Preview 2018: Previewing and looking ahead to the Ohio State Buckeyes season with what you need to know.
Preview 2018: Ohio State Buckeyes
– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
– Top Players, Key Game, Fun Stats
– What Will Happen & Win Total Prediction
– Recruiting Class Analysis | Schedule Analysis
– Ohio State Previews 2017 | 2016 | 2015
Imagine not being able to make a mistake.
You can’t have an off day. You can’t have a moment when you simply don’t have it. You can’t ever spill on the rug.
Over the first four seasons of the College Football Playoff era, Ohio State has been one of the four best teams at the end of the regular season in at least three of them. And had there been a College Football Playoff and no bowl ban in the undefeated 2012 season – and, arguably, in 2013, despite the Big Ten Championship loss to Michigan State, too – it would’ve been in the tournament.
Urban Meyer has revived the monster program that should’ve been in the CFP last year, but lost to Baker Mayfield and a great Oklahoma team – no shame there – and had a really, really, really bad day against Iowa.
And that’s the problem if you’re Ohio State – and, for that matter, Alabama and Clemson, too, at the moment. You might be able to survive a loss, but you can’t have a really, really, really bad, ill-timed one, and forget about it if there’s a second defeat on the year.
The 2016 Buckeyes didn’t really deserve to be get in after the regular season – they didn’t even win their division – but they made it. It was close, though, mainly because they had one really, really, really bad special teams letdown against Penn State.
The 2015 team was arguably better than the 2014 national champion – who almost missed out because of one really, really, really bad day against Virginia Tech – but it had the really, really, really bad break of getting Mark Dantonioed in the 17-14 home loss to Michigan State for the only misfire in the regular season.
We’re living in a world where Alabama got into last year’s College Football Playoff on the Four Best Team Theory, a year after the Buckeyes got in the same way.
And then, of course, in 2016, they had a really, really, really bad day against Clemson in the 31-0 Fiesta Bowl loss. But that’s forgiven.
Getting to the College Football Playoff is a high enough bar. Once you get the call, you’re dealing with three other elite-of-the-elite teams – there’s no cheap CFP national champion.
However, in the regular season, there can’t be those misfires if you’re Ohio State, and there certainly can’t be two, like there were last season.
As always, the Buckeyes are more talented than everyone else on their schedule. The coaching staff is better than everyone else’s – there but for a few big issues, OSU has the Indiana head coach (Kevin Wilson) as its offensive coordinator, and Tennessee head man (Greg Schiano) running the other side of the ball – the support is peerless, and the recruiting continues to be at want-guy-get-guy level.
This continues to be a program bound by nothing, and yet Iowa 55, Ohio State 24 happened right before a 48-3 domination of a great Michigan State team.
And that can’t happen.
However, this year, even with everything going for Goliath again, there might be a wee bit of a free pass given for a team that’s so young, has to replace seven starters on defense, and has to replace a tremendous college quarterback.
The Ohio State offense should be unstoppable. The running backs and receivers are deep and amazing, the line should be fine despite a few NFL losses, and Dwayne Haskins has all the tools to be the Next Buckeye Star Quarterback Up in the system.
The defense loses a ton and will go baby-young at times, but the corners are unfairly good – even ifs they need some seasoning – and Nick Bosa and the pass rush should once again be a catalyst for another huge season from the front seven.
On skill alone, Ohio State has already won ten games before the regular season started. But it’s those other two …
Does this year’s young team have what it takes to win at TCU in mid-September? How about at Penn State a few weeks later, or at Michigan State in mid-November.
If last year’s team could suffer a weird letdown at Iowa like that – by the way, that Hawkeye offense was just this side of awful against almost everyone else – what’s going happen when this year’s version has a sandwich date at Maryland between Michigan State and Michigan?
Ohio State knows exactly what it has to do. Win at least 11 regular season games, win the Big Ten Championship, go to the College Football Playoff, hold up the trophy with confetti flying all over the place in Santa Clara on January 7th, 2019.
Or, to put it bluntly, Ohio State can’t make any mistakes.