The Case for Ohio State to Be No. 1 in USA Today 2013 Preseason Coaches Poll

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The Case for Ohio State to Be No. 1 in USA Today 2013 Preseason Coaches Poll
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

The Preseason 2013 USA Today Coaches Poll came out on Thursday and Urban Meyer's Ohio State Buckeyes are ranked No. 2, just behind two-time defending champion Alabama.

OSU was the only other team besides Alabama to receive multiple first-place votes in the poll, earning three of the 62 votes.

But those three voters who put the Buckeyes at the top of their list had plenty of good reasons to do so, because OSU does have a bit of a case for being No. 1.

The Buckeyes bring back arguably the best quarterback north of the Mason-Dixon line in Braxton Miller, who accumulated over 3,200 yards of total offense as a sophomore. He's expected to be much better this season after working with well-respected QB coach George Whitfield, Jr. in the offseason.

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
The growth of junior QB Braxton Miller will tell alot about where Ohio State is heading this season.

OSU returns nine starters on offense and has four seniors on an offensive line which helped the team finish No. 10 in rushing offense a year ago. The Buckeye offense also made a tremendous leap in scoring last year, improving by nearly 13 points per game from the previous year.

The biggest question mark on the roster is the defense, which must replace six starters in the front seven alone.

LB Ryan Shazier and DB Bradley Roby are both potential first-round talents and should be the anchors of the Buckeye defense this season. They will need to step up as the leaders of that unit, although youngsters like DEs Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington are expected to start and make big plays in their sophomore seasons.

More importantly than anything, OSU is the only team that didn't lose last season. And the Buckeyes did so with much less talent than this year's team possesses.

Before Meyer got to OSU, the Buckeyes slogged through a difficult 6-7 season and looked inept at times on offense.

The offense wasn't consistent last season, but it had its big games and put up bigger numbers than OSU has had through most of the last decade.

As Miller improves his passing, the offense should improve as well as it achieves more balance.

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That's not to say that Alabama doesn't deserve to be No. 1 because the Crimson Tide have earned it with two straight national championships. But OSU does have fewer questions to answer than Alabama.

Alabama has to replace three first-round talents in Dee Milliner, Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker.

Even with the enormous talent the Tide can roll out, at some point losing so much talent catches up with you.

Alabama returns only two starters on its line, and the cornerback position isn't very proven at the moment. Plus, the target on Alabama's back is bigger than ever after having to defend a second-straight BCS national championship.

Nobody in the BCS era has had to do that, so Nick Saban's team is in unchartered territory.

The Buckeyes, however, are trying to win their first Big Ten title since 2009 after vacating the 2010 title, suffering through 2011 and being banned from winning it in 2012.

Meyer and Saban could be on a collision course unless Johnny Manziel, Les Miles and anyone else in the SEC has anything to say about it.

Barring a major run of injuries, the Buckeyes should be there at the end and are among the most experienced teams in the country.

Those reasons are plenty to give OSU an argument to be No. 1. But all that really matters is who is No. 1 in January.

 

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

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