Ohio State might have a relatively easy matchup against Buffalo to start the year, but there are a number of individuals who are under a lot of pressure to do well right away.
After finishing with an undefeated record a year ago, the Buckeyes come into 2013 with incredibly high expectations. Anything less than a national championship will be considered a disappointment.
For this reason, the squad must send a message in its first game and show that it is truly one of the top teams in the country. For that to happen, a few specific players must have good showings to carry the team and instill confidence for the rest of the season.
Ryan Shazier, LB
Ohio State might feel confident offensively heading into the year, but there are tons of question marks on the defensive side of the ball. Only one player on the front seven will return as a starter this year, and the rest of the guys will have to grow up fast.
The good news, however, is that the one guy is as consistent of a performer as there is on the team.
Ryan Shazier led the team with 115 tackles last year, including 17 for a loss and five sacks. His ability to get to the ball while either blitzing or just reading and reacting makes him one of the best in the country at his position.
The junior must now repeat this type of performance on a weekly basis to help a squad that could be lost without him. If he struggles, the inexperienced defense could crumble.
Ohio State will only be as good as its top player running all over the field, and this must start with a strong performance in Week 1.