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In the eyes of coaches, Ohio State will open the season as the Big Ten’s top-ranked team and as the nation’s No. 2 team.
USA Today released its preseason coaches poll Thursday, and in addition to Ohio State being ranked No. 2, Michigan — Ohio State’s traditional Big Ten foe — is ranked 17th in the top-25 poll.
Toledo received one vote in the preseason coaches poll.
Alabama, the defending BCS champion, is No. 1 in the poll, which is released on a weekly basis during the football season.
Ohio State and Michigan are two of five Big Ten teams ranked in the poll, joining No. 18 Nebraska, No. 22 Northwestern, and No. 23 Wisconsin.
USA Today’s coaches poll is made up of 62 coaches from the Football Bowl Subdivision, including Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, Michigan’s Brady Hoke, Toledo’s Matt Campbell, and Bowling Green’s Dave Clawson.
Despite a 12-0 season, Ohio State was not ranked in the coaches poll last year because of NCAA sanctions; American Football Coaches Association guidelines for the poll state that schools under NCAA or conference sanctions are not eligible to receive votes in the coaches poll.
“This year's team has high expectations, riding off the coattails of what those kids did last year, and it’s very simple that if we get tremendous leadership from our coaching staff, but most importantly our players, then we’ll have a success,” Meyer said last week at the Big Ten media days in Chicago.
“I feel strongly about this group having a successful season.”
Meyer also outlined his expectations for his second season at the helm of the Buckeyes, who open the season Aug. 31 in Columbus against Buffalo.
“There's been zero conversation about anything other than competing for a championship in November, which we were able to do last year,” Meyer said. “We were able to compete for the Leaders Division championship a year ago. That's the only conversation we have."
Hoke will oversee a team that lost its marquee quarterback in Denard Robinson and will have a question mark at running back, as Fitzgerald Toussaint returns from a broken left and will compete with Thomas Rawls and incoming freshman Derrick Green.
“We're a young team,” Hoke said at the Big Ten’s media days. “We've got to replace some guys who have been very important to Michigan football. But with that youth comes a lot of competition, and that competition is always good.”
Michigan finished 8-5 last season and lost to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. Michigan opens the season Aug. 31 in Ann Arbor against Central Michigan.
“The expectations never change,” Hoke said.
“And that's to win Big Ten championships. A year ago we were 8-5, and that's unacceptable. It's unacceptable at Michigan. It's unacceptable for us.”