It's that preseason magazine time of the year. You know, the time when non-stories turn from just that into actual issues of nonsensical debate. A time when we try to over rationalize or anti-intellectualize the unknowable. The part of the year when we've all grown tired of trying to deviate our minds ever so slightly from one standard deviation of possible timelines to another that we just start all collectively engaging in a bull market of bullshit. Athlon Magazine, you're hitting lead off, friends.
The first of the major magazines to unveil Ohio State's place in their predictive pantheon of 2k12, Athlon predicts Ohio State to be the 6th best team in the college football landscape. This would make the Buckeyes the Big Ten's best in a year where in which they predict the league to undergo a rebound effect of sorts. The magazine previously had Michigan State 18th, Wisconsin 17th, Nebraska 14th, and Michigan 7th. Hypothetically this would setup a Wisconsin-Michigan Big Ten championship game with the Buckeyes ineligible for the game in Indianapolis.
So what is Athlon thinking that, um, not even the most scarlet colored glasses wearing of Buckeye fans aren't?
On the offensive side of things:
Urban Meyer wants to unleash a highly aggressive version of his spread on the Big Ten, and he has tabbed young innovator Tom Herman as his new offensive coordinator. Look for the Buckeyes to challenge defenses vertically as well as horizontally with Braxton Miller doing his best Denard Robinson impersonation.
Because Denard Robinson and Braxton Miller are alike in so many ways.
Miller is all but a perfect fit for the speed option and triple option looks Herman and Meyer are likely to implement into their ground attack, but still, it seems a bit pollyannaish to assume it's going to take so quickly.
So what about how Athlon foresees the defense shaking out?
Defensive end John Simon and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins are potential All-Americans, and there is a plethora of experience to join them up front. Active defensive end Nathan Williams is poised for a big season provided he can recover from a nasty knee injury. Plus, OSU's top-10 signing class is headlined by several top-flight defensive linemen, including 5-star prospects Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington. They didn't come to Columbus to sit on the bench.
Etienne Sabino will try to steady a linebacking corps that also features athletic marvel Ryan Shazier. The secondary returns five players with starting experience, most notably outstanding cover corners Bradley Roby and Travis Howard.
Them echoing the Ohio-State's-defensive-line-is-the-best-in-America sentiment isn't erroneous. They're also correct that Ryan Shazier as just a sophomore might already be amongst the Big Ten's best. However, assuming Roby and Howard can be reliable playmakers or anything resembling "outstanding cover corners" solely for being experienced is a bit of a leap. If Ohio State's secondary is what their athletic potential could allow them to be, they might easily live up to these expectations or more. If they're a year older make and model of the 2k11 edition, well, welp. Athlon also goes on to call Roby "perhaps the Big Ten's best-all around corner." Oh, but to live in a world where evaluations are made on seasons of EA Sports' NCAA Football '12.
Stay tuned for more special adventures in speculative speculation to come.