Ohio State Football: Athlon, Phil Steele Give Buckeyes Preseason Love
College football guru Phil Steele and the good folks at Athlon Sports have come out with predictions for the 2013 college football season, and unsurprisingly, they feel good about the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Ohio State is riding nation's longest winning streak (12), and Urban Meyer is set to infuse the No. 2 ranked recruiting class with a talented team which returns 13 starters, according to 247Sports.com.
When you factor in the success of Meyer-coached teams in their second year, the growth of quarterback Braxton Miller and a schedule with fewer challenges than other contenders, there's a lot to like about Ohio State.
Steele published his preseason All-American and All-Conference teams, both of which feature a number of Buckeyes.
His All-American projections include cornerback Bradley Roby and linebacker Ryan Shazier on the first team, Miller on the second team, offensive guard Andrew Norwell on the third team and left tackle Jack Mewhort on the fourth team.
Ohio State's five selections tied Florida State and Stanford for second most in the country, trailing only Alabama, which had eight players selected.
Steele's All-Big Ten teams are highlighted by 15 Buckeyes holding 16 positions. Safety Christian Bryant joined the five All-Americans as first-team selections and running back Carlos Hyde, wide receiver Devin Smith, center Corey Linsley, linebacker Curtis Grant and safety CJ Barnett earned second-team honors.
Corey Brown made third team as a receiver and a punt returner. Offensive guard Marcus Hall joined Brown on the third team while defensive end Noah Spence and kicker Drew Basil rounded things out on the fourth-team.
Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin tied for second with 12 All-Conference selections.
Steven Lassan of AthlonSports.com put more of a focus on forecasting the Big Ten season, and he predicts Ohio State to go undefeated for the second consecutive year.
Lassan writes that there wasn't any debate about selecting the Buckeyes to win the Leaders division. The challenging part was ranking Ohio State nationally:
The only discussion about Ohio State was about how high we would pick the Buckeyes in the national rankings. And after a brief discussion, we put Ohio State No. 2, right behind Alabama.
The Buckeyes will face Michigan in the Big Ten title game, according to Lassan, beating the Wolverines in consecutive weeks to finish 13-0 prior to bowl season.
Steele and Athlon's projections support a national trend of optimism surrounding the Buckeyes. Writers such as Mark Schlabach, Dennis Dodd and Adam Kramer all have the Buckeyes as either the top-ranked team, or just behind Alabama at No. 2.
Of course, preseason accolades don't always translate to on-the-field success. The most recent example of that came just last year when Lane Kiffin's USC Trojans entered the season ranked No. 1, only to finish with a 7-6 record and outside of the top-25 completely.
It's hard to imagine a similar fate for Ohio State. While history suggests anything could happen during the course of the college football season, the Buckeyes appear to be primed for a big year.
David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report.
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.
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