The preseason rankings are out, and the Ohio State Buckeyes are officially the second-ranked team in the country heading into August.
The ranking should not come as a shock. Alabama was a shoe in to be No. 1 after winning the National Championship in 2012 and returning quarterback AJ McCarron, running back TJ Yeldon and several others. But, Ohio State appears to be ahead of the rest of the pack.
The Buckeyes return in 2013 with quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde, who combined for a combined 2241 rushing yards and 29 rushing touchdowns last season. The passing game should also be as dynamic and explosive as ever, with leading receivers Philly Brown (60 catches – 669 yards) and Devin Smith (30 catches – 618 yards) catching passes again this season. With Carlos Hyde suspended for at least the first three games in 2013, look for the passing attack to become more prominent this season.
On defense, leaders including linebacker Ryan Shazier (70 tackles in 2012) and Bradley Roby (2 interceptions, 19 pass deflections in 2012) return for a defense that gave 22.8 points per game last season. While the defense will feel the losses of sacks leader John Simon (drafted by the Baltimore Ravens) and fullback-turned-linebacker Zach Boren (50 total tackles, 1 sack in 6 games at linebacker), enough talent is returning that scoring points will not come easy against the Buckeyes.
All in all, Ohio State should be content with their preseason ranking, as it’s certainly justified after they posted a perfect 12-0 in 2012. However, they’ll need to prove themselves if they want to hold off the likes of Oregon (No. 3), Georgia (No.4), Stanford (No. 5), Texas A&M (No. 6) and others. It’s a deep, talented field this year, and the Buckeyes take take anything for granted.