How will the Buckeyes do this season? Can they win the Championship game? Let’s look into their current form and future prospects.
- Ohio State is coming off its third College Football Playoff appearance in four years.
- The Buckeyes must replace Heisman-winning quarterback CJ Stroud.
- Ohio State has lost to Michigan each of the last two years.
A New Start
Ohio State supporters likely have mixed feelings about last season. Their quarterback, CJ Stroud, won the Heisman Trophy, and the Buckeyes were once again one of the four best teams in football, getting a berth in the College Football Playoff for the third time in four seasons.
Ohio State was also only the second-best team in its rivalry game with Michigan, the second straight year that the Buckeyes lost to the Wolverines in college football’s marquee rivalry. Throw in a COVID cancellation, and Ohio State hasn’t beaten Michigan since 2019, its longest drought since losing three straight from 1995 to 1997.
Now coach Ryan Day needs to replace Stroud, who replaced fellow NFL Draft first-rounder Justin Fields, who replaced another first-rounder in Dwayne Haskins. That makes this the first time in a long time that the Buckeyes have a question mark at the most important position on the field.
A Strong Lineup
The quarterback competition is expected to go through preseason camp and be decided just before the opener. A pair of former top-five quarterback recruits are battling in Devin Brown and Kyle McCord.
McCord is the favorite. He was the backup last year and was 16-of-20 with a touchdown in mop-up duty. He also started a game in 2021. Brown rushed once for one yard last year and hasn’t thrown a pass in college.
McCord also played in high school with Marvin Harrison Jr., who is part of what may be the top receiving corps in football. He and Emeka Egbuka each topped 1,100 yards, 70 catches and 10 touchdowns last year. No. 3 receiver Julian Fleming is also back, and the team added Notre Dame transfer Lorenzo Styles. They also have an outstanding running back tandem in Miyan Williams and TreVeyon Henderson.
The offensive line loses three starters to the NFL, but plenty of quality production returns.
The Buckeyes allowed two touchdowns or less in six of their first 10 games last season, then gave up points by the boatload as Maryland put up 30, Michigan 45 and Georgia 42 to close out the year. Ohio State has a solid defense under coordinator Jim Knowles. It was ranked in the top 25 nationally in total defense and scoring defense, but it wasn’t on the same par as the dominant Buckeyes offense.
The secondary gave up 200 passing yards a game last year, and Ohio State’s corners didn’t record an interception. The Buckeyes brought in Ole Miss transfer Davison Igbinosun to line up opposite elite cover corner Denzel Burke, which should upgrade the unit. They also have two returning starters at safety and also add Syracuse transfer Ja’had Carter.
The team’s top two tacklers return in linebackers Tommy Eichenberg and Steele Chambers. They also combined for three interceptions last year, topping all the returning secondary players combined. Cody Simon is the third returning contributor in the middle of Knowles’ 4-2-5 defense.
The line is likely the strength of the defense with returning ends JT Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer, who combined for 8 sacks and 17 tackles for loss last year. Michael Hall (4.5 sacks, 7.5 TFL) returns at tackle. The line also adds Tywone Malone from Ole Miss.
Chalk says that the Buckeyes will be undefeated heading into the Michigan game that closes every non-COVID regular season. But there are plenty of landmines leading up to that rivalry game.
After opening with a Big Ten road game at Indiana and two non-conference cupcakes in Youngstown State and Western Kentucky in Week 2 and Week 3, Ohio State travels to South Bend to face Notre Dame in Week 4. Next up, in Week 6, is a home contest with the Maryland team that hung 30 on the Buckeyes last year and returns game-breaking quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa.
Ohio State closes October in Week 8 with a home game against Penn State and a trip to Wisconsin in Week 9. It would be a massive upset if Ohio State gets through those four opponents unbeaten, and it may be more likely that they drop two of them. Then there’s still home games against potential traps Michigan State and Minnesota in Week 11 and Week 12, respectively, right before the Michigan game.
With a new QB1 learning the ropes, we’re saying Ohio State finishes with its lowest win total against a full schedule since 2011.
NCAAF Pick: Ohio State Under 10½ Wins -115 at BetOnline
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