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Ohio State’s Jerome Baker and Chris Worley make cut for Butkus Award watch list

The two Buckeye linebackers are on watch for the best linebacker award.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Oklahoma Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

“A pair of Ohio State linebackers - junior Jerome Baker and senior Chris Worley - have been named to the watch list for the Butkus Award.”

- OhioStateBuckeyes.com

Great linebackers at Ohio State have always been a staple of a Buckeye defense for quite some time, often leading the defensive unit known as the Silver Bullets. This season, Ohio State has a couple of standout players at linebacker including Jerome Baker and Chris Worley, both of whom are up for the Butkus Award - given annually to the nation’s best linebacker. James Laurinaitis was the last Buckeye to win the award in 2007, and Andy Katenmoyer before him in 1997. Despite not winning the award, linebackers Ryan Shazier, A.J. Hawk, and Raekwon McMillan had all been in the running.

Baker exploded onto the scene last season after filling in for an injured Dante Booker. Baker took full advantage early on, coming up with a big pick-six in the nationally televised game against Oklahoma to help lead the Buckeyes to victory. He also was a standout in the Michigan game that went to double overtime. Worley stepped up as a starting outside linebacker last season but will shift over to middle linebacker in 2017. It will be interesting to see if he can fill the shoes left by Raekwon McMillan, but he certainly showed he has the athleticism and talent to play at a high level last season.

“Ohio State junior receiver/return specialist Parris Campbell has been named to the watch list for the Paul Hornung Award.”

- OhioStateBuckeyes.com

Another member of Ohio State to make an awards watch list was wide receiver and/or H-back Parris Campbell. Campbell was added to the watch list for the Paul Hornung award, given annually to the nation’s most versatile player. It’s a fairly new award, which started in 2010, and no Buckeyes have ever won it. Last season’s winner was Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers. It makes sense that Campbell be included on this watch list, considering he’s expected to fill in the role Curtis Samuel left behind. Last season, Samuel caught passes, received handoffs, and returned kicks. Campbell will likely be called upon to do the same.

Campbell has experience receiving kicks and has obviously played as a wide receiver in recent seasons, but it will be worth noting how he adjusts to his new role within the offense. It’s clear that the coaching staff believes he can make the adjustments to become an impact player on most downs. Last season, Campbell contributed 13 receptions for 121 yards and ranked 11th nationally in kickoff returns with an average of 27.8 yards per return.

Ohio State hasn't lost to Iowa since 2004, also in Iowa City. The Buckeyes have won five straight against the Hawkeyes. Head coach Kirk Ferentz, in his 93rd season at Iowa (it's actually his 19th), is 1-8 all-time against Ohio State.

- Bill Landis, Cleveland.com

Bill Landis of Cleveland.com is going through each of the opponents Ohio State faces this season and giving a percentage chance of that team beating the Buckeyes. This season, when Ohio State travels to Iowa to face the Hawkeyes, Landis gives Kirk Ferentz’s squad a 14 percent chance of beating the Buckeyes. As you can see above, Ohio State hasn’t had much trouble with Iowa in the past several seasons, having not lost since 2004. However, as the article mentions, the Buckeyes will be coming off a tough game against Penn State at home and also will have to look forward to playing Michigan State at home as well.

Landis does mention the idea of this game being a trap game for Urban Meyer’s team, and it’s certainly possible. The Hawkeyes pulled the upset on a top-five ranked Michigan team last season in Kinnick Stadium, so it’s not impossible for them to catch Ohio State unaware. The good news for the Buckeyes is that Iowa will be without their former quarterback C.J. Beathard, and a brand new starter will be in place. The Hawkeyes won’t have the talent to keep up, as long as the Buckeyes execute well.

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