As I confessed in a earlier post, with the Ohio State Buckeyes taking a break from the BCS, I’ve paid very little attention to the polls. Although it is disappointing to see my beloved Buckeyes branded with the scarlet letter of NCAA sanctions (especially in light of other violations to arise in the past year) there is something purifying about a coming season where once again a big win in the biggest game in college football is all that matters.
But as much as I enjoy this break from the bs that is the BCS, I keep finding myself being pulled back into the fray and my annual frustration with the polls. Yes, I again find it tiring to see USC, Alabama and LSU sitting in the top 3 spots in all polls. I find it somewhat amazing that Michigan is ranked No. 8 (above Michigan State and Wisconsin). This may be due to their season opener against Alabama than anything else.
In the world of college football rankings the Alabama/Michigan game is something of a win/win. If Michigan wins, Alabama only has to worry about falling 2-3 spots in the polls and will have plenty of chances to rise due to the earlier discussed influence of the SEC on rankings. A Michigan win will also place much more emphasis on The Game as we get the opportunity to play spoiler. That said, Michigan being Michigan will probably blow the opportunity either against Alabama, Notre Dame or Michigan State.
If Alabama wins…well…there’s always the joy of a good Michigan loss. Problem is it will only be used to justify Alabama’s ranking.
Ohio State at 18
Leave it to the good old AP Poll to pull me back into the world of Ohio State rankings. Regardless of what the NCAA says, the AP goes on and has place the Buckeyes in the No. 18 spot. In relation to the optimism running through Buckeye Nation, that is a fairly poor spot. The problem is (as is the problem with all preseason polls) we just don’t know if that is a good spot. More so this year more than in years past.
What we do know:
1) 2011 Season Sucked
It was a tough year for the Buckeyes. A potential top-ranked team with top ranked talent was throttled by the NCAA and the loss of Coach Tressel. Although all credit goes to Coach Fickell, it was not his time. The Tressel holdouts were still there (ie. Bollman) and for most of the season they were going through the motions.
Not a good basis for 2012 rankings
2) Spring Game looked just as bleak
O.K. Maybe not that bad but that was the general message coming from Urban Meyer.
3) Urban Meyer Likes Smoke and Mirrors
One of the big reasons Spring Game looked so bad was that Meyer kept telling us it looked so bad. Through spring practice, summer practice and preseason camp, all we’ve heard is how this team is not ready for prime time. That is until recently. Like a perfectly choreographed waltz, we are starting to hear comments that the wide receivers are coming around and that the offense is getting a handle on the no-huddle, fast-pace football that both Meyer and offensive coach Tom Herrman expect.
Maybe it was motivation, maybe they really were that bad. Maybe it is Urban Meyer’s way of deflecting the attention away from himself if the season doesn’t go all that well. Until we see them on the field, we just won’t know.
What we do know:
1) Expectations are beyond big
Buckeye fan expectations are nothing short of an undefeated season. Although that may be a tall order, it’s not out of the question. Meyer’s winning expectations are clear and we have the talent.
2) Braxton Miller will be exciting
Miller got thrown into the game too soon last year. Since the Gator Bowl, he’s had plenty of time to grow and develop. He has the speed and the arm for the spread offense Meyer wants to see. I’m looking forward to big things from Miller
3) The receivers have got to be better than last year
Yes, the receiving corps had a lot to be desired last season but how much of Meyer’s complaining has been aimed directly at motivating said receivers. This past Monday, Meyer said that they were “Not where we need to be, but so much improved.”
No question there is some interesting potential in Corey Brown, 6’6″ Tyron Williams and Jake Stoneburner’s move back to wide receiver. Miller has also had much more time to work with the receivers so the timing and connection should be much better.
Personally, I believe that the passing game will be spot on come opening game. Meyer has too much riding on the spread offense for it to be a weak spot in the program.
4) There’s always Tresselball
No matter how badly Meyer wants the run the spread, if the receivers aren’t ready he can still fall back on his defense and some powerful running potential. Sports Illustrated called the Buckeye line “arguably” the best in the nation and I’m personally looking forward to seeing Ryan Shazier pick up where he left off last year. Shazier made the most tackles as a freshman since Andy Katszenmoyer and he should continue in the Big Katz footprints.
On offense, the running trio of Carlos Hyde, Jordon Hall and Braxton Miller still provide the potential for good old threeyardandacloudof stuff if need be. All else fails, run some sort of option between the three of them. All have the potential to break out of the backfield for some big yards.