Phil Steele on Ohio State and the 2013 Season

By Kyle Rowland on July 9, 2013 at 9:30a
59 Comments

There are those that know a lot about college football, and then there's Phil Steele. For more than a decade, Steele has been the top prognosticator in the country and his annual college football preview is an offseason milestone trusted by fans and analysts alike.

There won’t be much for Ohio State fans to dislike when they read Steele’s 2013 picks. He has the Buckeyes lined up for a clash with Alabama in the BCS National Championship and thinks Braxton Miller might be in store for a huge December night in the Big Apple.

But in a recent chat with Eleven Warriors, Steele also elaborated on where Ohio State fits in against the SEC’s heavyweights, what programs are on the rise and decline in the Big Ten and which games present traps for the Buckeyes’ national championship hopes.

Eleven Warriors: Aside from Urban Meyer and Braxton Miller, why do you view Ohio State as a national title contender?

Phil Steele: On offense, the Buckeyes have eight other returning starters besides Miller from an offense that averaged 37.2 points per game last year. The running backs are deep led by Carlos Hyde, the wide receivers are much improved and have better depth, and I rate their offensive line as the seventh-best in the country.

On defense, naturally, the major question mark is on the defensive line. But I love the replacements, and by the end of the year, it could be one of the better D-lines in the country. They have a first team All-American at linebacker (Ryan Shazier) and a first team All-American at cornerback (Bradley Roby) in the back seven. The schedule sets up nicely, as they will be favored in all 12 of their games.

11W: What do you think about Braxton Miller’s chances of winning of the Heisman Trophy?

PS: He is my pick to win the Heisman Trophy this year, so I think they are very good. If he improves his passing numbers from last year’s 2,039 yards, 58 percent completion percentage and 15-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio to something like 2,500 yards, 60-plus percent and a 20-5 ratio while rushing for more than 1,000 yards again, the trophy should be his provided the Buckeyes are in the mix for the national title, which I think they will be.

11W: What games on Ohio State’s schedule could be potential slipups?

PS: Their three toughest games on the season are a home game against Wisconsin, a road trip to Northwestern the following week and, of course, the rivalry game on the road at Michigan in the finale. However, the Buckeyes will be favored and currently are favored in all three of those games by six points or more.

11W: How leery should Buckeye fans be of Ohio State’s September trip to Cal, where OSU faces the Sonny Dykes-coached Golden Bears? His offenses have garnered plenty of attention in recent seasons.

PS: It is a dangerous trip as evidenced by OSU’s close call with the Bears last year at home. Cal is only off a 3-9 season and only returns 11 starters and will be adjusting to new systems and schemes. They should get improved play at the QB spot and the offense will perform much better than last year’s team that averaged just 23 points per game and 391 yards per game. Defensively, they are also improved but have a ways to go to improve after allowing 33 points per game and 441 yards per game last year. Last year’s close game should mean the Bears will have the Buckeyes’ full attention.

WANT.
Saturdays for Steele.

11W: What under-the-radar team in the Big Ten do you think could surprise people this season?

PS: There are a couple of candidates, but I will go with Michigan State, who was just 3-5 in the Big Ten last year. Most analysts are picking them third or fourth in their division, but I have them tied for first with Nebraska. Their five conference losses were by a total of 13 points last year, and they avoid the Top 3 teams out of the Leaders Division this year in OSU, Wisconsin and Penn State. They again have the best defense in the Big Ten and should get better quarterback play.

11W: Is there a game on Ohio State’s schedule against a “lesser opponent” that piques your interest? It seems like even the best teams have shockingly close calls year-in and year-out.

PS: Tough call here as I have the Buckeyes winning most of their games comfortably. San Diego State has been to back-to-back bowl games and head coach Rocky Long usually fields a tough defense that could keep the game interesting. Iowa is much improved this year, but the Buckeyes have a bye to prepare. Indiana gave the Buckeyes fits last year, and I am calling for them to make a bowl this year for only the second time in 20 years. With the IU game coming right before Michigan, that could be another closer than expected game.

11W: You list Buffalo as one of the most improved teams for 2013. It would still take a Herculean effort for the Bulls to beat Ohio State in the season opener, but what kind of team will the Buckeyes get on Aug. 31?

PS: The Bulls have slowly improved under head coach Jeff Quinn from two wins, to three, to four last year, and this year return 17 starters. They have one of the best linebackers in the country in Khalil Mack and they get an outstanding running back to health in Branden Oliver. It is a team that last year lost to UConn by seven and Pitt by 14 and also gave Georgia fits before losing by 22. Overall, it is a team that will probably win six or seven games this year and are a mid-level MAC team that the Buckeyes should still beat by at least three touchdowns even with a flat performance.

“I actually think they will be better than most expect led by defensive ends Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence, who both got some action last year and were monsters in the spring.”

11W: What unit on Ohio State do you think could have an exemplary season that people aren’t mentioning?

PS: For the first time in 28 years, OSU has to replace all four defensive line starters, but I actually think they will be better than most expect led by defensive ends Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence, who both got some action last year and were monsters in the spring. They also have some nice young talent at defensive tackle and by the end of the year will be one of the better D-lines in the country.

11W: What is your impression of the Big Ten – is this the year the conference gets some respectability back?

PS: I do think this will be a great year for the Big Ten, and it starts with scheduling as many of the top teams from the opposite divisions avoid one another unlike past years. OSU, unlike last year, does not play Nebraska or Michigan State out of the Legends and Wisconsin also does not play Nebraska, Michigan State or Michigan. Overall, you could see the Big Ten with at least five teams win nine or more games this year.

11W: What player(s) not named Braxton Miller is the X-factor for the Buckeyes? Jordan Hall is mentioned quite frequently on offense, while the linebackers minus Ryan Shazier get attention on the defensive side.

PS: I think Devin Smith or Corey Brown, or even one of the incoming true frosh, could have a breakout season on the offensive side, and on the defense linebacker Curtis Grant along with Washington and Spence could be in store for All-Big Ten seasons.

11W: You predict an Alabama-Ohio State national title game with the Crimson Tide as the victor. Would that clash involve another SEC blowout, or do the Buckeyes have what it takes to hang with Alabama?

PS: I think the game would be closer than the last couple of title games due to the fact the Buckeyes have an X-Factor with Miller at quarterback and Meyer has national title game experience. However, Alabama has been so dominant in each of their last three bowl games (112-21 combined score) against three very good teams and clearly you give Saban extra time to prepare. He has become almost unbeatable. I am also not sure that the Buckeyes have enough weapons outside of Miller on offense or enough experience on the front seven on defense to have the game go down to the final possession in the fourth quarter.

11W: The SEC’s seven-year reign has centered on strong offensive and defensive line play. Urban Meyer has been part of that. Do you think Ohio State has reached a new level with the play of both lines?

PS: I think the offensive line will be among the elite this year with 81 career starts returning. Naturally, Meyer identified the D-line early in the recruiting process last year and I think it will really pay off come next year as they could easily have the best defensive line in the country in 2014.     

11W: How vital is Bradley Roby’s play to Ohio State’s title hopes?

PS: Outside of Miller and possibly Shazier, I think Roby is the most important player on the team. Having a lockdown corner, especially when you have a young D-line will certainly help and it will allow OSU’s experienced safeties to get closer to the line of scrimmage to help in run support.

11W: What are your thoughts on the future of college football, and in particular the looming playoff?

PS: I like the four-team playoff format as I had been calling for in my College Football Preview magazine for each of the past 13 years. I like the fact that they signed a deal to keep it at four teams for a long time, and I would prefer it always stay at four teams as I think expanding it to eight or 16 teams would devaluate the regular season which makes college football the best sport in the world.

“I think expanding it to eight or 16 teams would devaluate the regular season which makes college football the best sport in the world.”

11W: Who do you think is the unsung hero on the 2013 version of Ohio State?

PS: Tough call here, but I will go with the O-line unit as a whole, as they have to keep Miller healthy while also paving the way for a ground attack that could give their young D-line on the opposite side a break.

11W: Wisconsin is the Big Ten’s three-time defending champion. But a drop off is expected. Which direction do you see the Badgers' future trending?

PS: I don’t necessarily agree that a drop off is expected, at least not by me. First of all, this year they have 14 returning starters, will get better QB play and have a solid 1-2 punch at running back while fielding a typical strong Wisconsin offensive line. On the defensive line, they are switching schemes to a 3-4, but have an All-American in the middle with linebacker Chris Borland.

They have the best schedule in the Big Ten this year, avoiding Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska while also getting Penn State and Northwestern at home. I think they win 10 games this year. As far as the future goes, I like the Andersen hire. His Utah State team last year nearly went into Madison and beat the Badgers, and his Aggie teams were always very physical, which should match the style of play the Badgers have had for the last 20 years.

11W: Most thought Penn State’s downward spiral would begin a year ago, and it looked that way after an 0-2 start, but they rebounded with an outstanding season. Is 2013 the season when the effects from the bowl ban and scholarship reductions hit?

PS: I don’t think it will start until next year. This year’s team is much more experienced than last year’s team with 14 returning starters (only six last year), and as long as they get decent quarterback play, which should be a given after Bill O’Brien turned former walk-on Matt McGloin into an All-Conference player last year, the Lions will at minimum match last year’s eight wins and could even top it.

11W: It’s a new era at Michigan. Denard Robinson is gone after what seemed like a 30-year career. Will Devin Gardner continue the Wolverines’ rejuvenation under Brady Hoke? Will we see the first Ohio State-Michigan Big Ten championship game?

PS: I think the offense will be better with Gardner under center and you saw that at the end of last year. Al Borges now can implement the pro-style offense they wanted to run from the beginning. Gardner has some decent talent surrounding him and it really helped that left tackle Taylor Lewan returned for another year. On defense, the possible loss of linebacker Jake Ryan for the year really hurts as they were inexperienced to begin with.

While my talent ratings call Michigan the second best team in the Big Ten behind the Buckeyes, their schedule is brutal. Road games at Penn State, Michigan State and Northwestern along with home games versus Nebraska and Ohio State will probably knock them out of playing the Buckeyes in a Big Ten championship game in a rematch.


Many thanks to Phil for his time.

59 Comments

Comments

hodge's picture

"I like the fact that they signed a deal to keep it at four teams for a long time, and I would prefer it always stay at four teams as I think expanding it to eight or 16 teams would devaluate the regular season which makes college football the best sport in the world."

I think this is spot-on.  I've always liked the idea of an NFL-style six game playoff (with first round byes), but I think that a four team playoff will normally allow the "elite" (read: deserving) teams of the season to duke it out, while maintaining the "every game matters" mantra that makes the sport's regular season second to none.  An eight team scenario starts to kill the excitement and drama that's rife within college football's regular season.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

I agree. Not only does a four team playoff preserve the value/importance of the regular season; it also strikes the right competitive balance. 
A four-team system provides just enough of an opening to the occasional non-elite program - e.g. Utah 2004, Boise/Louisville 2006, Utah 2008, Cincinnati 2009, TCU 2010. Actually, those teams (with the exception of TCU in 2010) would not have made it in a four team playoff in prior years, but I see sort of a convergence between the four team playoff and public/media-acceptance of non-elite teams getting ranked at/near the top.
On the other, a four-team playoff would keep the likes of Hawaii 2007 out, which is also appropriate.

TMac's picture

I love that we are going to a true playoff.  It will be interesting to see who teams 5-8 are over the coming years, and how a good an argument they can collectively make for future inclusion.  There will always be a conversation about who should be 4 vrs 5 (in vrs out) but if 6,7 & 8 can make legitimate arguments about being in that conversation then we'll see expansion.
Plus there will be sooooo much money. 

hodge's picture

See, I get the feeling that normally the #3 and #4 teams aren't going to be in the same league as #1 and #2; but there's enough occasions where one or two of them are that it's worth expanding the field into 4 teams--besides, who wouldn't love a Herculean mid-major upset of the #1 team in the semifinal?  Rarely do we see 5-8 teams all in a logjam at the top, and more often than not there's only 1-3 real "elite" teams that deserve a shot at the title.  I think 4's the sweet spot, then, since it'll normally allow the absolute best teams in, along with maybe one "wild card" team that bloomed late.
I'd much rather see homefield semifinals than an expanded field.

TMac's picture

I don't disagree; especially with home field being included and an incentive for the higher ranking. Generally 2-3 teams separate themselves from the rest, but as 4 teams is already beyond that threshold, I think $ will eventually push it to 8 teams if not 16. (They already play 32 team playoffs at lower divisions)

hodge's picture

I agree that it's a definite possibility.  I'm just holding out hope that the policy-makers understand that devaluing the regular season is robbing Peter to pay Paul: increased playoff participation means a lessened emphasis on (and duration of) the regular season.  The regular season creates the drama that makes its championship so exciting, and diluting that means sacrificing the narrative for the conclusion--which in itself might devalue the product as a whole.  With college football's already-short season, I think the results could be disastrous. 
Eight teams probably wouldn't hurt the regular season too terribly bad (though I'm by no means a fan), but sixteen would be a real problem.

Catch 5's picture

See, I get the feeling that normally the #3 and #4 teams aren't going to be in the same league as #1 and #2; but there's enough occasions where one or two of them are that it's worth expanding the field into 4 teams

Exactly!  The championship "playoff" should only be open to teams that have shown themselves worthy of being #1 in the regular season.  The minute we feel sorry for the #5 team for getting left out when they are as good as the #4 team that didn't (but no where as good as the other 3), we lose sight of the purpose of college football's post-season and the slide toward a 32 team playoff begins.  College football is better than every other sport because of the passion and the importance of the regular season.  A full playoff cheapens that and I'm against it. 
I agree with Steele that 4 is the right number.  I can't recall a year where more than 4 teams had a reasonable claim to the top spot in CFB so as long as we can keep it there, we will maintain our beloved sport.

Make their asses quit! - Nick Saban

CC's picture

Hodge, I completely agree.  The talk of going to 8 is scary because it devalues the season.  Sure it's tough when you loose a game and the season is all but over but it's what makes winning late at Purdue exciting.
My argument to teams 5-8 is simply that they should have had a better regular season.  In many of the BCS seasons we've had 1 (or 2) loss teams in the championship.  The goal of the BCS was to get #1 vs. #2 and it succeeded in doing so.  I don't really think #1 should have to play 8, 4 and 2 to win the championship when they already had a better season going in.
It's the USC argument from the mid 2000's... don't lose to a 2-10 Stanford team and you won't need to make an argument.

Qujo's picture

I think the media will blow this up as well. The BCS while not perfect attempted to bring the two best teams together. Human vote, strength of schedule, computers. It tried. But it wasn't good enough for everyone's opinion. IMO kiss the 4 team playoff goodbye in a few years. Everyone will be bitching like the little bitches they are about how team # 5 didn't make it in. So it will go to eight and the kiss the regular season goodbye. "Just like Div II you will hear... Haha... Our lovely best sport environment will be at the mercy of Matt Hayes and " the death of the BCS" moron wetzel. The sport we have known that we all love will not be the same for your kids nor your grandkids. They will wonder what all the hub-bub was about. Dotting the I? What the hell was that?

"Tough times don't last, tough people do" - Gregory Peck

ScarletGray43157's picture

Eight teams would make for a seven game playoff, including the championship game, and could be done in three weeks, or four weeks if there was a two-week runup for the title game like there is for the Super Bowl.  I disagree that excitement would be diminished, and I believe that the opposite would be true, simply because more teams would have a chance to get hot in the playoffs and make a run for the title.  Every regular season game would still matter just as much as before, but the possibility of getting in the playoffs would just add more meaning if there were eight slots open.  I don't know if we'll ever see more than a four team, three game playoff or not, but I still believe that it would be great stuff and only enhance college football.  

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

hodge's picture

I guess my issue lies in that it gives "unworthy" teams the chance to compete for the ultimate prize: which is heresy in my book.  College football is unique among the landscape of American sports in that it rewards perfection: a singular loss can sink your squad's championship aspirations--as such, its regular season is imbued with a level of drama that's unmatched in the whole of athletics.  When you start to raise that cutoff (which, in my opinion, is anything past six teams), you're allowing in teams that are wholly undeserving of a championship a chance to attain one--effectively cheapening that trademark drama that permeates the season.  Think about it: would The Game be quite as epic if both teams were guaranteed a spot in the playoff (i.e. meeting undefeated, with no chance that a loser drops below #8), regardless of who won?
For me, at least, there's a romantic thing about college football: while every other popular American sport rewards teams that get hot at the end, college football's championship is based upon a team's complete body of work--there's no real way to "back in" to a four team playoff in a 120-team field.  Yet, strange as it may seem, I think that when that field extends to eight, we start to descend into that territory.
You are right that it would be great television, but we all know what March Madness has done to college basketball's regular season.  Admittedly, my comparison is hyperbolic, but it would start the sport down that path.

chitown buckeye's picture

I'm in agreement for the most part with everything you have stated. I like the 4 team system to start but I am not necessarily sold that its better than an 8 team playoff.
I guess my one issue is with the statement of "it gives unworthy teams the chance to compete..."  When "worthy" and "unworthy" is opinionated by who you talk to, what part of the country your from, conference perception, etc... Without teams playing similar schedules there is no true formula to determine who is "worthy" or "unworthy."  Obviously, records play a huge role in determining "worthy" teams but as in any sport a team can get hot and start "clicking." It wouldn't surprise me in the least if a 5,6,7,8 seed would consistently make a run in a playoff format. I would hate to throw these teams out of an exciting playoff simply because a team who is undefeated in a weaker conference gets the invite or biased committees keep them out. I think more times than not teams 4-8 would be closer than what you think in terms of their resume for an invite to the playoff. Teams 1-3 wouldn't be locks for a first round victory either.

"I'm having a heart attack!"

Catch 5's picture

Yes, you would add excitement during the 3-week playoff - at the expense of the 12-week season. 

...because more teams would have a chance to get hot in the playoffs and make a run for the title.  Every regular season game would still matter just as much as before...

Do you not see your contradiction?  By allowing a team to get hot at the end of the season, you have just excluded the beginning of the season.  Being the best in college football is the evaluation of a whole season, not just how you end it - that is why it is better than the NFL (in my opinion).  There is no option for an 8-4 team to beat a 13-0 team and be declared the champion.  The regular season is the battlefield, not the proving grounds.

Make their asses quit! - Nick Saban

hodge's picture

"The regular season is the battlefield, not the proving grounds."

Best way I've seen this articulated.  Bravo.

chitown buckeye's picture

But surely the team that runs the Gauntlet of the playoff is deserving of something? If you are a top 8 team, you didnt exactly have a bad year. 1,2,3 losses? If you win 3 games in a row verse top 8 opponents I think you can hold your head high as the champion.

"I'm having a heart attack!"

hodge's picture

No question that it's quite a feat for a 5-8 seed team to run that kind of gauntlet, I just don't believe they should be competing for the title.  I think that, on most occasions, the top 3-4 teams have distinguished themselves from the 4-5 behind them--either by running the table in a weaker conference or only losing one game (on rare occasion two) to a strong opponent.  I like how college football doesn't reward streakiness--you have to be dominant all year.
As great as that 2005 Buckeye squad was at the end of the season, I'm glad they didn't have a shot at the title--even though they could've won.  They were ranked #6 in the BCS after The Game and probably could have made an epic run in a playoff.  Yet, in doing so they'd have had to knock off both Penn State and Texas--teams that had beaten them earlier in the season, teams that they didn't deserve a second chance against for all the marbles.  Don't get me wrong, I'd have been stoked had we been in that position, but it wouldn't have felt as "pure" and would've been comparably hollow when viewed against that 2002 season: we weren't elite--at least our record didn't show it--we'd squandered chances to beat those "elite" teams of that season.  It sucks, but it's reality.  College football rewards perfection, and we were not that in 2005.
*EDIT: Apparently, we were ranked #4 in the BCS after the conference championships, but it is worth noting that we'd have been at risk of being passed in favor of a 10-1 Oregon squad ranked #5

Catch 5's picture

But surely the team that runs the Gauntlet of the playoff is deserving of something?

Sure.  The NY Giants were Super Bowl Champs in 2007, but you will never convince me (or very many people at all) that they were the best team in the NFL.  I like it that college football seeks the best team, not the one that gets hot at the end.
If you included every team that COULD win in a playoff, you would need a minimum of 24 teams - at which time making the playoff is not that difficult for the top teams, and preserving players becomes a much higher priority than winning late in the season.  How will you feel when an undefeated OSU team loses to an 8-3 Michigan squad because all the starters got pulled before halftime?  Don't think that would happen?  Only because your experience with college football is one where every game counts - ask Peyton Manning and the Indy Colts (2008 year?) when they could have been undefeated except they already had the playoffs wrapped up so they sat the last couple of games.

Make their asses quit! - Nick Saban

chitown buckeye's picture

I am in agreement with everything you stated and I'm not trying to advocate putting every team in who could win a playoff. I'm stating that I want to make sure the best team gets into the playoff. Does 4 teams guarantee the best team gets into the playoff or is there a scenario where the best team possibly gets left out in a 4 team playoff? To me an undefeated record doesn't mean "best" team because everyone is playing different levels of opponents.
As an example, last year in a 2 team BCS system would the best team have been in the championship game had OSU not been penalized? ND/OSU would have played because they were both undefeated, but were they the best team? I think last season Alabama would have beat both teams 8 out of 10 times. My point being is there a chance a scenario like that could happen in a 4 team playoff? ie. ND, OSU, Boise go undefeated. Bama loses to a 1 loss Florida team in the SEC Championship. Now you have Bama and Florida with 1 loss a piece. Who gets in, who is left out? Bama? Florida? Boise? OSU? ND? Now given, a scenario like this wont happen often, if ever but to me if it could happen then there is a flaw in the system.
If we are trying to find the "best" team, records are only part of the equation due to the inconsistency in the strength of every teams schedule. I feel as if an 8 team playoff guarantees the "best" team gets in the playoff. I can except whoever wins the playoff from that point on. If the 8 seed isnt worthy of being there it will show in the playoff. I am fine with having them get an unworthy chance if it means teams 5 and 6 are definitely worthy

"I'm having a heart attack!"

pjtobin's picture

Very interesting. This dude knows his stuff. Time will tell if he is right about it all. But I can't argue any of his points. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

OldColumbusTown's picture

Good stuff.  I always enjoy Phil's analysis because it is his own work/thoughts, not just something he is regurgitating from other analysts and talking heads.
I pretty much agree with most all of what he said, which I'm sure the majority here would say as well.  That right there points out the fact he is as clued in on every team in the country as he possibly can be.
Looking forward to this season.  Is it August yet?!?!

OSUStu's picture

If he improves his passing numbers from last year’s 2,039 yards, 58 percent completion percentage and 15-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio to something like 2,500 yards, 60-plus percent and a 20-5 ratio while rushing for more than 1,000 yards again, the trophy should be his provided the Buckeyes are in the mix for the national title...

Isn't most of this almost a given if Braxton is healthy all season?  Knock on wood.
 

If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.  ~ Bruce Lee

avail31678's picture

I think his passing will improve.  But with Hyde, and Hall returning, and all the new offensive weapons we have coming in, I foresee Braxton running less and (maybe) not getting 1,000 yards rushing again.  We shall see, though.

OSUStu's picture

I agree.  I think that is the piece that is not quite a given...that and the national title race, obviously.

If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.  ~ Bruce Lee

rdubs's picture

Well the extra games will help with additional yards, but I don't think it is a given at all.  He has been working on his footwork a lot, but killing old habits is hard to do in a game setting.  Also I think our offense is more diverse this year, so it is likelier that he will get over 2500 yards passing than 1000 yards rushing in my opinion.  Frankly if he just cuts down turnovers (and unneeded sacks), the rest of the offense may take care of scoring the touchdowns for him.

avail31678's picture

Great, awesome interview.  Thanks Phil and Kyle!!  Great insights, and not just about the Buckeyes.
@Hodge:  I agree. It's so much less exciting when two top-10 teams meet if either or both of them can lose and still likely be "in."  The Do or Die games make college football so exciting week in and week out. 
 

ToTheHouse's picture

Thanks for the "Steele Preview" Kyle...always great to hear from outside the box, what's their take inside.
Now this isn't meant to be a negative, but reality says...o.k. NC here we come...but let's always remember, "barring INJURY"...SHHHH....don't mention that EVER! But this Coach has got to much experience to not be ready with plan b,c, n d if necessary...Steven Collier, J.T. Barrett, the future isn't here yet. So Cardale, so Kenny...so Brax...SO Urb ? 
Kyle, Steele didn't get asked this...So Warriors...what ya think ?
 
 

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Kyle - excellent interview with Phil Steele!
Steele's prediction for Michigan is right in line with mine. In 2011, Michigan was an 8-5 team with an 11-2 schedule. This year, they're an 11-2 team with a 9-4 schedule. I see Michigan finishing no better than 3rd in their division, but they'll be tough to handle in the Outback Bowl.

Buckabroad's picture

Excellent interview. Thank you very much!

"The minute we stop expecting greatness, we become Wisconsin."

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

Phil Steele - no asskissing, no narrative - just tells it how he sees it.  I love it.  That said, he did predict Alabama to beat OSU for the title.  I tell you what, though...imagine if those two teams end up having to meet in the championship game.  You know that for weeks, all we'll hear about is how great Alabama and the SEC are, and how our Buckeyes have little or no chance to take them down.  OSU has been there before (see 2002), and Urban has been there before with Florida (see 2006).  I can only imagine what Urban will do with all of that noise.  I imagine we'd have one very pissed off team taking the field in Pasadena on that night. 

Class of 2010.

BullCityBuckeye's picture

"I think Devin Smith or Corey Brown, or even one of the incoming true frosh, could have a breakout season on the offensive side, and on the defense linebacker Curtis Grant along with Washington and Spence could be in store for All-Big Ten seasons."
Oh dear Lord, please.  If Curtis Grant has an All-Big Ten season, it can only mean great things for the Buckeyes.  I believe Urban Meyer said as much regarding that nexus.

avail31678's picture

Yes, I saw that too.  He's not only predicting Grant to be just better, he's predicting a real break-out season.  That would certainly help any potential growing pains with the "new" D-line, and would get us very close to a point where we'd have a D with virtually no leaks or weak points.
Grant is a beast, and I want him to show it on the field.

Flyermike's picture

His analysis is exceptional, and it is exactly what worries me.  I still think OSU needs another year to develop before they take on Bama.  The last thing I want to hear if OSU runs the table  and loses to Bama is "The Buckeyes add another trophy as runner-up University...Big Ten still sucks...SEC rules all..."

ScarletGray43157's picture

That is what you would hear if it ended that way.  For example, look at the static that is given by the haters who downplay the 12-0 last year, which was actually an outstanding and above-average job of motivation by coaches and discipline by players.  OSU would have to finish the deal at the NCG to get any grudging respect, IMHO.  

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

Hovenaut's picture

This was a welcome read in spite of the recent criticisms hurled at UFM.

Oh, and I sure like how Phil Steele feels about the Buckeyes.

"Success...it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

Oldschoolbuck's picture

I like our chances in a (hypothetical) NC game against 'Bama. All of us remember what UFM did to us in the 2006 game with lots of time to prepare. The talent should be equal (though we'll be young on D, the freshmen will have a whole season under their belt); it may come down to experience in handling the pressure of a huge game like the NC. If that's the case the Tide would definitely have an advantage, though our coaches have been there, done that.

Ahh Saturday's picture

Love Phil Steele, but I think his analysis of the Buckeyes V Bama sells us a little short.

PS: I think the game would be closer than the last couple of title games due to the fact the Buckeyes have an X-Factor with Miller at quarterback and Meyer has national title game experience. However, Alabama has been so dominant in each of their last three bowl games (112-21 combined score) against three very good teams and clearly you give Saban extra time to prepare. He has become almost unbeatable. I am also not sure that the Buckeyes have enough weapons outside of Miller on offense or enough experience on the front seven on defense to have the game go down to the final possession in the fourth quarter.

First, I don't know if I'd call Alabama's last three championship opponents very good teams.  Texas played nearly the entire game without Colt McCoy, LSU had a terrible offense, and ND played with a freshman QB.  IF OSU can make it to the title game healthy, the Buckeyes will present a greater challenge than any of the three teams just mentioned. 
Also, I think the season will give the Buckeyes plenty of time to develop weapons outside of Braxton.  Hyde already is a weapon, and now that Urban knows what he has in Hyde, I expect we'll see him utilized even more efficiently.  I don't expect Philly Brown or Devin Smith to magically morph into 1st round draft picks, but each was effective last year, and I expect each to be even more effective this year.  Corey Smith could also make an immediate impact at WR.  Between Jordan Hall, Jalin Marshall, and Dontre Wilson, some one WILL emerge as a weapon at the pivot position made famous by He whose name shall not be mentioned.  And, dare I say it, OSU will get production from the TE spot this year, I swear it, I think, maybe? 
Finally, although the Buckeyes do not have much experience along the front seven, Bama is equally inexperienced along their OL.  Gone is 4/5 of the line that mauled UM and ND last year.  While I'm sure they'll be replacing those starters with more talent, so will the Buckeyes.  By the time this theoretical match up arrives, both squads will be plenty experienced, and I'll concede nothing to the Tide.  I say bring 'em on!

CC's picture

I don't disagree with anything you said other than the Bama O-Line comment.  At this point I assume they will be nasty.  They have the best tackle in the country and 1 other starter returning if I recall.
Right now I have to give a major edge to a rebuilt Bama O-Line vs. Curtis Grant and 4 unproven d-linemen.  Obviously that could change.

ScarletGray43157's picture

OSU D-line will be better at the end of the season, but your take is a solid one.  Against Alabama, you need to protect your linebackers so they can operate, stuff the run consistently, and also put some pressure on the passing game.  Tall order for a majority first-year D-Line unit against 'Bama, even with most of the first season under their belt.   

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

Ahh Saturday's picture

Alabama has a track record and Cyrus Kouandjio.  Other than that, you're right, you are assuming, and it is just as reasonable to assume that Washington, Spence, and Bennett will be up to the task.  I'll go that way.

Seth4Bucks's picture

I think Urban's getting OSU to Alabama-like quality. I don't think they're there quite yet, but I don't think there's a huge dropoff in talent either. Don't get me wrong, Alabama definitely has the edge here but it's not a David vs Goliath edge. Both coaches are known as big game coaches and have had a pretty good track record when given time to prepare, so that area is close enough that's it's pretty much a wash.
I think the biggest advantages Alabama has over OSU would be big game experience and depth. Another year should narrow/eliminate Alabama's edge as another class of Urban recruits will come in and everyone in the program now would have experience from (hopefully) a B10 CG and then a likely BCS bowl. But that's obviously a moot point if OSU and Alabama face off this year.
Alabama would have an edge in depth, big game experience, and talent. However, the x-factor could be in the mental side of the equation. How would the Bucks react to all this talk of how great Alabama is? How would they react when they get punched in the mouth during the game? Will Alabama become overconfident based on the media perception and their recent titles? How both those teams respond to these questions could decide the winner of this hypothetical NCG.

Poison nuts's picture

I like Phil Steele. Obviously he has the Buckeyes doing big things, so as a fan I like that. But generally speaking, the guy seems to know his stuff very, very well. I hope in the end that he's right about OSU in the NC game, but that they play UF & not Bama...

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

bhardy22132's picture

While a date with UF would be interesting, I would rather see OSU try to knock off the champs if we make it to a NCG this year. The storyline for a OSU/UF NCG is great but lets take on goliath.

Poison nuts's picture

I hear you & can appreciate that, but if UF made it to the NC game by beating Bama in the SEC championship game, wouldn't that make them Goliath? Also, if I haven't mentioned it before, I detest UF with a passion that I couldn't put into words...

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

btalbert25's picture

Anyone who makes it from the SEC will be considered Goliath.  They've owned the BCS for the last 7 years. 

Michibuck's picture

Thanks, Kyle. Phil Steele, simply the best.

CowCat's picture

Great read.   I like Phil Steele's approach.  His magazines are worth the money.
However, I believe we would fare better than he thinks vs. Alabama.
Urban can and has beat Saban.   And, unlike his UF days, he now has a legitimate power back in Hyde and two really good TE's.    Add to that some combination of Devin Smith, Corey Brown, Jalin Marshall and Dontre Willson ... well, that's a lot to have to defend.
My bigger concern in a NC game would be our DL and LB play vs. a giant Alabama OL with giant Alabama RBs.

"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

bhardy22132's picture

Yeldon isnt a very big back (218), but he is tough. other than that I mean they have that FR. that is like 230.

Gametime's picture

I fully expect Braxton and the entire offense to erupt this year being that this is the vaunted "Year 2" in Meyer's tenure with the Buckeyes. Braxton CAN rush for 1000 yards this season not just because of his big play ability, but I believe that largely depends on him figuring out scrambling this year (which is where Johnny Manziel did most of his damage) and throws for 3,000+ yards this season with the new weapons.
With the schedule this year, I expect Hyde and Smith to go off this year with El Guapo going for 1,200+ yards and 20TDs and Rod going for 500+ yards. I think Urban knew last year that we can't have Braxton being our leading rusher because that's just potentially dangerous and too much wear and tear on him, so I expect Hyde's carries to eclipse 200.
I think earlier in the season Dontre Wilson will take the pivot spot from Hall and have 1,000 all purpose yards this year.
Devin Smith had 50 yards less than Philly last year with 30 LESS catches. Hopefully he puts it all together with his consistency catching.
James Clark is being heavily slept on and his speed in the slot will remind us of a kid from Glenville who wore #7 not too long ago.
Dontre, EzE, Clark, and Jalin will go off on special teams and will each have a return for a TD this season.
I may be in the minority that actually believes our D-Line will be a strength, because they're collectively better athletes and pass rushers than we had last year. Consistent pressures along with a top 15 D against the run (even with the epically bad tackling at the beginning of the season) and what I believe is one of the more talented cover secondarys in college football I believe will create a lot more turnovers for the silver bullets next year.
By the time we get to the end of the season, I also imagine a really pissed off, football team who will be tired of the SEC narrative that will be worked against them all year and Lee Corso will hit the GameDay guys with a "not so fast my friend" and choose the Buckeyes over whatever team from the SEC makes it to the game!
Go Bucks!

...I too dream in color and in rhyme
So I guess I'm one of a kind in a full house
Cause whenever I open my heart, my soul or my mouth
A touch of God rains out...

avail31678's picture

Thank you - I am especially excited about James Clark too.  not only is he wicked fast, he's experienced!  Excited for him to emerge as a good target and home-run threat.

Crimson's picture

Hey!  Let's not discuss how many girls a recruit can get here!

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Gametime - How can you do that to me with 53 days still remaining until opening kickoff?

avail31678's picture

Aside:  Anyone notice how little backlash ND has gotten for getting annihilated in the NC game - i.e. everyone's all "Alabama is just so dominant"...
...but when we lost big bowl games credit wasn't really given as much to our opponents, rather much discredit was applied to us?

Oyster's picture

I don't think anyone was under any delusion that ND had a chance in hell of winning that game to begin with.  What happened to OSU was simply embarrassing, which is why the national backlash was so great.  Who thought Florida would simply dismantle OSU like they did when you consider that Meyer had to campaign for them to be in the game to begin with.

razrback16's picture

Glad 11W did this interview. I love Phil as he is very unbiased and just looks at the data.

The Buck Guy's picture

I have my doubts about a few of Phil's prognostications, and totally disagree with one in particular.
First, I have no doubt that Wisconsin and Ped State will be worse teams this season. Wiscy may achieve the same record as last year because of their softer schedule, but the eye test will show they will be weaker on the O-line, D-line, and in the passing game as well. PSU will be weaker across the board and will be lucky to get 7 wins.
His contention that a 4 team playoff is best for college football is flawed. Until we have a true play-off among conference champions only, then we will still have a mythical champion at the end of the season.
Here's a better idea:  The NCAA needs to reorganize D-I.  Have the top-tier subdivision contain four conferences. Then, a 4 game playoff would make sense.  Also, I think it would make the season even better if there were no non-conference games during the regular season. Let it be settled during the play-off.
Imagine that. NO games against bought weaklings like Eastern Michigan, North Texas, etc.  13 games versus conference opponents allowing all teams to face each other and determine a true conference champ. I for one would enjoy my season tickets in that scenario, instead of selling them off more often than not.

~ The Buck Guy
Go Bucks!!!!

unholy bucknut's picture

Great article. I hope this guy is spot on.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Outstanding article Kyle!  I'm so ready for football season!!
Go Bucks!

Eddie-Eddie's picture

I love this review!

btalbert25's picture

I just have a feeling Bama doesn't pull it off again this year.  They'll be pissed off about last year's loss, but going to A&M in the 2nd game won't be easy.  Outside of that game I don't see a game they won't be favored in, but they could slip up in the SEC title game against Florida, who I believe will win the SEC and be playing in the title game against the Buckeyes.