Early Polls Have OSU High In 2013

With the 2012 campaign over, it's never too early to start thinking about 2013. With that in mind, BSB sought out some early rankings to see just how good those around the nation think the Buckeyes might be next season. Not surprisingly, OSU checks in highly ranked.

When Alabama raised the crystal ball Monday night, the 2012 college football season came to a close.

And of course, some immediately started turning their eyes to the 2013 campaign. A number of sources have released what many have dubbed "way too early" looks at the 2013 national rankings.

The predictions will change thanks to NFL draft declarations, the coaching carousel, injuries, recruiting outcomes, and many more factors, but the early projections do offer a look at which teams are already thought to be hot topics when August rolls around.

The rankings are also important to Ohio State fans, who sat by this postseason and watched the Buckeyes finish as the only undefeated team in the FBS thanks to the postseason ban on the program. Those fans believe the Buckeyes will have a good chance to return to the BCS and maybe even the national championship game in Urban Meyer's second campaign in charge.

The good news for those fans is that the national media thinks the Buckeyes have a good chance to reach those lofty goals, which is outlined below in the BSB consensus way too early poll.

Using rankings supplied by ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach, Fox Sports' Cory McCartney, CBS' Chris Huston and the National Football Post's Dave Miller, BSB combined the top 10s to see where the experts have Ohio State at this early stage in the game.

In the end, the Buckeyes came out fourth in the consensus poll, behind only Alabama, Oregon and Georgia. Ohio State – the only Big Ten team to be ranked in any of the four polls – was picked fourth by both Schlabach and McCartney, fifth by Miller and sixth by Huston.

"The offense should only get better in its second season under Urban Meyer," McCartney wrote. "QB Braxton Miller (1,271 rushing yards and 28 total touchdowns) and RB Carlos Hyde (970 yards, 16 TDs) will be operating behind a line that returns two all-Big Ten picks in tackle Jack Mewhort and guard Andrew Norwell.

"Miller's development as a passer (58.3 completion percentage) remains a concern, as does a defense that loses all four starters up front. But with All-American cornerback Bradley Roby, linebacker Ryan Shazier (a Big Ten-best 17 tackles for loss) and the main pieces from an offense that averaged 37.7 points per game, Meyer could follow his Florida script with a title in Year 2."

Schlabach also notes that Ohio State has a schedule that could allow it to navigate the campaign with an unblemished record.

"OSU's schedule doesn't seem overly difficult; it plays nonconference games against Buffalo, San Diego State and Florida A&M at home and plays at California," the ESPN scribe wrote. "The Buckeyes play Big Ten foes Wisconsin, Iowa and Penn State at home and don't play Nebraska or Michigan State in the regular season."

Ohio State will return each offensive starter except for wideout/tight end Jake Stoneburner and right tackle Reid Fragel while adding some highly anticipated recruits at the skill positions. Defensively, the Buckeyes must replace seven starters, including six in the front seven, but return veteran stars Shazier, Roby and Christian Bryant.

The Crimson Tide swept to the top spot in each of the way-too-early rankings after winning their third championship in four years Monday night over Notre Dame. Quarterback A.J. McCarron and a number of weapons return, but Alabama must replace some studs along the offensive line.

Fiesta Bowl champion Oregon placed second in the consensus poll after taking the same ranking in the final AP poll of 2012. The Ducks were boosted by the return of head coach Chip Kelly, who flirted with multiple NFL teams, and will have quarterback Marcus Mariota and back De'Anthony Thomas returning to their explosive offense in 2013.

The No. 3 team is Georgia, which pushed Alabama to the limit in the SEC title game before beating Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl. Prodigious quarterback Aaron Murray has announced he will be back to lead an offense returning most starters, while the defense will be hit by defections, including that of potential high draft pick Jarvis Jones, a linebacker.

Alabama, Oregon, OSU, Georgia and Texas A&M, which boasts returning Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, were the five schools on each of the four ballots.

Consensus Way Too Early 2013 rankings
1. Alabama (40 points; four first-place votes)
2. Oregon (34)
3. Georgia (27)
4. Ohio State (25)
5. Texas A&M (24)
6. Stanford (20)
7. Notre Dame (15)
8. Clemson (9)
9. South Carolina (8)
10. LSU (6)
Receiving votes: Louisville 5, Florida 4, TCU 2, Florida State 1

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