How good is Coach Urban Meyer? His Ohio State teams have lost just six games in his five seasons. The Buckeyes are loaded again in 2017 and have win total of 10.5 at 5Dimes. This capper is leaning ‘over’ that number.
Here’s what should scare the rest of the country – Alabama excluded because no one scares the Tide. Last year was supposed to be a rebuilding season for Coach Urban Meyer’s Ohio State Buckeyes. They brought back a national-low six starters from their 12-1 club in 2015.
So what did OSU do in 2016? It finished 11-1 in the regular season and ended arch-rival Michigan’s shot at the College Football Playoff with a thrilling 30-27 double-overtime victory. Despite just the one loss, the Buckeyes didn’t even win the Big Ten’s East Division – Penn State did thanks to a flukish 24-21 home win over Ohio State on Oct. 22. The Lions’ Grant Haley returned a blocked field goal 60 yards for a touchdown with 4:27 left.
However, the Buckeyes had done enough with their overall resume – wins at No. 14 Oklahoma and No. 8 Wisconsin plus that Michigan triumph – to earn a spot in the national semifinals. OSU’s inexperience was on display in that Fiesta Bowl, however, as the Buckeyes were clobbered 31-0 by eventual national champion Clemson. It was the first time Ohio State had been shut out since 1993 and the first time ever that a Meyer-coached team had.
That just made Meyer angry and motivated for 2017.
Barrett Leads Returning Starters
Ohio State is a lock to be a Top 5 team in the preseason polls, perhaps as high as No. 2. On 5Dimes college football odds, OSU has a wins total of 10.5 (regular season) that’s only matched by Alabama, which should be preseason No. 1.
Meyer was embarrassed by that Clemson loss so he made a few coaching changes, including the hiring of former Indiana coach Kevin Wilson as offensive coordinator and Ryan Day as quarterback coach. Meyer also had to replace defensive coordinator Luke Fickell after he left to become the head coach at Cincinnati.
There were some major personnel losses off the 2016 team, led by the top three receivers in Curtis Samuel, Noah Brown and Dontre Wilson. Samuel was the only player in the nation with 800 yards passing and 700 yards rushing last year. In addition, the secondary was gutted by Gareon Conley, Marshon Lattimore and Malik Hooker all being picked in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Still, OSU is set to return 15 starters, led by quarterback J.T. Barrett. He’ll likely be the preseason Big Ten Player of the Year and is +900 on college football odds to win the Heisman Trophy. Barrett has been responsible for 100 touchdowns in his Buckeyes career. That’s six TDs shy of the Big Ten record set by a former Purdue quarterback named Drew Brees. Whatever happened to that guy?
Barrett, who likely will be throwing deeper more often this year under his new OC Wilson, has four starters returning up front, plus running back Mike Weber, who rushed for 1,096 yards and nine scores as a freshman. The defensive secondary is a concern but the front seven will be stacked.
The only non-conference game worth mentioning on Ohio State’s schedule is Sept. 9 vs. Oklahoma, which will be a preseason Top 10 team. The Buckeyes went to Norman last September and laid a 45-24 beatdown on the Sooners.
OSU realistically has just once chance to be an underdog in the regular season: the finale at Michigan on Nov. 25. However, the Wolverines has the fewest starters back in the nation this year with just five. The other toughest Big Ten games for the Nuts should be Oct. 14 at Nebraska, Oct. 28 vs. Penn State (nice to have a bye week before that game) and Nov. 4 at Iowa.
Ohio State is the +175 favorite to win the Big Ten title and +750 for the national title. My college football pick is that this team will go no worse than 11-1 in the regular season – assuming Barrett stays healthy -- and return to the College Football Playoff.Free College Football Pick: ‘Over’ 10.5 WinsBest Line Offered: 5DimesBet On College Football Futures At SBR’s Top Sportsbooks