Ohio State will open the season at No. 5 in the USA Today coaches’ poll despite returning only six starters from last season.
That seems like a huge vote of confidence in Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer, who has said he is not worried about the talent level of his team but admitted preseason camp will need to be heavy on development to achieve OSU’s annual goals.
Defending national champion Alabama is No. 1 after receiving 55 first-place votes. Clemson, the team the Crimson Tide beat in the national championship game in January, is No. 2. The Tigers received seven first-place votes.
The other two first-place votes went to fourth-ranked Florida State and (inexplicably) to No. 10 Tennessee, making the Volunteers a strong contender to be the team most likely to fail to live up to its preseason hype this fall.
Ohio State’s schedule includes three foes who appear in the preseason coaches’ poll: No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 8 Michigan and No. 11 Michigan State.
The Spartans also figure to be very young this fall. After losing a couple of standout offensive linemen, three-year starting quarterback Connor Cook and his top target, Aaron Burbridge, MSU ranks 117th in the nation on Phil Steele’s experience chart. Ohio State is 128th while Michigan is 62nd and Oklahoma is 99th.
Four other Ohio State foes received votes in the preseason coaches poll: Wisconsin, Northwestern, Nebraska and Indiana.
Iowa is ranked 15th, but the Buckeyes won’t play the Hawkeyes unless both make the Big Ten championship game.