Athlon Sports: Buckeyes No. 3 in Preseason Poll

By DJ Byrnes on May 23, 2014 at 11:49a

Preseason polls are something unique to college sports, especially so for college football. They're not worth the paper on which they're printed, but yet it seems fans (and media) can't get enough of them.

Ohio State's 2014 team is an interesting proposition for anybody looking to put together a preseason rankings. On one hand, the Buckeyes have the most talented roster in the Big Ten and a returning Heisman candidate. On the other, the secondary and receivers are largely unproven and their offensive line was decimated by graduations.

Mark Schlabach of ESPN ranked the Buckeyes seventh. Jon Cooper of SaturdayDownSouth ranked the Buckeyes sixth. CBS' Jerry Hinnen, way back in January, also pegged the Buckeyes as the sixth best team entering this season.

Athlon Sports, however, is a bit higher than those three. According to their ongoing preseason poll, the Buckeyes are the nation's third best team at the moment:

Ohio State opened Urban Meyer’s tenure 24-0, but the Buckeyes finished 2013 on a two-game losing streak. Despite the late-season losses, Ohio State is a slight favorite to win the Big Ten in 2014. Quarterback Braxton Miller returns after earning first-team All-Big Ten honors, and he will be surrounded by a talented group of skill players, including running back Ezekiel Elliott and receiver Devin Smith. The defense boasts the best line in college football, but the back seven is a concern. A trip to East Lansing in early November will play a huge role in determining the Big Ten’s East Division champion.


On one hand, Ohio State has too many unproven players, including several seniors with less-than-inspiring résumés. On the other, the roster is littered with raw athleticism and speed, which can cover up a lot of imperfections. Plus, the defensive line could be dynamite. This would appear to be a transition year if it weren’t for the fiery drive of Meyer and the unique talents of Miller. If the slick QB has a Heisman-like season, OSU likely will compete for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

I won't spoil the whole list, but here's their top reason for picking the Buckeyes at number three:

1. Improvement on defense
Despite losing linebacker Ryan Shazier and cornerback Bradley Roby, Ohio State’s defense should improve off a disappointing 2013 season. The Buckeyes allowed 5.4 yards per play in Big Ten games and finished fifth in the league by allowing 24 points per game (Big Ten-only contests). Seven starters return for 2014, and this unit was bolstered by the addition of two new assistants. Larry Johnson Sr. comes to Ohio State from Penn State to tutor the defensive line, and Chris Ash was hired from Arkansas to serve as co-defensive coordinator. Although the Buckeyes didn’t have a vintage Ohio State defense last year, the returning talent and additions on the coaching staff suggest improvement is coming in 2014.

I agree, there isn't any reason to believe the Silver Bullets will be worse than they were last year. And even then, after losing veteran Christian Bryant, the Buckeyes came within a few minutes of the national title game.

If in-depth previews in May are your thing, Athlon definitely has you covered. There's even a podcast preview for your enjoyment as well.

And for what it's worth, Alabama and Florida State are the (likely) teams left for the top two spots in Athlon's ongoing release.

[H/T: @JeffSvoboda]


Comments Show All Comments

Unky Buck's picture

Always interesting reads even if they're absolutely worthless. I'll wait for Phil Steele, though.

Rock over London; Rock on Chicago. Timex: It takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin'

+12 HS
hetuck's picture

You won't have long to wait. If you buy it from him, he'll have copies available approx. June 3 per him on Bill king's show. 

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

+2 HS
brglr14's picture

used to love phil. but  his association with ESPiN  as turned me the other way a bit.

I dont know karate but i do know crazy and i'm not afraid to use it.


hit_the_couch's picture

Hopefully that talk of the D being fixed is not all hype. I hope tOSU doesn't go into the season ranked 1 or 2, as that seems to be a death sentence.

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

+1 HS
NuttyBuckeye's picture

Personally being ranked anywhere from 4 to 8 is where I would figure we sit to start the season.  Just win and as we have seen time and time again, all things will get worked out.

I also agree the defense will be vastly improved.  I will go out on a limb and predict the defense will end the season ranked nationally somewhere between 20 and 30th best.

What's round on the ends and high in the middle? Tell me if you know!

+7 HS
mh277907's picture

Penn State at #22 seems like quite a stretch.


+2 HS
FROMTHE18's picture

Id say a massive stretch. Im not impressed by their team as it looks right now. Hackenberg is going to be one of the best QBs in the nation eventually, but outside of him, I just don't see a team that is really top 25-caliber. They could prove me wrong, which often happens when I evaluate teams, but their severe lack of talent plus their incredible lack of depth makes that #22 ranking look really overrated. 

+1 HS
Buckeyevstheworld's picture

I'm sure they're already carving Franklin's name onto the BigTen Coty award.

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

+2 HS
daveyt11's picture

Rankings are fun and all but I really hope one day college football can get to a point where your 6 BCS conference winners go to playoffs. then use a BCS type rankings for 2 wildcards (plus the seeding)...8 team playoff. Boom. This scenario would prevent a great team having a bad day being elminated .lets say a 8-4 Wisconsin upsets 12-0 OSU in B1G title game...Osu would (likely) go in as a wildcard. This current system doesn't , the committee is gonna pick who it picks. My 2 cents...Thanks veterans!!!! I once saw a bumper sticker that said IF YOU CAN READ THIS, THANK A TEACHER...IF ITS IN ENGLISH, THANK A VETERAN. Happy memorial day everyone!

+7 HS
blocko330's picture

Totally agree with everything here Davey.  With that being said, there's always that chance a team could have their division locked up with 2-3 games remaining (granted unlikely) and would thus sit their starters to save them for the Conf Championship game.  This would then lead to angry fans who pay top dollar for tickets that are stuck watching bench players on the field.

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”

- TruthTeller

+2 HS
Barnsey69's picture

The best contribution that the plethora of pre-season rankings make to our lives, is to serve as a reminder that football is only sleeping and will awaken in only 99 short days to save us from the summer black-hole of...well no football.

That being said, I'll take #3 now and at the end of the season when playoff teams are determined, if I can get it.

Go Bucks!

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes- 2014 UNDISPUTED National Champions!

+1 HS
jamesrbrown322's picture

Honestly, I have always enjoyed Athlon the most. Although they're based in SEC country, they're always pretty fair with the Buckeyes. I think #3 is exactly where they finish, and about where I'd peg them too. They'll be dangerous in a playoff scenario. The whole season comes down to the MSU game. I think they pull that one out as Miller sees his Heisman chances rise.

Ultimately, in a one game scenario, there are probably only one or two teams are better than OSU from a talent perspective. However, it's college football, so who knows?

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

+3 HS
Hovenaut's picture

Feel the same about Athlon, I usually pick up their season preview - fair read, concise yet detailed info.

jamesrbrown322's picture

I'll confess that I was the dork that used their national preview to name the players that I didn't know (usually only for the B1G and top 25 teams) on NCAA Football each year...

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

+1 HS
Ahh Saturday's picture

Some people will certainly complain that 3 is too high for OSU, and maybe it is a bit high, but will anybody question Bama at 2?  They lost their last 2 games of the season as well, and also lost their starting QB and 7 others to the NFL draft.  Anyway, preseason polls never meant much, and they mean even less now.  Same story as every year for the Buckeyes, take care of business and play for the National Championship.


+1 HS
Chief B1G Dump's picture

I have stopped reading/listening/watching these types of national level periodicals/"opinion"/hypothetical analysis/BS/fluff pieces long perhaps this is known, perhaps not...but how do these guys base their rankings?  Do they look at the season and schedules and who is playing who where and when and who is coming off a bye week, etc - and then rank based on how they think the teams will actually finish?  Or are these guys just ranking how good they think the teams are based on rosters?  Or who the hell knows, this is just a ranking to sell copies?  Do they have a lead in paragraph where they tell you what their rankings are?  I would guess people/publications rank based on different criteria and there is no uniform set of considerations.

Anyhow, I think the Buckeyes are for sure a playoff contender.  And I also think there is nothing more worthless than preseason rankings and conjuring up preseason notions and biases.  I feel like many of these a-holes value their own preseason opinions so much that they get stubborn about it and refuse to admit they were wrong and drop teams and/or otherwise move them in the rankings.  These polls and national mouth pieces set the hype preseason to sell their slate of match-ups and manipulate the masses opinion on who is good and who isnt.  It's never truly played plays out to an extent, like Auburn last year, but if they were in the Pac12 or B1G and had a loss and all of those close calls, they would have been ranked outside the Top 5 or 8.  Just look at Sparty.  Similar season to Auburn but never gained any respect until after the Rose Bowl, when it didnt matter. Conversely, how many times did Stanford have to get beat before they dropped out of contention last year.  All media.

Will in Arizona's picture

The Buckeyes need a new kicker and appear to have found one in rugged freshman Sean Nuernberger.


If "thug" is the new slur for black people, is "rugged" the new slur for overweight people?

+4 HS
GruberNubbins's picture

As my waistline has expanded over the years, I have grown quite fond of the term, "husky".  All I can think of when I hear the term "rugged" is that Dr. Pepper Ten commercial with the flannel-dude toting around tree trunks and canoeing with his bear buddy.

+4 HS
jamesrbrown322's picture



"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

+4 HS
GruberNubbins's picture

...and now that glorious tune is on repeat in my head for the next 4 hours.   "Ka-Kaaaaawww!!!"

+4 HS
ScarletandGray's picture

The preseason top 25 is a waste of time. Missouri and Auburn didn't even receive votes in ESPNs preseason top 25 last year. If that doesn't show you how overvalued teams like Georgia, Florida, LSU, and South Carolina are, I don't know what will.

RDS welcome to Steeler Nation

+1 HS
THEOSUfan's picture

What national media really thinks about the Top 25:

1-8 The top 4 teams in each division of the SEC

9-12 The best of the other major conferences

13-18 The bottom of the SEC

19-25 The secondary teams in the other major conferences or a mid-major or two.

+1 HS
TossTrap's picture

The defense will carry this team until mid to late season when the offensive line comes into its own. If Braxton stays healthy . . . look out.

First and goal at the five and Arch is getting the ball.

FitzBuck's picture

My Fitzbuck preseason poll has the Buckeyes number 1...and my poll is every bit as meaningful as this one.  

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".