With a little over a month before Ohio State takes the field against Buffalo, here are some storylines to keep an eye on this season.
Will the Buckeyes go undefeated again in 2013?
Even though the team dealt with sanctions last season that prevented it from playing in the postseason, OSU still managed to run the table in Urban Meyer’s first season as head coach. With a more than favorable schedule this season, will the Buckeyes continue their winning ways and go undefeated in 2013?
If Carlos Hyde and Bradley Roby miss extended time or the entire season, how will their absence affect the team?
After hearing of separate incidents involving both starting senior running back Carlos Hyde and starting redshirt junior cornerback Bradley Roby, Meyer acted quickly in suspending both indefinitely until more information is provided in their cases. The Buckeyes are very deep at the running back position, with junior Rod Smith, sophomore Bri’onte Dunn and freshman Warren Ball each reportedly practicing well this past spring. Due to this depth, losing Hyde may not hurt the team as badly as losing Roby may. Roby was a second team All-American in 2012 and is a preseason favorite for the 2013 Jim Thorpe award, given to the nation’s best defensive back. The Buckeyes are both young and inexperienced except for Roby at the position, so losing him for the year may hurt them.
Will Braxton Miller become the 8th Buckeye in program history to win the Heisman Trophy?
Braxton Miller thrived in his first season as the quarterback of Meyer’s spread offense, rushing for over 1,200 yards, throwing for more than 2,000 yards and scoring a total of 28 touchdowns. He enters 2013 as a heavy favorite to win the Heisman Trophy as the nation’s best player. Meyer is pleased with his development as a leader, but wants more from him inside the huddle and in his ability to control the offense. Miller expects to be the focal point of the offense again this year, and his chance to win the Heisman will grow if he stays healthy.
Who on the schedule has the best chance of beating Ohio State this season?
The Buckeyes 12-0 season did not come without some challenges, as it took overtime to beat both Purdue and Wisconsin. Ohio State travels to West Lafayette to play the Boilermakers this season, a place they have not won at since 2007. OSU also plays out west at California this year, and in Chicago at Northwestern who finished 10-3 in 2012. The Buckeyes must also travel to Ann Arbor to play Michigan in the last game of the season, where the Wolverines will be looking to avenge last season’s 26-21 loss.
Will Jordan Hall be able to stay healthy and be the hybrid-style player that Meyer wants?
Hall battled injuries last season and was granted another season of eligibility after receiving a medical redshirt. Meyer is looking for a versatile player like Hall to play the position that Percy Harvin made so famous at Florida and take the Buckeye offense to the next level in 2013. If Hall can stay healthy and play to his potential, it will be interesting to see how much the offense will be able to improve.
With a postseason to play for this year, how will Ohio State respond?
The Buckeyes could not go to a bowl game in 2012 thanks to the tattoo scandal that stormed across the program and led to former coach Jim Tressel’s eventual departure. With the possibility of playing for a Rose Bowl or even a national championship being very real, the Buckeyes should be ready and willing to do what it takes to get there. Many believe the Buckeyes are the best candidates to dethrone back-to-back champion Alabama and put an end to the SEC’s reign in the final season of the BCS. How Ohio State responds to this hype and expectations will be something to keep an eye on.
What players will surprise on the defense alongside Ryan Shazier?
Shazier is the only player who returns from a front seven that lost the likes of NFL draft picks Johnathan Hankins and John Simon. Shazier was named to the Butkus Award watch list given to the nation’s best linebacker, but players like Adolphus Washington, Noah Spence and Curtis Grant must fill the void in order for Ohio State’s defense to be able to stop the run and pressure the quarterback. OSU’s postseason aspirations will hinge on their ability to do so.