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June 29, 2013

Analysts like the Buckeyes' chances

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Across all networks and platforms, the college football national media is littered with former Ohio State football players. And perhaps non-coincidentally, a good portion of them see big things in store for the Buckeyes in 2013.

So much so, in fact, that Kirk Herbstreit said that there's only one logical destination for the Buckeyes this January.

"Do yourself the favor, make plans now, get your hotels, because we're going to Pasadena," ESPN's lead college football analyst stated, while speaking to a VIP group before this past week's Greater Columbus Sports Commission Morning Report.

While Pasadena will host this season's BCS National Championship game, Herbstreit noted that he's not guaranteeing that the Buckeyes will play in that particular contest on Jan. 6. But with 14 starters returning from a team that went 12-0 in 2012, the former OSU quarterback doesn't foresee any scenario in which the Buckeyes are playing in anything less than the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.

"With Ohio State's team that they have coming back, the schedule that they have, they're going to be in one of those games," he said. "We go to the national championship in Miami, the Fiesta Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, there's nothing like Pasadena, so do yourself the favor."

While Urban Meyer was quick to dismiss Herbstreit's proclamation -- "We need to concentrate on the next day. If you worry beyond that, you've got a problem," the second-year Buckeyes coach stated -- it was a sentiment that was also echoed by some of the College GameDay host's colleagues.

Eddie George, who works as an analyst at FOX, and also serves as an assistant vice president at Ohio State, said that from what he's witnessed up close and in-person recently, it's hard not to like the Buckeyes' odds in 2013.

"I train over there with the young men, and the one thing I can say is that I've watched them transform their bodies, literally, from young athletes that were kind of athletic to grown men, where now the depth is starting to come into place. I'm seeing the young running backs walking around looking like seniors, the 1995 Heisman Trophy winner said. "They have matured to the point where they can contend now with the elite teams in the country, like the Alabamas or the Stanfords and so-forth. Our defense is athletic as I've ever seen them, but they lack experience, but by season's end, I think they'll be one of the best in the nation.

"I don't know if a national championship is in store for us, but I think we're going to have an outstanding year."

Chris Spielman, who worked with Meyer as an analyst at ESPN during the 2011 season, has also been impressed with the job that the undefeated OSU head coach has done thus far in his time in Columbus. The former Buckeyes linebacker said that there's no right or wrong way for a coach to do his job, but that Meyer's way has worked particularly well.

"These guys are held to such a high standard in everything that they do. From how they fold their clothes in the locker room to how they clean up, their grades, how they workout, their participation, their attendance. Everything is graded and evaluated," Spielman said. "What that does is that pushes this team to strive for perfection. That was something they were able to accomplish last year, and it's something that they have a good chance of accomplishing this year."

Spielman also joked that while it was Meyer's health that took him away from coaching and into the broadcast booth two years ago, it must have been working with himself that sent him to the Ohio State sideline. On a serious note, however, Meyer's former co-worker said that the Buckeyes' headman is in a good place, which bodes well for his peers' prophecies.

"He's going to be alright," Spielman assured those in attendance. "Ohio State should be great, and they should have a run at a national title if they take care of business."

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