Southern Football Report Preseason Top 25 – Team #4




#4 – Ohio State Buckeyes
Columbus, Ohio
Ohio Stadium ‘The Horseshoe’ (102,329)
2013 Record: 12-2 (8-0)

DISCLAIMER: This article was written prior to the potentially season-ending shoulder injury to starting quarterback Braxton Miller as well as the preseason poll. Tune in to the Southern Football Report this Saturday at 10am for our thoughts on the Buckeyes with or without Miller at quarterback!

Just like Alabama, the Buckeyes were undefeated late in the season and playing extremely well until they ran into the Spartan defense in the Big Ten Championship Game and then edged by Clemson in the Orange Bowl. Head Coach Urban Meyer won his first 24 games at Ohio State but has lost his last two so I would assume the spring and summer workout program as well as the preseason practices has been all about ‘finishing’. Starting

Miller had 36 touchdowns for the Buckeyes in 2013.
Miller had 36 touchdowns for the Buckeyes in 2013.

quarterback Braxton Miller returns for his senior season in Columbus trying to finish his career with a national championship and if he has a season in 2014 like he did in 2013, the Buckeyes have a hearty chance to make the new College Football Playoff. Miller passed for 24 touchdowns compared to only 7 interceptions and over 2000 yards and rushed for over 1000 yards with 14 scores on the ground. The Buckeyes do lose start tailback Carlos Hyde who rushed for over 1500 yards last season but true sophomore Ezekiel Elliott will be expected to fill those shoes in 2014 after rushing for 5 touchdowns last season as a backup. Miller will have some talented targets to throw to in 2014 as well with senior Devin Smith and junior Corey Smith out wide. There are two wild cards on offense in 2014: sophomore Dontre Smith who converted from runningback to wide receiver in 2014 and will play a Percy Harvin-style position for Ohio State in 2014 and senior tight end Jeff Heuermann who looks and plays like Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots. If those two players end up coming on strong for the Buckeyes, opposing defenses are going to have serious matchup problems.

On defense, the Buckeyes lose their top 3 tacklers including wrecking ball

Noah Spence led Ohio State with 8 sacks in 2013.
Noah Spence led Ohio State with 8 sacks in 2013.

Ryan Shazier (143 tackles, 6 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss) and do-everything defensive back Bradley Roby (69 tackles and team-leading 4 interceptions). Even though those two players were big parts of the 2013 defense that held opponents to 22 points per game with only 4 returning players from 2012. The 2014 squad may be even better with seven starters returning including the sack tandem of Noah Spence and Joey Bosa at defensive end who make life very difficult for opposing offensive lines and quarterbacks. With that being said, Spence will be sitting out the first two games of the season serving the last two games of his three game suspension handed down by the conference for a positive test for the drug ecstasy. Where Ohio State will need to find some answers will be in the secondary where only senior Doran Grant returns from last season and will be protected by two sophomore safeties. Ohio State always has great, not good, linebackers and in 2014 the Buckeyes will have two: junior Joshua Perry and senior Curtis Grant. The front seven will need to provide pressure to protect the back end a little bit but Ohio State always has athletes on defense and head coach Urban Meyer has recruited very well since arriving in Columbus. This group will make a big jump to one of the better defensive units in the country in 2014.

Joey Bosa had a fantastic freshman season in 2013. Will he follow it with a similar 2014?
Joey Bosa had a fantastic freshman season in 2013. Will he follow it with a similar 2014?

When looking at the 2014 Ohio State schedule, nothing really jumps off the page at you until the November 8th meeting between the Buckeyes and Spartans in East Lansing but when you look a little close, their path to the playoff does have a couple roots and potholes. The opener against the Naval Academy in Baltimore is a trickier matchup than it appears with their triple option attack. The last time Ohio State opened the season with Navy was back in 2009 when the Buckeyes entered the season ranked sixth and needed a 2-point conversion return in the final three minutes to preserve the win after giving up 13 points in the final 6 minutes. Week 2 brings an energized Virginia Tech team to the Horseshoe where Ohio State is seriously putting their 35 year home opener winning streak on the line. Two weeks later in-state opponent Cincinnati visits Columbus and is looking to break a 10 game losing streak to the Buckeyes. The month of September ends with the Big Ten opener on the road against Maryland who returns 17 starters from last year, lost four quarterbacks to injury and STILL won 7 games. The month of October ends with an always interesting trip to Happy Valley to play Penn State. November 8th matchup with Michigan State is the game on the schedule everyone is pointing to as well they should be because Sparty will have two weeks to prepare as they have a bye week prior to the game. The regular season ends with the hated Wolverines in Columbus where Michigan head coach Brady Hoke could possibly be coaching for his job.

The Buckeyes have good players all over the field and year 3 under Urban Meyer was always the year that Ohio State fans pointed to as being a year to watch out for. The defense will be much better and they have been pretty good the last two seasons anyways, and the offense will continue to click with Miller at the quarterback spot. There are weapons on the outside but the offensive line has to come together quickly with two very interesting games to start the season. Depth will be an issue all season for Ohio State and they really can’t afford anyone getting hurt especially Miller or anyone in the secondary.

Ohio Stadium better known as 'The Horseshoe'
Ohio Stadium better known as ‘The Horseshoe’

Stay logged on to Sowegalive.com for Team #3 on Wednesday and tune in to the Southern Football Report every Saturday from 10am-Noon starting on August 23rd! Here is a hint for Team #3: This team didn’t get started until the late 1910’s and played only high schools for the first year.

#3 – ??????????
#4 – Ohio State Buckeyes
#5 – Alabama Crimson Tide
#6 – Auburn Tigers
#7 – Baylor Bears
#8 – Oregon Ducks
#9 – Georgia Bulldogs
#10 – Notre Dame Fighting Irish
#11 – USC Trojans
#12 – LSU Tigers
#13 – Michigan Wolverines
#14 – South Carolina Gamecocks
#15 – Ole Miss Rebels
#16 – Wisconsin Badgers
#17 – Stanford Cardinal
#18 – North Carolina Tar Heels
#19 – Florida Gators
#20 – Texas Longhorns
#21 – Iowa Hawkeyes
#22 – Arizona Wildcats
#23 – Boise State Broncos
#24 – Northwestern Wildcats
#25 – Michigan Wolverines




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