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By Matt McCoy
**Click HERE: Urban Meyer to hear Coach Meyer after the Michigan win**
After Ohio State's very first practice of fall camp, Urban Meyer challenged his team.
"It's so easy to be average," Meyer told his team. It was captured on ESPN's all access series and the video is posted below. "It takes a little something to be special...we don't have enough great players. To hell with that! We don't want to coach average!"
Twelve games later, the Buckeyes are far from average. In fact, they're perfect. In Meyer's first year, this Ohio State team, ineligible for post-season play, went from six wins to 12 and never tasted defeat.
"I don't think anyone expected Coach Meyer to come in and turn it around like he did," senior Jake Stoneburner said. "For anyone who wants to be a Buckeye or is a Buckeye right now, there's no better place to be. We went undefeated. Who really would have thought that?"
Throughout the season, Meyer preached the one game at a time mantra. Eleven times this year we heard, "the best part of being (fill in the number) and 0 is we have a chance go (next number) and 0." But 12 is as high as it will go and the reality that this special season ends started hitting home with the Buckeyes following Saturday's Michigan win.
"It went by so quick," Carlos Hyde said. "I guess you've just got to live with it. Next year...we've got a chance next year."
The Buckeye do lose an incredible senior class, with leaders like John Simon, Zach Boren and Etienne Sabino leaving the program, but they will return all but two starters on offense, Stoneburner and Reid Fragel...and will presumably add Jordan Hall, who's expected to be granted a medical redshirt.
The defense loses more and could see players like Johnathan Hankins and Bradley Roby depart too. Both are considering early jumps to the NFL. Nonetheless, the 2013 Buckeyes will certainly begin the year as a national championship contender.
They remain fourth in this week's AP poll. I have them third behind Notre Dame and Alabama. Here's my latest AP ballot, with each teams current rank in the overall poll in parentheses.
1. Notre Dame 12-0 (1)
2. Alabama 11-1 (2)
3. Ohio State 12-0 (4)
4. Georgia 11-1 (3)
5. Florida 11-1 (5)
6. Oregon 11-1 (6)
7. Kansas State 10-1 (7)
8. Stanford 10-2 (8)
9. LSU 10-2 (9)
10. Texas A&M 10-2 (10)
11. South Carolina 10-2 (11)
12. Nebraska 10-2 (14)
13. Florida State 10-2 (13)
14. Oklahoma 9-2 (12)
15. Clemson 10-2 (15)
16. Oregon State 8-3 (16)
17. UCLA 9-3 (17)
18. Northwestern 9-3 (22)
19. Texas 8-3 (23)
20. Michigan 8-4 (21)
21. Oklahoma State 7-4 (24)
22. Kent State 11-1 (18)
23. Vanderbilt 8-4 (NR)
24. Northern Illinois 11-1 (19)
25. Utah State 10-2 (20)
Did he know something?
I mentioned the Urban Meyer "average" speech. Here it is. When I rewatched it, my jaw dropped at one point. Meyer asks the team, "Did you push yourself to be great today?," and then, as if knowing the future, singled out one player.
"We're going to push your ass like it's never been pushed because what you've got in you...we're going to find out Kenny (Guiton), I'm going to find out...and if there's a touch of greatness in there, how cool would that be?"
The only reason this Ohio State team is 12-0 is because Kenny Guiton had a touch of greatness in the final 47 seconds and in overtime against Purdue....and it was pretty cool.