While some Ohio State fans are still grumbling over the exclusion of the Buckeyes from the most recent College Football Playoff, Buckeye supporters should look back at the 2017 season with positive memories. Ohio State won its second Big Ten title under head coach Urban Meyer, and its first since the 2014 national championship season. Ohio State defeated USC in the Cotton Bowl, culminating in a fifth place ranking in both the final AP and Coaches polls of the season.
Even before the calendar switched to 2018, Meyer and his staff began preparing for the Buckeyes to make another playoff run. While Ohio State will be losing several talented players, most notably record-holding quarterback J.T. Barrett, Meyer has a roster that is quite deep and prepared to show the entire country what these Buckeyes can do on the football field. Below are three reasons why optimism abounds as Ohio State looks ahead of the 2018 campaign.
1. Offensive coaching staff remained intact
Well-respected co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Ryan Day turned down an offer to join the NFL's Tennessee Titans as offensive coordinator to remain in Columbus. Elevated to offensive coordinator with returning offensive coordinator/tight ends coach Kevin Wilson, Day will be instrumental in tailoring the Ohio State offense to the strengths of the new starting quarterback, no matter if it is Dwayne Haskins, Joe Burrow or Tate Martell. The continuity within the coaching staff will ensure that the Buckeyes’ offense can build upon what was begun in 2017, with the players not needing to learn another system or terminology. The consistency within the staff will be crucial with someone other than J.T. Barrett set to start at quarterback for the first time in three seasons.
2. Schedule layout
Ohio State has a challenging schedule, but the difficult games are scattered throughout the season. In week three, Ohio State takes on TCU from the Big 12 in Arlington, Texas. This neutral-site game less than a half hour from the Horned Frogs’ campus in Fort Worth is preceded by back-to-back home games against Oregon State and Rutgers. Two weeks after the TCU game, the Buckeyes travel to State College to battle Penn State. Nebraska comes to Ohio Stadium on Nov. 3 but Ohio State is on the bye the week before. The annual showdown with Michigan is set for Nov. 24 in Columbus and it’s preceded by a trip to Maryland to face the Terrapins. The game that may be most challenging? The Nov. 10 road contest with Michigan State to take on a Spartans team that has given Meyer’s Buckeyes fits during his tenure. The good news is that Ohio State has not lost in East Lansing since 1999.
As has become an annual expectation, Ohio State is losing talent to the NFL and graduation, but the Buckeyes welcome back several key players who decided to stay in school, including running back Mike Weber, defensive lineman Dre'Mont Jones and wide receiver Parris Campbell (above, right). Defensive end Nick Bosa could be an early departure next year, but the rising junior will first move into a starting role along what should be another stout defensive line. Bosa led the team with eight sacks and 16 tackles for a loss in 2017. Add in a 2018 recruiting class that is a safe bet to finish ranked among the top in the nation and Ohio State should be able to reload and challenge for a Big Ten title and College Football Playoff berth once again.