If you are looking for team specific commentary, please reference the bonus section at the bottom of this team preview for a deep dive into the Buckeyes 2017 season from the perspective of who I go to for unbiased, in depth Ohio State info, Scott Springer (@springco).
Expected Win Totals
CW Projected Total Wins: 10.7
CW Projected B1G Wins: 8.2
Posted Total Wins: O 10.5 -145
Home Field Advantage: 3.9
Opening Power Rating: 70.5
|Aug 31||Ohio St.||Indiana||15.5|
|Sep 9||Oklahoma||Ohio St.||-7.5|
|Sep 16||Army||Ohio St.||-30.5|
|Sep 23||UNLV||Ohio St.||-35|
|Sep 30||Ohio St.||Rutgers||31.5|
|Oct 7||Maryland||Ohio St.||-29|
|Oct 14||Ohio St.||Nebraska||18.5|
|Oct 28||Penn St.||Ohio St.||-10|
|Nov 4||Ohio St.||Iowa||15|
|Nov 11||Michigan St.||Ohio St.||-23|
|Nov 18||Illinois||Ohio St.||-34|
|Nov 25||Ohio St.||Michigan||5.5|
|Legend: Off Of Bye / Overlook Watch / B2B Road Games / Neutral Site|
The Buckeyes are 18-1 Straight Up as an Away Team since 2013
It all goes right if…
A perfect season would consist of Kevin Wilson redemption at Indiana, revenge against Penn State, victory at the Big House, and redemption in the College Football Playoff after the embarrassment against Clemson in the 2016 semis.
It all goes wrong if…
Ohio State does not win the Big 10 Conference. In 2016, they made the College Football Playoff without winning the B1G as Penn State was shipped to the Rose Bowl as Conference Champions. The Committee may be a little more hesitant to allow that again after the Buckeyes were blanked by Clemson.
Ohio State +825 National Title
Ohio State -7 or better vs Penn State
For more, check out the full B1G Conference Preview
The Ohio Outlook
By: Scott Springer
- 2016 Record: 11-2 (Overall), 8-1 (Conf.) T-1st in B1G East
- 2016 ATS: 6-7 (4-3 Home, 2-4 Away), O/U: 6-7 (3-4 Home, 3-3 Away)
- 2017 Returning starters: Offense 8, Defense 7
- 2017 Home Games: Oklahoma, Army, UNLV, Maryland, Penn St, Michigan St, Illinois
- 2017 Away Games: Indiana, Rutgers, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan
- Rushing: Mike Weber – 182 carries, 1096 yds, 9 TD
- Passing: J.T. Barrett – 233/379, 2555 yds, 24 TD, 7 INT
- Receiving: Marcus Baugh – 24 rec, 269 yds, 2 TD
- Tackles: Jerome Baker – 49 solo, 53 ast
- Sacks: Tyquan Lewis – 8
- Interceptions: Jerome Baker – 2
The 2016 season started off with question marks on both sides of the ball for a very inexperienced team, specifically in the defensive backfield. The good news is once the season started, we all found out about Malik Hooker, Marshon Lattimore, and Gareon Conley, but all 3 unfortunately departed for the NFL. It’s up to Urban Meyer and Defensive Coordinator Greg Schiano to break in another green Secondary, specifically at CB since there is at least some experience at Safety with Erick Smith & Damon Webb (playmaking ability still a question).
The secondary worked out surprisingly well, but the gulp ‘regression’ of JT Barrett did not. Barrett has had a roller coaster career already; from his injury shortened national championship season in 2014-15, to his rotation season with Cardale Jones in 2015-16, and to his disaster of season that ended in 31-0 loss to Clemson in 2016-17.
Everyone remembers the lack of offensive output for OSU against Clemson and Michigan, both excellent defensives filled with NFL talent. Not the worst thing in the World, but if you add in the Wisconsin and Penn State games, the results are worrisome. I am highlighting the 4 worst offensive performances because it they highlight the single largest question headed into 2017. Was the low output simply a result of the 4 best defenses they faced executing flawlessly or was it more of the inability of Barrett/Offensive scheme that held the Buckeyes back? Meyer seems to think it was a little of both.
Enter Kevin Wilson, former Indiana Hoosier Head Coach and noted Offensive guru, who made his name at Oklahoma coaching the Sam Bradford led Sooner teams. We all know Urban likes to keep his influence over the offense regardless of what he is telling the media. As a result, how will the Urban/Wilson/Barrett dynamic work in what will now be Barrett’s 5th year in Columbus? Does Wilson still have the offensive magic? Can Barrett make the necessary improvements in his reads and down field throws? Everyone knows the Buckeyes will always be able to run the ball, but will 2017 feature a new and improved passing game?
As I alluded to before, Barrett needs to be better. Plain and simple. Last season, he got worse as the season wore on. He held the ball too long, he was unsure on many reads, he leaned on tucking it to run, and the deep ball was non-existent.
The story nationally is JT Barrett is back again so everything is butter for OSU on Offense which is not necessarily true the closer you get to Columbus. Every hardcore Buckeye fan knows the recruiting trail, especially at the QB position. It’s no secret who Urban has brought into the program at QB thinking Barrett would be long gone by now. The Buckeye QB cabinet is ‘allegedly’ stacked behind Barrett and the offensive struggles last season ruffled some feathers amongst the most knowledgeable Buckeye fans. (The most popular QB is always the back up right?) In Ohio State’s case, there are 3 potential new fan favorites in 2017 if Barrett’s struggles continue.
- Joe Burrow – Ohio product who wasn’t nationally known, but threw up crazy stats for his Dad a well-known coach in the Athens area
- Dwayne Haskins – Maryland kid who was heavily recruited as one of the best dual threat QBs in the country
- Tate Martell – True Freshman from noted football factory Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas who also came in highly marked. Still lacks size of other 3.
Barrett holds all the keys to the offense, but I’m just here to say that there are options behind him and the QB picture isn’t as rosy as you might hear.
Mike Weber, who had a very solid 2016, returns for his junior season to lead another solid OSU backfield. My opinion on Weber is he is a "poor man’s Zeke". NFL caliber back, but not as quick, not as elusive, and lacks the same receiving and pass blocking skills that Elliott possessed. However, he’s hardly going to be the problem with the 2017 Offense. Keep an eye on Demario McCall, who, along with JK Dobbins, will help try to fill the shoes of NFL bound Curtis Samuel. There hasn’t been much national hype for McCall, but he has the speed and skill required to play the H-back position or straight up tailback if needed. With Samuel gone, we are going to find out quickly if McCall is going to live up the stuff that made him a high school legend in NE Ohio.
When Urban first got to Columbus, he was very hard on the enrolled Receivers as he didn’t like their play making skills or lake of speed. Meyer was still able to get Devin Smith, Evan Spencer, and Mike Thomas to the NFL, although none were his recruits. Well, now the only Wideouts left are all highly rated Urban recruits and none have stepped up yet. It is put up or shut up time for this unit in 2017. Austin Mack, Binjimen Victor, and KJ Hill are the guys with the size and supposed ‘elite’ ball skills/speed that got Urban’s attention in the first place. Johnnie Dixon is coming off knee surgery after he looked to be the guy finally stepping up at WR. The leading pass catcher on the team is actually TE Marcus Baugh.
2016 was a major disappointment for the Buckeyes Wide Receivers and it’s now up to Wilson/Urban to find the group that can make it work. My money is on Victor with a slight nod to Mack. Victor has drawn AJ Green type comparisons with his speed, body type and ball skills, and Mack has the work ethic. Both possess the size/speed/hands that you want from impact Wide Receivers. It’s now time for them to show it on the field.
The Offensive Line only must replace the starting center from last year in Pat Elflein, who is with the Minnesota Vikings. They don’t have as much depth as the Defensive Line, but this unit will be strong in 2017. The one to watch on this line is LG Michael Jordan, who started all 13 games for OSU last year AS A TRUE FRESHMAN. That simply doesn’t happen in Columbus. Maybe not since Orlando Pace (don’t quote me). It’s just a remarkable accomplishment that is going to put that kid on everyone’s All-everything trophy list. Billy Price, Jamarco Jones, Isaiah Prince, and Demetrius Knox bring back all the experience at the other OL positions. They struggled to pass protect as a very young unit a year ago, but Barrett did hold the ball too long so I can’t blame them too much. The Buckeyes should not be concerned about this unit in 2017.
The front 7 for the OSU defense will be the core of this team. Specifically, the Defensive Line with Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis, Jaylen Holmes, and Nick Bosa all returning in 2017. Even if you include the Linebackers, it’s hard to find a player in the front 7 who won’t be playing on Sundays. Jerome Baker, who passed on the NFL as a borderline 1st round draft pick, was an absolute monster at the Weakside LB in 2016. Dante Booker and Chris Worley have plenty of experience at MLB and SLB, and 3rd year player Justin Hillard provided depth as one of the highest recruited LBs in the country. The front 7 depth is silly. Urban will sit starters for entire series for rest and to get some of the younger guys snaps on the defensive line. Schiano & Urb have every ability to do this once again because of how far down the depth chart they can go at DL. I haven’t even mentioned the 2017 recruiting class at this position because I’m not sure any of them will be able to contribute. I will give honorable mention to Chase Young, but his time might have to wait.
The Cornerbacks, along with the Wide Receivers, are the two biggest question marks headed into 2017. The corners, specifically, will be tested as Damon Arnette is only a redshirt sophomore who sat behind Lattimore & Conley in 2016. The other Cornerback will be JUCO transfer, Kendall Sheffield. Interestingly enough, the former 5-star CB originally started out his college career with Nick Saban and the Bama All-Stars. He originally considered OSU, but ended up choosing Alabama before ultimately going the JUCO route. Every scouting service has him as one of the highest projected pro talents on the entire OSU roster. He checks all the boxes for what is needed in a NFL corner with his speed, agility, cover skills, tackling, and size.
Two guys to look out for in the defensive backfield are Shaun Wade and Jeffrey Okudah. Both are early enrollees as true freshman that come in with super impressive resumes. The 2017 Buckeye recruiting class is the highest ranked one Urban has brought in at Columbus. However, most will not contribute in 2017 except for maybe these two. Both are physically ready and from HS programs that prepped them properly to play right away at a major D1 program like OSU. One, if not both, could see a lot of playing time in this secondary and eventually be household Sunday names.
Looking for more B1G discussion, have a look at our B1G Betting Preview for Sides and Futures for Wisconsin, Ohio State, and even Illinois