The Buckeyes 2016 campaign was, in many ways, a tale of two seasons. To borrow from Dickens, “we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.” Dramatic, yes, but also rather a propos as we look back upon a team that contained so much, achieved so much, and yet ended up with...so very little. Some among you might scoff at that assessment. After all, the Buckeyes trounced Oklahoma in their own home. They downed Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Michigan. Penn State squeaked out the flukiest of victories on a blocked FG return and needed a night home game off a bye week to do it. The Buckeyes won 11 games despite losing more NFL talent than any team in history! And yet, for all that, the Ohio State team that looked to be the epitome of the trite we don’t rebuild we reload kitsch of many a cheap t-shirt ended the season in an embarrassing primetime collapse. Sure, a team of mostly underclassmen went toe to toe with the best team in Clemson history, but to not even score a point? An ignominious end to a season that offered faint wafts of a Cinderella Story for lo those many weeks. For Buckeye fans, it won’t be the season that got away. Rather, it will be the season that reminded us far too much of 2007.
- September 17, 2017: The Scarlet & Gray sailed into the forbidding home of the Crimson & Cream Machine and sank the Sooner Schooner with a salvo of 4 TD passes from JT Barrett.
- Curtis Samuel’s emergence as the Next Next Percy Harvin.
- Malik Hooker’s standout performances on a ball-hawking defense. He finished the year with seven INTs and three pick-sixes. It would’ve been four if not for a dumb penalty.
- October 15, 2017: The overtime victory in Camp Randall
- Jerome Baker finding ways to make a difference on defense
- Back-to-back 62-3 victories
- Beating Michigan for what feels like the hundredth time in a row
- The utter decrepitude of the passing game.
- RT Isaiah Prince’s performance against anyone with even passable motor skills.
- Tim Beck
- Did I mention the passing game?
- The ridiculous loss at Penn State.
- Barely beating a bad MSU squad.
- The failure of the coaching staff to have even one WR talent ready for the spotlight in 2016.
- Clemson. Nothing more need be said.
In what feels like a reprise of last year, the Buckeyes will once again be donating a massive amount of talent to the NFL draft. To wit, Malik Hooker, Cutris Samuel, Raekwon McMillan, and Marshon Lattimore highlight the departure of talent from Columbus. On the plus side, JT Barrett returns to shatter more OSU records and—hopefully—to recapture the magic he displayed in the 2014 title season. With Tim Beck finally out of the way and the offensive mind of Kevin Wilson running the show in Columbus, the Buckeyes stand a great chance to build the offense into a powerhouse once again. That, of course, is measured on the Buckeyes’ relative scale, where even this year’s “bad” offense was a top-25 unit (that’s post-Clemson, too).
As usual, Urban Meyer is bringing in talent by the bushel basket. The Buckeyes are the nation’s 2nd-ranked team in 2017 recruiting by 247sports. Last year, Urban amassed the 4th-best class in the country. Suffice it to say, there’s reason for optimism in 2017. Probably the opening stretch of games on any B1G schedule come in the form of a season opener at IU, a home stand against Oklahoma, and a showdown with Army in Columbus. Hopefully by then the Buckeyes will have an offense to cheer about and a defense that picks up where last year’s unit left off—anchored by Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis, and Nick Bosa.
2017 looks to be another great season in Columbus. The only question is how far they’ll go.