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Crew fans get more on your favorite team
By Matt McCoy
For the eighth year in a row, I'm honored that the good folks at the Associated Press are trusting my judgement. They've again asked that I participate in the weekly college football poll. It's a responsibility I take seriously and I do my best each week to rank teams where I think they deserve to be.
The preseason poll is always the most difficult because there is no on field evidence to go on. Because of that, I rely on what I saw last year, returning starters, coaching, schedules and often times, gut feelings.
It's hard not to go with Alabama at number one. The Crimson Tide have won the national title three of the last four years including two years in a row and they return starting quarterback A.J. McCarron. Sure, they lost a lot to the NFL but until someone pushes them off, they remain at the top of the hill in my mind.
Ohio State opened number two in the coaches poll and that's where they are on my AP ballot as well. The Buckeyes went 12-0 in 2012 and talent-wise, are better than a year ago. Braxton Miller, the Big Ten M.V.P. last season, should be even more improved and though they lost veteran leadership on defense, the Buckeyes have young capable talent to plug in around guys like Ryan Shazier, Christian Bryant, C.J. Barnett and once he returns from his expected suspension, Bradley Roby.
My biggest concerns about the Buckeyes are the lost leadership of guys like John Simon and Zach Boren and quite honestly, the odds. It's so difficult to go undefeated in college football, I wonder if they can do it again.
The 2012 team won six games by a touchdown or less and won two in overtime. Everything went right. Will that continue? We'll see.
The schedule is still favorable but is less favorable than a year ago. There are more potential dangerous road games this year including California, Northwestern and of course, Michigan. On top of that, a Big Ten Championship game is likely. That's a lot to navigate but the bottom line is that the Buckeyes should have a talent advantage over every team they play in the regular season...and they have a pretty good coach too.
I went with Georgia, Stanford and Oregon to round out the top five. Louisville is sixth in my poll. I don't know that the Cardinals are really the sixth best team in the country, but they're better than everyone on their schedule and could go undefeated.
Florida, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Clemson complete my top 10.
If you're interested, here's what I submitted to the AP. The official AP preseason top 25 comes out next weekend.
2) Ohio State
8) South Carolina
9) Texas A&M
11) Oklahoma State
13) Florida State
16) Notre Dame
18) Boise State
Former Buckeye coach John Cooper joined Joel Riley Friday morning and discussed the Buckeyes. Here's some of the highlights.
On what he sees on the 2013 Buckeyes that he likes:
"I see a lot of speed...a lot of speed...a lot of athletic players that can run. They all look the part."
On his expectations for Braxton Miller:
"You're not going to improve his athletic ability but you can improve his passing form and his accuracy, but the main thing I think is you're going to see a quarterback with a lot more confidence than what he had. This is his second year in the system and he's getting great coaching over there from Tom Herman."
On the offense as a whole:
"You can add more to the offense this year. (Miller's) a lot more familiar with his wide receivers and he has a couple of tight ends that are really good players but the main thing I like about the offense is the offensive line. Ed Warinner, the offensive line coach is doing a fabulous job. You go watch them practice and they get after it."
On whether the Buckeyes can go undefeated two years in a row:
"Absolutely they can go undefeated. They've got a good schedule and there's two things that make up a great football team. One of course is players and the other is coaching and they've got both. They coach them hard over there and they've got good players...Sure they've got a chance to run the table...The Big Ten is not as strong as it will be or that it used to be and (Ohio State) has a good non-conference schedule...but you have to do it. You don't talk about it, you do it."
To listen to all of Coach Cooper's conversation with Joel click HERE: