Ohio State is one of the more intriguing teams in the country this season because of its combination of talent, history and expectations. 

The Buckeyes enter 2024 with perhaps more pressure than they’ve had at any other point in the Ryan Day era. They’re one of the top favorites to win the national title (more on that below) and will be desperate to snap a 3-game losing streak to rival Michigan when they host the Wolverines in late November.

This breakdown is intended to show some of the advanced numbers behind Ohio State’s performance from last season — with an eye on what it could mean for the program in 2024. 

Here’s an advanced stats preview for Ohio State in 2024 followed by a look at what the betting markets are saying about the Buckeyes: 

When Ohio State had the ball in 2023

Rushing success rate: 46% (75th percentile)

Passing success rate: 50% (92nd percentile)

Ohio State’s offense was merely average in 2023, at least by its own lofty standards. Being in the 75th percentile for rushing success rate should be looked at as close to a failure for Ohio State, given its level of talent at running back and on the offensive line. The Buckeyes were also in just the 78th percentile in points per scoring opportunity (4.39). 

Ohio State was pretty solid in terms of passing success rate with Kyle McCord under center, but there were red flags elsewhere in its offensive profile. Ohio State was below-average in terms of explosiveness last season (45th percentile nationally), which capped its upside to a pretty significant degree. The Buckeyes were better through the air than on the ground in that regard, but they weren’t up to their usual standard in either category.

What did Ohio State lose?

Notable NFL departures: Marvin Harrison Jr., WR; Cade Stover, TE; Xavier Johnson, WR; Matthew Jones, OL.

Notable transfers: Kyle McCord, QB; Dallan Hayden, RB; Enokk Vimahi, OL; Julian Fleming, WR; Noah Rogers, WR; Chip Trayanum, RB.

It was a relatively-light NFL class for the Buckeyes. Including defensive departures, Ohio State only had 4 players drafted and another 4 who signed as undrafted free agents after the draft was over. Marvin Harrison Jr. and Cade Stover are the headliners from this list, although Matthew Jones was also a major contributor on Ohio State’s offensive line in 2023.

As for the outgoing transfers, McCord is the big name here after he started for all of 2023. Hayden, Fleming and Rogers may have been in line for more playing time in 2024 if they had stuck around, but the Buckeyes have plenty of depth at those positions.

What did Ohio State add?

Notable additions: Will Howard, QB; Seth McLaughlin, OL; Quinshon Judkins, RB; Jeremiah Smith, WR;

Howard arrives from Kansas State and is widely expected to win Ohio State’s starting job in 2024. He’s likely to be one of the Big Ten’s best quarterbacks right away and should be an upgrade over what McCord was a year ago. Judkins joins after 2 standout years at Ole Miss where he consistently proved himself as one of the SEC’s best running backs.

McLaughlin is Ohio State’s lone offensive line addition this year. He should help stabilize the center position, although he did have some high-profile issues with snapping the ball last year at Alabama. Ohio State returns the bulk of its offensive line snaps from last season.

Smith is the only high school recruit to be listed here, but he deserves a mention. He was the No. 1 overall player in the class of 2024, per 247Sports Composite rankings. Ohio State always has a deep WR room, but Smith is the kind of prospect who could breakthrough as a true freshman.

Of course, it should be noted that Ohio State will have a new offensive coordinator this season in Chip Kelly. He chose to leave his role as UCLA’s head coach this past offseason to work under Day in Columbus. Kelly hasn’t been an offensive coordinator since the 2008 season, but he has served as the primary play caller throughout his head coaching career. Kelly’s UCLA offenses were rarely elite, but he now has access to a different level of talent at Ohio State than he ever did with the Bruins.

When Ohio State didn’t have the ball in 2023

Rushing success rate: 34% (96th percentile)

Passing success rate: 37% (84th percentile)

Ohio State’s defense took another impressive step forward in 2023, ranking in the upper-echelon of college football in success rate against the pass and against the run. When the Buckeyes did allow teams to cross their 40-yard line, few defenses were stingier than Ohio State’s 2.63 points per scoring opportunity allowed. 

Heading into Year 3 under defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, Ohio State’s defense figures to be one of the best in the country in 2024. The Buckeyes are loaded with talent on the defensive side of the ball, and ranked 3rd nationally in yards-per-play allowed in 2023.

There is room for improvement, however. Ohio State was only in the 55th percentile last season in terms of havoc. That number should rise naturally this season if players like Jack Sawyer and JT Tuimoloau make the big leaps that many are expecting in the front 7. Ohio State’s defense was also in just the 61st percentile in passing down rate.

Here’s a look at some of Ohio State’s personnel changes on defense:

What did Ohio State lose? 

Notable transfers: Ja’Had Carter, DB

Notable NFL departures: Michael Hall Jr., DT; Tommy Eichenberg, LB; Steele Chambers, LB; Josh Proctor, DB;

Ohio State lost very little in the transfer portal, at least in terms of players who had significant roles on defense in 2023. They did lose a couple of starting linebackers to the NFL, as well as a couple of multi-year contributors in Michael Hall and Josh Proctor.

The bulk of this defense will be back next year, which should be scary for opposing offenses. After Eichenberg and Chambers, Ohio State returns its top 5 tacklers from a year ago.

What did Ohio State add?

Notable additions: Caleb Downs, DB; Keenan Nelson Jr., DB; Aaron Scott, DB; Eddrick Houston, DL;

Caleb Downs was arguably the biggest transfer acquisition any program made all offseason. He joins Ohio State after a standout freshman season at Alabama, and figures to replace Proctor in the secondary. Nelson should also have a role after transferring from South Carolina. It’s worth mentioning Scott and Houston because of their status as 5-star prospects, but their immediate impact may not be be required because of how loaded the Buckeyes are at their respective positions.

Ohio State didn’t need to add much on defense because it didn’t lose much on defense. The exception to that would be at linebacker, but the Buckeyes have players ready to step into the roles that are now vacant following Eichenberg and Chambers’ departures.

Ohio State betting market outlook

Win total: 10.5 (Over is -150, Under is +120) | FanDuel

Since the 2018 season, Ohio State has only gone under this total once. That was in 2021, when the Buckeyes lost a nonconference game to Oregon and then again to Michigan in the regular-season finale. Both the Ducks and Wolverines are once again on Ohio State’s schedule in 2024.

Odds to win the Big Ten: +145 | FanDuel

Ohio State hasn’t won the Big Ten since the 2020 season (when it almost wasn’t allowed to compete for the crown due to playing too few games during the pandemic). If Ohio doesn’t win it again this year, that would make 4 consecutive seasons without a conference title for the Buckeyes. That would be Ohio State’s longest stretch since 2010-13. However, Ohio State served a postseason ban in 2012 and wasn’t eligible despite a 12-0 record that season. You’d have to go back to 1987-92 to find another 4+ season stretch without at least a share of the Big Ten title for Ohio State.

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Odds to make the Playoff: -750 | BetMGM

With the College Football Playoff expanding to 12 teams this season, Ohio State is an enormous favorite to get back to the CFP in 2024. Since the first Playoff in 2014, the Buckeyes have never finished a season lower than 7th in the final CFP rankings.

Odds to win the national title: +375 | BetMGM

Ohio State has not won the national championship since 2014 — the first year of the College Football Playoff. However, the Buckeyes have been close on several occasions since that title season, both under Urban Meyer and Ryan Day. It would be somewhat poetic to see the Buckeyes snap that national title drought in the first year of the expanded Playoff.

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Note: All advanced stats mentioned in this story are derived from CollegeFootballData.com unless otherwise noted.