Expectations 'sky high' for Urban Meyer's second year in Columbus


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Coming off an undefeated season, Ohio State is primed to regain its stature as the Big Ten’s premier program. Head coach Urban Meyer will enter his second year at the helm with the bar set as high as ever for himself and his staff.

“This year’s team has high expectations, riding the coattails of what those kids did last year,” Meyer said at Big Ten media day on July 24 in Chicago. “And it’s very simple that if we get tremendous leadership from our coaching staff, but most importantly our players, then we’ll have success.
“I feel strongly about this group having a successful season.”

Quarterback Braxton Miller, a dual-threat talent who many believe will be present when the Heisman Trophy is awarded later in the year, will lead an offense that ranked 21st nationally in points per game a year ago.

The Buckeyes finished 12-0 last season, but they weren’t eligible to participate in postseason play because of the findings of an NCAA investigation one year previously. With postseason eligibility regained this season, the Buckeyes say, outside pressure may be more noticeable, but the focus they prided themselves on last season isn’t expected to change.

“There’s something to play for, but it’s the same type of focus that we had last year to achieve that 12-0 [record],” Miller said during Big Ten media day. “But it wasn’t too easy; I’ll tell you that … We came together as a team.”

Aside from being the leader of a team with sky-high expectations, Miller will have to deal with the yearlong frenzy that comes with being a preseason Heisman candidate. But his teammates, most notably hard-hitting safety Christian Bryant, have no doubt Miller will be able to deal with the pressure in stride.

“You can’t help how someone views you as far as the media and him being in the Heisman talk,” Bryant said during Big Ten media day. “There are always distractions that will be there, but Braxton isn’t the type of guy who will get a big head and think he’s above the world … He’s a guy who works hard. If he puts in the work, why not get rewarded for it?”

Ohio State was the last Big Ten team to win the BCS National Championship, in 2002. Since then, the SEC has won eight titles in 10 years.

If the Buckeyes can run the table and go undefeated once again, it’s expected it will be matched up against an SEC squad.

Ohio State players and coaches were adamant about their ability to compete with the heavily favored SEC. Bryant didn’t want to speak for the Big Ten conference as a whole, but he’s confident his squad can compete with whoever they line up against.

“Ohio State can compete with anybody in the country,” Bryant said. “The Alabamas, the Floridas, all the SEC teams that people put on that high pedestal, I think we can compete with all of them. We have just as good of athletes as they do. The athletic ability, that’s not the issue.

“I feel like with us and an SEC team, it will depend on how we plan.”

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