COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State had a lot to play for last fall: Making people forget a year of NCAA investigations and innuendo, rebounding from the worst season in more than a century and living up to the expectations of a new coaching staff.
They more than succeeded with a stunning 12-0 turnaround.
Unlike those Buckeyes, however, the 2013 version is allowed to compete for a Big Ten championship and even a national title. A postseason ban is no longer in force for crimes and misdemeanors committed under the regime of deposed coach Jim Tressel.
The first step is Saturday’s game against Buffalo, a rebuilding team hoping to make a good showing while the second-ranked Buckeyes are aiming to serve notice that they’re a worthy contender to break the Southeastern Conference’s seven-year stranglehold on No. 1.
”Coach (Urban) Meyer came in here and he went 12-0,” safety C.J. Barnett said. ”Last year we had a chip on our shoulder. We were kind of hunting, but now we’re the hunted. We’ve got the target on our backs. It’s tougher when everybody’s gunning at you.”
Here are five things to watch in the opener for both teams:
HYPE OR HOPE? Braxton Miller embarks on his Heisman Trophy campaign with a better handle on the offense and better mechanics when he steps into the pocket. His receivers are improved over last year. Plus, he has far more options in terms of playmakers.
Even Buffalo coach Jeff Quinn, if he could, would vote for Miller.
”Braxton, to me, is definitely a worthy candidate,” he said.
Meyer says Miller will run less and throw more, which will keep him healthier and stronger for the stretch run.
Continue Reading: Buffalo seeks respect, Ohio State chasing No. 1