The Compu-Picks 2013 Preview contains a number of analyses. One section of the preview specifically deals with negative projections for teams Compu-Picks is materially more pessimistic on than popular perception, and is entitled "Bad News". The counterpart, highlights of team Compu-Picks is more optimistic on than popular perception, will be called "Good News" and will be provided
One key point that I've written about before is that close game success does not repeat. If you have an amazing record in close games in one year, you're going to have a worse close game record next year, and vice-versa. And needless to say, Ohio State had an amazing close game record in 2012, going 2-0 in overtime, 2-0 in games decided by 3 points or less, and 6-0 in games decided by 7 points or less. So why in the world does Compu-Picks like them so much in 2013 that they're rated #2 in the country, above other programs like Oregon, Georgia or Stanford?
It's simple: Compu-Picks is projecting Ohio State to not just be a better football team in 2013, but a
The most obvious positive indicator is recruiting. Per scout.com, Ohio St has had three straight top five classes and five of six. While the 2010 class was obviously disappointing, overall the Buckeyes have one of the most elite talent bases in college football. All else being equal, you would expect them to be pretty consistently elite as long as this level of talent keeps coming in.
But there's more than just incoming talent. Ohio St is absolutely loaded on offense, returning just about anyone of any consequence from 2012 at the skill positions, and also will enjoy a (mild) uptick in offensive line experience. They have also suffered relatively minor talent losses to the NFL (as opposed to programs like Alabama, Florida St or LSU who've gotten absolutely hammered by draft losses). It's true that the Buckeyes do suffer more substantial losses on defense, but even there, the returning production is close to average, and most of the biggest defensive producers are back for more.
There are some other indicators that things might be better than expected in Columbus as well. While most elite teams have enjoyed extremely high turnover margins, to the point where there's almost nowhere to go but down, Ohio St hasn't had a double digit turnover margin since 2010, and has actually suffered (small) negative fumble luck in the last two seasons.
All in all, the numbers strongly suggest that Ohio State will be an improved football team in 2013. Will that mean a repeat 12-0? Probably not, but it's at least reasonably on the table. Yes, you can expect Ohio State's close game margin to decline, not because they start losing a bunch of close games, but rather becuase they will be good enough to simply not need the same kind of close game luck as they enjoyed in 2012.