2. KEYS TO THE SEASON
Biggest Key To The Ohio State Offense
Get the running back rotation working right away. Are you really that sure Justin Fields is ready to go from promising prospect to Heisman-caliber superstar? That’s where the bar is going to be set for a team good enough to win the Big Ten again and go to the College Football Playoff – more on that in a moment.
Even with all of the talent in the world, he’s going to need time and there will be wild inconsistencies – that’s where the running game kicks in.
Even if Fields is just okay, the defense and all-around team talent will be enough to get by for most of the season. However, the more the ground game can do, the better.
JK Dobbins is a sure-thing star to work the ground game around, and Master Teague, Demario McCall, and the rest of the backs might have to carry things from time to time.
Biggest Key To The Ohio State Defense
Be much, much, much, much better and tougher against the run. The defense should be a whole lot better and stronger with so much talent and experience returning, but until it is, it’ll be a concern.
It was more than a decade since Ohio State last went through a season allowing more than four yards per carry, much less the 4.52 of last year. The Buckeyes were hit for over 200 yards three times, and while they were able to beat TCU, Penn State and Maryland, those were major battles.
Even worse, they allowed five yards per carry or more six times. In 2017, only Iowa in its strange 55-24 blowout win was able to hit the five-yard mark, and only three teams did it in 2016.
Key Player To A Successful Season
QB Justin Fields, Soph.
No pressure or anything, but …
Fields was either the No. 1 prospect in the 2018 recruiting season, or No. 1A next to Trevor Lawrence. He was fine at Georgia in his little bit of time behind Jake Fromm, but his career will mostly be remembered for the ill-fated fake punt attempt – all Kirby Smart’s fault for making the call – in the SEC Championship vs. Alabama.
And then came the transfer to Columbus.
His arrival led to the departure of Tate Martell to Miami and Matthew Baldwin to TCU, and there’s a major drop-off between him and backups Chris Chugunov and Gunner Hoak.
So now, he not only has to fill in for Dwayne Haskins after the greatest passing season in school history, but he has to 1) stay healthy, 2) lead the Buckeyes to the Big Ten title, 3) beat Michigan, and 4) get to the College Football Playoff – not necessarily in that order.
Key Game To The Ohio State Season
at Michigan, Nov. 30
Yeah, of course, duh, but it’ll take on a different tone this time around.
If Urban Meyer was still the head man, he could afford a loss or two to Big Blue and still be just fine considering his spotless record in the series. But for new head coach Ryan Day, a loss would be a gigantic no-no to finish off his first full regular season.
The rivalry aspect takes center stage, but the Wolverines should be good enough to get to November 30th with a shot at being at least 10-1 with a Big Ten Championship appearance on the line – just like last year. If all goes according to plan, the same goes for Ohio State, too.
– Ohio State Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2018 Ohio State Fun Stats
– Penalties: Ohio State 116 for 1,055 yards – Opponents 81 for 781 yards
– Passing TDs: Ohio State 51 – Opponents 18
– Sacks: Ohio State 41 for 272 yards – Opponents 23 for 116 yards