For the last three seasons, it's been a tradition here at LGHL for us all to huddle together, argue bitterly, and tabulate all of our preseason predictions for the biggest questions for Ohio State, the Big Ten, and college football as a whole. This season, perhaps more than any of the others, has added intrigue and significant unanswered questions, even with expectations being sky high.
Our staff is too big, and our questionnaire too long, for us to throw everything into one article. You probably wouldn't read it anyway! Instead, just like last year, we broke it into three parts. Here's what our staff thinks about the biggest Ohio State specific questions, with posts on the Big Ten and national college football stories coming later in the week. Also, just like the last three years, we'll check back on these after the season so we can all laugh about how dumb we were.
Which Ohio State QB will play the most snaps this season?
J.T. Barrett: 13 votes
Cardale Jones: 3 votes
Cardale has the better Twitter account. He's got the bigger arm, the flashier smile, and the biggest personality. But our staff trusts the consistency, the reliability and that sweet, sweet read option game of J.T. Barrett to ultimately play more snaps for the Buckeyes this season, whether he wins the opening day job or not. For what it's worth though, many of our writers figured that both would play in some capacity this season. There should be a lot of blowouts, after all.
After Zeke, who will rush for the most yards next season?
Curtis Samuel: 6 votes
J.T. Barrett: 4 votes
Bri'onte Dunn: 1
Mike Weber: 1 vote
Braxton Miller: 1 vote
'Zeke with a fake mustache and eye patch': 1 vote
Ezekiel Elliott, a Heisman contender who turned in a three game stretch to end last season that was 'Bo Jackson in Techmo Bowl' level dominating, will almost assuredly be Ohio State's leading rusher next season, barring a catastrophic injury or suspension. Who will tote the rock the most after him is a bit more of an open question. In the end, Curtis Samuel, who may not even be a full time running back, beat out J.T. Barrett, who may not even start, edging out a few other players who are actual running backs, and some who aren't. Can't really rule out Pirate Zeke though. He's got great tackle breaking ability.
Who will be Ohio State's leading receiver in terms of yardage?
Michael Thomas: 12 votes
Jalin Marshall: 3 votes
Braxton Miller: 1 vote
Michael Thomas is certainly the most likely to be Ohio State's most frequently targeted wideout, but given that he isn't a direct replacement for Devin Smith's deep bomb heroics, is he a lock to lead Ohio State in actual yards? Most of our writers think so, but don't sleep on Jalin Marshall here either, even though he'll miss the Virginia Tech game due to suspension.
What kind of impact will Braxton Miller have on offense? Either a Huge Impact, a Strong Impact, a Moderate Impact, A Low Impact, No Impact, or the inevitable transfer to Alabama.
Moderate impact: 9 votes
Strong impact: 6 votes
Low impact: 1 vote
Learning an entirely new position is tough, and Ohio State has plenty of other playmakers who will demand the ball, which may be why most of our writers have slightly tempered expectations for what Braxton Miller will be doing at H-back / WR. That doesn't mean that there isn't a significant chunk of contributors who think he can still do quite a bit though. We haven't forgotten the GIFs.
Which true freshman do you think will make the biggest impact on the team this season?
Jashon Cornell: 5 votes
Justin Hilliard: 3 votes
Mike Weber: 3 votes
A.J. Alexander: 1 vote
Nick Conner: 1 vote
K.J. Hill: 1 vote
Torrance Gibson: 1 vote
Liam McCullough: 1 (can't underestimate the importance of a good backup long snapper)
This was a tough question for many. With so many returning starters from last year, and with so many blue chippers on the roster from the last few recruiting classes, there's little room on the two deep for anybody, no matter how great a prospect they are. Still, there's some potential on the defensive line, and many of our writers liked Jashon Cornell, a DE who some say could also see snaps on the interior, as a name who could potentially make a difference. Mike Weber is already turning heads in camp though, and could steal some carries this year as well.
Which Buckeye that nobody is talking about will step up to make the biggest impact (non-freshman edition)?
Nick Vannett: 3 votes
Sam Hubbard: 2 votes
Noah Brown: 2 votes
James Clark: 1 vote
Erick Smith: 1 vote
Gareon Conley: 1 vote
Marcus Baugh: 1 vote
Eli Apple: 1 vote
Tyquan Lewis: 1 vote
Vonn Bell: 1 vote
Johnnie Dixon: 1 vote
Historically, this isn't a question where we tend to agree much, since it's easy to just point anywhere on Ohio State's depth chart and find a highly regarded four-star who just hasn't had a chance to play yet. A lot of these responses focused on pass catchers and the secondary (perhaps a unit that has gotten the least buzz this preseason, even though it should be excellent). Your winner though? Forgotten in the hubbub over new wideouts and dazzling freshman is Ohio State's starting tight end, who should be really good!
Which game this season scares you the most?
Michigan: 6 votes
Michigan State: 6 votes
Penn State: 2 votes
Virginia Tech: 2 votes
It's a tie with the two teams in that state up north (sorry, Western Michigan) for the scariest game. Given Michigan State's defensive front and quarterback, and Michigan's infusion of coaching talent to pair with what should be a very solid defensive front seven, it's easy to see why either of those games would be cause for consternation. Plus, geez, it's Michigan.
What will Ohio State's regular season record be?
12-0: 13 votes
11-1: 3 votes
Even if you have an overwhelming talent advantage, it's awfully hard to go undefeated against a Power 5 schedule, yet the vast majority of LGHL writers think the Buckeyes will do just that. Ohio State is favored in every game, and often overwhelmingly so, this seems to be a vote of confidence in good luck and a healthy year all the way around. Course, if 11-1 is your worst case scenario ... maybe you don't need that much luck.
How will Ohio State's season end?
Repeat as national champions: 12 votes
First round playoff loss: 2 votes
Championship game loss: 2 votes
There are high expectations here. What did you expect, this is an Ohio State blog? Claims of *bias* aside, the Buckeyes will start atop the preseason polls for a good reason, since they have depth at almost every position, superstars at several, a manageable schedule, an experienced offensive line, and one of the best backfields in the country. Still, winning it all again will require discipline, victories over multiple tough teams, and a whole lot of luck.
For what it's worth, neither myself or Luke thinks Ohio State is going to repeat. We both picked national semifinal losses.
How many Ohio State coaches will leave for other jobs after the season?
2: 10 votes
1: 6 votes
When you've been as successful as Ohio State has been, your assistants become hot commodities, either for the NFL, or for other head coaching jobs. Every single one of our writers predicted that at least one coach would be headed to a new, better job after this year, with a majority picking two. We didn't ask for specifics, but virtually everybody on staff, especially Chris Ash and Ed Warinner, could be in high demand.
Stay turned for tomorrow, when we break down the Big Ten.