The last time Ohio State took the field, the Buckeyes defeated arch rival Michigan in dramatic fashion to seal their place in the College Football Playoff. A double overtime win over the third-ranked team in the country at the time all but sealed Ohio State’s fate. Now the Buckeyes are in the playoff and looking to extend their winning ways over second-ranked Clemson in the national semifinal game. Let’s take a look at the depth chart.
J.T. Barrett is the starting quarterback and has been for the entirety of the season, that won’t change. Barrett didn’t exactly play all that well until later in the game against Michigan, but went 15-of-32 passing for 124 yards and rushed for 125 yards on an eye-popping 30 carries. His only touchdown came in the first overtime on the ground. Joe Burrow remains the backup.
At running back, Mike Weber remains the starter with OR in between he and Samuel. With a lingering shoulder injury, Weber had possibly his quietest game as a Buckeye, carrying the ball 11 times for just 26 yards, but did add a touchdown. Samuel had much of the same, with seven carries for 54 yards but his only touchdown was the game-winner. Both of them will have to be at their best against Clemson if the Buckeyes are to be successful.
The starters are the same as in previous weeks, as the receiving core continues its growth. Noah Brown starts at X, K.J Hill OR Corey Smith OR Johnnie Dixon all slotted for the third wide receiver spot, and Terry McLaurin OR James Clark at Z. Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor are the third-string options. Only six different players caught passes against Michigan, with Noah Brown having perhaps the biggest day among the receivers, with only three receptions for 40 yards. No receiver caught a touchdown against the Wolverines.
The H-back spot remains with Curtis Samuel OR Dontre Wilson. Samuel continues to be one of the more electrifying players in the country, and provided the final spark against Michigan. Samuel rushed for 54 yards on seven carries and also hauled in four receptions for 32 yards. Wilson had just one reception for nine yards.
The tight end spot is firmly locked down by Marcus Baugh with A.J. Alexander listed as the backup. Baugh caught three passes against the Wolverines for 27 yards but was mostly quiet beyond that.
The offensive line starters are listed as Jamarco Jones, Michael Jordan, Pat Elflein, Billy Price, and Isaiah Prince (from left to right). The offensive line continues their improvement with several good games coming from them in a row. If there was ever a time to be at the top of their game, this next game would be perfect timing.
On the defensive side of the ball, Sam Hubbard OR Jayln Holmes and Tyquan Lewis remain listed as the defensive end starters. The backups at defensive end are Nick Bosa OR Jonathon Cooper. In the middle, Michael Hill anchors the defensive line alongside Dre’Mont Jones who replaced Tracy Sprinkle and Davon Hamilton is listed as the co-starter with Jones.
The linebacking core continues to be a strong unit. Raekwon McMillan is still slotted in at middle linebacker. Surrounding him are outside linebackers Chris Worley and Dante Booker OR Jerome Baker. Booker suffered a slight MCL sprain early on against Bowling Green and a combination of Joe Burger and Jerome Baker have stepped in very well in his place. Rashod Berry, Joe Burger, and Craig Fada are your backups. Baker has been the one to fill in for Booker most of all season, and has played well, even coming up with a key interception against Michigan.
At cornerback, Gareon Conley is the starter on one end and Marshon Lattimore OR Denzel Ward on the other for the second corner spot. For safeties, Damon Webb slides over this season with Malik Hooker getting the other safety spot. Erick Smith is listed as the backup to Hooker, while Jordan Fuller is the backup to Webb. The secondary had another solid defensive performance stepping up in clutch moments, as Hooker came up with an early interception for a touchdown.
For special teams, sophomore walk-on Tyler Durbin continues to be the starter at kicker for both kickoffs and field goals as Sean Nuernberger recovers from a groin injury that forced him to miss most of camp. Durbin connected on all three of his extra points against Michigan, but also gave Buckeye fans nightmare fuel as he missed two critical short field goals before finally nailing the field goal to push the game to overtime.
Senior Cameron Johnston remains as the punter, and that’s no surprise considering he’s been a mainstay since his freshman season and has done a tremendous job. Johnston had six punts for an average of 46 yards.
At punt return, Curtis Samuel OR K.J. Hill take over after Dontre Wilson’s struggles. Handling kickoff returns will be Parris Campbell OR Dontre Wilson. The long-snapping duties are given to Liam McCollough, and holding for kicks is Cameron Johnston.