The Ohio State Buckeyes, in their second year under the watch of Urban Meyer, are ranked second by Phil Steele in his annual preseason list of college football powerhouses.
In his preview magazine (which has been published annually for 18 years), Steele digs deep to analyze where he feels teams will finish the 2013 season. While he has the Crimson Tide of Alabama slotted in the top spot, Steele has plenty of glowing things to say about the Scarlet and Grey.
Last year the Buckeyes were coming off a 6-7 season but had a huge turnaround under new head coach Urban Meyer, going a perfect 12-0 despite not having a bowl to go to at the end of the season. This year they have my Heisman Trophy favorite in quarterback Braxton Miller, four starters back on the offensive line and solid skill players. The defense does lose all four starting linemen, but not only do I like their replacements, I also think highly of their back seven, which features two of my preseason first-team All-Americans in linebacker Ryan Shazier and cornerback Bradley Roby. This is one of the most talented teams in the country, as all eight of Ohio State’s units rank in the top 25 of my individual position rankings.
The schedule is light, as the Buckeyes will be favored in their first 11 games, with the toughest road games coming at Northwestern and then Michigan in the finale. In Meyer’s previous coaching stops at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida, the team improved in his second season. The only thing better than a 12-0 season is another 12-0 season followed by a Big Ten title and an appearance in the BCS National Championship.
Following the Buckeyes are the Florida State Seminoles (last season’s No. 1 pick), Texas Longhorns and Oregon Ducks. Steele has selected the national champion correctly three times in the last six seasons.