#1 Ohio State Football 2015 Preview

Ohio State Buckeyes

Overall Rank: #1
#1 Big Ten

Ohio State Team Page#1 Ohio State Football 2015 PreviewBuy Ohio State Football Tickets

It seems so long ago that Ohio State lost to Virginia Tech with an inexperienced and unknown quarterback under center. Since then, the Buckeyes have looked unbeatable. Even with another injury at quarterback, the Buckeyes crushed Wisconsin 59-0 in the Big Ten title game and beat Alabama and Oregon in the inaugural playoffs to win the 2014 national title. With an insane amount of talent returning on both sides of the ball, the Buckeyes are favored to bring home another title.

2014 Record: 14-1, 8-0
2014 Bowl: Sugar Bowl vs. Alabama (W 42-35)
College Football Playoff Championship Game vs Oregon (W 42-20)
Coach: Urban Meyer (38-3 at Ohio State, 142-26 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Ed Warinner, Tim Beck
Defensive Coordinator: Luke Fickell, Chris Ash

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, 1,878 yards
Passing: J.T. Barrett, QB, 2,834 yards
Receiving: Michael Thomas, WR, 799 yards
Tackles: Joshua Perry, LB, 124
Sacks: Joey Bosa, DE, 13.5
Interceptions: Vonn Bell, S, 6

Other Key Returnees: QB Cardale Jones, WR Braxton Miller, RB Curtis Samuel, WR Jalin Marshall, TE Nick Vannett, OL Pat Elflein, OL Taylor Decker, LB Darron Lee, S Tyvis Powell, DL Adolphus Washington, CB Eli Apple, P Cameron Johnston, K Sean Nuernberger

Key Losses: WR Devon Smith, TE Jeff Heuerman, DB Doran Grant, LB Curtis Grant

Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 1,878 yards and 18 touchdowns during his sophomore season, but those numbers do not even do him justice. Elliott is a beast of a back and was playing great down the stretch. He barely played early in the year and had just 27 carries in Ohio State’s first three games. In the last three games, Elliott rushed for 696 yards and eight touchdowns on 76 carries. And don’t forget that was against Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon. As great as quarterback Cardale Jones looked in those three games, he would not have been able to do it without Elliott. Curtis Samuel figures to be the backup running back, but Coach Urban Meyer also wants to add him to the list of H-backs in an effort to get him more involved. That is where Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson and former quarterback Braxton Miller will spend time too. Michael Thomas is the best receiver on the team though after catching 54 passes for 799 yards and nine touchdowns. Just who is going to throw the ball to all of those talented receivers is the big question. Miller was in the mix after earning back-to-back Big Ten Player of the Year accolades in 2012 and 2013. When he went down with an injury right before the 2014 season, J.T. Barrett stepped in and did an amazing job. Barrett threw for 2,834 yards and 34 touchdowns, while rushing for 938 yards and 11 touchdowns before going down with an injury against Michigan in the regular season finale. Cardale Jones stepped in during the Big Ten title game and the playoffs and looked like an experienced player against some of the tougher teams in the country. Barrett and Jones will both get opportunities and Miller will get involved one way or another too.

The defense wasn’t great in 2014, but they were still pretty darn good. And they should at least be that again in 2015. End Joey Bosa is one of the best pass rushers in the country and tallied 13.5 sacks in 2014. Hopes are high that youngsters like Tyquan Lewis, Jalyn Holmes and Sam Hubbard can be productive at the other end spot. With the opposition concentrating on Bosa and tackle Adolphus Washington, somebody could have a big year at the other end position. At linebacker, Joshua Perry is coming off of a 124 tackle year and Darron Lee is coming off of a very promising freshman season. Fellow sophomore Raekwon McMillan is a typical tough Ohio State linebacker, but he will be asked to do a lot more this year. Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell are solid safeties, but there are some questions at cornerback. Sophomore Eli Apple started 14 games last season, but there is not a clear cut option on the other corner.  

The Bottom Line:
While most teams will want revenge against the Buckeyes this year, Ohio State gets a shot at revenge against Virginia Tech on the opening weekend of the season. The rest of the schedule should be manageable for an experienced team like this, with the exception of a home date against Michigan State on November 21st. That game will likely decide the Big Ten East and could have much bigger implications than that. In the end, it is tough to see where this team could lose. Last year the most important player on the team got hurt before the season started and the guy who turned into the most important player on the team got hurt right before all of the big games. And this group still won the national title.

Projected Bowl: Orange Bowl (Playoff)

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 264.5 (8th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 247.1 (51, 3)
Total Offense: 511.6 (9, 1)
Scoring Offense: 44.8 (5, 1)
Rushing Defense: 141.3 (34, 5)
Pass Defense: 201.1 (28, 6)
Total Defense: 342.4 (19, 5)
Scoring Defense: 22.0 (26, 4)
Turnover Margin: 0.47 (32, 3)
Sacks: 3.00 (13, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 1.87 (49, 7)

Madness 2016 NFL Draft Rankings:
#1 Joey Bosa
#4 Cardale Jones
#11 Taylor Decker
#18 Ezekiel Elliott
#43 Darron Lee
#53 Michael Thomas
#57 Adolphus Washington

Madness 2015 Recruit Rankings:
#36 Justin Hilliard
#49 Torrance Gibson
#68 Jerome Baker
#74 Mike Weber
#78 Isaiah Prince
#79 Jashon Cornell
#116 Eric Glover-Williams
#132 Matthew Burrell Jr.
#181 Nick Conner
#185 K.J. Hill
#188 Dre'Mont Jones


See All College Sports Madness Top 104 Football Previews