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Ohio State has the highest projected win total of any Big Ten team

May the odds be ever in your favor.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

“So while Ohio State is the favorite in the Big Ten for a reason, and is certainly capable of going 12-0, the value on the Under at even odds is too much to pass up.”

-Tom Fornelli, CBS Sports

Urban Meyer has not lost a lot of games in Columbus. In fact, there have been just three seasons--2013, 2016 and 2017--in which he has lost more than one game, and his lowest win total, in 2016, was 11--a year in which the Buckeyes played just one postseason game. In the regular season, Meyer has had at least 10 wins in each of his six seasons, with the low point coming in 2017 with losses to Oklahoma and Iowa. He did not lose a regular season game in his first two seasons in Columbus.

Ohio State is once again a favorite to win the Big Ten East, the Big Ten overall and a College Football Playoff bid. Vegas is giving the Buckeyes the highest win total projection of any Big Ten team at 10.5. Taking the over doesn’t leave much room for error, especially when looking at road games against Penn State and Michigan State and the Nov. 24 showdown against Michigan in Columbus. A non-conference, neutral-site game against TCU won’t be a cake walk either, and a cross-division matchup against Nebraska could be a surprise coming off a bye week. However, if there is a coach who has consistently given reason to take the over, it is Meyer.

Wisconsin has the next highest total at 10. Playing in the Big Ten West, the Badgers have cross-division matchups on the road at Michigan and Penn State with Rutgers in Madison. Penn State is sitting at 9.5 wins, with Michigan and Michigan State just behind at nine as the balance of power continues to sit in the East. Given that Wisconsin plays two of the top teams in the East, and would likely play a third in the Big Ten Championship game, it would seem that the winner of the championship would be a shoe in for a playoff spot.

“We are excited about the challenge of this nonconference schedule. Our hope is that it prepares us for the grind of a 20-game Big Ten season.”

-Ohio State basketball coach Chris Holtmann, via Marcus Hartman, Dayton Daily News

There is no lack of intrigue for the Ohio State basketball team as it heads into the 2018-19 season. Chris Holtmann is entering his second year at the helm of a team which experienced a not-quite-meteoric but steady rise back from relative obscurity last season. The Buckeyes finished 25-9, including a 15-3 conference mark. It was a big momentum shift certainly, but there is still work to be done.

That work will, in terms of schedule, start with the Buckeyes’ non-conference slate, which was released earlier this week. While Ohio State was able to find success last season in Big Ten play, highlighted by the team’s January win over then-No. 1 Michigan State, the unit’s non-conference performance was not quite as splendid. It is true that the Buckeyes did not lose to any teams they unequivocally should have beaten (all five losses in non-conference play came to teams ranked in the RPI top-40), but they did lose 31 percent of non-conference matchups compared to less than 17 percent of conference games.

The non-conference schedule this year, though shorter with the addition of two more Big Ten games, features a similar balance of tough opponents, starting with Cincinnati, which finished last season ranked sixth nationally. Ohio State will also face Creighton, Syracuse and UCLA--all tournament teams from this past spring.

In one of the more nostalgic aspects of this season’s schedule, the basketball team will go back to its roots during non-conference play, returning to St. John Arena for a game against the Cleveland State Vikings. The matchup will mark the first time since 2010 that the Buckeyes played in the historic arena, which was home to Ohio State basketball from 1956-98. In addition to Cincinnati and Cleveland State, Ohio State is scheduled to face Youngstown State, rounding out its slate of in-state matchups.

“With a jump cut that at times looks like the football cousin of an Allen Iverson crossover, Dobbins produced plenty of ‘Did you just see that?’ moments as a freshman.”

-Dan Murphy, ESPN

It came as a bit of a surprise when J.K. Dobbins emerged as Ohio State’s leading rusher last season. For starters, he was supposed to be a substitute for Mike Weber, who was sidelined with a hamstring injury for the season opener but who had just come off an outstanding redshirt freshman season himself. Then there was the fact that he was a true freshman with just a few months spent with the program. And then there was the overriding belief that J.T. Barrett’s senior season, when he had the support of Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day, would be the one where he would finally break free, crushing the downfield passing game and taking pressure off the run.

In hindsight, none of those things mattered, and now expectations are sky high for the sophomore back in his second season with the program. In fact, with Barrett gone, it will be up to Dobbins to carry the load of offensive production on offense, especially early in the season while Dwayne Haskins gets comfortable in the starting quarterback role. It is unlikely that the running back arrangement of 2017 will change, especially with both Dobbins and Weber healthy. The rotation of running backs will be even more crucial as Haskins will rely on an established run game to take away pressure on the quarterback.

Dobbins finished last season with 1,403 yards on 194 carries, finding the end zone on seven occasions. He led the conference with 7.5 yards per carry on his way to being named second team All-Big Ten.

Beyond Dobbins and Weber, Ohio State returns a nearly intact receiving corps along with three offensive linemen. Even with all the talent around him, however, Dobbins already looks like the most exciting player on the field heading into the season.