Phil Steele Predicts Buckeyes Make Playoffs, Fall Short of Championship

By DJ Byrnes on June 16, 2014 at 11:43a

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.)


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BroJim's picture

Our D-line will get to a new level this year! I'm really excited about our Defense as a whole. 

I season my simple food with hunger

+1 HS
Mortc15's picture

I think the defensive backfield is the key to the season. Warriner has a proven (albeit, short) track record of producing dominant o lines. Hopefully Coombs and ash have the back end figured out and Ohio State doesn't have to rely on scoring 30+ to win. If that happens, they're right in the middle of the title picture. 


+1 HS
ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

Definitely.  I feel that with a good defensive backfield last season, OSU could've beaten anybody, anywhere, anytime.

Class of 2010.

+2 HS
stevebelliseeya's picture

I just want to hibernate till Football. 

"We are eternal. All this pain is an illusion." - Tool

+1 HS
NYC Buckeye's picture

Funny, just a year ago we all would have assumed that last line would read "They have my No. 1 defensive line in the country led by All-Americans Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington"  

+10 HS
GVerrilli92's picture

The only reason it doesn't list their names is that people wouldn't believe we have 4 possible All-Americans on our starting D-Line.

I got a gray kitty, white kitty, tabby too, and a little orange guy who puts snakes in my shoes. Got mad MC skills, that leave ya struck, and I roll with my kitties and I'm hard as f*ck.

Silver Bullet 10's picture

Alabama is overrated. They should be rated lower than Ohio State to begin the year. Ohio State would beat Alabama comfortably this year.

+1 HS
Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Lets slow down with saying "comfortably" until we see how both play.

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

+20 HS
Chief B1G Dump's picture

Until we get that monkey off of our backs, legitimately, thats a bold statement.

We, at the very least, are posturing ourselves very nicely to include depth in all the right spots to handle the SEC...Urban has talked about it and is recruiting to it.  The SEC depth has always been the problem for non-SEC foe - now some of that can be attributed to over signing - but they would wear you down in the trenches with 2 to 3 deeps not losing much talent from their starters.  We, at OSU have always had world class skill players and often all american starters all over he field but now we are built to handle the grind and topple the evil SEC regime.  Aside from our defense last year (I really hope that was an anomaly) I think we are just about ready to return to the promised land!

+4 HS
Nutinpa's picture

Five million college football fans south of the Mason-Dixon line just snarfed their sweet tea all over their keyboards. 

And just maybe, posted tongue-in-cheek just to get some responses. worked!

Bama over-rated?  OSU beats them comfortably?  Hey, my blood runs Buckeye scarlet just like yours and most on this Forum....but with all due respect, I think yours is an opinion that is hard to support.....based on history....and what is to be expected in the coming season. The last football game our Buckeyes won of any national significance, against a really good football team, was the Sugar Bowl against players no longer on this football team.  With that as a fact (ok, just an opinion)...and the many ??? on this team for the coming year....I would exercise some caution. 

Phil Steele can make us feel good all he wants....but I would not be so quick to get carried away.  For more loaded OSU teams than this one could not make it through a season unscathed.  We shall see.  Hey, we're inside 75 it's not all bad.

+2 HS
Brutus' Left Nut's picture

OSU has the advantage at QB and D-line.  I don't think we can clearly say that we have an advantage at any other position group, including RB - we are loaded but they are too.with Yeldon and Henry.  We have an argument at TE with Vannett/Hueremann, but I wouldn't be shocked if OJ Howard turns into a stud this year.

Besides D-Line and QB, we don't really have any position groups where we've seen guys dominate on the field yet (Hyde left, O-line left,  "But Brutus, haven't you followed recruiting enough to see how great x and x is?" Sure, enough to know that (1) recruiting hype doesn't always translate into production and (2) even if we were going to compare based off of recruiting hype, Bama's recruits probably have more hype.  So let's wait and see how our young LBs, DBs, Oline and WRs perform...

Both teams are stacked with athletes, but those athletes are still relatively unproven.  I'm not calling out Bama until I see how our young O-line holds up against MSU.





causeicouldntgo43's picture

A bit brash, but I like your optimism. I look at Bama, to put it in golf terms, as the Martin Kaymer of the tour. They're kinda boring, but they do their job well, the execute well, and they don't get too down on themselves (damn Germans). That was a pretty convincing US Open win by the way, Martin.

However, the Buckeyes can handle the upcoming competition (season), and will execute pretty well themselves, kinda like Bubba Watson. Expect bold play, exciting drives (to the end zone), miraculous escapes from near-death, lots of raw emotion and passion, and leadership from the best coaching staff in CFB.  

GVerrilli92's picture

They would still beat us more than 5 times out of 10. We could beat them because they struggle with mobile QBs, but it wouldn't be comfortable or probable.

We're closing the gap, but our depth of talent is one or two more top-3 recruiting classes away from their level still.

I got a gray kitty, white kitty, tabby too, and a little orange guy who puts snakes in my shoes. Got mad MC skills, that leave ya struck, and I roll with my kitties and I'm hard as f*ck.

NuttyBuckeye's picture

We should see more games won by the offense simply outscoring the opponents this year.  The defense should be GREATLY improved from last year.  The defensive line will lead the team, we should see more press coverage and hopefully more blitzing.  I sure miss the old days of Pug and Heacock where they blitzed on darn near every play, whether a run- or pass-blitz.


I think this could be a real fun season for Buckeye fans!

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

+2 HS
Buckeye in Illini country's picture

The press coverage is key, since we have a dominant D-line.  If the quarterback knows he'll have limited time to throw, he will get the ball out quickly.  With press coverage, you don't allow those quick dunk passes out to the flats.  And also with limited time to throw means fewer deep balls so press coverage makes even more sense as DBs don't have to worry as much about getting burned deep.  Only problem I can foresee is stopping the run to the outside with CBs focused on WRs and not the ball carrier.

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  "We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!"

+1 HS
ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

A playoff appearance would make me happy.  A first round victory would make me even happier.  At least if you get to the title game and lose, it's not as bad as it used to be, because you had to beat a great team to get to that game.

Class of 2010.

Unky Buck's picture

God, September can't get here fast enough. I want to see some freaking football and see how our team has progressed through the offseason! I think we'll know after our first several games as to whether there has been some drastic improvement as we all hope there is. And at least we have some OOC games to actually look forward to this time.

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

+2 HS
osu07asu10's picture

Phil Steele likes the buckeyes.

I like Phil Steele.

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

+7 HS
gobucks96's picture

I think the bigger question mark is the back 7 on defense...

+1 HS
Hovenaut's picture

I enjoy the prognostications, but (hoping) to take it one game at a time this season.

Some stout games from August through the end of November.

Hoping the Bucks get to the dance, but I'm still pretty salty about the B1G title - Urban and company are overdue there.

If the good guys are still in the mix after all of that, then I'll worry about what the playoffs hold.


+1 HS
hit_the_couch's picture

Phil Steele knows a lot about CFB and far more than I ever will; i'll give him that. Plus, tOSU was his darkhorse MNC winner in '02/ '03

The guy is a pretty good analyst, but he's also wrong a lot.

If the defense comes online, this is the year. 

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

+5 HS
Dougger's picture

Agree w/ that last line. 

I like football

+2 HS
trigg03's picture

Its not a forgone conclusion that we make the playoffs this year but I do like our chances. As long as they take care of business each week I don't think anyone on the schedule will keep up but all it takes is a key injury or an off day & things could end up all bad. So...hopefully everything goes as planned & we end up facing another true elite program in the play-off

+1 HS

Chris Ash is the key to this entire season. He has the potential to make Mr. Steele look really good. Let's hope he does.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

+2 HS
causeicouldntgo43's picture

Hey - we're all "ash men" this year. Forget the boobs - all show.

+2 HS
BoFuquel's picture

Just win'em all, or it's just another wait till next year: just like the last the last eleven years have been. I'm wantin' some of that Dr Pepper and nuttin' else will satisfy. GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

buckeyedude's picture

I'm just focused on Navy, right now...



+2 HS
Byaaaahhh's picture

From the comments, everyone seems to be sure that the offense will roll and the defense is the only part that needs to step up. It might just be me, but I'm actually quite worried about the offense. I like who's stepping up on the o-line, but there is no precedent for their performance. It could go either way. Secondly, none of the running backs have shown an El Guapo-like ability. Heralded, but we can only speak of their "potential" thus far.

I feel good about our receivers, even though we do lose some starting receivers, I think our wideouts will be better than last years (I mean come on, they HAVE to be).


+1 HS
NuttyBuckeye's picture

With Warinner having coached the O-linemen for two years now, I am not worried.  He knows what he is doing, and he will have the line ready.  Will they be as good as last year?  No, but they will be pretty good.

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

buckeyepastor's picture

If we make the title game this year, I'm a happy guy.   Hell, if we make the final four, I'm a happy guy.  But making the title game would mean that we'd done something that I don't feel like we delivered on last year - beating a team that was equal or superior to us in talent. I'm proud of how this team has played over these last two seasons - undefeated in two consecutive regular seasons.   I think that the next step for us is to not only win the conference (something most will have us favored to do), but win a game that many or most aren't expecting us to.   Looking at next year's schedule, as always, there are games we COULD lose.   And no doubt some will bet against us vs. Penn State and Michigan State.   But the next step for us is to take care of the business everyone expects us to take care of and then exceed expectations on the big stage.   

"Woody would have wanted it that way"