Ohio State had a lot to play for last fall: Making people forget a year of NCAA investigations and innuendo, rebounding from the worst season in more than a century and living up to the expectations of a new coaching staff.
They more than succeeded with a stunning 12-0 turnaround.
Unlike those Buckeyes, however, the 2013 version is allowed to compete for a Big Ten championship and even a national title. A postseason ban is no longer in force for crimes and misdemeanors committed under the regime of deposed coach Jim Tressel.
The first step is Saturday's game against Buffalo, a rebuilding team hoping to make a good showing while the second-ranked Buckeyes are aiming to serve notice that they're a worthy contender to break the Southeastern Conference's seven-year stranglehold on No. 1.
''Coach (Urban) Meyer came in here and he went 12-0,'' safety C.J. Barnett said. ''Last year we had a chip on our shoulder. We were kind of hunting, but now we're the hunted. We've got the target on...