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With all of Zone 6 returning in 2018, Ohio State’s offense is already a step ahead

Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin and Johnnie Dixon make a formidable trio of returning receivers.

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NCAA Football: Rutgers at Ohio State Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

“Everybody comes back that had a key part in the offense developing last year, so I feel like it’s just taking that next step. Just getting better as a unit, and then propelling the offense to take the necessary steps to get where we want to get next year.”

-Ohio State wide receiver Terry McLaurin, via Austin Ward, Land of 10

Ohio State lucked out in how few underclassmen chose to leave the program for the NFL Draft this year, especially compared to previous seasons. One position group which was particularly fortunate was the wide receiver corps, as Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin all opted to return to Columbus next season. While each made his decision separately, all came to the same conclusion that returning was the best bet for the team. Campbell would likely have had the highest draft stock as the heir to Curtis Samuel’s role at Ohio State and whose speed electrified audiences throughout the season. Dixon stayed healthy throughout the season, catching eight touchdown passes and winning the hearts of Buckeye nation. And McLaurin had six touchdowns of his own while impressing the Ohio State staff and players with his relentless work ethic. Now, the program gets all of that experience back for another season.

Expectations are now through the roof for Zone 6 heading into the spring, even as the offense will be breaking in a new quarterback. With running back Mike Weber choosing to come back for his redshirt junior season, and J.K. Dobbins back for his true sophomore year, the rushing attack should be just as good as 2017. And while the loss of Billy Price and Jamarco Jones will definitely hurt the line, the unit still returns three starters.

Despite some early miscues, Zone 6 really did improve significantly throughout the 2017 season, but the unit collectively believes that they can do more and that they owe it to each other to try. “Sometimes it’s bigger than money,” said Dixon. “Passing up a brotherhood like this would be crazy.” The Buckeyes were left out of the College Football Playoff this season, but with all receivers coming back, the unit as a whole can lift the offense as Ohio State contends for a spot in 2018.

“The biggest surprise in college hoops.”

-Jeff Borzello, ESPN

Ohio State basketball is now 8-0 in conference play on the season, and has already matched its win total from last year (17). That’s the best record for the Buckeyes since 2011, when Thad Matta’s team opened their Big Ten slate 11-0. With this success, Ohio State has moved up to No. 13 in the AP Poll and No. 16 in ESPN’s latest power rankings. The Buckeyes only entered the conversation two weeks ago, when they moved into the No. 25 spot, and propelled three spots up last week to No. 23. Now, they are squarely in contention for a conference title and widely considered a lock for an NCAA Tournament bid--a long way up from the “bubble team” rating of only a few weeks ago.

This streak is certainly a huge shocker for a team that was projected to finish 11th in the Big Ten at the start of the season. Now, the Buckeyes enter a four-game home stretch, starting with Nebraska tonight, which could position them as high as 12-0 when they head to West Lafayette to face No. 3 Purdue on Feb. 7. Purdue is the only other undefeated team in the conference, though Michigan State still holds a top-10 spot in both the latest AP Poll and power rankings.

With all of his first year success, Chris Holtmann is a natural contender for Coach of the Year honors, and junior forward Keita Bates-Diop, who missed most of last season due to injury, is a strong candidate for Big Ten Player of the Year (he has already earned Player of the Week honors three times this season). Still, there is a lot of basketball yet to be played, as the Buckeyes are not quite halfway through their conference slate. However, if things continue to shape up, Ohio State could find themselves in prime position come Selection Sunday.

“I think you put so much time and energy, and work into this. Sometimes you can just get lost in the stress of it, and the result of it.”

-Ohio State wrestling coach Tom Ryan, via Tim Bielik,

The Ohio State wrestling team just earned perhaps its biggest win of the year Sunday, taking down fourth-ranked, and previously-undefeated, Iowa in front of a 15,000 person crowd--and Urban Meyer--at the Schottenstein Center. With the victory, the Buckeyes improve to 10-0 on the season, including 5-0 in conference duels.

It was a big win on Senior Day for the Buckeyes, who are the No. 2 team in the country behind Penn State, and a great send off for Kyle Snyder, Nathan Tomasello and Bo Jordan, who competed in their final collegiate match in Columbus yesterday. This senior class is one of the best in history, as each member of the trio is looking to earn his fourth career All-American honors. Snyder himself is already one of the most decorated wrestlers in the world, having earned an Olympic gold medal and two World Championships. Three Ohio State wrestlers, Snyder, Tomasello and Kollin Moore, are the top wrestlers in their respective weight classes, with five others listed in the top-10. Five wrestlers on the roster are undefeated on the season.

Iowa presented the toughest match of the season so far for Ohio State, and things did not start off well as Tomasello, who previously had been undefeated on the season, fell in the first match of the day at the 125-pound weight class. Luke Pletcher (122-pounds) and Joey McKenna (141-pounds) put the Buckeyes back in the lead, but Iowa took the next three bouts and led 12-7 heading into the final four faceoffs of the day. However, the Hawkeyes couldn’t overcome in their matchups with Jordan (174-pounds), Myles Martin (184-pounds), Moore (197-pounds) and Snyder (heavyweight), ultimately giving the Buckeyes a 22-12 win on the day.

Ohio State has five individual matches remaining on the season, their clash with No. 1 Penn State looming large Feb. 3. Next up is Michigan State in East Lansing.