Ohio State went into the 2015 season as the team to beat. The Buckeyes were coming off a National Championship and had 14 returning starters.
Everything looked to be in place after a 10-0 start. Then came a home game against Michigan State without Connor Cook at quarterback. Ohio State shockingly lost 14-17.
They would go on to blowout rival Michigan 42-13 in the finale, but the damage was done. Michigan State won the Big Ten East and the Buckeyes were left out of the playoffs.
Ohio State didn’t let the disappointment keep them from competing in their bowl game. They went out and defeated Notre Dame 44-28 to end up at 12-1 and No. 4 in the country.
The Buckeyes won’t go into 2016 with the same lofty expectations. They just lost a record 9 players in the first 3 rounds of the NFL. Only 6 starters are back for Urban Meyer’s 5th year in Columbus.
Big Ten (East)
|Date||Opponent||Spread (Est.)||Win Chance|
|10/22||@ Penn State|
|11/19||@ Michigan State|
|Estimated Wins: TBD|
*We take the win chance by using the college football win percentage chart for each point spread.
The Buckeyes should open up 2-0 with home games against Bowling Green and Tulsa to kickoff the year. Then things get really interesting with a road game against Oklahoma. It will likely be the first time they are an underdog since the title game agains Oregon two years ago.
That game will tell us a lot about where this young and talented Buckeyes team stands.
That’s not the only test on the schedule. Ohio State has three difficult road games against Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan State. Plus the huge showdown with Michigan at home to end the regular season.
While Ohio State has just 3 starters back on offense, the unit as a whole disappointed in 2015. The Buckeyes went from averaging 44.8 ppg and 512 ypg to only putting up 35.7 ppg and 434 ypg.
A big reason for that was the constant change at quarterback. One week it was J.T. Barrett and the next it was Cardale Jones. With Jones departing, the offense will belong soley to Barrett in 2016. Keep in mind as the starter in 2013, he was a 3rd-Team All-American and Heisman candidate.
The only other starters back on offense are linemen Pat Elflein and Billy Price. Elfein turned down the NFL and will be the anchor in the middle at center. The three new starters will be inexperienced, but won’t lack talent. Ohio State recruits as well as anyone in the country and will be dominant up front once again.
The biggest loss on offense is star running back Ezekiel Elliot. He carried a heavy load in 2015 with 1,821 yards and 23 touchdowns. Replacing him won’t be easy, but the Buckeyes are one team that can. Freshmen Mike Weber (red-shirt) and Antonio Williams are ready to showcase their talents. They also get back junior Curtis Samuel and senior Bri’onte Dunn.
The Buckeyes lose their top three weapons in the passing game, but have plenty of talent ready to take over. The guy to watch out for is sophomore Noah Brown. He was getting all the hype going into last year, but suffered a season ending injury in August.
Of those 9 early draft picks, 5 came on the defensive side of the ball. The likes of Joey Bosa, Darron Lee, Eli Apple, Vonn Bell and Adolphus Washington all must be replaced.
It will be the toughest challenge to date in the Meyer era, but don’t think there’s not a ton of talent waiting to take the field. Ohio State has two stars up front in Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis at defensive end. Not to mention they added in Bosa’s brother Nick, who will see the field as a true freshman.
At linebacker they get back 1st-Team All-Big Ten performer Raekwon-McMillan. Keep in mind he led the team in tacklers last year with 119. They also have high hopes for juniors Dante Booker and Chris Worley.
The only starter back in the secondary is junior corner Gareon Conley. He’s not as good as Apple, but still one of the top corner prospects in the country. Keep an eye out for junior safety Cam Burrows. As well as sophomores Denzel Ward (CB) and Malik Hooker (S).
Regular Season Win Total
Big Ten East Odds
Big Ten Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes
*Odds updated live on our college football odds page
Before you write off Ohio State, just look at what Myer has done in his first four seasons. He’s compiled a ridiculous 50-4 record, winning at least 12 games all 4 years.
When you combine great coaching with great talent, it usually ends with good results. Especially, when you have arguably the best quarterback in the conference coming back.
With that said, I’m not about to pick the Buckeyes to go 12-0. Though it’s not out of the question. I have Ohio State losing at Oklahoma and another inside conference play. However, I have them winning the two big games against the Spartans and Wolverines to win the East. That should lead to another Big Ten title and a potential return to the playoffs.
Big Ten (East)
Big Ten Record
Win Total Prediction