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2016 B1G Football Preview and Predictions: Ohio State Buckeyes

At OSU, we're better than you...and we know it!

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

At least, we think we’re better than you. Or maybe not. We’re not actually sure what we are right now, to be honest. We’re in a weird spot, like your cousin who’s trying to define herself through Shakeology and a maelstrom of hashtags. #AskMeHow

As you likely know, Ohio State was the most talented team in the B1G last year. Bar none. That isn’t to say they won the league, or that the talent came together in the right ways at the right time, blah blah blah. Pure talent, though? Nobody holds a candle to the Buckeyes. Not even close. The 2015 Buckeyes were the Zegna suit to your team’s yard sale bowling shirt.

The problem is that pretty much all of that well-known talent got on the C.R.E.A.M. train and chugged off into the Goodell-colored sunset. Record draft days are great for recruiting, but they cut deep. Sure, I was tickled when Bosa went as the third pick after arguing all season that he was one of the five best players in the draft class. Who doesn’t love being right? I adore being right, which is why I’m never wrong.

Now, though, I just miss Joey Big Bear. I drew a big "97" on my body pillow, but it’s not the same. Cuddly, but threat to any QB but Penn State's. I tried to teach my big dog to shrug but he just knocked me over instead. He led with the head, though, so we’re making progress.

And Zeke...oh Zeke. Boy, I’m going to miss watching that million watt smile crush the hopes and dreams of Michigan fans into infinitesimal dust. Let’s pause a moment to reflect...

Later, haters!

Shine on, you crazy diamond.

The Past is the Past

I know, I know. I sound like the handsome lovechild of a Michigan man and a Notre Dame gal, prattling on and on about the things that were. The past! The past! Rosebud! Rosebud! We get it, things looked better last year. What about now, hmm?

As I see, it there are three big questions and a few niggling technicalities.

Question the First: Who’s gonna carry the rock?

I’ll give you a hint...not Bri’onte Dunn (womp womp). He’ll be seeking other opportunities after leaving the program like a frisbee. That leaves two other choices in most minds: Mike Weber and Curtis Samuel. "Hey! Curtis Samuel! I know that name!" is probably what you’re thinking right now. That’s true, but you know him as a wideout, not a guy searching for holes against bulldozer defensive lines like those accursed Spartans. Plus, Meyer is a guy who likes a marquee back carrying the ball, not a makeshift solution. Can Mike Weber live up to the Twitter storm of his recruiting? Or will he go the The Way of the Dunn?

Question the Second: Is J.T. Barrett back back? Or just back?

Once upon a 2014, J.T. Barrett took a torch to your defense and to a few B1G records. Then the contemptible Wolverines conspired to gravely injure him (that’s how I remember it, anyway). Enter Cardale Jones. Something something National Championship. Fast forward to 2015 and suddenly J.T.’s on the bench behind a guy whose cannon arm looks like Cyclops’ eyes before Professor X made those special glasses for him. Jones tried his best to become Pope Bauserman II while Barrett rusted on the sidelines like the Tin Man. So did Meyer find the oil can this summer? Will Barrett be breaking hearts and ankles in the open field again? Or is Tim Beck just a miserable Dorothy? My money is on the former, but I am often of accused of being both rakishly attractive and unduly optimistic (when your other team is Army, unwarranted positivity is a survival skill).

Question the Third: A bad pun about rising from the ashes.

Chris Ash is gone. Are we a Phoenix? No, MSU’s a phoenix...but enough about academics...*rimshot.* No, seriously though. We have entered into some weird Rutgers Triangle in which they took our best defensive mind and we hired their beloved architect of fleeting relevance to replace him. Exacerbating the problem is the fact that Eli Apple and Vonn Bell are switching to the Sunday afternoon programming slot. Can Schiano build the new secondary into something great? Is OSU’s linebacking corps the best in the B1G? Will Clutch and his friends survive?

Here We Go Again

Of course I think OSU will win the B1G. Meyer’s recruiting has given him an arsenal of weapons that would make the Michigan Militia soil their surplus store camo pants. Moreover, I don’t think anyone knows how to employ talent better than he does (as I willfully ignore 2015).

Looking at the schedule, there are five big games and a bunch of easy pickings. But those five games probably mean the Buckeyes have the most daunting schedule in the B1G, playing two of the best from the West along with the beasts of the East and playoff-caliber Oklahoma. No pressure.

Ohio State Schedule 2016

09/03/16 vs. Bowling Green

09/10/16 vs. Tulsa

09/17/16 at Oklahoma

10/01/16 vs. Rutgers

10/08/16 vs. Indiana

10/15/16 at Wisconsin

10/22/16 at Penn State

10/29/16 vs. Northwestern

11/05/16 vs. Nebraska

11/12/16 at Maryland

11/19/16 at Michigan State

11/26/16 vs. Michigan

I see at least one loss in that Oklahoma matchup, and a late hiccup against either MSU or UM. I shudder to think of that second loss, because I don’t know which mewling Michigan fan base I could stand to lose to less. But the schedule is what it is, and like it or not the B1G East is turning into a damn competitive division from top to bottom. We don’t let crap like Iowa happen in the East.

Don’t take my word for all of this, though. Single source reporting is a sucker’s bet. Let’s ask the wisest of sages, the motley crew who write about games they never watch...the OTE Writers!

The Oracles of Everywhere But Omaha

OTE Writer Overall Conference
Aaron 11-1 9-0
Andrew 11-1 9-0
Stew 11-1 9-0
WSR 11-1 8-1
Brian 10-2 8-1
MNWildcat 10-2 8-1
Creighton 10-2 7-2
DJ 12-0 9-0
Mr. Alnamias IV 11-1 9-0
C4B 10-2 8-1
Graham 10-2 8-1
Baba O'Really 10-2 8-1
Jesse 11-1 8-1
Zuzu 11-1 8-1
87 Townie 11-1 8-1
Thumpasaurus 10-2 8-1
Thomas Speth 11-1 8-1
Go For Three 11-1 9-0
Consensus 11-1 8-1

Well, well, well, what in the wide world of sports do we have here? Looks like even the Homersota Writers Guild thinks OSU is the king of the hill yet again. You’re welcome, America. It’s hard not to believe in the magic of Urban Meyer, isn’t it? We’re happy to deliver another double-digit win season on behalf of the B1G. It’s an honor, really.

Closing Argument/Emotional Plea/Thumbing Our Noses At The B1G

The question remains whether the OTE brain trust is simply voting based on expectations, history, and the strength of the brand. Kidding aside, it’s going to be very tough for the Buckeyes to even go 10-2 this year. That trip to Norman won’t be pretty, and probably changes the arc of the season. But how? Will it be another Virginia Tech scenario, with the bruised Buckeyes battling back to become the best bunch of ballers? Is a repeat of 2014 in the offing?!

Probably not, and everyone likely sees that. But the point is that we still have a shot at going all the way. The other 13 B1G teams can only dream about right now. There’s a great chance that this team gels like the team did two years ago. The pieces are there. The raw talent is there. The development is there. The coaching is there. It’s all there.

But is it enough? Survey says "maybe."