Ohio State Buckeyes
Head Coach: Urban Meyer
2015 Record: 12-1
2015 Bowl: 44-28 Win over Notre Dame at Fiesta Bowl
2016 Returning Starters: 3 Offense, 3 Defense
Odds to win 2017 Championship Game: +900
Odds to win 2016 Big Ten Championship: +162
Regular Season over/under: over 10 (+115), under 10 (-145)
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Ohio State had a QB controversy last season in its 12-1 season which saw it fall short of a title chase following its embarrassing 17-14 loss to Michigan State at home, which left it out of the BCS playoffs. The Buckeyes averaged 35.7 points and 434.0 yards per game last season, ranking No. 28 and No. 41 in the nation.
The Buckeyes now move forward with J.T. Barrett as Cardale Jones exits the picture. Barrett finished fifth in Heisman voting two seasons ago as a redshirt freshman, so he could be primed to have a huge year. Though OSU has a lot of questions to answer, we see Meyer’s club do this on an annual basis. The skill positions are almost always stocked, and this season will be scarcely different even with just three returning starters from last year’s offense.
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The 6’2” 225 pound junior will be the full-time QB with freshman RB Mike Weber being the big player in the backfield. Weber had two TDs in the spring game.
At WR, the Buckeyes No. 1 option will be Noah Brown, who is recovering from a broken leg suffered last fall. He is an exceptional talent though, once healthy, and Barrett will have no problem finding him open this season.
Parris Campbell and Marcus Baugh are the other WR and TE, and both will get their fair share of plays this season. Curtis Samuel may led OSU in touches this season, and there is plenty of depth on the offensive skill positions. The OL returns both Pat Elfin and Billy Price.
The Buckeyes return a lot of talent in its defense despite having only three true returning starters. There is starting level talent at every position, and the Buckeyes held opponents to just 15.1 points per game last season while surrendering only 311.3 yards per game. DE Tyquan Lewis led the team with eight sacks a year ago, and that was sharing the field with Joey Bosa. Sam Hubbart is the other end, and he his a five-star prospect who is a big playmaker and will be a star this season.
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At LB, OSU boats one of the best in the nation in junior Raekwon McMillan. OLB Chris Worley and Dante Booker both are keys at LB too. Booker is a former Ohio Mr. Football. The secondary only returns CB Gareon Conley, but Marshon Lattimore will start opposite of him. Lattimore is coming back from a hamstring injury. S Malik Hooker is a great athlete in the back end and should be able to disrupt some passes this season.
Cameron Johnston is as good as punters come. Sean Nuemberger will be the kicker. The Buckeyes ranked No. 15 with a punt average of 40.3 yards in 2015.
OSU opens the season at home against Bowling Green on Sept. 3. Week 2 is at home against Tulsa, before facing Oklahoma on the road in Week 3. The season concludes in typical fashion with Michigan State on the road and Michigan at home for the finale on Nov. 26.
Ohio State is stacked once again, and Barrett should play better without looking over his shoulder this season. For a team replacing everyone, there could never be fewer doubts as Urban Meyer has consistently plugged guys into his system that know how to make it work. The Buckeyes continually pull the recruiting heists, and this team will predictably contend even if it is only the prohibitive favorite in the Big Ten.
Prediction: 11 wins
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