FIVE REASONS OHIO STATE COULD SURPRISE
1. J.T. Barrett.
When Barrett replaced the injured Braxton Miller in 2014 he became the best quarterback in the Big Ten and one of the best in the country before he was injured in the Michigan game.
After losing the starting job to Cardale Jones last season, he returned to the lineup and looked like the J.T. of 2014.
With the lessons he learned last fall, Barrett could be even better than he was in 2014.
2. Time is on its side.
The schedule could give Ohio State’s 16 first-year starters time to grow.
Playing at Oklahoma on Sept. 17 could be the toughest game on the schedule. But by the time the Buckeyes get to games against Michigan State on Nov. 19 and Michigan on Nov. 26 the new guys will have almost a full season of experience as starters.
3. Urban Meyer.
Simply one of the best. Gives off a vibe he’s smartest guy in the room, coolest guy in the room. And he’s 50-4 at Ohio State.
4. Ohio State has become a destination school.
OSU’s roster is filled with four-star and five-star recruits and more are on the way.
And it’s not just the best players who want to come to Columbus. Meyer added two new assistant coaches this year – co-defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, a former NFL and Rutgers head coach, and highly regarded offensive line coach Greg Studrawa.
5. Right people. Right roles.
With the hiring of Studrawa, Ed Warinner will be a full-time offensive coordinator instead of holding that role and coaching the offensive line. Judging by the Michigan game and the Fiesta Bowl, having Warinner focused more on being the offensive coordinator is a good thing.
FIVE REASONS OHIO STATE COULD DISAPPOINT
1. The experts could be wrong.
Not every four-star and five-star recruit lives up to his reputation. A lot of players who will start have not proved themselves on the field.
Maybe Ohio State has replacements for the 16 players who left after last year. But it’s a bigger leap of faith to believe it has backups at all those positions who are equally ready to be starters this year. Got to keep the starters healthy, especially at quarterback.
3. The schedule
Ohio State has to play at Oklahoma, at Penn State, at Wisconsin and at Michigan State.
The Sooners and Spartans will be very good. Trips to Penn State and Wisconsin should be less challenging but Beaver Stadium and Camp Randall Stadium are tough places to play any year.
4. No Zeke means defenses can concentrate on J.T.
It’s possible the threat of Ezekiel Elliott running the ball made quarterback J.T. Barrett more effective and that defenses will be able to focus on him more this season.
5. Something no one is thinking about.
A lot of Ohio State fans underestimated Michigan State and didn’t see that loss coming last season.