Earlier we looked at Ohio State’s 2015 season according to S&P+ tiers -- what teams are peers according to the S&P+ adjusted scoring margins. Following David Wunderlich, we saw that Ohio State really only had two games last season that the final S&P+ rankings suggested were toss-ups.
Now, let's take that idea and apply it to the 2016 schedule using the projected S&P+ ratings:
|S&P+||S&P+ Rank||Tier||Proj. Points difference|
Using the projected point differences between the S&P+ margins, I followed David and used a touchdown difference as the space for tiers. So, since Ohio State’s projected S&P+ margin was 16.4 and Oklahoma’s was 22 (a 5.6 point difference in favor of the Sooners), the Buckeyes are within one tier of the Sooners.
Ohio State has seven games against either "sure thing" or "heavily favored" teams next season, with five games where the S&P+ either projects the Buckeyes as underdogs or has the games as close wins/toss-ups.
The five toss-up or underdog games are Penn State, Nebraska, Michigan State (all projected touchdown-or-less wins), Oklahoma, and Michigan (projected close losses).
Michigan is currently projected as a loss by about a field goal, while the Sooners are projected as about two-field goal favorites in the S&P+.
So, if the Buckeyes lost all the games that are close, they’d go 7-5 in the regular season. But the Buckeyes are projected within a touchdown for all of their games, so 12-0 isn’t out of the question either. Those are the general bounds for how Ohio State’s 2016 could go. Alabama, for contrast, only has one peer on their schedule for next year — LSU.
So using this method, 10-2 seems like a conservative projection, with 11-1 looking reasonable as well. Obviously the low-end of 7-5 wouldn't cut it in Columbus, and shouldn't, given Urban Meyer's staff and his recruiting.