COLUMBUS -- The drumbeat of negative headlines never stopped for the Ohio State football program last year, from the NCAA scandal that unseated its popular former coach to the first seven-loss season in more than a century.
Today, the story line officially changes.
The Buckeyes follow their most tumultuous season in school history with one of their most anticipated ones.
Kickoff is at noon against Miami (Ohio). Let the Urban Meyer era begin.
"Everybody is just really excited," linebacker Ryan Shazier said.
With the students back on campus a month earlier than usual, the addition of a two-time national champion coach and a team with redemption on the mind, a charged and sold-out Ohio Stadium will betray few signs today that last season ever existed.
How long it stays that way is on OSU.
Is this the team that closed last season on a four-game losing streak? Or one that will be college football's biggest spoiler in a season that will end without a trip to the postseason?
Meyer makes it clear he wants to send a ringing message today that Ohio State is back en route to a place among the country's elite.
"On behalf of our players, I can tell you this: Our guys are ready to go play," he said. "They're ready to go play."
In a departure from the tempered rhetoric of past years, receiver Corey Brown said the Buckeyes are aiming to leave opponents saying "no mas" -- or no more.
The philosophy, he explained, is "score 100 points and do this and try to run up the score and have a good time out there, try to defeat our opponent's will."
As far as first exams go, Meyer said Miami poses a "good challenge."
The RedHawks went 4-8 last fall in coach Don Treadwell's first year at his alma mater. But they were deceptively competitive -- four losses came by a touchdown or less -- and return one of the country's top pass-catch tandems. Meyer said senior quarterback Zac Dysert and junior receiver Nick Harwell "could play anywhere in America."
Dysert, a fourth-year starter from Ada, Ohio, threw for 3,513 yards and 23 touchdowns last season and is on the cusp of surpassing Ben Roethlisberger as the school's all-time passing leader. Dysert has thrown for 8,530 yards; Roethlisberger remains the standard with 10,829. Harwell, his top target, was the NCAA's second-leading receiver last year with 97 catches for 1,425 yards and nine touchdowns.
"The good thing is the film doesn't lie," Meyer said. "That's caught the attention of our players and coaches. So we'll be ready to go."
The RedHawks also will not be taken aback by Ohio State's new spread-option offense, which they had no trouble stopping at Florida in 2010. Miami fell 34-12 but forced eight fumbles and held Meyer's Gators to 25 yards of offense through three quarters.
Still, a tight game today would qualify as a minor upset. OSU was installed as a 24-point favorite and has every shred of history on its side.
The last year OSU fell to a team from Ohio -- 1921 against Oberlin -- Albert Einstein won the Nobel Prize in Physics and the school was seeking donations to help build a new stadium along the Olentangy River. Ohio Stadium was set to open the next season at a cost of $1.3 million.
"Granted we do our part, namely provide the money," read an ad in the program distributed before the loss to Oberlin.
More than 90 years later, the old stadium still stands strong. If Meyer has his way, so will its tenant.
Contact David Briggs at: email@example.com, 419-724-6084, or on Twitter @DBriggsBlade.
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