1. OHIO STATE WIN TOTAL PREDICTION: WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN
Welcome to the new job, Ryan Day. Now win the Big Ten title and go to the College Football Playoff or your season is a … okay, isn’t not right to call a campaign that falls short of winning a championship a failure, but …
Anything less than an 12-1 season with another Big Ten championship will be a fai … disappointment.
Of course there’s going to be a drop-off – even at Ohio State – when there’s a change from one of the greatest college football coaches of all-time to just about anyone else, but Urban Meyer left the cupboard stocked with the most talented team in the Big Ten.
Of course there’s also going to be a drop-off when going from an incredible passing season like the one the Buckeyes enjoyed with Dwayne Haskins, but few places can lose a NFL talent under center and instantly replace him with – arguably – the top quarterback recruit in the 2018 class.
Of course it’s going to take a little while for Justin Fields to be amazing, and for the offense to adjust to the new coaches and styles, but the offensive line is solid, the running backs are fantastic, and the receiving corps – even after losing a few key parts – is one of the nation’s most dangerous.
Best of all, the defensive side should get a whole lot stronger. It struggled throughout last season with its consistency, but there’s experience, depth, and next-level prospects galore to quickly bounce back.
So, of course …
Set The Regular Season Win Total At … 11
The concern is 2017 Iowa and 2018 Purdue. Will there be a bizarre road meltdown against someone like Indiana in Bloomington, Nebraska in Lincoln, or Northwestern in Evanston? Here’s the positive – considering the date at Rutgers shouldn’t be an issue, those are the only three road games to worry about before the regular season finale in Ann Arbor.
The Buckeyes have to deal with Wisconsin from the West, but that’s in Columbus, as are the East showdowns against Michigan State and Penn State.
There isn’t a TCU-like non-conference game to worry about – Cincinnati is the most dangerous game outside of Big Ten play – and even though the slate is tougher than it seems, four of the first five games are against teams that didn’t go bowling last season, and there are six games in all against teams that failed to get a swag bag.
There will be a loss along the way, but considering this roster, and with so many key games at home, it’s Big Ten championship or bust.
There’s no excuse for the machine to slow down.