Wednesday, August 28, 2013


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COLUMBUS — Ohio State kicks off their college football season this Saturday against the University of Buffalo (12 p.m., ESPN2), and expectations across the Buckeye State are so high that anything less than a 50-point win against the Bulls may leave fans feeling a little disappointed.

Of course, there are plenty of reasons for the astronomic optimism. First, the Buckeyes are now eligible to play in the post-season, something they were prohibited from doing last season because of past NCAA violations.

Secondly, the team is coming off an undefeated campaign, have a full season of head coach Urban Meyer's influence under their belts, are ranked No. 2 in the polls and possess the most electrifying player in all of college football in junior quarterback Braxton Miller.

Who wouldn't be dreaming of the stars with a resume like that?

Well, Meyer wouldn't, that's who ...

"I'm always worried about that," Meyer said of the high expectations, during his weekly press conference in Columbus on Monday. "The question is — because of high expectations — do they think they have got some of the answers?

"I would be disappointed in our staff if that happened."

Meyer is pretty confident that those crazy expectations reside outside of the locker room only.

"I don't think we have that problem. I really don't," Meyer said. "First of all, we are not that good yet. I'll tell you if I believe we are, and we're not. We have a long way to go, especially in certain areas."

One of those areas is at linebacker, where the Buckeyes are trying desperately in the closing days of fall camp to find dependable quality outside of All-American candidate Ryan Shazier.

"The area we are still trying to solidify is linebacker," Meyer said. "There's some young guys in the depth and then also Curtis Grant has not really played a whole lot of Mike linebacker. He's catching up quick. He missed a lot of practices because he got injured during training camp but he's going real hard and trying to catch up as fast as he can. 

"That's the only area that we are a little bit behind."

One area they are not behind is at the offensive skill set ... and it begins with the emerging superstar Miller.

Miller was basically a one-man show when it came to making big plays last season, totaling a school-record 3,310 yards and a team-leading 28 touchdowns.

This season, with the growth of veterans at the skill positions like Jordan Hall, Devin Smith, Philly Brown, Evan Spencer and Carlos Hyde, and the addition of freshmen play-makers Dontre Wilson, Ezekiel Elliott and Jalin Marshall, the shoulders of Miller won't have to be the bearer of the entire load no longer.

"I hope that doesn't happen," Meyer said in terms of the team being completely dependent on Miller once again. "He was by far our best player and when I say by far, I mean, it wasn't even the same hemisphere as far as who the next player was that could go make a play and help us win.

"But I'm very comfortable with Philly Brown. Evan Spencer has had a tremendous camp. Jordan Hall looks better than he ever has. We have two tight ends that I can't wait to get involved.

"If Braxton is leading, I don't see that happening this year. If it does, that means something's not going well."

Bottom Line

Ohio State has way too much fire power for the Bulls to stay close in this one. It isn't going to be about competition against Buffalo, but more between one another.

Meyer is using this game as if it were an NFL preseason tilt — get the stars in rhythm for the season, and create competition amongst each other to determine which players are ready to move forward as contributing factors, and who will be relegated to season-long sideline spectators.

Vegas has the Buckeyes tabbed as 33-point favorites over the Bulls. 

I see that spread eclipsed by halftime.

Lee's prediction: OSU 56-9