Ten B1G Questions: Thoughts On Ohio State’s Conference This Season And Beyond From Our Writers

By 11W Staff on July 21, 2021 at 8:35 am
Ohio State
Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Ryan Day versus the Big Ten has been a clean sweep through two years.

The third-year Ohio State head coach is unbeaten within conference play, and given the way he has recruited, the talent gap between the powerhouse in Columbus and the other 13 teams only continues to grow.

So, with Big Ten Media Days upon us, we gathered 11 Eleven Warriors writers together to answer 10 questions about Ohio State and the conference as a whole.

Let’s have some fun.

1. Does Ohio State win the Big Ten East, and if so, which team will it meet in the conference title game?

Kyle Jones: Ohio State wins the Big Ten East and Iowa wins the West with its two toughest cross-division games (Indiana and Penn State) taking place in Iowa City.

Jason Priestas: Absolutely. And it feels like a Wisconsin kind of year, so the Bucks will meet the Badgers in Indy.

Dan Hope: Yes. Northwestern – Wildcats benefit from a regular season schedule that doesn’t include Ohio State, Indiana or Penn State.

Andrew Ellis: Yes. Wisconsin will be the opponent.

George Eisner: The power dynamics may be shifting a bit around the division, but there remains no question that Ohio State is the team to beat in the East. The Big Ten West remains a dumpster fire, so don't count Northwestern out, but I would be shocked if Wisconsin doesn't make it to Indy for the seventh time in the last decade.

Garrick Hodge: Yes, Wisconsin.

Colin Hass-Hill: Yes. Graham Mertz and Wisconsin take the division title for the second time in three years.

Matt Gutridge: Since the conference split into the current East and West divisions, only Iowa (1), Northwestern (2) and Wisconsin (4) have represented the West. If history is an indicator, the Badgers will face the Buckeyes in December.

Ramzy Nasrallah: Yes and Iowa. Which, as long as they’re not playing in Iowa City should be fine.

Kevin Harrish: Yes, and they'll face Iowa and get their revenge against Kirk Ferentz, who is somehow still the coach.

Johnny Ginter: Ohio State has only one real competitor for the Big Ten East, and they looked like boiled ass for most of 2020. Wisconsin should be who they meet in the Big Ten title game, but they might underwhelm in 2021 the same way Minnesota and Penn State did last season.

2. If you could add one other Big Ten player to this Ohio State roster, who would it be?

Kyle: Northwestern’s Brandon Joseph earned all-conference honors and was PFF’s top-graded strong safety in the nation - Ohio State could absolutely use a player like that.

Jason: Give me Indiana’s Micah McFadden. Good size for a linebacker and he loves to blitz.

Dan: Indiana cornerback Tiawan Mullen – Mullen is the Big Ten’s best cornerback, and Ohio State’s secondary remains an area of concern.

Andrew: Northwestern safety Brandon Joseph would be my pick for this season. Five-star Wisconsin freshman offensive tackle Nolan Rucci would be my pick for down the road, however.

George: Brandon Joseph seems like the easy answer here. I'm sure the Buckeyes would welcome an All-American defensive back into a secondary craving some consistency and experience coming off a disappointing 2020 campaign.

Garrick: Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum. Defensive coordinators would have to engage eight every play to penetrate that line.

Colin: Brandon Joseph. This defense could use a reliable, playmaking defensive back like him.

Matt: JoJo Domann of Nebraska would be a nice addition for an inexperienced linebacker unit.

Ramzy: Give me Tiawan Mullen from Indiana, the Antoine Winfieldiest player in this year’s Big Ten.

Kevin: Brandon Joseph. Ohio State's secondary was decidedly ass last season and he's the best defensive back in the conference.

Johnny: Brandon Joseph was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and had six interceptions in 2020. Which is one fewer than the entire Ohio State team. So, him.

3. Which will be the next major underdog in the Big Ten to upset the Buckeyes?

Kyle: I don’t think it happens this year, but Maryland’s RPO-heavy attack is a very bad matchup for the Buckeye defense if it isn’t careful.

Jason: You trying to get everyone’s PTSD to kick in?

Dan: Indiana – Hoosiers haven’t beaten Ohio State since 1988, but I think Tom Allen changes that.

Andrew: Maryland. Mike Locksley is really known for one thing, and I think his recruiting could eventually pay off with an upset victory even though he’s not a good football coach.

George: This is a purely narrative-driven answer, but I can absolutely see Greg Schiano ruining yet another Ohio State football season at some point. I am going with Rutgers as a total wild card.

Garrick: Indiana.

Colin: Nebraska.

Matt: The game at Northwestern in November of 2022 might be the hiccup.

Ramzy: I refuse the answer this question. “Describe your mediocre murderer, and how hard people around the world will laugh at your grisly demise and shattered legacy.” No.

Kevin: Rutgers. Why not? I'm going all in.

Johnny: Don't put that evil on me.

4. Who’ll be the 2021 Chicago Tribune Silver Trophy winner?

Kyle: If Michael Penix Jr. stays healthy, I’ll go with him. If not, CJ Stroud.

Jason: Going out on a limb here and picking Wisconsin’s Graham Mertz.

Dan: Chris Olave. 

Andrew: C.J. Stroud.

George: Chris Olave should be in the NFL right now. I would not be surprised to see him become the first wide receiver to win this award since Braylon Edwards in 2004.

Garrick: Chris Olave.

Colin: C.J. Stroud.

Matt: Mohamed Ibrahim, the running back from Minnesota.

Ramzy: Chris Olave, Ohio State

Kevin: C.J. Stroud.

Johnny: Michael Penix would be the easy choice, which is why I think he's going to bork it and C.J. Stroud will end up with the trophy by virtue of throwing passes to the guy who actually deserves it but plays the wrong position, Chris Olave.

5. Which Big Ten team will beat Ohio State the most in the 2020s?

Kyle: Penn State has long been the closest in terms of talent and James Franklin always makes the Buckeyes work for a win.

Jason: Penn State. Ohio State plays them every season and the Bucks have to travel to the toughest road venue in the league five times every decade.

Dan: Penn State – Nittany Lions are back to recruiting at the level necessary to compete with Ohio State.

Andrew: Penn State.

George: Penn State is the sensible answer here, but Indiana is clearly on the rise and not to be taken lightly. I'll hedge and say those two schools will beat OSU an equal amount of times over the next decade.

Garrick: Hard to say anybody but Penn State. Maybe Michigan if it gets the next hire right after it inevitably fires Jim Harbaugh?

Colin: Penn State is the only answer.

Matt: At this moment, Penn State appears to be the team in the best position to beat the Buckeyes more than once.

Ramzy: This is easy, the answer is Ohio State.

Kevin: Penn State is the easy answer here, but it could really be anyone considering all it's going to take to claim this crown is like, two wins.

Johnny: Probably some infuriatingly mediocre program that ends up sticking their finger in Ohio State's eye for no good reason. Let's spin the roulette wheel and land it on Indiana.

6. How many Big Ten championships will Ohio State win in the 2020s?

Kyle: Seven.

Jason: Six.

Dan: Seven.

Andrew: Eight.

George: Not five, not six, not seven... I think eight is probably a fair number if Ryan Day sticks around for the long-haul.

Garrick: Eight? Not even Alabama wins the SEC every year.

Colin: Seven. More if Ohio State keeps recruiting at the absurd level it’s at right now.

Matt: The Buckeyes have won four consecutive league titles. I’ll double it and go with eight.

Ramzy: The Buckeyes actually had more during the Tressel decade (6) than the Meyer/Day one (5) on account of shared titles/no title game. Ohio State will win six B1G championships in the 2020s and squander the other four in hideous fashion.

Kevin: I'll say 8. But if that was the betting total, I'd take the over.

Johnny: I'd put the over/under at 5.5, but the Big Ten needs to get its act together to make even that look reasonable.

7. Who’ll win the second-most Big Ten championships in the 2020s?

Kyle: Wisconsin.

Jason: Penn State

Dan: Penn State. 

Andrew: Penn State. 

George: My bold prediction is that the Big Ten West – which has not won this conference since 2012 – will go another decade without a champion of their own. I can see Indiana and Penn State each catching Ohio State with their pants down in an off year, and that will probably be enough to get both of them to the podium in separate seasons.

Garrick: Tie between Penn State and some random other team that has a fluke year.

Colin: Wisconsin. The best, most consistent team that doesn’t have to face the Buckeyes every year in the regular season.

Matt: Wisconsin

Ramzy: Texas. I mean, what’s the penalty for being wrong here.

Kevin: Wisconsin, simply because that's the best team that doesn't play Ohio State every year.

Johnny: Wisconsin, possibly in a three-way tie with two other teams with a grand total of one (1).

8. If Ryan Day retired tomorrow and had to be replaced by another Big Ten coach, who would you choose?

Kyle: If I’m not allowed to say Luke Fickell, I guess I’ll say Paul Chryst since he gets the most out of the talent at hand and would do some great things with the talent on the Ohio State roster.

Jason: I’m a huge Tom Allen fan. He’s done wonders in Bloomington, so you have to believe he could do even better with elite talent.

Dan: Pat Fitzgerald – I don’t think he’d leave Northwestern for another college job (if any job at all), but I think he’d be the best fit for Ohio State out of any other Big Ten coach.

Andrew: Pat Fitzgerald.

George: Tom Allen, because Pat Fitzgerald is the best version of himself at his alma mater, and everyone else is borderline radioactive. I would not touch James Franklin with a fifty foot pole.

Garrick: Give me James Franklin.

Colin: Can I take a risk and say Brian Hartline? I’ll go with Pat Fitzgerald.

Matt: Jim Harbaugh. Why Harbaugh? Think about it, Ohio State has never lost with him on the sideline. Serious answer is P.J. Fleck bringing his boat to the banks of the Olentangy.

Ramzy: Pat Fitzgerald, who would say no. Then Greg Schiano, who would also say no. Then PJ Fleck, who would say yes and a significant percentage of the fan base would burn down their houses.

Kevin: Jim Harbaugh because it would be incomprehensibly hilarious to see him maintain Ohio State's dominance after driving Michigan off a cliff as the Chosen One in Ann Arbor. If there are still Wolverine fans at that point, that would send them over the edge.

Johnny: James Franklin would do the best job, but the only real answer is Bret Bielema, a man far more attuned to the psyche of Ohio State fans than we'd like to admit.

9. Which is the next regular season Big Ten game the Buckeyes will lose?

Kyle: Nov. 19, 2022 at Maryland. Sandwiched between Wisconsin and Michigan on the weekend before Thanksgiving.

Jason: Oct. 1, 2022 at Penn State.

Dan: Oct. 23, 2021 at Indiana. Three years without a Big Ten loss is a long time, and this might be the Hoosiers’ best shot at the Buckeyes.

Andrew: October 28, 2023 at Wisconsin.

George: Nov. 27, 2021 at Michigan. Michigan's back is against the wall, they’re at a low point in terms of recent on-field product and program pride and the walls are closing in on Harbaugh as he drags his weathered cleats across yet another future NFL prospect's hardwood floor. Ryan Day allegedly threatened to hang 100 on them a year ago. If the history of this rivalry tells you anything, it's that there are few things more dangerous than a cornered Wolverine. Yes, I think Michigan does the impossible and ruins Ohio State's season in 2021.

Garrick: Oct. 1, 2022 at Penn State.

Colin: Oct. 28, 2023 at Wisconsin. Four-plus years unbeaten in the Big Ten is an absurd prediction, yes, but that’s the gap I see between Ohio State and the others.

Matt: Nov. 5, 2022 at Northwestern. If there’s a cold November rain, the Wildcats could pull off the upset.

Ramzy: Oct. 14, 2023 in West Lafayette. None of these questions were all that hard.

Kevin: Sept. 27, 2025 in Iowa City. I have no idea who's going to be playing in that game on either side, but I don't need to.

Johnny: Sept. 2, 2021 at Minnesota. I mean, probably not, but I'd be more okay with that than like, Purdue in late November. On the plus side Michigan is never beating Ohio State again, so that's nice.

10. What’s the result and score of this year’s Big Ten championship game?

Kyle: Ohio State 35, Iowa 21.

Jason: Ohio State 38, Wisconsin 24.

Dan: Ohio State 45, Northwestern 21.

Andrew: Ohio State 37, Wisconsin 20.

George: Ohio State wins regardless of opponent. Things can get funky over the course of a season, but as of right now I would be shocked if they fail to beat even Wisconsin by at least two touchdowns. Northwestern might drag them to overtime if only because they play beautifully cursed football.

Garrick: Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 17

Colin: Ohio State 35, Wisconsin 28.

Matt: Ohio State 38, Wisconsin 21.

Ramzy: Ohio State 24, Iowa 20

Kevin: Ohio State 48, Iowa 14

Johnny: Ohio State 38, Wisconsin, 21.

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