Top 25 teams and games — No. 4 Ohio State


Published: Friday, June 27, 2008 at 10:44 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 27, 2008 at 10:44 a.m.

TEAM NO. 4 OHIO STATE

The buzz: The Buckeyes have the talent (and the schedule) to make it back to the BCS Championship Game for the third consecutive season. The big question is: If they make it back, can they find a way to win the big game (especially if it's against an SEC foe again)? OSU is loaded on both sides of the ball, with nine starters returning on offense and nine on defense. This could be the most talented OSU team of the past three.

Difference-maker: Playing with a bad ankle and a broken hand, tailback Chris Wells rushed for 1,609 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. If he stays healthy, he'll have a chance to make a strong run at the Heisman. His combination of size and speed is lethal.

The upside: Four of the five offensive linemen and all the skill players from a year ago return on an offense that should be extremely balanced and productive. On defense, all the starters return in the secondary and the front seven is strong, led by All-America linebacker James Laurinaitis.

The downside: Quarterback Todd Boeckman got off to a fast start last season, but then struggled with consistency coming down the homestretch. In OSU's final three games (including the national championships game), Boeckman threw six interceptions, lost a fumble and threw only two touchdown passes. The Buckeyes also are looking for a third impact receiver.

Schedule factor: In one of college football's biggest early season games in years, the Buckeyes play at Southern Cal on Sept. 13. If OSU wins that game, it looks like pretty clear sailing all the way to Miami and the BCS Championship Game.

GAME NO. 4 GEORGIA AT AUBURN

Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, Ala.

When: Nov. 15

Why it's sexy: This is the oldest rivalry in the SEC and these two teams have played many memorable games through the decades. This could be one of the biggest, with championship hopes possibly on the line for both teams. Auburn will be looking for revenge after the pounding the Tigers took (45-20) in Athens last season. This game will mark the end of a difficult SEC schedule for the Bulldogs.

Preseason buzz: Expectations are soaring off the charts in Athens, where the Bulldogs are being touted as a strong national championship contender after closing the 2007 season with big wins over Florida, Auburn and Hawaii (in the Sugar Bowl). There's also plenty of excitement in Auburn, where the Tigers are eager to unveil a new spread offense led by quarterback Kodi Burns.

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