"I can see Ohio State winning again. I would cheer for them because they're from the Big Ten, even though I hate them!"
- Anonymous Big Ten player, via ESPN The Magazine Staff, ESPN.com
In an article that will appear in ESPN The Magazine, staffers asked 99 college football players their predictions on the season, asking not only about the Heisman and the playoff, but even coaches they like or dislike, and how many teams they believed should be in the College Football Playoff.
When questioned about who would win the Heisman, 17 percent of players voted for TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, with Ezekiel Elliott finishing second with a close 16 percent, and whoever starts at quarterback for Ohio State with 7 percent in the third spot. The Buckeyes were also the most popular choice in terms of teams selected to participate in the playoff with 88 percent, and 30 percent of those polled chose them to repeat as champions. Perhaps not surprisingly, Nick Saban received the most votes in terms of "best coach in the country" as well as "the last coach you'd want to play for." Urban Meyer was second in the best coach in the country category, and Michigan's Jim Harbaugh was second in the last coach you'd want to play for category.
"My fingers tried typing No. 1 next to Ohio State but locked up with what digit doctors now think was a case of Carpel Title Syndrome. It was just too difficult, and obvious, for me, to hang it all on 'Sloopy.'"
- Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times
In the Los Angeles Times' yearly college football countdown, Chris Dufresne has the Buckeyes finishing 2nd in the country. He, like others, notes Ohio State's greatest vulnerability appearing to come at the very beginning of the season, pointing out the four suspended players that includes defensive stud Joey Bosa. Dufresne also discusses the history behind teams being ranked No. 1 in the preseason, and how it almost never happens that said team wins the national championship.
Outside of the Virginia Tech game and the suspensions that will come with it, on top of being ranked No. 1 in the preseason, it seems hard for anyone to come up with a legitimate reason for Ohio State to lose. Michigan State appears to be the biggest test the Buckeyes will face until the playoff (assuming they will be there), but it seems very easy to sit and say if the Buckeyes were to lose a game, it'll be against VT because of the four suspensions. Sure, they beat the Buckeyes last season and the losses from the suspensions aren't insignificant, but when you also discuss the immense talent on the roster, that game should hardly be the one to worry about.
"We opened up with Bama [in 2013]. That was a really, really good football team also, but this kind of reminds me of the Florida group, to be honest with you. They're loaded on both sides of the ball. I was a part of that group and they're very talented and they're extremely well-coached."
- Scot Loeffler, via Andy Bitter, The Roanoke Times
Andy Bitter talked to Scot Loeffler, offensive coordinator for Virginia Tech Tuesday night, who interestingly compared Ohio State to Urban Meyer's dominant Florida teams. Loeffler was the quarterbacks coach at Florida under Urban Meyer from 2009-10. Although discussing the greatness that this particular Ohio State team possesses, Loeffler also says that Ohio State will have no room for error when they head into Blacksburg on Sept. 7 against Bud Foster's defense.
The comparisons to Meyer's Florida teams seems pretty fair and accurate. This Ohio State squad is loaded with talent, as were many of Meyer's Florida teams. For instance, Meyer had compared Braxton Miller's ability at H-back to be similar to that of Percy Harvin's, although not the same. When talking about quarterback play, whether it be J.T. Barrett or Cardale Jones, look no further than Tim Tebow from Meyer's best Florida teams. The 2008 Gators also had speedsters Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps in the backfield, compared to Ohio State's Heisman candidate Ezekiel Elliott. To name a few, Ohio State boasts great talent on the defensive side of the ball such as Joey Bosa, Darron Lee, and Eli Apple, compared to the Gators' Carlos Dunlap, Brandon Spikes, and Joe Haden. No matter who he is coaching, Urban Meyer knows how to pick them.
"[Mike] Kuchar's inside look at The Bear is reason enough to put Ohio State-Virginia Tech at the front of the line of most likely upsets in Week 1."
- Dennis Dodd, CBSSports.com
Dennis Dodd talks about Bud Foster's defense, and his use of The Bear, also known as the 46 defense which was famously created by Buddy Ryan, leading the 1985 Bears to a championship. Ohio State was not flawless last season as we all know, and they clearly had issues against the Hokies and this scheme last season. Dodd fears for the Buckeyes when they have to face this style of defense again against Virginia Tech, and deems it the most likely upset of the first week of the season.
I am not sure if I would say that this game would make for the most likely upset as I would say it would make for the biggest upset. Ohio State comes into this game entirely more experienced than they did when they stepped onto the gridiron with the Hokies last season, and although missing four players due to suspension, are not hard pressed for talent. Time and again we have seen Urban Meyer, whether it be at Ohio State or a previous head coaching position, get the best out of his players, and more often than not, there is always somebody ready to step up and fill a void. That was the mantra last season, and at one of the most important positions on the field at quarterback, that destiny was fulfilled. There's no reason for the Buckeyes not to be ready to avenge their only loss last season Monday night.
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