Deep breath everyone, game week is just about here.
With the start of a new football season just around the corner, projections from all over the country are pouring in as the college football season draws near.
Under Urban Meyer, Ohio State is always in the national title picture, and most projections put the Buckeyes in the College Football Playoff and some even have OSU in the national title game. With that said, we examine three reasons why the Buckeyes can bring home the title, and three reasons that will prevent them from hoisting the trophy Jan. 8 in Atlanta.
Reasons Why Ohio State Wins A National Title
- New Offensive Brain Trust: The additions of Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day to the Ohio State coaching staff seem to have brought a new swagger to the offense that quite frankly, the Buckeyes didn't appear to have when Ed Warinner and Tim Beck were running the show. Add in a veteran quarterback in J.T. Barrett, and the Ohio State offense should experience a resurgence much like the defense did in 2014 after replacing Everett Withers (remember him?) with Chris Ash, which helped lead to a national championship.
- Defensive Line Depth, Talent: It might sound cliche, but there is a reason coaches talk about winning the battle in the trenches. Just look at Meyer's two title teams at the University of Florida, for example. I probably don't have to tell you much about what Florida's defensive line did to the Ohio State front in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game, and if you watched the Gators defeat Oklahoma two years later, you saw a similar result. In Meyer's second national title game, Florida's defensive line held the Sooners to just 107 rushing yards, forcing Sam Bradford to attempt 41 passes and throw two interceptions. With a defensive line that can rotate as many as 10 players, the Buckeyes should dominate the line of scrimmage on defense in every contest, which only helps their chances of winning regardless of opponent.
- The Urban Meyer Effect: Should Ohio State reach the national title game in Atlanta, you have to like the Buckeyes' odds. Why? Because Meyer is a perfect 3-0 in national title games. Meyer is a master motivator, and outside of a few rare occurrences, is rarely out-coached. Meyer knows how to prepare for big games just as well as anyone in the country and the national title game is no different.
Reasons Why Ohio State Will Not Win A National Title
- Strength of Schedule: This reason could very well fit in in the list above, but it falls in here because it only increases Ohio State's chances of dropping a game. Opening the season at Indiana could prove to be a tougher test than expected and following it up with a primetime contest against Oklahoma doesn't make things any easier. I am am not in any way saying the Buckeyes will lose to Indiana, but Ohio State's last two contests in Bloomington, Ind. have not exactly been smooth sailing. The Buckeyes also have to travel to Nebraska and Iowa, which figure to both be night games, or at the very least, 3:30 p.m. kicks. Add all of that in with The Game in Ann Arbor, Mich., there could very easily be a loss somewhere in there that keeps the Buckeyes on the fringe of a CFP bid. Even if Ohio State does earn that bid, the Buckeyes will likely have to go through Alabama at some point, which is never an easy task despite pulling off the upset on Jan. 1, 2015.
- Inexperienced Secondary: I am well aware of what Ohio State did last year, but I am not completely sold on the replacements for Malik Hooker, Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley. While I believe Denzel Ward will have a solid year that will land him in the 2018 NFL Draft, I am not yet sold on Damon Arnette, Kendall Sheffield or Hooker's replacement at safety (down to Jordan Fuller or Erick Smith). This group will be tested by both Indiana and Oklahoma in the first two weeks of the season, and again by Trace McSorley of Penn State. We will know what to expect from this group after the first two weeks of the season, but for now, I remain skeptical that they will live up to the expectations.
- Unproven Wide Receivers, Pass Protection: Unlike the secondary, the Ohio State wide receivers and offensive line have experience, but they are largely unproven. The Buckeye's leading returning receiver from 2016 is Marcus Baugh, who has missed most of spring and fall practice with injuries. Along the offensive line, Isaiah Prince says he is more confident in his abilities, but has yet to show he can protect Barrett in the pocket. Add in the fact Ohio State has yet to name a starter at right guard, I am hesitant to buy stock on the pass protection by the offensive line, particularly the right side. As much as Ohio State should dominate the line of scrimmage on defense, I am equally skeptical of their ability to do so on the offensive side of things.