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Ohio State’s Branden Bowen won a starting job and there’s a reason why

Thanks to his hard work, Branden Bowen won a starting job on the offensive line, a surprise to many.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

“He's the most improved guy, one of the most improved players on our team. Something clicked with him in the early summer, I heard it from (strength) Coach Mick (Marotti), and I saw it. It really wasn't that close to be honest with you. (Matthew) Burrell was very close to him. But Bowen did a very nice job.”

- Urban Meyer via Bill Landis,

It was a bit of surprise when it was announced that Branden Bowen was going to be named the starter at right guard on the offensive line this season. The most expected outcome would have been either Demetrius Knox or even Malcolm Pridgeon, who is listed as Bowen’s backup. As you can see above, though, coach Meyer said the competition wasn’t really all that close, and that part might be even more shocking. Still, Bowen appears to have made enough improvements from last season to earn this spot and with the talented individuals behind him on the line, it must speak to how highly the coaching staff thinks of his progress.

That leaves the starting line with (from left to right) Jamarco Jones, Michael Jordan, Billy Price, Branden Bowen, and Isaiah Prince to open the season against Indiana. Whether that remains the starting line for the whole season remains to be seen, but it seems solid nonetheless.

“Somebody said something slick about it on Twitter, but that just shows we got a lot of leaders on the team. All of us lead in different ways. J.T. and Tyquan can be more verbal, I try to do it by example and with my personality, try to be relatable to everybody.”

- Jalyn Holmes via Bill Landis,

Ohio State went a little unorthodox with its captain selections this season, announcing nine captains for the Buckeyes. Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, Jalyn Holmes, Tracy Sprinkle, Terry McLaurin, Parris Campbell, Chris Worley, Billy Price, and J.T. Barrett were all bestowed the honor of being a captain. In previous years, normally the Buckeyes have about three or four captains selected and that’s that. However, Meyer learned from talking to Mike Vrabel that Vrabel was never a captain, at least not by name. He was however a leader on and off the field, embodying what a captain is.

So with that, Meyer held it to a player vote and these nine captains were chosen to represent the team this season. Barrett’s selection was a no brainer, now becoming a three-time captain. There’s some interesting conversation in the article about whether naming so many captains takes away from the honor a bit, sort of watering it down. But like some of the comments in the article, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal and maybe Chris Worley said it best when he said all the people named absolutely deserve the honor.

“The Buckeyes are poised for redemption this coming season. Former Indiana coach Kevin Wilson takes over the offense, and former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano is back to direct the defense. If the Buckeyes can survive their early home game against Oklahoma, they probably won't be tested again until they host Penn State on Oct. 28 and play at Michigan on Nov. 25. And yes, Meyer will beat Jim Harbaugh again.”

- Mark Schlabach, ESPN

Mark Schlabach of ESPN gave his bold predictions for the 2017 season, and his second prediction has a Scarlet and Gray hue to it. Schlabach believes Urban Meyer has set his team up perfectly for a revenge year after being demolished by Clemson in the College Football Playoff at the end of last season. With J.T. Barrett returning and Kevin Wilson joining the team as the offensive coordinator, there are high hopes that the Buckeyes could emerge victorious when the final seconds tick off the clock in the national championship game.

In fact, Schlabach states that he believes the Buckeyes will enter the postseason as the No. 1 seed for the College Football Playoff, where they will face off against No. 4 USC. From there, Ohio State takes care of business and meets No. 2 Alabama in the national championship game where the Buckeyes edge out the Crimson Tide 24-20. I, for one, would be happy with an outcome similar to that and it’s safe to say Ohio State fans in general would be too.