Several players on Ohio State's roster told SI's Stewart Mandel they wanted to be the squad responsible for ending the SEC's seven-year reign of producing national champions, continuing the Buckeyes' anointment as the likely challenger to Alabama in 2013.
Urban Meyer's squad was the only team that went undefeated in 2012 -- they got rings! -- and after Alabama blew out Notre Dame in the national title game, many speculated what would have happened had Ohio State been eligible to face off against the Irish or the Crimson Tide in that game.
Well, get ready to hear that speculation for another, oh, seven months or so. Mandel asked former Florida commit and Buckeye linebacker Ryan Shazier about the SEC:
"I hear about it all the time from my cousin -- SEC this, SEC that," said Shazier. "There's one reason I came to Ohio State -- to beat up on the SEC."
And Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby:
"The SEC has won, what, seven [BCS titles] in a row?" said Roby. "What better than for Ohio State to be the team that ends it? That's what we're looking to do this year."
Them's fighting words.
To a certain extent, it's what they're supposed to say -- "I could see us winning the national championship this year," etc. -- but it's also what a host of other people are saying. The Buckeyes are massive -800 favorites to win their division, ranked No. 1 by ESPN, No. 2 by Phil Steele, and are projected into the national title game by CBS' Jerry Palm. This isn't the first time SI has boosted the Buckeyes -- they opted to put Braxton Miller on the cover of one of their issues in the midst of college basketball's biggest month of the year.
Urban Meyer is probably thrilled about all this talk after his team got snubbed, as he brazenly called out the Tide after seeing them play in the national title game in person, saying that -- oh:
"We had a good season and there's a lot of conversation about things that shouldn’t be discussed, because it's not true," Meyer said, adding that the Buckeyes won't be at that level "unless we get a lot better, like a LOT better."
This also marks year two of a trend of major national publications wondering about the SEC's demise, after ESPN the Magazine stuck pins in some voodoo dolls last season. The Buckeyes were the first team to lose to the SEC during their seven-year streak, losing to Urban Meyer's Florida squad in 2007 and LSU in 2008. No Big Ten team has been back to the national championship since.