ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach Tabs Ohio State No. 1

April 29, 2013 at 12:00p    by Kyle Rowland    
65 Comments
It's good to be Urban Meyer.

Ohio State went 12-0 a season ago, is coached by one of the top minds in the game and led on the field by a dual-threat quarterback with immense talent. All of that has contributed to the hype surrounding the Buckeyes as the 2013 season approaches. ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach has Ohio State ranked No. 1 in his Way-Too-Early Preseason Top 25.

In case you haven't noticed, Urban Meyer still hasn't lost a game as Ohio State's coach. Now, here's the scary part for the rest of the Big Ten: the Buckeyes might be more talented and face a much easier schedule in 2013 than they did last season, when they went 12-0 in Meyer's first season at OSU. Yes, the Buckeyes have to replace most of their front seven on defense, but Meyer and his staff have recruited very well to rebuild that side of the ball. Sophomore defensive ends Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington look like future stars; they combined for seven sacks in OSU's spring game. Michael Bennett and Tommy Schutt emerged as potential difference-makers on the interior defensive line, and Curtis Grant and Joshua Perry look like they might be able to help at linebacker. Quarterback Braxton Miller's work with passing guru George Whitfield also seems to be paying off; he completed 16 of 25 passes for 217 yards in the spring game. Another perfect season isn't out of the question for OSU in 2013. It doesn't play Nebraska or Michigan State during the regular season and gets Wisconsin, Iowa and Penn State at home. Sure, the Buckeyes might have to defeat an SEC opponent to win a BCS National Championship, but Meyer already has proved he's capable of doing it. 


65 Comments

Comments

Triv's picture

Michigan at 9 this early seems a bit high. If they win the games they should win I could see them in the top 10 by the end of the season, but with Ryan out and Gardner largely unproven (I don't care about his stats last year he played mostly B1G bottom feeders other than OSU) I would start Michigan in the 18-20 range coming off an 8-5 season.
With that being said, 1 is probably too high for OSU. Bama has proven they are the best team in football and until they lose I think they should be #1, regardless of who they lost to the draft.

Sorry Urban, Woody is still my favorite

Urbstache's picture

Well...I am quite surprised. I think we'll have an excellent season, but Bama has earned the title of preseason no. 1.

Urban Warfare

kdizzleduzit's picture

I think Mark put OSU ahead of Bama to get a lot of comments on the article. When the true pre-season rankings come out I would be very surprised to see anyone not named Alabama in the #1 spot
 

OSU_ALUM_05's picture

Bama deserves #1.  I'd like to see the Buckeyes around the 4-5 range to start - close enough to jump into the title game if the season goes right, down enough to not have to carry the weight of the 1 or 2 ranking all season.

bukyze's picture

Starting outat 4-5 would be dangerous for us IMO.  If 2 of the other 3-4 teams ahead of us also go undefeated, we are most likely out of the national championship d/t having such a weak schedule.  It would be a lot easier to start at #2, and force us to be leapfrogged by another team, which would be tough to do.  I guess we should just worry about winning our games first, and then see where everything falls.

OSU_ALUM_05's picture

I'm putting a lot of faith in 2 assumptions (which may or may not be true):
1.  There won't be an undefeated team from the SEC; and
2.  The financial appeal of having OSU and Urban Meyer in a national title game is too much for the powers that be to resist.
I'd be comfortable starting at 3 to help with the leapfrog problem - I just don't like trying to hold one of those top 2 spots all year long.

Urbstache's picture

I think we should absolutely be 2, 3 at the lowest.

Urban Warfare

DLB1276's picture

At that point, Chip Kelly was still at Oregon. With him leaving, it made Oregon drop. Not sure why Alabama or Stanford would have dropped.

Dean's picture

Presumably he liked what he saw in the spring game - he noted the play of Grant, Spence, Washington, and Miller, which may have been enough to reassure him.

GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

There is noy way Alabama shouldn't be #1, they have their QB returning which is a huge factor in College preseason rankings, and they have owned college football for about 4 years now. I'm fine with a top 5 ranking, but until we slay the dragon, we shouldn't be ranked ahead of them.

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

buckeyedude's picture

There is noy way Alabama shouldn't be #1, they have their QB returning which is a huge factor in College preseason rankings

And AJ McCarron has his hot girlfriend, Katherine Webb, coming back for another year of cheering, and Brent Musberger oogling(Sp?).

 

 

teddyballgame's picture

I'm thinking this #1 ranking is more about who is in the best position to succeed this year, and not necessarily who is top to bottom the best team.

jeremytwoface's picture

He actually says that in the beginning of the article....

I'm not saying the Buckeyes are a better football team than the Crimson Tide; I'm saying Ohio State has an easier path to an undefeated record this coming season.

No way OSU is "better" than Bama. But I do think they can beat them.
As of right now, I say Alabama wins 6 or 7 out of 10 with the Buckeyes IMHO

The first man gets the ((((Oyster)))), the second man gets the shell.

William's picture

How so? Last year's Bama team would probably beat last year's OSU team 7-8 times out of 10, but Alabama has lost 3/5s of its O-line, two members of its D-line, and its #1 CB. Our offense is going to be miles better than theirs, and our defenses will probably be fairly equal with the amount of reloading they both underwent this offseason. I think Alabama should be #1 as well, they deserve it, but to suggest they would beat us 6-7 times out of 10 this year is laughable. 

BrewstersMillions's picture

So with an offense that should be 'miles better' and a similar defense, are you implying OSU would beat Bama more than Bama would beat OSU? I like the optimism, but I'm just not ready to make that leap yet. Bama is the unquestioned king of college football right now and they've shown no signs of slowing down. Winning 3 out of the last 4 championships shows me they are fluent in the language of the reload.

Do I come off as arrogant? Shame on me, I was hoping it would be more obvious.

William's picture

I'd be confident in saying OSU would beat them 6-7 out of 10 times this year. Last year however we would have had next to no chance.

hodge's picture

I think this whole discussion is illustrative of the uselessness of preseason polls.  The truth is that we won't be able to accurately answer that question until we're a few weeks into the season.  
That said, 'Bama's defense hasn't lost near as much as us.  And we're still completely untested in the Front Seven (aside from Shazier, of course).

BrewstersMillions's picture

Well like I said, I like the optimism and I might come around to it-at which point I'll admit I'm late to the party. I'll be interested to see how Bama fares against TAMU again this year. There is a legit concern to the unbiased analyst that Bama's defenses can be had by a QB with the improv skills of a Cam, Johnny Football or dare I say...Braxton Miller. Certainly would create an interesting strategical quandary for Saban and Smart.
 

Do I come off as arrogant? Shame on me, I was hoping it would be more obvious.

Hello_Heisman's picture

I don't think that's laughable at all - no matter what strides OSU makes this year, it's still likely that Alabama will be the superior team if the two meet up on the field.  I remember some of my fellow Michigan fans trying to convince me last year that Alabama was potentially vulnerable because they had to replace so many starters on defense from the 2011 NC team as well as Trent Richardson.  One NC season later, I think we can safely conclude that Alabama is pretty good at replacing top talent without having its on-the-field performance suffer.
Also, I'm not sure why you think OSU's offense will be "miles" better than Alabama's.  Bama has a QB entering his 3rd year as the starter on a team that is loaded with talent at all the skill positions.  Their offense had no problem rolling up points on most of their opponents last year, so why would you expect anything different this year? 
With the way Alabama's program is running at the moment, I would take them to beat any team in the country 6-7 times out of 10, OSU included.

60% of the time it works.....every time

Grayskullsession's picture

LOL at TSUN being #9. Mark is drinking that "Sun" and Blue kool-aid for sure.

"if irony were made of strawberries, we' d all be drinking a lot of smoothies right now."

Hello_Heisman's picture

Michigan at #9 is no more of a reach than OSU being #1.  They should both probably be lower to start off. 

60% of the time it works.....every time

Grayskullsession's picture

I can agree with this.

"if irony were made of strawberries, we' d all be drinking a lot of smoothies right now."

AllDay028's picture

It's definitely more of a reach. Both are reaches. But we are probably #3 at worst. Michigan is probably borderline top 25 at worst.

Triv's picture

While I agree OSU at #1 is a reach, it's probable only 1 to 2 places off where they should be. Based on last season and who they'll have returning, I don't think UM should be any higher than 18-20. So I think many non-OSU/UM fans would agree that UM at 9 is more of a reach than OSU at 1. EVERYONE has OSU has a top 5, maybe even top 3 team. I'd bet less people have UM as a top 10

Sorry Urban, Woody is still my favorite

Hello_Heisman's picture

To be honest, pre-season rankings don't really matter that much to me.  Michigan was ranked #9 or 10 to start the season last year, and that didn't really do them much good.  I have no idea where OSU was ranked at the start of last year, but clearly that starting position wouldn't have stopped them from ending up in the Top 2 last year had they been bowl eligible. 
Teams like Michigan and OSU have so much national appeal, and so much pull with the poll voters, that when either team has a strong season they will likely end up near the top of the rankings no matter how far down they started.  You say that Michigan should be #18-20 while I say they should be #12-15?  Won't matter in the end.  If Michigan runs the table, they'll probably end up #1 or #2.  And if they lose 4 games, they'll probably end up #20.  Same thing goes for OSU.

60% of the time it works.....every time

Triv's picture

Very true, pre-season rankings mean absolutely nothing, and this conversation is pointless essentially. If UM and OSU both win the games they should win and avoid big injuries (specifically Braxton/Gardner) then its realistic that both teams could be undefeated going into The Game (which would lead to one hell of a rematch in The Game part 2 in the B1G championship). Although I'll be the first to admit OSU's path is much easier to being 11-0 entering The Game

Sorry Urban, Woody is still my favorite

Hello_Heisman's picture

I think OSU will be either 11-0 or 10-1 heading into The Game and Michigan will be 9-2, assuming each gets a full, healthy year out of Miller and Gardner.  If that's the case and Michigan is able to beat OSU, I won't give two shits about where Michigan is ranked before, during or after that game. 

60% of the time it works.....every time

BED's picture

Louisville at 4? What?  They play NO ONE.

The Ohio State University, College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2006
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Class of 2009

Hello_Heisman's picture

I don't think you should make that argument given OSU's schedule this coming year.  For a team that plays no one, Louisville sure looked ok playing against Florida last year.

60% of the time it works.....every time

BED's picture

Florida wasn't that good last year (nor were the other SEC teams not named Alabama).  OSU at least plays Michigan, Penn State, and Wisconsin.  The Big lEast is a joke.  What's UL's toughest game?  Kentucky?  We are also playing Cal and had Vandy on the schedule till they backed out (same OOC strength as UK).

That's not to say I don't think they have a good shot at going undefeated.  But you shouldn't reward a cupcake schedule with a Title berth.  Same reason TCU, Boise, etc. didn't belong.

The Ohio State University, College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2006
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Class of 2009

Hello_Heisman's picture

Florida was a Top 5 team last year and was better than every team OSU played on their schedule, including Michigan.  I think Louisville has every right to be in the discussion early on based on last year's performance.

60% of the time it works.....every time

BED's picture

Top 5 because of SEC bias.  The drop off from Alabama is ridiculous, but the sports media and coaches can't get out of the "ERMAGERD SEC IS SO GOOD YOU GUYS" meme.  SCAR, UF, UGA, LSU, A&M were middle of the road to good teams last year, but not elite.  Wisconsin, Penn State, Sparty, Nebraska, and (even) Michigan were about on the same level as those teams last year.  And Florida was the weakest of the bunch, but they (and others) only had one regular season loss, so the high ranking at the end is almost de facto.

The Ohio State University, College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2006
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Class of 2009

CincyOSU's picture

The middle of the road SEC teams you listed were still better that the middle of the road B10 schools. Georgia and SC beat Nebraska and UM(by a lot wider margin than the scores show) and I'm not sure how you can put a 6 loss Wisconsin in that same category. Florida was definitely overrated, but only because they had a junior high offense...their defense was VERY good.
There's no denying there is a pronounced SEC bias across sports media, esp with regards to pre-season rankings, but but lets not fool ourselves into thinking the league is not the top dog by a wide margin.

Hello_Heisman's picture

For the two people who down voted this, can you please let me know which team on OSU's 2012 schedule was better than the 2012 Florida team? 
I'm also enjoying the hypocrisy of reading some of you guys complain about SEC bias while you blatantly dismiss Louisville in the same breath simply because they don't play in a conference as great and almighty as the B1G. 

60% of the time it works.....every time

lljjgg's picture

I have to say, I'm actually with Hello_Heisman on this one. If only for the fact that I read the same arguments people are using against Louisville here used against OSU everytime I have the misfortune of being around a group of SEC fans. i.e. They're not that good, they didn't beat anyone, they play in a terrible conference, etc. 

When Teddy Bridgewater and Louisville's offense are clicking? They're downright scary. They most certainly pass the eye-test with me. Their defense is pretty awful at times, though. But a great offense can keep you in a game with anyone. That Florida offense last year was a joke, but Bridgewater absolutely shredded what was an excellent defense over and over and over again. 

Hello_Heisman's picture

I agree. They passed the eye test with me as well. If I was an opposing defensive coordinator, I wouldn't want to have to game plan against Louisville's offense.

60% of the time it works.....every time

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Florida struggled to beat BG, and Louisiana–Lafayette. I wouldn't exactly call them "elite" last year.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

Hello_Heisman's picture

Buckeyesvstheworld - I don't think you want to play the "margin of victory" game.  OSU needed a miracle comeback to beat Purdue at home and barely beat a Cal team at home that finished with a losing record.  Does that mean OSU wasn't "elite" either, despite their perfect record?

60% of the time it works.....every time

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Those Cal and Purdue teams had much more talent than the teams the Gators struggled against. That's not even debatable.

Another fact you left out is Hyde did not play against Cal.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

Hello_Heisman's picture

You're splitting hairs. Cal and Purdue were still terrible last year. And while Hyde is definitely a good RB, are you telling me his absence justifies OSU barely winning at home against a team that went 3-9 last year? Just give some credit to Florida for being a very good team last year and call it a day.

60% of the time it works.....every time

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Hardly. You can't compare struggling with MAC, and Sun Belt teams to BCS schools.

Florida was good. Top 5 good? Absolutely not.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

avail31678's picture

Agreed BuckeyeVSTheWorld....Florida had a top-5 D.  But a 100-something ranked offense.  Those two don't add up to a top-5 team to me. 
But I still think it's noteworthy that Lousiville handled them. 

Run_Fido_Run's picture

If Ohio State were playing Michigan's schedule this year, we'd say that they were playing no one + ND.
Because Michigan is playing Michigan's schedule, though, it looks like a tough schedule . . . for them. It's especially tough for them that have to play Ohio State. 

BME_Buckeye's picture

But but but Michigan is in the Legends so that counts for something in addition to their instate rivalry with Michigan State. We all know, Legends > Leaders. 
 

Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you will actually see.

 

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

I love your post, RFR.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

avail31678's picture

But they did beat Florida handily, which had the #5 D in the country last year.  Coming off a BCS victory, returning a Heisman hopeful QB?  Sounds like a top-10 ranking is warranted to me, based on that alone (don't know how many starters they lost).  Plus they added some offensive guys. 
Top-5 though?  Not sure.  Even the article admits they might not be the actual  4th best team in the country based on talent/depth, but that they have a cupcake schedule.  Seems these teams are being ranked by likelihood of going far based on schedule, not just actual team strength.

BED's picture

Fair. Top 10, for want of other options.  I don't think Oregon's going to have a good season either, to be fair.

The Ohio State University, College of Arts & Sciences, Class of 2006
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Class of 2009

tennbuckeye19's picture

Let's face it, early preseason rankings are message board fodder and a chance for a writer to get page views. Alabama is replacing a lot from last year's team, but it's Alabama. They have guys who are as good if not better than those who left waiting in the wings who only lack experience. They should be #1 in any pre-season poll right now. Putting OSU #1 was a brilliant move for Schlabach, whether he actually believes they should be there or not. And the beauty of it is that it dosen't matter. He'll get a ton of page views and thousands of comments. Considering Schlabach's comments, OSU does have a golden opportunity to succeed this year with their schedule. They have an easier path than Alabama to the NCG.

David Sokol's picture

#2 is the perfect spot for the Buckeyes. If anyone can give me a team that should be ranked ahead of OSU besides Alabama....

d1145fresh's picture

It depends on what criteria you are using to make your top 25. While I think Alabama should be #1 I think it will be harder for them to run the table this year than Ohio State (who I would put at 2/3). If you are trying to make your top 25 the best teams I would go Bama/OSU if you are trying to predict who will be #1 at the end of the season I would say Ohio State has the best chance of that. 

Ahh Saturday's picture

OSU lost their front four.  Bama lost three starters off the OL, including two first rounders and the heart of their O-line in the third. Who you pick between OSU and Bama as #1 depends on who you think can replace those positions with more game-ready talent. Given Bama's recent success, it is hard to bet against them.

William's picture

For what it's worth, I'd say replacing O-line is a Hell of a lot harder to do than D-line.

bucknutz18's picture

Agreed.  Plus by conference play I am willing to predict our front 7 is equal to, if not better than what we put out on the field last year.

Hovenaut's picture

More ESPiN propaganda.
But I can deal with it.
 

I am not very smart, but I recognize that I am not very smart.

Unky Buck's picture

Considering the homer that Mark is for the SEC and his typical disdain for OSU, I am really surprised he put us #1. It doesn't really mean anything, though. It's one guy's opinion and when the real polls come out Bama will be #1, as they should be.

...

jthiel09's picture

I'd rather work to obtain the #1 ranking as the season rolls along rather than try to stay atop the entire season. That's a lot of pressure on young guys week in and week out, and coaches too.

JT

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

#1...wow...that's pretty bold.  I was completely good with being #2...being the underdog going into a title game showdown with the SEC school that practically gets an auto-bid.

Class of 2010.

rkylet83's picture

This just in....Mark Schlabach fired by ESPN.

raki's picture

Going Undefeated two times in two years would be really challenging for us. I am not sure if we can do this, you can call me a Pessimistic. But just thinking about it that how many things can go wrong in the season or how many breaks we need just to go a 13 -0 again this year with pretty much the entire new defensive line looks like a challenging proposition.  I hope we can achieve this with all the expectation.

Crimson's picture

I'll go ahead and call you a pessimist.
I'm more worried about the LBs than the D line.

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

M*chigan, and Louisville should not be head of Clemson.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

Deadly Nuts's picture

Again, I think Bama is better than us but remember back in 2002-2003...
That Miami team was also coming off a title and was declared "The Best Ever" and we beat em'...
Another example....
The 2006-2007 title Ohio State vs. Florida... We were heavy favorites and BOOM!!! We overlooked them and we got killed.
My point is that anything can happen to anyone...

LEBRON

chitown buckeye's picture

Yes!!!!!!!
/starts to pick out place on wall for framed championship newspaper

"I'm having a heart attack!"