ESPN.com released it’s preseason power rankings with defending national champion Alabama on top, followed by Ohio State. Earlier this month, Ohio State claimed the second spot in the USA Today/AP Coaches Poll as well. Here is ESPN writer Austin Ward’s comments on the Buckeyes.
“Urban Meyer has already made history with the Buckeyes, but not the kind that comes with a crystal football, thanks to NCAA sanctions that kept the program out of the postseason last season. Ohio State is free from those shackles now, and Meyer has traditionally done his best work in Year 2 at previous stops. His latest encore campaign is headlined by quarterback Braxton Miller, fifth-place finisher in the Heisman race last year and a truly dynamic weapon. With four senior starters on the offensive line, a deep stable of running backs and more options at wide receiver, the dangerous spread attack could help the Buckeyes overcome some defensive inexperience and do something even more memorable this year.”
Ohio State returns plenty of starters on the offensive side of the ball, including Heisman candidate Braxton Miller at quarterback, running back Carlos Hyde, wide receivers Devin Smith and Corey Brown and offensive linemen Jack Mewhort, Andrew Norwell, Corey Linsley and Marcus Hall.
The key will be the defense, and how quickly the young front seven develops. They are led by returning starters Ryan Shazier at linebacker, Bradley Roby at corner and safeties Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett. Defensive linemen Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington saw extensive time as freshmen last season.
The Buckeyes will be missing Carlos Hyde and Bradley Roby at the beginning of the season due to team discipline stemming from off the field issues.
[Related: Carlos Hyde suspended at least three games]