Talent Abounds for Buckeyes, Now Free From NCAA Ban
Not long after beating Michigan in the 2012 season finale, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was asked if his 12-0 Buckeyes deserved to be ranked as the top team in the country. “I’m not going to get into the ‘what ifs,’” he told reporters. “You can’t control what you can’t control.”
Oh, but now Meyer and his Buckeyes do have control.
No longer under the NCAA’s thumb for wrongs committed under the previous regime, this year’s Buckeyes can compete again for the very biggest prizes.
“Well, you know, it is Ohio State,” said Illinois coach Tim Beckman.
The Buckeyes are loaded. It’s an overused term in college football, but it may not do justice in describing the depth of talent on this roster.
Braxton Miller may be the finest dual-threat quarterback in the country; he certainly has the finest receiving corps in the conference, and the Buckeyes secondary … well, let’s just say opposing quarterbacks will lose plenty of sleep over this bunch. Top to bottom, the Buckeyes have it. Again, loaded (and then some).
But if the Big Ten has a team to stop Meyer’s bunch, perhaps it’s their good friends from Ann Arbor.
Devin Gardner is ready to put his stamp on this program, and he has the playmakers and protection to help him. The loss of linebacker Jake Ryan to offseason knee surgery was a devastating blow to the defense, but the Wolverines, too, are loaded with talent. And the Big Game this year will take place in the Big House.
Wisconsin has represented the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl for three straight years, yet — same as is true heading into every season — no one believes they’ll get it done another year. “They’re a little underappreciated,” said Indiana’s Kevin Wilson.
New Badgers coach Gary Andersen hopes to keep things mostly the same in Madison, and he inherits the conference’s (and arguably nation’s) best backfield to help him.
Michigan State’s defense could be as good as Ohio State’s, especially at linebacker and defensive back. And while the offense has much to prove, no one questions Mark Dantonio’s ability to contend; through six seasons, Dantonio has a better winning percentage than legendary Duffy Daugherty.
Nebraska and Penn State? Yep, they’ll be there, lunch buckets in hand. Both have been devastated by departures in the past year, but when has graduation or injury ever kept the Cornhuskers or Nittany Lions down?
And then there is Northwestern, which suffered very few key losses from their 10-win season of a year ago. Kain Colter and Venric Mark are back to lead the offense, with Tyler Scott and Ibraheim Campbell to lead the defense. Plus, Pat Fitzgerald’s bunch is always disciplined and prepared.
But can Northwestern really contend in a year in which Ohio State and Michigan are in top form? In this conference — arguably the most balanced in the country … sure, why not?
|OFFENSE – FIRST TEAM||OFFENSE – SECOND TEAM||OFFENSE – THIRD TEAM|
|QB||Braxton Miller||Jr.||Ohio State||QB||Taylor Martinez||Sr.||Nebraska||QB||Devin Gardner||Jr.||Michigan|
|RB||Carlos Hyde||Sr.||Ohio State||RB||Venric Mark||Sr.||Northwestern||RB||Mark Weisman||Jr.||Iowa|
|RB||Ameer Abdullah||Jr.||Nebraska||RB||Melvin Gordon||So.||Wisconsin||RB||Stephen Houston||Sr.||Indiana|
|WR||Kenny Bell||Jr.||Nebraska||WR||Allen Robinson||Jr.||Penn State||WR||Jeremy Gallon||Sr.||Michigan|
|WR||Jared Abbrederis||Sr.||Wisconsin||WR||Philly Brown||Sr.||Ohio State||WR||Devin Smith||Jr.||Ohio State|
|TE||Jacob Pedersen||Sr.||Wisconsin||TE||Devin Funchess||So.||Michigan||TE||Kyle Carter||So.||Penn State|
|OL||Taylor Lewan||Sr.||Michigan||OL||Jeremiah Sirles||Sr.||Nebraska||OL||Brandon Scherff||Jr.||Iowa|
|OL||Spencer Long||Sr.||Nebraska||OL||Austin Blythe||So.||Iowa||OL||Corey Linsley||Sr.||Ohio State|
|OL||John Urschel||Sr.||Penn State||OL||Brandon Vitabile||Jr.||Northwestern||OL||Fou Fonoti||Sr.||Michigan State|
|OL||Andrew Norwell||Sr.||Ohio State||OL||Jack Mewhort||Sr.||Ohio State||OL||Dan Feeney||So.||Indiana|
|OL||Ryan Groy||Sr.||Wisconsin||OL||Travis Jackson||Jr.||Michigan State||OL||Michael Schofield||Sr.||Michigan|
|AP||Venric Mark||Sr.||Northwestern||AP||Jared Abbrederis||Sr.||Wisconsin||AP||Akeem Hunt||Jr.||Purdue|
|K||Jeff Budzien||Sr.||Northwestern||K||Brendan Gibbons||Sr.||Michigan||K||Mike Meyer||Sr.||Iowa|
|DEFENSE – FIRST TEAM||DEFENSE – SECOND TEAM||DEFENSE – THIRD TEAM|
|DL||Deion Barnes||So.||Penn State||DL||Adolphus Washington||So.||Ohio State||DL||Noah Spence||So.||Ohio State|
|DL||Beau Allen||Sr.||Wisconsin||DL||Marcus Rush||Jr.||Michigan State||DL||Bruce Gaston||Sr.||Purdue|
|DL||Tyler Scott||Sr.||Northwestern||DL||Ryan Russell||Jr.||Purdue||DL||Jason Ankrah||Sr.||Nebraska|
|DL||Ra’Shede Hageman||Sr.||Minnesota||DL||DaQuan Jones||Sr.||Penn State||DL||Ethan Hemer||Sr.||Wisconsin|
|LB||Ryan Shazier||Jr.||Ohio State||LB||James Morris||Sr.||Iowa||LB||Chi Chi Ariguzo||Jr.||Northwestern|
|LB||Chris Borland||Sr.||Wisconsin||LB||Damien Proby||Sr.||Northwestern||LB||Anthony Hitchens||Sr.||Iowa|
|LB||Max Bullough||Sr.||Michigan State||LB||Denicos Allen||Sr.||Michigan State||LB||Glenn Carson||Sr.||Penn State|
|DB||Bradley Roby||Jr.||Ohio State||DB||Ricardo Allen||Sr.||Purdue||DB||Isaiah Lewis||Sr.||Michigan State|
|DB||Darqueze Dennard||Sr.||Michigan State||DB||C.J. Barnett||Sr.||Ohio State||DB||Christian Bryant||Sr.||Ohio State|
|DB||Ibraheim Campbell||Jr.||Northwestern||DB||Dezmen Southward||Sr.||Wisconsin||DB||Malcolm Willis||Sr.||Penn State|
|DB||Ciante Evans||Sr.||Nebraska||DB||Blake Countess||Jr.||Michigan||DB||Thomas Gordon||Sr.||Michigan|
|P||Mike Sadler||Jr.||Michigan State||P||Will Hagerup||Sr.||Michigan||P||Drew Meyer||So.||Wisconsin|