Ohio State head coach Ryan Day had the Buckeye offense humming in 2019, and an overhauled defensive coaching staff put together a dominant unit last fall.
All of that resulted in a furious 13-0 start to the season that put Ohio State in the college football playoff, where it fell short to Clemson in a game that could've (and likely should've) gone the other way.
So many players on that team put up outrageous numbers. Running back J.K. Dobbins set the single-season benchmark for rushing yards, posting an incredible 2,003 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground. On the other side of the ball, defensive end Chase Young was essentially unblockable, notching a school record 16.5 sacks last season despite sitting out two games.
Day and the coaching staff have to replace both Dobbins and Young this fall, but the Buckeyes are expected to make another run at the playoff this year. With expectations as high as they are, here are some realistic over/under projections for Ohio State's top playmakers this fall.
Justin Fields, Over/Under 4,000 Yards of Total Offense
Quarterback Justin Fields was absolutely brilliant in his first season with the Buckeyes, throwing for 3,273 yards and 41 touchdowns against just three interceptions. He was a threat in the run game as well, posting 484 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.
The Buckeyes have to replace his running mate in the backfield (Dobbins), as well as wideouts K.J. Hill, Benjimin Victor and Austin Mack. But Chris Olave is back, and the wide receiver room got a huge boost with a pair of 5-star wide receivers and two high four-star wideouts.
With another year in Day's potent system, Fields should make a leap in 2020.
Chris Olave, Over/Under 1,000 Yards Receiving
On a team with veteran pass-catchers at every position, Olave rose above them all to lead the team in receiving last fall. He hauled in 49 passes for a team-high 849 yards and 12 touchdowns, and as the veteran of the group in 2020, Olave is on the brink of superstardom.
He'll be Fields' go-to option with Hill now graduated and off to the NFL. Olave has a great chance to become the sixth Ohio State player in program history to eclipse the 1,000 yard receiving mark in a single season, joining David Boston, Terry Glenn, Cris Carter, Michael Jenkins and Parris Campbell.
Trey Sermon, Over/Under 1,200 Rushing Yards
Arguably the biggest hole on the team was made by the departure of Dobbins at running back. The Buckeyes were expected to turn things over to Master Teague, who averaged nearly six yards per carry while running for 789 yards and four touchdowns as a reserve in 2020.
But Teague suffered an Achilles injury early this year, putting Ohio State in a bind with little experience at running back. That situation resolved itself when former Oklahoma running back Trey Sermon announced his intention to play his final season in Columbus as a transfer.
Sermon was productive when healthy for the Sooners, running for 744 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman and 947 yards and 13 touchdowns a year later. He'll likely share duties with Teague (if he can return this fall) and Steele Chambers, but eclipsing 1,200 yards is a realistic goal for Sermon.
Zach Harrison, Over/Under 8.5 Sacks
It's impossible to replace the best pass-rusher in school history with just one player, and because of that, Ohio State will rely on its tremendous depth at defensive end in 2020. But Zach Harrison, the former 5-star standout who made a splash during his freshman season, could be on the verge of a breakout sophomore campaign.
The standout from Olentangy Orange High School registered 3.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss as a rotational player in 2019. He started in several games last year with the injury to Jonathon Cooper and suspension of Young, but he's stepping into a much bigger role this fall.
Under the guidance of defensive line coach Larry Johnson, Harrison has the tools and potential to be Ohio State's next first-round NFL defensive end.