5 reasons Ohio State can win B1G
This is not a fun time to be around Ohio State football.
What did head coach Urban Meyer, who has been placed on administrative leave, know about the domestic abuse charges against Zach Smith, and when did he know it? Did Meyer sweep everything under the rug? Should OSU fire him? And what about Athletic Director Gene Smith? Funny time to be on vacation, don’t you think?
And Monday brought more distressing news. Reports surfaced that Smith, the receivers coach fired in the wake of reports that he has twice been arrested on those domestic abuse charges, was also arrested in 2013 on an unrelated charge. And even as the school’s investigation of the entire matter progresses, Smith is reportedly going to be asking for his job to be reinstated. Wow.
Amid all of this, the players have to get ready for a season. Somehow.
And amid all of this, somehow, Ohio State still has to be considered among the favorites to win the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes are the reigning B1G champions, have gone to the College Football Playoff twice in its four seasons, and are a mind-boggling 73-8 (for a .901 winning percentage) in six seasons under Meyer.
in article body to display the pullquote.Whatever ill winds might be swirling around Columbus, they are not yet strong enough to knock down the wall Meyer has built around Ohio when it comes to recruiting. And the coaching staff is far from myopic in national circles. Of the projected 22 offensive and defensive starters for the 2018 season according to Ourlads, 15 are from outside of Ohio.
Quite simply, there is enough talent to believe that Ohio State will be in the thick of the B1G race in 2018 no matter who is coaching, whether it’s Meyer or interim coach Ryan Day.
This is the second part of our series on conference contenders; Wisconsin ran yesterday. Here are 5 reasons the Buckeyes can win the B1G:
1-2 backfield punch
Last year as a true freshman, J.K. Dobbins rushed for 1,403 yards and seven touchdowns. In 2016 Mike Weber, then a freshman, rushed for 1,096 yards and nine TDs. Last season, injuries and Dobbins’ emergence combined to reduce Weber’s stats, but he still rushed for 626 yards and 10 scores. Now these two enter 2018 as one of the nation’s most potent backfield combinations. Even without J.T. Barrett eluding defenders anymore, the Buckeyes should be plenty effective on the ground. Which leads to…
A promising offensive line
There are questions here, for sure. All-American Billy Price is gone; the Cincinnati Bengals selected him 21st overall in this year’s NFL Draft. Only three starters return but there is plenty of experience from a team which went 12-2 last season. Guard Michael Jordan is a preseason first team All-B1G selection and Isaiah Price returns at the critical left tackle spot. There is depth and know-how on this unit as several juniors and seniors are back among the non-starters.
You know the one. Nick Bosa can make a case for being the best college football player in America, at least on defense if not overall. Ohio State was ninth in the nation in total defense last season, fourth in the B1G. Iowa picked the Buckeyes apart in its stunning upset of the Buckeyes but other than that, OSU allowed 30 or more points only twice, and that was against very good Oklahoma and Penn State teams. So the D should be in good shape, and all eyes will be on Bosa, who is already the projected No. 1 overall pick according to several early 2019 mock NFL Drafts.
Kicker Sean Nuernberger returns for another season, coming off of a 2017 campaign in which he hit all 71 extra point attempts and 17 of 21 field goals. Sophomore Drue Chrisman barely lost the B1G punting title last season — 44.2 yards per kick to 44.4 for Rutgers’ Ryan Anderson, who has graduated — and might be the best punter in the league. Wide receivers Parris Campbell and K.J. Hill bring speed to the kick return and punt return units, respectively. The Buckeyes are well set in one of the most underappreciated aspects of the game.
That certain psychological edge
Yes, it’s true, every streak was made to be broken. And lately, Michigan State hardly seems to have been intimidated by the Scarlet and Gray. But Michigan’s failures against Ohio State in recent years — UM is 1-13 in the series since 2004 — have to weigh on the entire Wolverines program, starting with coach Jim Harbaugh. A friend of mine is fond of saying “that number’s there until it’s not there” regarding streaks of futility. That’s where Michigan is: Harbaugh’s goose egg against OSU will be there until it’s not there, and this year the game is in Columbus. If the Big Ten East title race comes down to this game, that’s a lot to overcome for Michigan.