, Ohio State played loose and relaxed because there wasn't much to play for outside of pride due to the NCAA postseason sanctions.
Things are changing this year with most fans expecting a shot at the national championship, especially after the Buckeyes were the only team to win every game last year.
It should be easier to get this team motivated when there's something real to play for. But you never really know how college players will react when facing high stakes and big pressure.
It'll be interesting to see how the players react in tight situations with, for example, a conference championship and a trip to the BCS hanging in the balance.
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