#4 Ohio State 2018 Football Preview

Ohio State Buckeyes
Overall Rank: #4
#1 Big Ten
 Ohio State Logo
Ohio State just missed out on the playoffs last season, but can be content with a 12-2 record, a Big Ten title and a Cotton Bowl victory over USC. Of course the big news during the offseason has been the status of Coach Urban Meyer, but regardless of who is on the sidelines, this is a Buckeyes team that has the talent on the field to win another conference crown.
2017 Record: 12-2, 8-1
2017 Bowl: Cotton Bowl vs. USC (W 24-7)
Coach: Urban Meyer (73-8 at Ohio State, 177-31 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Kevin Wilson, Ryan Day
Defensive Coordinator: Greg Schiano, Alex Grinch
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: JK Dobbins, RB, 1,403 yards
Passing: Dwayne Haskins, QB, 565 yards
Receiving: Parris Campbell, WR, 584 yards
Tackles: Jordan Fuller, S, 70
Sacks: Nick Bosa, DE, 8.5
Interceptions: Damon Arnette, CB, 2; Jordan Fuller, S, 2
Other Key Returnees: RB Mike Weber, WR KJ Hill, WR Terry McLaurin, OL Michael Jordan, OL Isaiah Prince, LB Tuf Borland, CB Kendall Sheffield, P Drue Chrisman, K Sean Nuernberger
Key Losses: QB JT Barrett, OL Billy Price, OL Jamarco Jones, DE Sam Hubbard, DE Tyquan Lewis, LB Jerome Baker, S Damon Webb, CB Denzel Ward
J.T. Barrett is gone after passing for 3,053 yards and 35 touchdowns and rushing for another 798 yards and 12 scores. Those are big numbers to replace, but of course Ohio State has plenty of weapons. Sophomore Dwayne Haskins will take over for Barrett and he has a great arm and can stretch the field. The top six pass catchers are back from last season. Parris Campbell caught 40 passes for 584 yards and KJ Hill added 56 receptions for 549 yards, but players like Terry McLaurin, Johnnie Dixon and Binjimen Victor are all capable of having big years too. But the Buckeyes will rely more on a traditional ground game with Barrett gone and that is good news for JK Dobbins and Mike Weber. Dobbins had a superb freshman campaign, rushing for 1,403 yards and seven touchdowns. Mike Weber added 626 yards and ten scores despite struggling with injuries for much of the year. Ohio State should be able to grind out wins on the ground if they need to and allow Haskins to occasionally stretch the defense with his strong arm or make safer passes underneath and let the playmakers take it from there.
Ohio State will again boast an aggressive defense and they can do that since they have one of the best defensive lines in the nation. Nick Bosa tallied 8.5 sacks as a sophomore and Chase Young hopes to have a similarly productive sophomore season in 2018. Dre’Mont Jones is back in the middle after surprising many by not entering the NFL after his redshirt sophomore campaign. Robert Landers figures to start beside Jones, but there is plenty of talent to rotate through the line. An injury to Tuf Borland leaves some questions at linebacker, at least early in the year. Borland recorded 58 tackles as a freshman and the sooner he is at 100 percent, the better. Malik Harrison and Keandre Jones are projected to start on the outside after seeing some action last season. The secondary should be in good shape with Jordan Fuller leading the way at safety and plenty of options at cornerback. Damon Arnette and Kendall Sheffield are the experienced options, but both Jeffrey Okudah and Shaun Wade have the talent to emerge as shutdown corners.
The Bottom Line:
If the off field distractions stay off the field, Ohio State will compete for another Big Ten title. We should find out how that all is shaking out on the field on September 15th when the Buckeyes face off against TCU in Arlington. Two weeks later they have their first Big Ten test at Penn State. After that, with no Wisconsin on the schedule, OSU should be able to get on a roll until a November 10th trip to Michigan State. And by the season finale against Michigan on November 24th, Ohio State will likely be playing for a Big Ten East title and would have returned their focus to playing football.
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 243.2 (17th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 262.8 (36, 4)
Total Offense: 506.0 (7, 1)
Scoring Offense: 41.1 (6, 1)
Rushing Defense: 105.1 (6, 3)
Pass Defense: 195.9 (30, 5)
Total Defense: 300.9 (9, 4)
Scoring Defense: 19.0 (15, 4)
Turnover Margin: 0.36 (35, 4)
Sacks: 3.21 (10, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.57 (36, 3)
Madness 2019 NFL Draft Rankings:
#2 Nick Bosa
#12 Dre'Mont Jones
#52 Parris Campbell
#55 Isaiah Prince
#67 Michael Jordan
Madness 2018 Recruit Rankings:
#7        Nicholas Petit-Frère
#19      Tyreke Johnson
#20      Taron Vincent
#25      Teradja Mitchelll
#28      Jaelen Gill
#36      Tyreke Smith
#49      Jeremy Ruckert
#51      Tommy Togiai
#73      Matthew Jones
#84      Tyler Friday
#91      Brian Snead
#97      Josh Proctor
#98      Kamryn Babb
#116    Blue Smith
#123    Max Wray
#129    Sevyn Banks
#160    K'Vaughan Pope
#185    L'Christian Smith
#212    Dallas Gant
#234    Kamryn Rabb