“No matter who is named the starting quarterback, Meyer has a talented roster that should once again be in the discussion for winning the Big Ten, as well as be a leading contender for a spot in the College Football Playoff.”
Spring football is behind us, and it’s time to take a look at the schedule ahead for the gridiron Buckeyes; and honestly, it’s about as good as the program could possibly hope for as it looks to book a return trip to the College Football Playoff. In its totality, the schedule doesn’t have nearly as many potential pitfalls as previous years, but when considering that the Buckeyes will be breaking in a new starting quarterback this fall, the September section of the slate does pose some problems.
While three of OSU’s games in the opening month are against teams (Oregon State, Rutgers, Tulane) with a combined 10-26 record in 2017, the Buckeyes will head deep into the heart of Texas to face TCU at Jerry’s World in Arlington on Sept. 15, and then two weeks later, will travel to Happy Valley for an already-announced White Out on Sept. 29.
Those are two games with massive implications nationally in the first five weeks of the season. The Horned Frogs were 11-3 last year in the Big XII, and Buckeye fans need no reminder of OSU’s remarkable comeback against the Nittany Lions in 2017.
Should Ohio State get through the early portion of their schedule unscathed, it will give them a serious advantage in the Big Ten East race, as well as in the hunt for a berth in the CFP.
However, what’s nice about having the Penn State game fall in September— as opposed to late October or November, as it has for more than a decade— is that should OSU fall to TCU or PSU, they will have plenty of time to climb back up the rankings, a la 2014. Obviously two losses would be devastating, while not 100 percent fatal to the team’s playoff hopes, depending on what else happens around the country.
From there, the Buckeyes have three winnable games in October (Indiana, Minnesota, and Purdue), before having their open date fall in Week 9. After the off week, OSU will finish the regular season with three formidable foes in the final four weeks; Nebraska, Michigan State, and Michigan.
The recent shellackings that the Buckeyes have given the Huskers not withstanding, the program should have a new-found energy under first-year head coach Scott Frost, and don’t let last year’s 48-3 win over the Spartans blind you into forgetting that Mark Dantonio’s team regularly plays OSU tough, even if there is an obvious talent discrepancy. I would assume that both Nebraska and MSU will come into these November games with massive chips on their respective shoulders, looking to knock Ohio State out of the playoff picture.
Then, of course, I don’t need to tell you that the Buckeyes will finish their regular season against The Team Up North, looking to run their winning streak in the rivalry to seven-consecutive games (not to mention 15 of the last 17).
Like last year, I foresee exciting early and late season action for the Buckeyes, with a slog of blowouts in between. However, unlike in 2017, OSU will be breaking in a new QB— whomever that will be— so having a bit of a mid-season respite after the early crucibles of TCU and Penn State should give the team more time to settle into the new status quo as it makes a run at another National Championship.
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“The emergence of the sophomore into a pass-rushing sensation probably isn’t going to take anybody by surprise considering the hype around Chase Young’s recruitment and what he showed when he played last season. ”
Spring games in college football are much like spring training for baseball; every team has a chance to win it all, and every player has a shot at a breakout season. With that in mind, it is probably prudent to take all of the offensive weapons on display this past Saturday with at least a grain or two of salt.
Head coach Urban Meyer was clear that they limited what the defense would be able to do during the game by design, but that didn’t stop a handful of defensive players from flexing their muscles during the scrimmage.
With Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, and Jalyn Holmes prepping to have their names called in the NFL Draft next week, there is an open defensive end slot opposite Nick Bosa, who somehow will be a full-time starter for the first time this season.
After a dynamite game on Saturday, it is clear that former five-star recruit Chase Young is ready to bookend the line during his sophomore season. With the speed and athleticism that both Bosa and Young have, ideally defensive line coach Larry Johnson will allow them to put as much pressure on opposing quarterbacks as possible, since it looks like the secondary will need some time to get up to speed, following another talent-exodus from the back of the Buckeye defense.
Two other players that Ward highlights in the article are linebackers Baron Browning and Justin Hilliard. There has been plenty of criticism of how LB coach Bill Davis’ corp performed in 2017, but with Browning and Hilliard both healthy (not to mention Tuf Borland, when he’s 100 percent), there is reason for optimism from the position group in the fall.
“The Big Ten is a conference to watch down the stretch. The most bids the Big Ten has gotten in a single year is five and it could at least match that this season as the top six teams in the league all have solid regional cases. Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio State are all fighting for bids, with Minnesota and Ohio State getting the nod this week.”
With one month remaining in the regular season, the baseball Buckeyes have put together a solid season so far, currently sitting on a 24-10 record, including a 5-1 mark in the early Big Ten season, the Buckeyes are on track for Big Ten and NCAA Tournament berths.
Though there is a lot of time left in the season, Baseball America is forecasting the Buckeyes as the third seed in a four-team regional bracket with Duke, Oklahoma, and High Point. Now, these projections will certainly change more than once by the time the official selections are announced in late May, but the Buckeyes being in as of now, is a solid sign of respect for their out-of-conference season.
Greg Beal’s squad currently is 40th in national RPI, behind Indiana (24), Illinois (36), and Minnesota (38) in the Big Ten; Michigan isn’t too far behind at 52. With so many teams bunched together, that should make for an exciting conference season, as OSU looks to get back in the NCAA Tournament after failing to even make the B1G Tourney in 2017.
STICK TO SPORTS
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- So, Marvel’s definitely going to kill some superheroes in this month’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” but the question is, which ones?
- Now that they’ve had a taste of Broadway, Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban will host the 2018 Tony Awards.