The college football season can’t come soon enough. With every season comes new faces and possibilities. Who will be the teams to watch out for this season? This will be the 21st of many posts covering the top 25 teams in the country and will cover the no. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes.
Ohio State went 12-2 last season and won the Cotton Bowl against USC. They have 12 starters back from last season, but recruit well enough that talent won’t be an issue. What could be an issue is their current situation going on with the coaching staff and Urban Meyer’s uncertain future. It makes it hard to gauge how successful this team can be, but having the players in place is a great start.
The Buckeyes scored 41.1 points per game, which ranked eighth in the country. They were 17th in rushing and 36th in passing. There are seven starters returning and some players who can make a real impact this season with the right play-calling.
Dwayne Haskins will take over at quarterback for J.T. Barrett. He played well in limited time in 2017 with 70.2% completion, four touchdowns and one interception. Haskins specifically really stepped up against Michigan when Barrett went down with injury. If Haskins gets injured or struggles, Tate Martell is waiting in the wings for an opportunity.
All of the key receivers are back for Ohio State. Parris Campbell turned down the NFL and will be the number one receiver in Columbus. His speed is his main asset, as he’s a threat to take it to the end zone on any play. He had 584 receiving yards and three touchdowns last season. Austin Mack and Johnnie Dixon also return with a plethora of other receivers. Tight end Marcus Baugh will be replaced by Luke Farrell.
J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber Jr. create a good one-two punch that accounted for over 2,000 rushing yards last season. Dobbins provides the speed and agility, rushing for 1,403 yards and seven touchdowns. Weber Jr. is a power runner who had 626 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Last season, Weber Jr. missed time with injury, so the duo may be more productive this season.
The offensive line returns two starters, including Michael Jordan. Jordan has a lot of experience and is one of the best interior linemen in the country. The unit will need time to gel together, but should be solid enough to get the job done.
A lot of their production relies on Haskins, but they have stars around him to help him with the learning curve.
On defense, Ohio State was a good unit that used their athletic ability to their advantage. They tied for 15th in points allowed per game, ranked sixth against the rush and 30th against the pass. Five starters return, but after the season is over there will be even more players headed to the NFL.
The defensive line will be loaded with talent again, even though they lost key members to the pros. Nick Bosa had 8.5 sacks in a rotation of defensive ends last season and should do even better this season. They’ll be expecting Chase Young to step up at the other end position. Dre’Mont Jones has gotten plenty of playing time at the defensive tackle position and the coaching staff thinks he’s one of the best in the business. Ohio State will have players rotating in next to Jones to find a great combination.
Tuf Borland is the only returning starter at linebacker, but will not be ready for the start of the season. There is talent at the position including Malik Harrison, Keandre Jones, Justin Hilliard and Baron Browning, but only time will tell who will make plays for this defense this season.
Denzel Ward is on the Browns, but there is some experience in the secondary nonetheless. Damon Arnette, Jeffrey Okudah and Kendall Sheffield all played last season, but will now be put under the microscope. Jordan Fuller started last season and will be joined by Isaiah Pryor at safety.
The linebackers are the real question mark here, but if they get some production out of them, the defense will be good again.
The non-conference schedule features Oregon State (home), TCU (Arlington,TX) and Tulane. Ohio State should win all three. TCU is a tough game, especially in their territory, but the Horned Frogs lost a lot from last season and the Buckeyes should be able to handle them.
In the Big Ten the Buckeyes play tough games against Penn State (away), Michigan State (away) and Michigan (home). The talent on the team is apparent, which should allow them to win the majority of these games, but they could drop one or two of them.
The coaching situation makes this tough. If it gets figured out Ohio State is a contender to make the College Football Playoff, even if they drop a game. If it becomes a distraction, the Buckeyes could have a down year.
Make sure to check out our college football page for more updates and rankings.