Back in February, Phil Steele projected the Buckeyes at No. 6 in the first AP preseason poll for the 2014 season. It's not a bad position for a team that last both games to the two best teams it played last season.
The return of a talisman like Braxton Miller, however, assuaged many fears about next year being a rebuilding, rather than a reloading, kind of year.
As it turns out, Steele rates the Bucks higher in his personal rankings than those assigned to other people. In his latest, end-of-the-season prophecy for ESPN ($), he sees a final Top 5 of Florida State, Alabama, OSU, Oklahoma and UCLA.
That would mean Steele likely sees the Buckeyes making the inaugural playoffs, but succumbing to either Alabama or Florida State.
Here's the oracle:
This year the Buckeyes return 12 starters, including Heisman candidate QBBraxton Miller. The biggest question mark on the team might be the offensive line, but just two years ago offensive line coach Ed Warinner took a unit that lost three multiple-year starters (including a first-team All-American) and they actually improved their rushing yards per game, yards per carry and sacks allowed.
On the other side of the ball, the Buckeyes return seven starters on what figures to be a much-improved defense. They have my No. 1 defensive line in the country led by All-Americans Michael Bennett and Joey Bosa.
Hard to argue with Steele's projections. I could certainly see Ohio State beating Alabama or Florida State, but I could also see them losing either game as well.
Guess they might as well play those games. (Like, tomorrow.)