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Is Ohio State a top five football team this year?

The Buckeyes are No. 5 in Athlon’s preseason rankings

NCAA Football: Ohio State Spring Game Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

“With Day in year one, should the Buckeyes be a top five team? New coaches usually like a little doubt to motivate a team. Funny thing is, a preseason No. 5 ranking for Ohio State may actually qualify as doubt.”

- Doug Lesmerises,

The Buckeyes are under new management for the first time since 2012, and with that comes expected uncertainty of the new regime. Ohio State has been a national powerhouse program for quite some time, and it will be up to head coach Ryan Day to continue the tradition. With Athlon Sports releasing its 2019 college football preview, the Bucks find themselves ranked at No. 5, behind Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Michigan. While most schools would kill for a top-five ranking, is the fifth spot actually low for OSU, or is it indeed a fair ranking?

How good has Athlon Sports been in the past at predicting Ohio State’s final ranking? Over the last five years, it seems as though they have actually overestimated the Buckeyes. After predicting them at No. 3 in the team’s 2014 season that ended with a National Championship from the No. 4 spot, OSU has finished at or below their preseason Athlon ranking each of the past four years. The College Football Playoff Committee’s final ranking for OSU had them at No. 7 in 2015 after Athlon ranked them at No. 1. Ohio State matched Athlon’s prediction in 2016, finishing at No. 3, before falling three spots under in 2017 (predicted No. 2, finished No. 5) and two spots below in 2018 (predicted No. 4, finished No. 6).

So, while the No. 5 spot may seem high for a first-year head coach who lost almost all of last year’s offensive production to the NFL, it make actually take some of the pressure off. Athlon has predicted OSU to make the College Football Playoff in each of the past five years, with the Buckeyes only actually appearing twice. This year, Athlon has predicted Michigan to win the Big Ten and advance to the CFP, which takes some of the pressure off Day while also giving him some bulletin board material to energize his team.

Ohio State will certainly not have an easy road this season, having to play five of the seven other Big Ten teams Athlon has ranked in the top 25. Much of the team’s success this year will likely hinge on the Buckeyes’ revamped offense, which will center around transfer quarterback Justin Fields and junior running back J.K. Dobbins. The defense should be much improved from a year ago, with an almost entirely new coaching staff and defensive philosophy. Overall, OSU definitely has the talent to play like a top-five team or even better, but we will have to wait until August to see if they can actually put it all together.

“Fox is altering its college football coverage by prioritizing its biggest Big Ten and Big 12 games at lunchtime on Saturdays, including at least several involving Ohio State.”

- Rob Oller, Columbus Dispatch

While almost all college students at big football schools would prefer every game be played at night, for obvious tailgating reasons, Fox would prefer the opposite. This season, instead of the biggest game of the weekend being played in the late “prime-time” slot, Fox will be opting to televise the most important Big Ten and Big 12 games at noon. With Ohio State games producing some of the highest ratings among Big Ten schools, it will almost certainly mean more early games for the Buckeyes this season.

Fox thinks to move to the noon start time for big games makes good business sense, and last season’s analytics will back up that claim. All five of last season’s most-watched college football broadcasts were in the noon time slot, with Ohio State-Michigan (13.2 million viewers) coming in at No. 1, followed by Oklahoma-Texas (5.6 million), Michigan-Michigan State (5.4), Ohio State-Michigan State (5.2) and Ohio State-Nebraska (5.0). The network also believes the move will help distance themselves from the likes of ABC and ESPN — whose biggest games are in primetime — and CBS, which focuses on the 3:30 SEC game.

Fox will also be starting a new pregame show in an attempt to rival ESPN’s College Gameday, which will feature Urban Meyer alongside Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart.

“Burch, a 2011 Ohio State graduate, has been an assistant under Hanson since 2015. The next year, the Buckeyes won the first of two consecutive national championships. Burch was a volunteer assistant coach for the Buckeyes’ 2011 national title team.”

- Bill Rabinowitz, Columbus Dispatch

The historic tenure of Buckeye men's volleyball coach came to an end in April, as the USA Volleyball Hall of Fame inductee Pete Hanson announced the end to his 35-year coaching run at Ohio State. On Tuesday, OSU found his successor, as the school named Kevin Burch as its new men’s volleyball coach.

Burch, who graduated from Ohio State in 2011, has seen three national titles as a member of the Buckeye coaching staff, and overall has been part of a national championship in every year since his graduation. The Buckeyes won in it 2011 with Burch on the staff as a volunteer assistant. As an assistant coach for D3 Springfield College, the team won the men's title in 2012 and 2014, with Burch also a part of California Irvine’s men’s title in 2013 as an assistant coach. The Penn State women’s team won the title in 2015 with Burch acting as the team’s director of operations, and after joining Hanson’s staff later that year, the Buckeyes won back-to-back titles.

Burch has some big shoes to fill, as Hanson brought three national titles to Columbus — 2011, 2016 and 2017. Hanson finished with a career win percentage of .665 (712-359) and a .754 win percentage in the Big Ten (312-102). His 712 overall wins rank third all-time in NCAA history. Burch, who will be the ninth head coach in team history, has been preparing for this opportunity since he first became a Buckeye, and is more than ready to lead the team moving forward.

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