Coach Urban Meyer (second season, 12-0 at Ohio State, 116-23 overall)
Returning Starters: 14, 9 offense, 4 defense, 1 special teams
Recruiting Rank: 2
Strength of Schedule: 46
The Buckeyes are definitely poised to do so, with nine starters returning on offense and four starters back on what should again be a solid defense with some freshmen that may play this fall.
"On offense, we return a bunch of experience, including one of the best quarterbacks in America, Braxton Miller," coach Urban Meyer said. "Has really grown as a quarterback, has grown as a leader. Very humble young man that I have a lot of respect for."
Braxton Miller at Big Ten Media Days
Ohio State is secure at quarterback with Miller returning as a legit Heisman contender. He set a school record for total offense last season with 2,039 passing yards along with 15 touchdowns and six interceptions as well as an additional 1,271 rushing yards and 13 scores on the ground.
Miller will also have four offensive linemen returning in front of him and a compliment of skill positions back. With a combined 80 cumulative starts on the line, the group features left tackle Jack Mewhort, left guard Andrew Norwell, center Corey Linsley and right guard Marcus Hall.
"It would be disappointing if our offensive line isn't one of the best in the Big Ten," Meyer said. "I think there's some very good offensive lines in the Big Ten, and Ohio State should be right near the top with those other great lines."
Senior running back Carlos Hyde is back after posting 970 rushing yards and 16 scores for an offense that averaged better than 37 points per game. However, Hyde was recently suspended for at least three games for an off-the-field incident. Leading receivers Corey Brown and Devin Smith also return after combining for nearly 1,300 yards and nine scores last season.
Junior linebacker Ryan Shazier is one of four defensive starters returning after leading the team with 115 tackles last year. The other three returners are all in the secondary with junior cornerback Bradley Roby and senior safeties C.J. Barnett and Christian Bryant. The lone starter missing from the secondary is cornerback Travis Howard, who led the team with four interceptions last season.
The four returning starters were also the team’s four leading tacklers. The Buckeyes will also have to replace the entire defensive front now that John Simon and Johnathan Hankins have moved on to the NFL. The Buckeyes do return 17 letterwinners on their defensive depth chart.
Corey Brown should also resume his duties as the punt returner while junior running back Rod Smith and Devin Smith should again be the kick returners. Senior kicker Drew Basil is back and looks to be the replacement for last season's punter Ben Buchanan.
The Buckeyes also have one of the nation’s top recruiting classes, highlighted by spring enrollee Eli Apple at cornerback. Some defensive freshmen might play this fall and the incoming class has enough talent to add depth.
OL Marcus Hall (r-Sr. 6-6 315)
OL Jack Mewhort (r-Sr. 6-7 308)
OL Andrew Norwell (Sr. 6-6 319)
OL Taylor Decker (So. 6-7 315)
C Corey Linsley (r-Sr. 6-3 297)
QB Braxton Miller (Jr. 6-2 215)
RB Carlos Hyde* (Sr. 6-0 242)
WR Corey Brown (Sr. 6-0 187)
WR Devin Smith (Jr. 6-1 198)
WR Chris Fields (r-Sr. 6-0 200)
TE Jeff Heuerman (Jr. 6-6 250)
K Drew Basil (Sr. 6-2 210)
Bold - returning starters
*Suspended at least three games
DL Noah Spence (So. 6-3 247)
DT Michael Bennett (Jr. 6-3 285)
DL Adolphus Washington (So. 6-3 292)
DL J.T. Moore (Jr. 6-3 262) or DL Tommy Schutt (So. 6-2 303)
LB Joshua Perry (So. 6-4 243)
LB Curtis Grant (Jr. 6-3 241)
LB Ryan Shazier (Jr. 6-2 222)
CB Doran Grant (Jr. 5-11 191)
CB Bradley Roby (r-Jr. 5-11 192)
SS C.J. Barnett (r-Sr. 6-1 203)
S Christian Bryant (Sr. 5-10 192)
P Drew Basil (Sr. 6-2 210)
PPG: 37.2 (21st)
YPG: 423.8 (46th)
RYPG: 242.3 (10th)
PYPG: 181.5 (105th)
Fum Lost: 11
Int Lost: 7
TOs Lost: 18
PAPG: 22.8 (32nd)
YAPG: 359.6 (34th)
RYAPG: 116.1 (15th)
PYAPG: 243.5 (78th)
Fum Gained: 7
Int Gained: 14
TOs Gained: 21
TO Margin: +3 (46th)
2012 season stats listed unless otherwise noted.
RB Ezekiel Elliot
Fr. 6-0 210
St. Louis, MO (John Burroughs High School)
DL Joey Bosa
Fr. 6-5 270
Fort Lauderdale, FL (St. Thomas Aquinas)
LB Mike Mitchell
Fr. 6-4 225
Plano, TX (Prestonwood Christian)
CB Eli Apple
Fr. 6-0 184
Voorhees, NJ (Eastern High School)
S Von Bell
Fr. 6-1 190 Rossville, GA (Ridgeland)
OL Marcus Hall
r-Sr. 6-6 315
18 career starts & 33 career games.
OL Jack Mewhort
r-Sr. 6-7 308
2012 All-Big Ten Second Team, 25 straight starts, & 35 career games.
OL Andrew Norwell
Sr. 6-6 319
2012 All-Big Ten First Team, 25 career starts, & 36 career games.
C Corey Linsley
r-Sr. 6-3 297
2012 All-Big Ten Honorable Mention, 12 starts in 2012, & 28 career games.
QB Braxton Miller
Jr. 6-2 215
2039 pass yds, 15 pass TDs, 1271 rush yds, 5.6 rush avg, & 13 rush TDs.
RB Carlos Hyde
Sr. 6-0 235
970 rush yds, 5.2 avg, 16 rush TDs, & 1 rec TD.
WR Corey Brown
Sr. 6-0 187
60 receptions, 660 rec yds, & 3 rec TDs.
WR Devin Smith
Jr. 6-1 198
30 receptions, 618 rec yds, 20.6 avg, & 6 rec TDs.
TE Jeff Heuerman
Jr. 6-6 250
Benches 225 pounds at 33 reps, 23 career games, & 119 career rec yds.
LB Ryan Shazier
Jr. 6-2 222
115 tackles, 17 TFLs, 5 sacks, 12 PBUs, & 3 FFs.
SS C.J. Barnett
r-Sr. 6-1 203
56 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, 6 PBUs, & 2 ints.
S Christian Bryant
Sr. 5-10 190
70 tackles, 0.5 TFL, 12 PBUs, & 1 int.
CB Bradley Roby
r-Jr. 5-11 192
63 tackles, 2 TFLs, 17 PBUs, & 2 ints.
K Drew Basil
Sr. 6-2 210
8-11 FGs & 56-57 PATs.
vs Miami(OH) W 56-10
vs UCF W 31-16
vs California W 35-28
vs UAB W 29-15
at Mich St W 17-16
vs Nebraska W 63-38
at Indiana W 52-49
vs Purdue W 29-22OT
at Penn State W 35-23
vs Illinois W 52-22
at Wisc W 21-14 OT
vs Michigan W 26-21
vs San Diego State
vs Florida A&M
vs Penn State