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Same staff means it's better for players, coaches

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — What's brewing with the 2013 Ohio State Buckeyes ...

Ohio-St-Preview-Footb Sidd

FILE - In this Aug. 7, 2013 file photo, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer signals during an NCAA football practice in Columbus, Ohio. A year ago, a lot of eyes were on Ohio State and first-year coach Meyer to see how the Buckeyes handled a bowl ban, a new regime and the fallout from a losing season. Surprising many, they went 12-0. Now Meyer and Co. figure to be right back in the national title hunt in 2013.(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

BUCKEYES BUZZ: Coach Urban Meyer says his second-ranked Buckeyes are a lot further along this year than last — in part because the same people are in charge.

There was no turnover from his first-year staff.

"It's a blessing when we have no staff transition," Meyer said on Monday. "This time last year was — I use the word a lot — it was terrible. It was awful."

He said that his assistants were getting to know him while he was getting to know them and everybody — including a bunch of players who were new to the staff — were getting to know the playbook.

"Teams tend to have a much better year their second year, if you have the players," he said.

OVERWHELMING: Ohio State is listed as a 36-point favorite over Buffalo by the Glantz-Culver Line.

BUILDING A BACKUP: Meyer said he hoped that J.T. Barrett, a QB recruit out of Texas, might be redshirted to give him another year of learning the offense and getting settled into college. He would then be available next year to back up Braxton Miller, replacing fifth-year senior Kenny Guiton.

"I would hope we have that luxury and that he would be able to have a year to season himself a little bit," Meyer said Monday. "At this point, who knows? You know, your fourth quarterback, you hope you don't get to that point, I guess."

BULL SESSION: Buffalo's Bulls are coming off a 4-8 season, tying for fourth in the Mid-American Conference's East Division with a 3-5 mark. They return nine starters on offense and seven on defense from a team that won three of its final four games, dropping its final game to Bowling Green at Crew Stadium in Columbus on Thanksgiving weekend.

They are led on offense by sophomore QB Joe Licata, who completed 52 percent of his passes in 2012, throwing for 1,045 yards with seven touchdowns and three interceptions. Licata began 2012 as a backup but earned starts in the final four games. Senior running back Branden Oliver returns after leading Buffalo with 821 yards on the ground, despite missing five games with an injury. He averaged 117 rushing yards per game with five touchdowns. The defense is led by senior linebacker Khalil Mack, who led the Bulls with 94 tackles in 2012. He is considered one of the top LB prospects in the next NFL draft.

Coach Jeff Quinn is 9-27 in his fourth year at Buffalo and 10-28 overall. Quinn also twice served as an interim head coach: once at Central Michigan in the 2006 Motor City Bowl and the other at Cincinnati in the 2010 Sugar Bowl, where the Bearcats fell to Urban Meyer's Florida Gators, 48-17.

Oh, and just for the record, it's the University at Buffalo, not the University of Buffalo. That's an extension of being part of the large New York state college system.

HOT WEEK, HOT GAMES: If you can't wait for college football to get here, you've got a perfect week in store.

How about Jadeveon Clowney and No. 6 South Carolina getting things started on Thursday night at 6?

That same night, No. 24 Southern Cal plays at Hawaii.

The Saturday slate is pretty strong for the opening week, too.

No. 1 Alabama plays Virginia Tech in Atlanta in a marquee matchup featuring the two-time defending national champion against another traditional powerhouse team. Other top games include Johnny Football and No. 7 Texas A&M hosting Rice, Toledo traveling to No. 10 Florida, No. 19 Boise State making the trip to Washington and two games featuring a pair of ranked opponents: No. 5 Georgia at No. 8 Clemson and No 20 TCU vs. No. 12 LSU in Arlington, Texas.

In the Big Ten, of course, in addition to the Buckeyes' noon tilt, No. 17 Michigan hosts Central Michigan at 3:30 p.m., Wyoming visits No. 18 Nebraska at 8 p.m., No. 22 Northwestern hits the road to play Ohio State's week three opponent, California, at 10:30 p.m.; and No. 23 Wisconsin entertains UMass at noon.

On Sunday, Ohio's Bobcats play at No. 9 Louisville at 3:30 p.m. and on Monday at 8 p.m., No. 11 Florida State visits Pittsburgh.

NOTE THIS: Ohio State and Buffalo are meeting for the first time in football. ... Ohio State enters the season with the nation's longest winning streak at 12 games. ... Ohio State is 32-2 in its last 34 season-openers. Both of those 0-1 starts took place in the Kickoff Classic at Giants Stadium (1999 to Miami and 1986 to Alabama). ... Ohio State has won 61 consecutive regular-season non-conference home games against teams not ranked in the AP Top 25. The last loss: 34-17 to Florida State, Oct. 2, 1982. ... Junior QB Braxton Miller is 14 rushing yards shy of 2,000 for his career (1,986). ... Miller needs 95 yards to pass Cornelius Greene (2,080) and become Ohio State's all-time leading rusher among QBs. ... Urban Meyer is 42-4 in his career in games played in August/September. ... A Meyer team last faced Buffalo in 2001 — his first year as a head coach — in Bowling Green's home opener, a 35-0 victory in Meyer's second game as a head coach.

PREP SCOREBOARD: The Ohio High School Athletic Association is introducing a new statewide football scoreboard as games get under way this week. The scoreboard is available at: www.hsgamecenter.com/ohsaa.

This season 714 high schools will field teams with hopes of being one of the 224 teams to make the playoffs and go on to win one of the seven divisions (a so-called "super division" of the largest schools has been added).

The association's computer ratings will be tabulated starting after the fourth week of play.

The state championship games are Dec. 5-7 in Stark County.

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