No. 2 – The Franchise’s number 2 for 2017 is the Ohio State Buckeyes. They finished 2016 on a sour note, getting thumped by Clemson 31-0 in the first round of the Playoff. They earned that spot not by winning the BIG Ten, but by beating rival Michigan 30-27 in double OT. Urban Meyer’s 2017 class finished ranked 2nd overall, and have many young payers expected to make a difference right away.
The biggest strength for the Buckeyes in 2017 will be their defensive line. They are returning Tyquan Lewis, the 2016 Big Ten d-linemen of the year, along with edge rushers Jayln Holmes and Nick Bosa. Urban Meyer is also bringing in the number two defensive end in Chase Young. Defensive Coordinator Greg Schiano is excited for this season, calling this line better than the D-line at Tampa Bay in 2012.
The secondary took a big hit in the NFL Draft, losing Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker and Gareon Conley in the first round. Who is expected to replace them is still up in the air, but two incoming freshman look like formidable options. Ohio State is bringing in the number one and number two ranked cornerbacks in Jeffrey Okudah and Shaun Wade, respectively. Those two along with former 5-star Kendall Sheffield could bolster Ohio State’s secondary back to elite status.
While the defense looks primed and ready for a dominant season, the offense looks about the same. J.T. Barrett is back for his final season, and in 2016 he dominated the Big Ten all season. He threw for 2,500 yards and rushed for nearly 1,000, scoring a combined 33 touchdowns. Barrett will have to find new go-to receivers due to Curtis Samuel and Noah Brown heading to the NFL. One player to keep an eye on will be K.J. Hill. Hill showed strong performances during his freshman season and has a chance to be J.T.’s favorite target early.
Some key games for Ohio State in 2017:
Sep. 9 – Ohio State vs. Oklahoma – Columbus, OH
Oct. 28 – Ohio State vs. Penn State – Columbus, OH
Nov. 25 – Ohio State @ Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI