Ohio State Football: 7 Reasonable Goals for 2013
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The Ohio State Buckeyes met their main goal in 2012: They won every game they played.
The team was forced to remain so focused on winning the next game, something that wasn't always easy, that they didn't seem to have many extraneous goals.
However, in 2013, with the postseason ban lifted and things back to normal (Buckeye fans expecting the team to compete for a national title), the team is poised to set records and achieve great things.
Undefeated Regular Season
The Buckeyes will benefit from Jordan Hall's return on the field and in the locker room.
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Ohio State's schedule is rather favorable. They will likely be favored in every game they play.
The 2013 team will be more talented, on paper at least, than the 2012 team that went 12-0. If the Buckeyes can find a way to fill the leadership void, they should find themselves at 12-0 again.
That would clinch another Leaders Division title, as well as all but clinch a BCS bowl appearance.
While a national title may be another year away as Urban Meyer is still building depth and playmaking ability, the Buckeyes should be able to muster another top-five finish.
Win Big Ten Championship Game
Bret Bielema won back-to-back Big Ten Championship games before leaving Wisconsin for Arkansas.
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The Wisconsin Badgers have won the only two Big Ten title games that have been played since the conference expanded before the 2011 season.
Interestingly enough, the Badgers lost to the Buckeyes both seasons.
If Urban Meyer can get Ohio State to the Big Ten title game, then they could be one win away from a spot in the BCS National Championship Game.
Nebraska looks to be the preseason favorite in the Legends Division and the most likely opponent if the Buckeyes make it to Indianapolis.
Finish in the Top Half of the Big Ten in Passing Yards
Devin Smith and Braxton Miller hooked up for big plays often in 2012.
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In the past two seasons, Braxton Miller has struggled with his mechanics at times. That, combined with a lack of consistency from the wide receivers, made Ohio State's passing game anemic.
Miller has reportedly improved his mechanics, and Devin Smith, Corey Brown and the rest of the receiving corps is coming along as well, so the Buckeyes appear set for a vast improvement through the air.
The Buckeyes were able to squeak by their toughest opponents last season without much from their passing game. In order to be the dominant team that they are expected to be, the Buckeyes will need more diversity from the offense.
500 Yards of Total Offense Per Game
Jack Mewhort returns to anchor an offensive line that should clear the way for plenty of big plays.
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In the 2012 season, 10 offenses averaged over 500 yards per game.
Ohio State was just 47th in the country in yards per game, finishing the season with an average of 423 yards per game.
That was an improvement of over 100 yards per game over the Buckeyes' offensive showing in 2011.
The Buckeyes' offense returns four-fifths of its offensive line and only loses one key skill-position player. If Braxton Miller and the passing game improve as expected, then the running game will become even more explosive.
School Record for Points Per Game
Carlos Hyde in the end zone became a normal sight—he led the Big Ten in scoring.
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The Buckeyes averaged 37 points per game in 2012, giving Ohio State the 21st-best scoring offense in the country.
Urban Meyer's Buckeyes had the fifth-highest scoring average in school history, only five points fewer than Woody Hayes' 1969 Buckeyes scored en route to an 8-1 season behind Buckeye legend Rex Kern.
In 2012, only five teams scored more than the 42-point average put up by the 1969 Buckeyes. But as mentioned in the previous slide, Ohio State has an abundance of talent returning and incoming.
Plus, Meyer and the coaching staff are looking for a faster pace on offense in 2013.
Early in the season, a young defense could force the Buckeye offense to keep scoring late into games, therefore improving their scoring average.
Have 2 Players in National Awards
Ryan Shazier has a chance to continue Ohio State's proud tradition of winning national awards at the linebacker position.
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The Buckeyes have several players that have the potential to win national awards in 2013.
Ryan Shazier really came on as a superstar to close the 2012 season. If the speedy linebacker from Florida continues his play, which statistically matches Manti Te'o's senior season, then he could put himself in contention for the various linebacker and defensive player of the year awards.
On offense, Braxton Miller will get most of the attention. Miller will be one of the many candidates to dethrone Johnny Manziel as the Heisman favorite. Miller was also a finalist for the Davey O'Brien Award, which is given to the nation's top QB.
Lead the NCAA in Interceptions
Bradley Roby will be one of the top cornerbacks in the country in 2013 while leading a talented Buckeye secondary.
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The Buckeyes only intercepted 14 passes in the 2012 season, which was good for 36th nationally.
However, the Buckeyes got their hands on several other passes that they were unable to hold on to.
In spring practice, the Buckeyes have focused on getting more defensive backs on the field and also putting more pressure on the opposing QBs, both of which should lead to more interceptions.
Whether that's enough to get into the mid-20s, where the team will need to get to contend for the nation's lead, is yet to be seen. But a high-powered offense could help by forcing opponents to pass the ball more often.