2017 Preview: Staff Predictions of Ohio State's Statistical Leaders, MVPs and Season Outcome

By Kevin Harrish on August 27, 2017 at 7:15 am
The Ohio State football season begins Thursday.

In less than a week, the Ohio State football season will begin and we will know exactly how the team's new-look offense will perform, which freshmen will play, and how exactly the Buckeyes will replace seven NFL Draft picks.

But before then, we have a few more days of speculating and prognosticating. Here are our staff predictions for how we think the season will play out, including the leaders in various statistical categories, offensive and defensive MVPs, and of course, some bold predictions.

Rushing Yards Leader

Mike Weber is Ohio State's returning starter at running back.
  • Andew Ellis: Mike Weber — He will be the bell cow of the Ohio State running game, and while I do think J.K. Dobbins and Demario McCall see their share of carries, Weber is the guy who will lead the team in rushing yards once again.
  • Andrew Lind: Mike Weber
  • Chris Lauderback: Mike Weber — I’ll say Mike Weber quite comfortably leads the team in rushing. It seems like he’s damn near and underdog to do so at this point with all the Dobbins hype but I keep going back to Weber averaging almost six yards a pop last year despite getting shoestring tackled roughly 64 times. If he cleans that up, I think close to 1,400 could happen.
  • Dan Hope: Mike Weber — Coming off one of the most productive seasons by a freshman running back in Ohio State history, Weber will be a workhorse for the Buckeyes’ offense and should reach quadruple digits again.
  • David Wertheim: Mike Weber — The starting running back will receive most of the carries and therefore will get the most rushing yards. While it’s possible JT Barrett could grab this title, I don’t see him simply getting enough touches in the running game.
  • James Grega: Mike Weber
  • Jimmy Longo: Mike Weber — Mike Weber leads in rushing yards behind an improved, offensive line with better play from Isaiah Prince and whoever takes the right guard spot. Though, I might add that if Weber can’t stay healthy, the offense doesn’t falter long with an emergent J.K. Dobbins. His total would be higher if not for Dobbins, too, though not a negative.
  • Johnny Ginter: J.K. Dobbins — Hamstring injuries are no joke, and while I think that Weber is a great player in his own right, the unfortunate timing of his injury might've just Wally Pipped him to the back-burner, especially if Dobbins is as good as advertised.
  • Kevin Harrish: J.K. Dobbins — Here's a bold prediction before we even get to that section: J.K. Dobbins will be Ohio State's starting running back before the end of the season. I think he'll get plenty of carries out the gate since Weber has dealt with hamstring issues all camp, and he'll look so good it will be impossible to keep him off the field.
  • Kyle Jones: Mike Weber — Despite a slightly decreased rushing load for J.T. Barrett in his final season, J.K. Dobbins and Demario McCall take roughly 20 percent of the carries this fall. But Weber will still be a foundational piece of the offense and is likely to gain at least 1,200 yards in 2017.
  • Ramzy Nasrallah: Mike Weber — And then he’ll declare for the NFL draft.
  • Vico: Mike Weber — Meyer has successfully moved from having the quarterback disproportionately responsible for the rush offense, which makes the whole thing work better. Weber will lead the team in rushing, barring a mid-season injury.

Receiving Yards Leader

  • Andrew Ellis: Binjimen Victor —The Buckeyes have been in need of a bigger wideout who can go up and get the ball over defenders, and I think they now have that in Binjimen Victor. He looks like he's packed on some needed pounds and that should help him more with the physical aspect of the game.
  • Andrew Lind: Johnnie Dixon
  • Chris Lauderback: Parris Campbell — I’m torn between Parris Campbell and K.J. Hill but I’ll go with Campbell since I think he’ll get more opportunities in the slot and may even ‘cheat’ with a few jet sweeps. That said, it sure would be nice if the correct answer ends up being Binjimen Victor because that means the deep ball was once again alive and well in Columbus.
  • Dan Hope: Austin Mack — Mack has been compared to Michael Thomas and could have a similar emergence from obscurity to break out as the Buckeyes’ leading receiver.
    Binjimen Victor.
  • David Wertheim: Binjimen Victor — I expect the tall, lanky Victor to get a lot of looks in the passing game this year as Kevin Wilson tries to revamp the offense. Victor- like Devin Smith before him- will be a big play, downfield target, but also could develop into a possession receiver. The best of both worlds.
  • James Grega: Binjimen Victor
  • Jimmy Longo: Binjimen Victor — Assuming Victor and J.T. Barrett can develop a formidable tandem with the revamped offense under Kevin Wilson, Victor is the best bet to become a big target of Barrett and potentially a breakout season.
  • Johnny Ginter: Parris Campbell — Parris Campbell, if only because he'll probably get the most opportunities right off the bat. There are probably receivers with more talent than him on the roster, but he'll get the first look.
  • Kevin Harrish: Johnnie Dixon — During the spring game last April, Johnnie Dixon showed what he can do when he's healthy, hauling in six passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns. If he can stay healthy, I think he will have a huge season.
  • Kyle Jones: Parris Campbell – With the exception of Michael Thomas, all of Ohio State’s leading receivers under Meyer have come from the ‘H’ position in the slot, as the scheme allows for easy yards against outside linebackers and safeties. Campbell is the latest benefactor of this setup, becoming a household name in the Buckeye state as a result.
  • Ramzy Nasrallah: Parris Campbell — Triple-digits for the lead, as always.
  • Vico: Johnnie Dixon — 'm cautiously optimistic about a turnaround for the receiver corp in a new offense. I think Dixon is the best of the bunch and should have maybe a Second Team All-B1G year for the Buckeyes.

Tackles Leader

  • Andew Ellis: Chris Worley — Worley may not be Ohio State's best all-around linebacker, but he is now the man in the middle and the Buckeyes will face plenty of teams who look to pound the ball in the running game.
  • Andrew Lind: Chris Worley
  • Chris Lauderback: Chris Worley — Chris Worley will lead the team in tackles with probably just over 100 with Jerome Baker hot on his heels.
  • Dan Hope: Jerome Baker — A year of experience and a better understanding of the defense will enable Baker to use his athleticism more effectively and make even more plays.
  • David Wertheim: Chris Worley — Sliding over to the middle linebacker spot, Worley is a logical pick to have the most tackles on the team. Ohio State’s starting MLB has led the team in tackles each year of Urban Meyer’s tenure, and I do not expect that to change this year.
  • James Grega: Chris Worley
  • Jimmy Longo: Jerome Baker — This is Baker’s year to shine in the middle of the Ohio State defense. Between last year’s breakout and another offseason in the various Ohio State developmental labs, Baker cements himself as a first-round pick and is in contention for major defensive awards in the Big Ten and nationally.
  • Johnny Ginter: Jerome Baker — Jerome Baker and Chris Worley will probably be locked in a head to head race all season for this distinction, but ultimately I'm going to give this to Baker, who was second on the team last season.
  • Kevin Harrish: Chris Worley — Ohio State will have three great starting linebackers, but because of his interior positioning, I think Chris Worley will lead the team in tackles. That's just what a middle linebacker does.
  • Kyle Jones: Chris Worley — Despite being new to the ‘MIKE’ linebacker role, Worley showed an ability to play well between the tackles against Michigan and Wisconsin, and I expect that to translate well as he moves inside full-time.
  • Ramzy Nasrallah: Jerome Baker — And then he’ll declare for the NFL draft.
  • Vico: Chris Worley — Isn't Worley moving inside this year? Either way, I think he sees most of the action and should lead the Buckeyes in tackling even if Jerome Baker leads all returners.

Sacks Leader

  • Andrew Ellis: Nick Bosa — There are four of five names that would be reasonable choices for this one, but I'll go ahead and roll with Bosa. The Buckeyes will continue to utilize the "rushmen" package and that will allow a number of defensive ends to get in on the action. He had five sacks a season ago (Lewis led the team with eight) and will have a bigger role in 2017.
  • Andrew Lind: Jalyn Holmes
  • Chris Lauderback: Tyquan Lewis — I’ll take Tyquan Lewis to lead the team in sacks for a second-straight year and I’ll say Nick Bosa is next, again, just like last year.
  • Dan Hope: Nick Bosa — Bosa ranked second on the Buckeyes in sacks last year as a true freshman coming off a torn ACL. His production could increase significantly this year.
    Tyquan Lewis
  • David Wertheim: Tyquan Lewis — Lewis led the team in sacks last year and will do it again this season, despite a heavy defensive line rotation.
  • James Grega: Tyquan Lewis
  • Jimmy Longo: Tyquan Lewis — Though Lewis may seem like one of the more uncelebrated ends in this vaunted group of pass-rushers, he’s the anchor of that group and improves upon his sack total from last year in his finale in Columbus.
  • Johnny Ginter: Tyquan Lewis — The dude has led Ohio State in sacks for the past two seasons. There's no reason why that should change.
  • Kevin Harrish: Jalyn Holmes — I think Jalyn Holmes is the most versatile lineman of the group and that will help him see a lot of playing time in 2017. Plus, I believe the other guys will eat plenty of double teams allowing Holmes a few cleanup sacks.
  • Kyle Jones: Tyquan Lewis — The oft-forgotten man on the OSU DL will continue to feast on right tackles as the starting left end. While he may not possess the same athleticism as the other ‘Rushmen,’ his experience and savvy more than make up for it.
  • Ramzy Nasrallah: Tyquan Lewis — Tyquan, again. He’ll have plenty of competition.
  • Vico: Tyquan Lewis — When in doubt, go with Tyquan Lewis. He's only led the Buckeyes in sacks for the past two seasons.

Tackles for a Loss Leader

  • Andrew Ellis: Jerome Baker — Baker was second on the team a year ago with 9.5 TFL. He's the speediest of the Buckeye linebackers and should spend a lot of time in opponents' backfields in 2017.
  • Andrew Lind: Tyquan Lewis
  • Chris Lauderback: Jerome Baker — This is a tough one. It feels like Jerome Baker, Tyquan Lewis, Jalyn Holmes, Sam Hubbard, Nick Bosa and Dre’mont Jones could all make a run at this one. I’ll go with Baker to edge out Lewis.
  • Dan Hope: Jerome Baker — While the defensive linemen will all rotate in and out, Baker should be on the field for nearly every play, giving him more opportunities to make stops behind the line of scrimmage.
  • David Wertheim: Tyquan Lewis — Same reasoning as above.
  • James Grega: Dre'Mont Jones
  • Jimmy Longo: Sam Hubbard — I’ve always been intrigued by Hubbard’s path from safety to defensive end. His lateral quickness along the edge, especially against some of those outside and zone runs are going to amount for big losses and be huge for Hubbard’s and Ohio State’s season. 
  • Johnny Ginter: Tyquan Lewis — See above. Guys, Tyquan Lewis is really, really, really good. The fact that he doesn't get as much attention as some of the other players on the line is criminal.
  • Kevin Harrish: Jerome Baker — He's the fastest linebacker on the field, and with a year of starting experience under his belt, I think he'll live in the backfield this season, pestering running backs and quarterbacks alike.
  • Kyle Jones: Dre'Mont Jones — The sophomore is destined for greatness and will be shaking Roger Goodell’s hand this spring, thanks to a full offseason spent developing his technique. He’ll be spending quite a bit of his time in opposing backfields this fall.
  • Ramzy Nasrallah: Dre'Mont Jones

Interceptions Leader

  • Andrew Ellis: Jordan Fuller — The battle is still on to replace Malik Hooker, but my money is on Jordan Fuller right now. I don't expect a repeat performance of what Hooker did in 2016, but he's my pick to lead the team in picks.
  • Andrew Lind: Damon Webb
  • Chris Lauderback: Kendall Sheffield — There’s no doubt Denzel Ward is the best cover guy but since teams will likely shy away from him, I’ll go with Kendall Sheffield to lead the team in picks though I think his total will be a roughly half of Malik Hooker’s team-leading seven last year.
  • Dan Hope: Damon Arnette — Arnette has been compared to Bradley Roby, which means we should expect Arnette to be aggressive in trying to make plays. Opponents will likely try to avoid throwing at Denzel Ward, which should give Arnette plenty of playmaking opportunities.
  • David Wertheim: Denzel Ward — Ohio State’s interception leader a year ago was safety Malik Hooker, who was simply a freak of nature. I do not expect a safety to rack up the most interceptions on the team once again, so I am going with the Buckeyes' No. 1 corner Denzel Ward in this spot.
  • James Grega: Damon Arnette
  • Jimmy Longo: Denzel Ward — It’s quite telling that Ward was able to be in a rotation with two first-round picks last year and not be exposed. Acknowledging the law of averages and also the all-important ability Ward has, five seems like a reachable number for him. 
  • Johnny Ginter: Denzel Ward — That's purely a guess, because 15 of Ohio State's 21 interceptions last season were made by players no longer on the team.
  • Kevin Harrish: Jordan Fuller — I'm not bold enough to say Jordan Fuller has anywhere near the ballhawking skills of Malik Hooker, but that's who he's replacing. Hooker was in a position to make many interceptions last season and I think Fuller will be in similar scenarios. Though, he has to win the starting job first.
  • Kyle Jones: Damon Webb — The most experienced member of the Buckeye secondary benefits from spending far less time in man-coverage on opposing slot receivers, a move that saw him play far better in the last few games of 2016 and pushing his play to new heights this season.
  • Ramzy Nasrallah: Denzel Ward
  • Vico: Damon Webb — This one is hard since the secondary is almost entirely brand new. Safeties have led the Buckeyes in interceptions each of the past five seasons. I'll say Damon Webb over Erick Smith.

Most Productive Freshman

J.K. Dobbins no longer has that black stripe.
  • Andrew Ellis: J.K. Dobbins — Of course. The staff has been raving about him and he's going to see the field early and often starting in week one. Early returns have him shaping up to be the next great one at Ohio State, and I expect him to make his presence felt as a true freshman.
  • Andrew Lind: Jeffrey Okudah — Kerry Coombs plans to rotate his defensive backs more than ever this fall, which will give Okudah — and Shaun Wade, too — an opportunity to make a game-changing play or two on defense.
  • Chris Lauderback: J.K. Dobbins — Gotta go with J.K. Dobbins here. The hype from fall camp is exciting and with Tony Alford raving about his unmatched ability to come in and fully grasp the offense, it seems clear he will be a legit factor.
  • Dan Hope: J.K. Dobbins — As the No. 2 running back on an offense that will play with faster tempo, Dobbins should get touches throughout the season and put his playmaking ability on display.
  • David Wertheim: Jeffrey Okudah — After three more departures a year ago, Ohio State’s secondary is once again depleted. Therefore, it is entirely possible that a true freshman gets significant playing time— and makes the most of it. If not Okudah, I could also see Shaun Wade being the “most productive” freshman when it’s all said and done.
  • James Grega: J.K. Dobbins — I think Ohio State will get the most rookie production out of J.K. Dobbins. I think he plays significant reps against Indiana with Weber nursing a hamstring injury.
  • Jimmy Longo: J.K. Dobbins — J.K. Dobbins because of his early emergence as the backup running back in fall camp, but my heart is definitely ready to see what Chase Young does given a few cracks in the defensive end rotation. 
  • Johnny Ginter: J.K. Dobbins — He'll have the most opportunities to make an impact, and he will (probably in the same way guys like Ezekiel Elliott and Curtis Samuel did before him).
  • Kevin Harrish: Chase Young — The answer is J.K. Dobbins, but I'm choosing Chase Young to add some diversity. I don't think he'll get much playing time during meaningful moments with how deep Ohio State's defensive line is, but when you put him against a tired or backup offensive line at the end of a blowout, he's going to do some things, for sure.
  • Kyle Jones: J.K. Dobbins — With so few freshmen looking like they’ll see the field this fall, I’d expect J.K. Dobbins to make the biggest impact as he spells Mike Weber from time to time, much the same way Ezekiel Elliott did for Carlos Hyde in 2013 when he racked up 262 yards in his first season on campus.
  • Ramzy Nasrallah: J.K. Dobbins — He will spell Weber and see the field enough to make it seem like he’s been around for far longer than just a few months.
  • Vico: J.K. Dobbins — My heart says not to buy into the hype, but I'm going with J.K. Dobbins. I like everything I've read so far and he'll get carries if he's the No. 2 at tailback.

Offensive MVP

  • Andrew Ellis: J.T. Barrett — I just think that Barrett is going to bounce back nicely after two up and down seasons. Kevin Wilson's impact cannot be overstated and I expect Barrett to thrive in an offense that will be much more remiscent of the pace we saw in 2014.
  • Andrew Lind: J.T. Barrett — Urban Meyer pulled J.T. Barrett and Chris Worley aside following the Fiesta Bowl loss to Clemson, and I expect the Buckeyes to go as far as this duo takes them. 
  • Chris Lauderback: J.T. Barrett — I’ll take J.T. Barrett on offense as I fully expect a ‘bounceback’ season to cap a stellar career.
  • Dan Hope: J.T. Barrett — If Barrett can improve as a passer and play at a similar or better level to that which he played at in 2014, he could be one of the most valuable players in all of college football.
  • David Wertheim: Binjimen Victor — Ohio State lacked a big-time wide receiver last year. I think Victor will step up and be a leader for a unit that desperately needs it.
  • James Grega: J.T. Barrett — It's a cop out answer, but J.T. Barrett, if healthy, will be this teams offensive MVP.
  • Jimmy Longo: J.T. Barrett — Plain and simple, like him or hate him, Ohio State is going to qualify for the CFP and win the Big Ten and it will be large in-part because of the senior quarterback. 
  • Johnny Ginter: J.T. Barrett — J.T. Barrett will be the offensive MVP, for obvious reasons (he's awesome).
  • Kevin Harrish: J.T. Barrett — I've been trying to add some diversity to these answers, but I just can't do it here. J.T. Barrett is clearly the most vital part of this team and I think he'll be in New York at the end of the season.
  • Kyle Jones: J.T. Barrett — J.T. Barrett is obviously the most important member of this team, so I don’t think we need to go deep into why he’ll be the offensive MVP.
  • Ramzy Nasrallah: J.T. Barrett — Barrett will still stir the drink. Billy Price will be its most important player.
  • Vico: J.T. Barrett — Barrett is the safe pick. He's a four-year-ish starter who should be operating a more coherent offense than he had last year. WIthout him, the Buckeyes become much less potent. 

Defensive MVP

  • Andrew Ellis: Jerome Baker — He burst onto the scene last year and I'm fully expecting this to be his final one in Columbus. He's fast, he can tackle, and he's a playmaker at linebacker. Even with a loaded defensive line, my money is on Baker.
  • Andrew Lind: Chris Worley — Urban Meyer pulled J.T. Barrett and Chris Worley aside following the Fiesta Bowl loss to Clemson, and I expect the Buckeyes to go as far as this duo takes them. 
  • Chris Lauderback: Chris Worley — I’ll go with Worley. He’ll be somewhat unheralded while the defensive ends and Baker get a lot of the pub but he’ll be steady manning the middle and I love his leadership.
  • Dan Hope: Jerome Baker — Baker’s range gives him the potential to be Ohio State’s most productive defensive player. He should play as many snaps as anyone on the entire defense and be a difference-maker against both the run and pass.
  • David Wertheim: Jerome Baker — One could make a case that Baker was the MVP of the Front-7 last year. With 83 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 2 interceptions (including a pick-six), and 9.5 TFL, Baker was all over the field. That should continue this year. I expect Baker to improve on those numbers before becoming a first-round pick.
  • James Grega: Sam Hubbard — I think defensively, Sam Hubbard is due for a big season after sitting behind Joey Bosa and Tyquan Lewis the last two seasons. I think teams will focus on Lewis, opening the door for a big year from Hubbard.
  • Jimmy Longo: Jerome Baker — Baker could reasonably win the Nagurski and/or Butkus awards and his play will be key to Ohio State winning the Big Ten Championship and a CFP berth as well as Barrett.
  • Johnny Ginter: Tyquan Lewis — Tyquan Lewis will be cruelly denied his rightful spot as defensive MVP in favor of Chris Worley or somebody.
  • Kevin Harrish: Denzel Ward — By season's end, I think Denzel Ward will be considered one of the nation's top cornerbacks, though he might not have the stats to prove it because I think opposing offenses will tend to throw away from him.
  • Kyle Jones: Chris Worley — I expect Chris Worley to become a rock in the middle, despite his smaller size, making some big plays but mostly doing the dirty work that allows a guy like Jerome Baker to become a star.
  • Ramzy Nasrallah: Tyquan Lewis — The leader of the team’s strongest unit.
  • Vico: Jerome Baker — Jerome Baker is the "big-play" linebacker. I think Worley does most of the gritty work for the defense, but Baker makes the highest impact in the unit and for the defense overall.

Bold Prediction

  • Andrew Ellis: Last season the Buckeyes totaled 33 rushing touchdowns. Mike Weber and J.T. Barrett led the way with nine each while Curtis Samuel wasn't far behind with eight. My bold prediction for 2017 is that J.K. Dobbins finishes with double-digit rushing touchdowns as a true freshman. It would be a feat that hasn't been accomplished since Maurice Clarett recorded 16 in 2002.
  • Andrew Lind: Blake Haubeil will be Ohio State's starting kicker by October. No reason to keep the talented freshman on the bench if he's just as good or better than Sean Nuernberger, and Meyer has already said he's pretty close.
  • Chris Lauderback: I don’t how bold these flavors will be but I’ll say no receiver tallies over 500 yards. If that’s not bold enough, I’ll take Weber over 1,400 on the ground.
  • Dan Hope: Parris Campbell will score Ohio State’s first kickoff return touchdown since 2010.
  • David Wertheim: Marcus Baugh leads the team in receiving touchdowns: With Kevin Wilson at the helm, I think Ohio State finally uses the tight end. I know that is said every year, but I think it is finally true this year.
  • James Grega: Binjimen Victor will lead the team in receiving yards. Ohio State has talked about giving receivers more 50/50 balls to make plays on and Victor is the perfect candidate to go up and get a ball.
  • Jimmy Longo: Demario McCall is the most involved h-back by the season’s end and gets Urban as close to the Percy Harvin-model since coming to Ohio State.
  • Johnny Ginter: Watch Ohio State become a pass first team that utilizes four wide sets for hilariously long stretches of games and looks way more like something Mike Leach would field than anything we've seen in Columbus for a long time. K.J. Hill and Bin Victor become big time names leading into next season.
    His GOATness
  • Kevin Harrish: Ohio State hasn't had a punt return touchdown since the 2014 season and has struggled to even field a punt at times, but that will change this season. I expect K.J. Hill and Demario McCall to field punts together, much like Ted Ginn Jr. and Santonio Holmes used to, and return at least three for a touchdown.
  • Kyle Jones: Despite going into the playoff as the top seed, they’ll lose in a rematch with Oklahoma and get knocked out early. After lighting up the OU defense in Ohio Stadium, the Sooners figure things out during their conference season and win a close one in the Rose Bowl.
  • Ramzy Nasrallah: Just one?
    • 3,500 rushing yards is happening. 
    • Billy Price is winning the Rimington.
    • Barrett is going to Manhattan after the B1G title game.
    • Ohio State is returning to the playoff.
    • Zone 6 will continue to be the team’s weakest unit despite significant improvement over last season.
  • Vico: I'm not really good at these, but here goes: Johnnie Dixon has 800+ yards receiving and K.J. Hill has 600+ yards receiving. Ohio State pulled that off in 2014 (Devin Smith, Michael Thomas). The last year before that: 2010 (Dane Sanzenbacher, DeVier Posey).

Ohio State's Final Record

  • Andrew Ellis: 14-1 — National Champions, with the lone loss coming in an upset at Kinnick Stadium.
  • Andrew Lind: 15-0 — Meyer has never won a national title without first suffering a loss in the regular season, but I don't think Ohio State will be tested until the College Football Playoff semifinals. One there, I anticipate they'll knock off Florida State in the Rose Bowl to get to the highly anticipated matchup with Alabama in Atlanta.
  • Chris Lauderback: 15-0 — Ohio State’s going 15-0. I love the blend of young talent and seasoned veterans. Well, they might not go 15-0 but they’ll be undefeated entering the CFP. 
  • Dan Hope: 13-2 — Buckeyes lose a game they shouldn’t to either Iowa or Nebraska on the road, but still win the Big Ten and make the College Football Playoff. Buckeyes win convincingly in the playoff semifinals but fall to Alabama or Florida State in the national championship game.
  • David Wertheim: 14-1 — Ohio State loses to Alabama in the CFP Championship Game.
  • James Grega: 14-1 — Ohio State will be perfect, until the national title game. I think the Buckeyes get beat by Alabama in the title match, but until then the Buckeyes will be unblemished.
  • Jimmy Longo: 15-0 — Ohio State has a tough but doable schedule, though I do think that if the Buckeyes end up losing a game in the regular season it’s not because a team imposes their will on them, but more the team’s own miscues. Even with the secondary overhaul, new offensive coordinators and losing starters on offense as well – this team gets better as the year goes on and J.T. Barrett rides off into the sunset, a Heisman finalist and the starting quarterback of national champion team. I’ll buy on the Buckeyes.
  • Johnny Ginter: 11-1 (regular season) — Either Penn State finally ascends to "actual rival" status, or Jim Harbaugh finally gets some fame on his name in the rivalry.
  • Kevin Harrish: 14-1 — Ohio State loses at Iowa during the regular season, but beats Penn State and Michigan, wins the Big Ten Title and eventually, the national title.
  • Kyle Jones: 13-1 — Ohio State will go undefeated in the regular season, win the B1G title game, and will finally lose to the Sooners in their third (and most important) tilt with Baker Mayfield in 17 months.
  • Ramzy Nasrallah: 12-0 (regular season) — I hate the position of the trip to Iowa being between Penn State and Michigan State. I have no idea what to expect from Michigan this season either; it’s similar to Ohio State’s position entering last season. Either way, I’m comfortable predicting the Buckeyes get to Indianapolis in December without a blemish.
  • Vico: 14-1 — I tied my hands for another season preview feature by predicting Ohio State makes the playoff, so I'll go with an undefeated, regular-season and Big Ten championship for Ohio State. The Buckeyes beat USC in the Rose Bowl but fall to Alabama in the national championship game.
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