The Ohio State Buckeyes are the team to beat in the Big Ten. No matter how you slice it, all roads to a Big Ten championship run through Columbus.
In 2019, first-year head coach Ryan Day picked up exactly where the great Urban Meyer left off, going 13-1 on their way to a spot in the College Football Playoff. Their only loss would come at the hands of the Clemson Tigers, who would go on to lose to LSU in the National Championship Game. Nonetheless, Ohio State looks to sweep the Big Ten once again after a 9-0 conference record in 2019.
Will Ohio State maintain their dominance? Let’s take a look.
Ohio State’s offense was among the best in the country in 2019, ranking fourth in overall offense and first in third-down conversions. While the loss of JK Dobbins is a big one, Justin Fields is one of the top signal-callers in the country and will once again lead one of the country’s best offensive units on his way to a potential Heisman run. After throwing 41 touchdowns against only three interceptions in his first year in Columbus, the sky is the limit for him and this versatile Buckeyes offense.
In terms of receivers, Ohio State looks forward to the return of Chris Olave, who was the team’s leading receiver with 48 catches for 840 yards and 12 touchdowns. The Buckeyes are also happy to have back Garrett Wilson, who showed flashed last year with almost 500 receiving yards. Tight end reps will be split among Luke Farrell and Jeremy Ruckert, who both have ideal size for the position at 6-5 and 6-6, respectively.
Master Teague posted impressive numbers last year as the backup running back. With almost 850 yards from scrimmage, Teague is set for a massive season in the feature-back roll and will benefit from a star-studded offensive line that returns three All-Americans in 2020.
While the offense will remain strong, the defense is an entirely different story altogether. The Buckeyes will have to replace seven of their ten leading tacklers going into 2020 following a characteristic sweep in the 2020 NFL Draft. Replacing seven starters, especially in a year with less prep (broken record, I’m aware), is hard. Replacing seven NFL draft picks is even more challenging.
The only returning starter on the defensive line is senior defensive end Jonathon Cooper, who played in only four games last season due to injury.
As far as linebackers, the Buckeyes return seniors Pete Warner and Tuf Borland (one of the greatest names in college football history), who were second and fourth in tackles last year, respectively. Ohio State will look to lean on their experience to help break in a new starter, Baron Browning (also a great name), who has seen time as a reserve player but has never had the opportunity to start for an entire season.
In the secondary, it seems that Ohio State is welcoming a ton of new starters every year, losing eight defensive backs to the draft in only four years. The only returning starter on the back end is junior corner Shaun Wade, who played very well in a spectacular secondary last year with seven pass breakups. Other than that, the rest of the secondary is unclear, and it will likely be a work in progress for a few weeks.
The Ohio State Buckeyes will be back with a vengeance this year. Given the circumstances surrounding their season this year, Ohio State will look to make a statement this year in a big way. Teams will take advantage of an inexperienced defense, but Fields and the Buckeyes offense will likely still be overwhelming for most-everybody in the Big Ten.
2020 season record prediction (Big Ten): 8-0
That is it for our Vendetta Sports Media 2020 Big Ten Previews!
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