FIVE REASONS OHIO STATE COULD WIN IT ALL
1. J.T. Barrett turns the quarterback clock back to 2014.
Remember the school-record 34 touchdown passes? Remember the two overtime touchdowns at Penn State? Remember him being fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting? If Barrett plays like he did in 2014, OSU could win it all.
2. The defensive line is as good as expected.
Best defensive line in the country is a label Ohio State has heard. If the Buckeyes front line earns it, they could find themselves in Atlanta on Jan. 8.
3. No letdowns. No injuries. No freak plays.
Pay attention. Stay healthy. Don’t get field goals blocked.
4. Urban isn’t messing around.
After OSU was shut out 31-0 by Clemson in a College Football Playoff semifinal, it took less than two weeks before it had a new offensive coordinator and a new quarterbacks coach.
5. Bigger, stronger, faster, older.
OSU got to the College Football Playoff with a very young team last season. The ones who came back are a year more mature physically and mentally.
FIVE REASONS OHIO STATE MIGHT MIGHT MISS THE PLAYOFFS
1. The offensive struggles could continue.
Maybe 2014 J.T. Barrett is gone and he’s not coming back. Maybe the receivers will never live up to their recruiting hype. Maybe Mike Weber still doesn’t have breakaway speed. Maybe the lack of offensive line depth will catch up with the Buckeyes.
2. The kicking game
Sean Nuernberger, who was injured last season, was the No. 1 kicker in 2014 but lost his job to a walk-on in 2015. Punter Drue Chrisman was a highly rated recruit but has never been in a college game.
3. Michigan is overdue against Ohio State.
The last time Ohio State went into the Michigan game as a clear favorite and lost was 21 years ago when the Wolverines stunned the Buckeyes 13-9 in Ohio Stadium in 1996.
4. Youthful secondary.
Replacing three starting defensive backs might not be as easy as OSU made it look in 2016. Especially when the three it has to replace this year all were first-round NFL draft choices.
5. Something no one is thinking about.
No one saw a loss to a Penn State team that started its season 2-2 coming when the Nittany Lions beat Ohio State last season.