2012 Record: 12-0 (8-0 in Big Ten)
Head Coach: Urban Meyer (second year at Ohio St, 116-23 all-time)
Last Bowl Game: 2012 Gator Bowl lost to Florida 24-17
Stadium: Ohio Stadium in Columbus, OH (capacity = 102,329)
Home Field Advantage: ranked 3rd out of 69 BCS teams
2013 Schedule Link
Out of Conference: 8/3 vs Buffalo, 9/7 vs SDSU, 9/14 at Cal, 9/21 vs Florida A&M
Toughest Home Games: 9/28 vs Wisconsin, 10/26 vs Penn State
Toughest Road Games: 10/5 at Northwestern, 11/30 at Michigan
2012 Statistics Link
Stat to Fear: allowed 29 sacks in 2012 (10th in Big Ten)
Stats to Cheer: scored TDs on 76.47% of red zone trips (1st in Big Ten), held opponents to 72.22% success rate in red zone (1st in Big Ten)
Advanced Stats (Football Outsiders 2012 FEI Ranking): 9th out of 124 teams
Phil Steele's Returning Starters: Offense: 9, Defense: 4, Special Teams: 1
Key Defensive Returnees: LB Ryan Shazier (114 tackles), S Christian Bryant (70 tackles), CB Bradley Roby (62 tackles), S CJ Barnett (56 tackles)
Key Offensive Returnees: QB Braxton Miller (2039 yds pass, 58.3% completions, 15 TD, 6 INT, 1271 yds rush, 13 rush TD), RB Carlos Hyde (970 yds rush, 5.24 ypc, 16 TD), WR Corey Brown (60 rec), WR Devin Smith (30 rec, 6 TD)
Top 2013 Recruits: S Vonn Bell, CB Eli Apple, WR Jalin Marshall, DE Joey Bosa, CB Cameron Burrows, RB Ezekiel Elliott, OT Evan Lisle, TE Marcus Baugh, WR Corey Smith
Inside Scoop with HD Handshoe of BlockONation:
CFBZ: Urban Meyer came in and out performed everyone's expectations with last year's Ohio State team. Why do you think he was so successful in year one?
BlockONation: Last year, Ohio State came in a little under the radar. Everyone was kind of underestimating them and the talent level on the team, and to some degree with good reason, given how badly they under-performed in 2011 under Luke Fickell. Fickell was not ready for that level of responsibility. He looked so lost on many occasions during the season and that trickled down to the other coaches, and ultimately the entire team. Despite their 6-7 record, they could have been much better with better coaching, plain and simple. Urban Meyer didn't inherit an empty cupboard. He inherited a program with a plentiful cupboard that just needed a proven leader and the great staff he assembled to get everything and everyone back on track. After all, this is Ohio State, and that means there is always a plethora of talent. All that was lacking was someone to offer amazing guidance and extreme motivation. Meyer was that guy. Leading his team to a 12-0 record, with essentially nothing to play for, proves it.
CFBZ: Where is the biggest weakness on this team as they head into the 2013 season?
BlockONation: For me, the D-line is probably the biggest area of concern. Last year it was the strength of the defense, and this year all 4 starters are new faces. Garrett Goebel, John Simon, Nate Williams and Johnathan Hankins have moved on, leaving the duties to all underclassmen. Replacing that kind of senor-laden leadership won't be an easy task. That being said, I'm very excited about some of the younger, up-and-comers, especially Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington. Both of them played 8-10 snaps per game last season as true freshmen, so they aren't completely raw and inexperienced. I personally believe they are both future All-Americans. Tommy Schutt, Michael Bennett and Joel Hale are the other three names you'll likely hear the most once the season begins. Youth and inexperience doesn't equal weakness or vulnerability with this group. The LB corp and secondary should both be very good to even great potentially so look for another fine edition of the Silver Bullet defense this year.
CFBZ: What do you see as the two most important games on the schedule this year?
BlockONation: The consensus picks for the top two teams in the Leaders Division are Wisconsin and Ohio State. The Buckeyes will host the Badgers in Columbus on September 28th with that game having an 8:00 PM start. With a prime-time national audience watching and with the Buckeyes looking to impress voters in hopes of remaining in the top two in the polls all season, this game is the biggest game of the year. In recent years, Wisconsin has become somewhat of a thorn in the sides of the Buckeyes. While some traditional Buckeye rivals have been hit with some of the leanest years in program history, the Badgers have filled that void over the last decade.
Speaking of programs struggling to regain the standing they once had so many moons ago, the team up north, or Ann Arbor Community College as I affectionately refer to them, host the Buckeyes at the end of the year in Ann Arbor. When a game is known simply as THE GAME, it's big every year. This year, the teams could meet in back to back weeks should they each win their respective divisions. Some fans and the media aren't on board with that idea, but I am and I'll tell you why. it's simple really. The only thing better than beating AACC at the end of the season is beating them twice at the end of the season!
CFBZ: What will make the 2013 season a success in your eyes?
BlockONation: After going 12-0 last year, it's REALLY REALLY HARD for us fans to temper-down our expectations for the 2013 season. Most if not all Buckeye fans, and I'm betting the team and coaches too, all feel that to some degree. Urban Meyer has had tremendous success in his second season as a head coach everywhere he's been, whether it was BGSU, Utah, or Florida. He took BG from a MAC doormat to a title contender, took Utah to a BCS bowl and his QB Alex Smith was the No. 1 player taken in the NFL Draft, and unfortunately for Buckeye Nation, led Florida to 2 BCS title wins, including the infamous 41-14 embarrassment that was the 2006 title game against OSU. Given his history and the success in Columbus last season, anything less than a Big 10 title and a berth in the final (thank God!) BCS title game are essentially a must, or the season will feel like a massive bust. To see Ohio State win their 8th National Championship would just be glorious icing on a "magical 2013 season" cake.
Urban Meyer has been successful everywhere he's gone and he sure didn't waste time getting the Buckeyes back to the top of the Big Ten. While the Buckeyes weren't dominant, they did what they needed to do to win every single game on the schedule. In year two, Ohio State should be better but will they be able to go undefeated again?
Braxton Miller was everything for Ohio State last season. He threw for over 2,000 yards and 15 TDs and was also their leading rusher with over 1,200 yards and 13 TD. If you are looking for an area of improvement for Miller it would be his accuracy, completion percentage and decision making in the pocket. That being said, Miller is a true dual-threat and he's one of the most dangerous players in college football. Miller is a legit Heisman candidate. At RB, the Buckeyes return Carlos Hyde, Rod Smith and Jordan Hall. They have a couple of early season suspensions to overcome but expect this group to be similar in output to last years squad. At WR, the Buckeyes return Corey Brown and Devin Smith. Brown was clearly the best receiver on the team and the Buckeyes would like for Smith to be a more consistent target this season. It would also be nice for the Buckeyes to develop some options behind these two as Jake Stoneburner must be replaced. The OL is experienced and solid. They gave up 29 sacks last year but alot of those can be put on Miller.
The 2012 defense actually gave up more points than the 2011 defense. They also gave up more yards. But last year, the Buckeyes were significantly better on third down and in the red zone. As mentioned in the Q&A, there is concern around the DL as the Buckeyes lost two players who got drafted into the NFL (Johnathan Hankins and John Simon). When you look at the DL, the Buckeyes will lose their top four players off of this unit. That's tough, but the Buckeyes are built to re-load at this position. There are a lot of questions, but there is also a lot of talent. The LB group also takes a hit as it returns only Ryan Shazier. Again, four and five-star recruits look to take over but it's the experience that's a concern. The defensive backfield is in the best shape of any defensive unit in terms of returning players.
The schedule is a favorable one. The out of conference schedule might not be completely a walk in the park but nobody expects SDSU or a rebuilding Cal to knock off the Buckeyes. They get Wisconsin and Penn State at home and don't have to play Nebraska or Michigan State. The toughest two road games are at Northwestern and at Michigan so those are definitely two you will want to keep your eye on. Last year, Ohio State survived a lot of close games. Cal, Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue, Wisconsin and Michigan all came within a TD of the Buckeyes in 2012. Ohio State is without question the favorite in the Big Ten but it's hard to believe that they can win 22 straight games without slipping up somewhere.
Previous 2013 Pre-Season Previews:
ACC- Boston College, Clemson, Duke, FSU, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, NC State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, UNC, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
Big 12- Baylor, Iowa St, Kansas, Kansas St, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St, Texas, Texas Tech, WVU
Big Ten- Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Penn State, Purdue,Wisconsin
C-USA- ECU, FAU, FIU, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Rice, Southern Miss, Tulsa, Tulane, UAB, UTEP, UTSA
Independent: Army, BYU, Idaho, Navy, New Mexico St, Old Dominion
MAC- Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, CMU, EMU, Kent State, Miami (OH), Ohio, Toledo, UMass, WMU
MWC- Air Force, Boise St, Colorado St, Fresno St, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, SDSU, SJSU, UNLV, Utah St, Wyoming
Pac-12- Arizona, Cal, Colorado, Oregon St, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington St
SEC- Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Missouri, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
Sun Belt- Arkansas State, Georgia State, Louisiana, South Alabama, Texas State, Troy, ULM, WKU
The American- Cincinnati, Houston, Louisville, Memphis, Rutgers, SMU, Temple, UCF, UConn, USF