Year 2: No Secrets

By Ramzy Nasrallah on August 13, 2013 at 11:30a
53 Comments
Year Two WOO WOOEleven Warriors Ohio State Football 2013 Season Preview

The first regular season opponent Ohio State will face this season is the Buffalo Bulls. They're going to get plundered. It's not a mystery.

The final regular season opponent is the Michigan Wolverines. They require no introduction, additional buildup or hyperbole: It's the most important game in the world, every year. That isn't a secret either, nor is it an exaggeration.

And then if all goes according to plan, the Buckeyes' 13th opponent will be the very last Legends Division champion in Indianapolis, followed by a 14th game in Pasadena about a month later. There are two BCS bowls out there this year and it's no secret which one Ohio State wants more.

The Buckeyes will also face a unique 15th foe this season. It isn't explicitly listed among the opponentry, but they will be fighting it every weekend: Urban Meyer's impossible second-season standard as a head coach.

His remarkable precedent for triumphant second seasons blankets the entire schedule, and everyone knows it.

This brass ring that's been branded as The Chase finally commences at the end of the month with Meyer's entire staff back, plenty of familiar faces from an undefeated season returning and conspicuous title aspirations that closely resemble his monumental precedent that serves as that 15th opponent.

His antagonist - the fading demon he created at three separate schools - enters the season with a gaudy record of 34-4. It's got three distinct, menacing heads: Bowling Green, Utah and Florida.

To put that 34-4 mark in perspective, if you were to choose and combine Jim Tressel's three best seasons at Ohio State - 2002, 2006 and 2010 - you would end up 36-2. That's just a shade better while matching the Meyer hydra's BCS titles and perfect seasons.

But only one of Tressel's seasons carried a Year 2 challenge of making championship hay with what is still largely another coach's roster. None of Meyer's predecessors ran his offense, which should have made his transitions bumpier, not unlike Rich Rodriguez's experience in Ann Arbor. Clearly 34-4 doesn't scream of growing pains.

Tressel also benefited from John Cooper's players who were mostly square pegs fitting square holes for his system, and that makes this 15th opponent even more challenging: Tress and Coop have long had Ohio State accustomed to already being that good. The Buckeyes aren't sneaking up on anyone.

They weren't the 7-5 maddening mess the Gators were was prior to Meyer's arrival. A wasted 6-7 season in 2011 isn't terribly difficult to explain away either; that Buckeye team had been previously destined for BCS title contention. That 6-7 blip sits awkwardly between 12-1* and 12-0 seasons. It was an anomaly of the blippiest order.

If anything, Meyer's inherited Florida roster wasn't too dissimilar from what Tressel inherited at Ohio State in 2001. It was a program that was as culturally devoid as it was abundantly talented.

He didn't inherit a 2-9 program in Columbus as he did at Bowling Green either. While Meyer was guiding those Falcons to a 9-3 season in his second year there, the Utes of Utah were dropping six games in a row and wrecking their season. Two years later with Meyer in charge, most of those same Utes ran the table and won the Fiesta Bowl.

This night never happened. This night never happened. This night never happened. This niIronically, OSU fans are now hoping Meyer does this again.

So when Meyer's 34-4 mark in Year 2 finally resumes accumulating statistics again against the soon-to-be-plundered Buffalo Bulls, it will be in the midst of a 25-1 run whose last win was against #1 Ohio State in Glendale.

That invisible, looming 15th opponent looks beastly because it is. None of Meyer's other second-year teams have contended with the expectations that his 2013 Buckeyes are facing.

His Bowling Green squad stayed unranked through late October. Utah began the year ranked 19th and proceeded to be the highest-ranked non-BCS conference (at the time) team throughout the season, but it didn't crack the top three.

Florida began 2006 ranked 7th and was expected to be better than before, but it was Tressel's Buckeyes with a preseason top-ranking, an early #1 vs. #2 meeting with defending champion Texas in Austin and all of the expectations to end up in Glendale.

Meyer's Year 2 precedent combined with this particular year's expectations for Ohio State provide the most unkind measuring stick for the 2013 Buckeyes. They won't be graded on a curve, and they aren't going to get a break.

Expectations for Year 2 have never looked like thisOhio State is expected to go 13-0 just to earn a passing grade.

The problem is that there are still significant roster issues: The linebacking corps has absorbed too much attrition and recruiting whiffs. The smoldering disaster Jim Bollman left behind at offensive line still needs one more year of sensible recruiting numbers to finally divorce itself from his insidious practice of having a small group of unspecialized linemen serving as each other's backups on the depth chart.

Braxton Miller is the reigning B1G player of the year, but he was carried off the field in a third of Ohio State's games last season. The entire defensive line features new starters. There's a new punter who has never kicked in front of 100,000-plus screaming and/or highly-critical fans before this season.

This 2013 season is easily the biggest challenge of Meyer's career, with a season in which he cannot sneak up on anyone or absorb what could be considered a forgivable loss. There were three of those at Bowling Green and one at Florida.

Expectations for year 2 have never looked like this: Ohio State is expected to go 13-0 just to earn a passing grade.

He's got to go 13-0 to get to the preferred Pasadena bowl game, which means he has to go 25-0 starting last season. That would be the longest streak for any team since Southern Cal's, which was snapped on that field in Pasadena in 2006.

Regardless of how anyone wants to devalue Ohio State's non-conference slate, Big Ten schedule and potential conference championship game, it would literally be an historic achievement.

Only four programs have managed such streaks going back to 1980, and each of those teams - USC, Miami, Alabama and Nebraska - was a dynasty. If Meyer's Buckeyes simply rise to the expectation, they will get to be one too.

It all starts at the end of the month against the Buffalo Bulls. The Buckeyes - and everyone watching them - will be thinking of much more than Ohio State simply winning that Saturday, and everybody knows it.

53 Comments

Comments

Doc's picture

I'm concerned with the defense.  I'm not sold quite yet on Fickell being the coordinator.  I think we are in for some shoot outs. 

"Say my name."

FROMTHE18's picture

agreed. If tackling is still an issue, I will order 1000 pizza's to his house. This is his make or break year. If our defense doesnt improve as a unit, then I think Fickell's position as a DC of an elite program needs to be massively questioned and it would just show he needs to go to the MAC/MW/etc. and figure himself out at that level. 

741's picture

There is a part of me that wants to see this poster have to pay off this bet. (Much like the guy who said he would post a video here of himself intentionally pooping his pants if a civil suit is brought against Hyde and the judge does not throw it out of court.)
Hyperbole should have consequences! (I keed.)
P.S. I just now realized he is only planning to "order" the pizzas, not "pay" for the pizzas.

ChazBuckeye's picture

@Fromthe1.8:
Don't start to blame Fickell...all the DVs will show there need be no accountability towards him.
In all seriousness, I can see the defense being much better than many are anticipating. They're young/inexperienced but I have a feeling they'll shock some ppl this year.  Especially the DBs and DL.  The linebackers...that's where the proof is necessary IMO.  That worries me the most to be honest.

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

FROMTHE18's picture

i agree with the LBs being the major emphasis with this 'problem'. I think its intensified by the fact that its Fickell's position group as well. We have Shazier but who else? I still am amazed that C. Grant could STILL struggle with the college game. Perry will be a good one IMO.

USMC11917's picture

How do I say this with out getting beaten up by the community? We have two defensive coordinators and we are in talks with or have Heacock coming in to assist in defensive preperation...We need this many guys involved to have a defense that we can be proud of? This is just something that I have thought about for a few weeks now.

chitown buckeye's picture

I have thought the same thing! As it was stated above, I to think this is a make or break year for BOTH D-coordinators. Fickell takes the brunt of the criticism but both are to blame. I gave them the benefit of the doubt last year. Reasoning being new coach, lack of talent/depth, etc... However, if we come out this year and poorly tackle again for the first 5 games, etc... I think the writing is on the wall for those two guys.

"I'm having a heart attack!"

nfischer's picture

How dare you?!?! :-)

vitaminB's picture

Alabama is paying the former Clemson DC to serve as an off the field coach and paying him half a mil a year.  The more coaches the better.  This is the evolution of coaching in college football, the paid off the field coaches who spend their time breaking down film and developing game plans and leave the coaching to the coordinators.

InHartWeTrust's picture

I actually have a pretty good feeling about the D this year as well.

Spirit's picture

It will be fun to see how Coach Fickell's critics speak of him after his elite defense wins a N.C., this and/or other years! How quickly some forget he picked up our broken pieces and represented OSU with perfect character while getting trashed by every low class reporter with a microphone.

Spirit

Oyster's picture

My guess is that if there was even a question about Fickell and his ability as the coordinator, that would have been corrected already.  I will say that having 'CO' coordinators last year probably wasn't the best idea.  You have to have one person who is ultimately in charge.

gwalther's picture

Surprised if some of your fears weren't allayed with the defense's overall performance down the stretch after the Indiana debacle. We still saw some missed tackles against Purdue, but the efforts against Purdue, Penn State, Illinois, and Michigan were all very solid.

Class of 2008

hit_the_couch's picture

I thought it was Wither's D?
I often wonder if Fickell is kept on because he's alum and I heard a decent recruiter. I know he inherited a bad situation 2 years ago, but i'm not quite sure why he was brought back.

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

gwalther's picture

Cause he's a talented dude. He was largely responsible for landing Adolphus Washington, fyi.
A promotion essentially from LB Coach to Head Coach was a fast transition though. Last year was his first full time year on the job..and I thought he performed well all told, especially considering integration with Urban's guys.
Let's see what this year brings before we make a judgment.

Class of 2008

Toilrt Paper's picture

The Ohio State defensive front 7 has made the experienced O-line and TE's look average in practice.

FROMTHE18's picture

hope the fans treat every game as the national title game...one misstep and its over and focus needs to be 1 game at a time. I think its crazy to think that its expected for this team to be a dynasty. Hype aside, I think there are quite a few question marks, most of which you have noted here, and until Game 1, its going to be difficult to assess those issues. My biggest concern on the offensive side of the ball is Miller and if he can grasp the offense 100% and avoid taking big hits with quick decisions and reading the coverage correctly. Being able to throw the ball efficiently will allow his running game to continue to be an incredible weapon, but if not, then expect teams to stack the box over and over. I think many of the defenses we will face early on will try and make Braxton beat them with his arm. If he is at the level that has been reported then that worry is going to be over and done with as soon as we take on Buffalo. On the defensive side of the ball im worried about tackling/preventing big plays, and pass-rush. I think tackling should have been completely sorted by now and the pass-rush will come along as the season progresses. If we can get a solid, consistent pass-rush, then it takes pressure off our of DBs and LBs having to being amazing in coverage (which I hope they are anyways). A side note: one thing that will become more and more obvious is how much depth we have at RB. If one of them isnt producing, then its next man up and we shouldnt miss a beat, so RB is not a concern for me. WRs are getting better, and we have players like Jalin and Dontre, so, as stated, the success of the offense and probably the season comes down to Braxton being able to pass at a high level. Lets hope the reports of his improvement are spot on.

darbnurb's picture

hope the fans treat every game as the national title game

 
Should I stock up on some Karosine and old couches?  Just not sure where I am going to store 14 couches.    

Oyster's picture

Not really sure why there is an * next to the 12-1.  I saw all the games, they all really happened.  Honestly, they did.
 
As for the second season under Coach Meyer, 1 Game At A Time. 

741's picture

The games in Reggie Bush won over the Heisman voters also happened, but we know how we feel about that. Let's be fair.

FROMTHE18's picture

Reggie sell his awards? Wasnt he just given free-stuff/money for things?

gwalther's picture

Yes. Giving a recruit's family a house vs a player on the roster selling his memorabilia is a little bit different.

Class of 2008

741's picture

You are forgetting what actually transpired. Those games are gone not because of the memorabilia for tattoos boondoggle, it's because of the Bobby DiGeronimo no show jobs and $200 handshakes we found out about after... remember? Failure to monitor? Remember that? There was a lot more going wrong that was proven than just rings for "free" tattoos. Let's be honest.
P.S. I still love and respect Coach Tressel.

Oyster's picture

Those games happened too.  I guess my point is that it's somewhat silly to say "We are striking those games from the record books, they never officially happened." 

741's picture

We agree.
We all know our Buckeyes won those games on the field of play (with players later determined to be ineligible). I'm just saying USC won their games too and we shouldn't get into this, "Well, our guys transgressions were lesser than those of Reggie Bush" business.
(I'm not saying you said that by the way.)

pjtobin's picture

The road is long, long and winding. He ain't heavy, he's coach Urban Meyer. 

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

XUbuckeye's picture

Hit the nail on the head Ramzy. 

"So when you get knocked on your butt, get up, get over it, and then next time, kick their ass." - Woody Hayes 

immort9888's picture

Three things will decide the success of the season and they go in the following order:  (1) Braxton's improvement as a passer; (2) the defense has to be able to stop the run (less than 100 yards per game); and, (3) the offensive line needs to play as well as they did last year.  If those three things happen, it will be fun to watch this team in games 13 and 14.    
 

BenArazi4's picture

Braxton also needs to learn to read the defenses better.  That will come with confidence and experience and hopefully he has mastered the decision making and is on Kenny G's level.

 
 
 

Jim2574's picture

I really like that word, DYNASTY!"

Jim2574

CC's picture

We need to throttle back with that talk.

ChazBuckeye's picture

Great article and spot on.  Especially this part...

"EXPECTATIONS FOR YEAR 2 HAVE NEVER LOOKED LIKE THIS: OHIO STATE IS EXPECTED TO GO 13-0 JUST TO EARN A PASSING GRADE."

Sorry I took it from the caption which in turn had the ALL CAPS;-)  This is fact folks...OSU can't afford to lose.  The plundering starts in 18 days!  
 

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

Brashbuck's picture

It's fairly straight forward - TOSU is a very good, but not MNC-level, team without BMiller.  He cannot continue to be carried off the field and this team stay undefeated.
That said - Bring the #Juice!

EvanstonBuckeye's picture

I don't think I've heard this stated more clearly.

urbanwarfare's picture

I agree I believe that the biggest concern is injuries. I just hope we don't have games where we play to the level of our opponent. Lets put most of these games away in the first half

sir rickithda3rd's picture

i disagree brash... i think kenny g starts for 90 percent of d1 schools if he was anywhere else.

mark may wins douchebag of the year... again

USMC11917's picture

Just to let folks know what is going on, if they haven't noticed, I placed a comment here and left it no longer than 3 seconds and realized that it wasn't under the correct reply box. Since I can't delete a post I erased it and left a decimal point. I somehow, have pissed off 3 people along the way that have habitually downvoted me on most of my posts regardless of how positive the message is. This incident here is proof of it. I know that downvotes are meaningless in life but the fact that I have upset a few of you to this degree bothers me a tad. I offer my apologies and hope that this rights the wrong I have caused you. Go Buckeyes!!

Hovenaut's picture

One game at a time.

There are some superior elements to this team, and some valid concerns.

But the promise is there, again, coupled with the excitement that we may be seeing things from this program never before witnessed.

In my adult life, I've seen some excellent Cooper and Tressel coached Buckeye teams fall short, implode, bow in the face of southern dominance...what have you. But for the most part, the program had been elevated, would contend and be counted among the BCS' elite.

Meyer is reassembling the program to go a step further. It was before my time, but the only comparable reference to the program being at the apex would be the '68, '69 and '70 teams under Woody.

I have to pinch myself at the thought that my college football team, already full of tradition and excellence, has a chance to raise itself higher than ever before. Here, in year two.

I'm really struggling these last couple of weeks....well done Ramzy.

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

Urban Nation Army's picture

I'm all in on the 2013 Buckeyes. I'm all in.

Bet you can't say "Bert Bielma is a bumbling buffoon" five times fast.

ScarletNGrey01's picture

It's very difficult to get through a major conference undefeated no matter how good your team is and how doable the schedule is, typically there is one perfect storm game.  Last year Bama had that game against A&M, the Aggies made some huge plays and got off to a big lead, even then, Bama was about to win the game at the end when McCarron, who almost never throws an interception, got picked in the end zone.  As a lot of people have pointed out, unlike an SEC team a single loss probably puts the bucks out of the NC.  I'm not sure if I really WANT the bucks to face Bama in the NC this season.  Next season could be a more realistic beginning of a dynasty.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

Nutinpa's picture

Agree with you that going through a season undefeated is highly unlikely, no matter how soft OSU's or anyone's schedule is.  As for the Buckeyes, the rare number of undefeated seasons, even from teams far more loaded than this one, makes it an even greater reach, especially noting how green this Defense will be. And yes, a 1 loss season puts us out of the NC discussion, esp considering how soft this schedule is.
While I think we would lose to Bama in a NC game, I would like to see it play out although I would hate to see a blow out to state the obvious.  Still......even a loss will show this team and its fanbase, just how far we need to go -- or hopefully, how close the Buckeyes are to meeting and beating the current standard in college football.  Beating a lesser team in a Bowl game, even a BCS game will prove very little.  OSU has an impressive over-all record in the BCS era, and the program is still considered over-rated in many media and fanbase circles.  We need the big prize....and to beat the biggest cat in the jungle.  I think this has to be the year if the D can gel.  Next year?  That's a lot to ask of a very green O Line in 2014.

Mirror Lake Jump's picture

I wonder what Urban and Tressel said to each other in that photo

teddyballgame's picture

"I may have the better team, but you have the better job"

Toilrt Paper's picture

Urban knows the biggest opponent of the year is the monkey on their backs telling them how good they are. Urban will not back off, he will be branding it into the players forehead, reminding his team every week that if they want to play for the Crystal they not only will have to win 13 in a row, but they must dominate 13 in a row. Just in case there are 3 undefeated teams.

Buckeyes2014's picture

My prediction: Ohio State goes 14-0 and wins the BCS National Championship Game.

GO BUCKEYES!

nfischer's picture

Homer....(I so hope you're right!!!)

unholy bucknut's picture

Time will tell but I have the upmost blind faith that our coaching staff are the right guys to get the job done. Our team is always talented enough to win it all every year without a doubt. But the coaching staff we have in place is just going to lift these young men to where they need to be to bring home that sweet crystal football. Im ALL IN

vitaminB's picture

The question is:  Would you rather beat an SEC team in Pasadena, or would you rather them not even make the title game?  I can't decide.  I guess I'd rather shut the SEC guys up. (although it won't you'll just hear, 7 of 8)

cinserious's picture

Beating an SEC team for the national championship would be the ultimate. No matter which team we face.

"Get him a body bag, Yeah!"

buckeyepastor's picture

Fantastic article.   Thanks for the perspective on what 2013 means, and how difficult it is to go undefeated once, let alone two years in a row.    And while Buckeye Nation has faith that the LB corp will step up, that Mitchell and Johnson and others will develop quickly, that the light will come on for Curtis Grant, that Miller will stay healthy with more skill players to carry the load, and the OL and DL will gel quickly, none of these are certainties.   Truth is, on paper, we have some question marks with our roster because of the leadership and experience gone from last year.  We have a lot of unproven potential in the starting line-up this year.     
I think if we survive at California and stay healthy, we will be where we need to be when the conference slate gets started.   But I don't expect we'll be fully there on August 31.   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

btalbert25's picture

If this team wins the National Title I could give a shit less who it is against.  The only thing that matters is hoisting that Crystal Football, if they beat Alabama or Louisville it makes no difference to me.  People are going to talk shit anyway.  They did when Ohio State beat one of the best teams in college football history to win the title back in 2002.  They'll do it again if we win in 2013. 

btalbert25's picture

Honestly, going 12-0 last year with a team that wasn't expected to do that and a tougher schedule than we'll face this year, 13-0 is the passing grade.  That doesnt' mean I won't be excited for whatever happen after a potential loss, or I'll give up on the team, but 12-1 would be underachieving.  The team is going to be better than last year and the schedule is worse.