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Big Ten fall camp preview: Ohio State
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Big Ten fall camp preview: Ohio State

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OHIO STATE

Camp opens: Today

First game: Buffalo on Aug. 31 (11 a.m. on ESPN2)

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Big nan on campus

Quarterback Braxton Miller is obviously the straw that stirs the drink, a runaway preseason pick to be the offensive MVP of the Big Ten. And given the Buckeyes' favorable schedule, Miller is in good position to be in the Heisman Trophy conversation throughout the fall if he stays healthy.

While exceptional with his feet, Miller still has some things to prove with his arm. He was not as accurate a passer as Taylor Martinez last year, completing 58.3 percent of his attempts. Miller also has the tendency to leave the pocket too early. Yet for whatever warts in his game, he holds the keys to any sort of championship run for the Buckeyes. If he goes down, his team's national championship aspirations likely go with it.

To-do list

Ohio State has some stud defenders in linebacker Ryan Shazier and cornerback Bradley Roby, who returned an interception for a TD against Nebraska last year. But the Buckeyes have probably as many question marks as the Huskers do entering this fall. The Buckeyes were basically in a dead heat with NU in total defense, finishing 34th nationally last year, just a spot ahead of the Huskers. Consider also OSU must replace four starters on its defensive line. And while Shazier is very good at linebacker, the pieces around him at the position remain uncertain.

What's new?

News recently came down that running back Carlos Hyde is suspended for at least three games for an altercation with a woman at a nightclub. Although Hyde isn't in the elite category of backs, he is steady, gaining 970 yards last year. He also is a big back who could take some wear and tear off Miller. OSU has other backs in the cupboard, like the elusive Jordan Hall, but he'll need to prove he can hold up physically for an entire season.

The Buckeyes also must deal with the weight of being a runaway pick by many to win the league. There's good reason for Ohio State to hold that favored status given its 12-0 record a season ago. But OSU is going to have to clean up some things to run the table again. Remember, the Buckeyes won overtime games over Purdue and Wisconsin last season, beat Indiana by just three points, and had to rally in the fourth to defeat California at home. The record was perfect. But Ohio State may not be as far in front of some league teams as people make it seem. How does this team, eligible again for a bowl appearance after a one-year ban, respond with a giant target on it all season?

— Brian Christopherson

Reach Steven M. Sipple at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com.

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