Ohio State football: Buckeyes No. 2 in preseason coaches poll

Four OSU opponents in the top 25

Ohio State will begin the year No. 2 in the USA Today Sports AFCA (coaches) poll.

The Buckeyes received five first-place votes, one less than defending national champion Georgia and 49 less than Alabama. Texas also received a No. 1 vote.

The Crimson Tide are No. 1 in the preseason poll while Georgia is ranked third followed by Clemson, Notre Dame and Michigan.

The Buckeyes were No. 5 in the final coaches poll of 2021 after opening at No. 4.

The Fighting Irish and Wolverines are two of the four preseason top 25 teams Ohio State is scheduled to play this season.

They face first-year coach Marcus Freeman’s Notre Dame squad to open the season and host Michigan in the finale. They also host No. 20 Wisconsin on Sept. 24 and go to No. 14 Michigan State on Oct. 8.

Iowa, a visitor to Ohio Stadium on Oct. 22, is 26th in the preseason coaches poll followed by Penn State at No. 27. The Nittany Lions host the Buckeyes a week after they face Iowa.

Also of note from the poll: Luke Fickell’s Cincinnati Bearcats are ranked 22nd while Kettering native Brady Hoke’s San Diego State is 34th.

Defending Pac-12 champion Utah, with Dayton native Tavion Thomas returning at running back, is ranked No. 8...

For what it’s worth, at least one advanced statistical ranking sees Michigan (No. 4), Michigan State (No. 16), Iowa (No. 27) and Notre Dame (No. 7) about the same way the coaches poll voters do, but ESPN’s SP+ is higher on Wisconsin (No. 10) and Penn State (No. 13).

Ohio State tops the SP+ projections followed by No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia...

Ohio State began a series of preseason interviews last week with the running backs: That group is expected to be one of the team’s strengths with TreVeyon Henderson back after rushing for 1,000 yards as a freshman last season and his top backup, Miyan Williams, having starting experience as well.

“I think we’ve got a real talented room — I do,” Alford said on Friday. “Great guys to work with. I enjoy coming to work with them every day. I’m asking them to make sure they’re being pros. They’re veteran guys. They’ve been around — I should say two of them are at least veterans — they’ve been in the program now, the top three guys have at least. And so I’m asking them to be pros about the way they approach their business when they go to meetings, walk-throughs, practice.”

Filling out the room are redshirt freshman Evan Pryor and incoming freshman Dallan Hayden, both four-star recruits who could garner playing time elsewhere but might have to be patient at Ohio State this fall...

The offensive line got its say Monday, and optimistic remained high for new position coach Justin Frye and his group that includes three returning starters.

“We’ve challenged these guys the next two weeks in camp: What do you want to be?” Frye said. “You want to be a great player? You want to take the next step? And that’s what we have to do. And that starts with fundamentals and skills and building those things so we can match the talent level we have.”

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