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2017 Predictions and Previews: The Ohio State Buckeyes

The Cream Will Rise to the Top

Michigan v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Another year, another top recruiting class, another round of the highest expectations, and another cycle of grumbling from the teeming masses across the B1G about Ohio State’s past, present, and potential.

Opening Statements:

Ohio State is better than your team.

The people rest, your honor.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s eschew the legal gimmick and talk about Buckeye football as the next great iteration of the Urban Meyer Diabolical Talent Machine.

What we know:

The miserable two-year experiment of Tim Beck and Ed Warinner driving the race-car Buckeye offense with two wheels in the ditch is over. Perhaps the most frustrating element of that whole charade for fans was the fact that no one was quite sure which of them was doing what. Whenever a criticism of the scheme or player development was leveled at either of them, so voice would cry back “he doesn’t do that, that’s not his role!” Beck and Warinner were somehow the Teflon Dons of the Buckeye mafia. Name a problem area in the offense and it would definitely be “not his responsibility.”

Regardless, they’re gone and the uber-talented (and perhaps ethically flawed) Kevin Wilson looks to breathe new life into the Buckeyes in a way that’s been sorely needed. If anything promises to be the decisive element of this season, it’s Coach Wilson’s ability to bring JT Barrett back from the throes of inaccuracy and nervous footwork that turned the Buckeye passer’s downfield heaves into anything but a sure thing.

On the defensive side of the equation, the Buckeyes return what is probably the best defensive line in all of college football (and they don’t even have a Rashan Gary! Unfathomable!). The linebacking corps shows similar veteran status, though without the same level of world-beating talent. The biggest change for the front seven will be replacing Raekwon McMillan in the middle of the phalanx with former Sam backer Chris Worley.

What We Don’t Know:

Basically anyone involved in catching a ball or stopping someone else from catching a ball is a bit of a question mark. Not in name, per se (with the exception of safety spot), but in terms of whether this is the year things come together for a gang of high-talent /should-be-stars recruits.

For the past two years, the Buckeyes have lacked a receiver capable of exercising deep-threat skills that kept defenses truly worried, and when defenses (like Indiana) worked to ensure the deep ball wasn’t an option, Buckeye receivers lacked the physicality and technical skill to separate in the hook/curl zones and make Barrett’s life easier. Long story short, it’s put-up-or-shut-up time for the receiving corps. We’ve waited long enough.

The secondary is where things get even uglier. As of this week, Erick Smith and Jordan Fuller were said to still be battling it out for the right to be unfavorably compared to honeyed memories of Malik Hooker all season at the SS position. Overall, there is once again the outsized pool of talent in store but talent alone cannot carry the day.

Good luck living up to this.

Some other thoughts:

A good kicker would be nice.

Has Isaiah Prince learned to pass block yet? *shakes Magic 8-Ball* Outlook hazy. I’ll take it.

This may be the last stand of Greg Schiano as an assistant.

Parris Campbell is this year’s recipient of the Next Percy Harvin Who Will Not Be Percy Harvin Award.

Urban is not a beard man.

OSU is so deep on the D line that there’s a Bosa who isn’t an out-and-out starter.

OTE Predicts...

Looks like 11-1 to me, and I don’t disagree. Though it’s possible this secondary could cost the Buckeyes the game when Baker Mayfield starts throwing. Hopefully the Buckeyes have as much luck getting to him as the cops did. Couple that with the difficulty of going undefeated in the B1G East, and there’s every reason to see a 10-2 campaign here.