Ohio State is winning, but not dominating. Will it be enough to secure a College Football Playoff berth?
Fresh off an impressive 38-10 victory over Penn State, thoughts can naturally turn towards the remainder of the 2015 college football season for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Officially beyond the midpoint of the regular season, below are some thoughts as to which Ohio State players have impressed, which have surprised as newcomers, and some predictions as to how the remaining games shape up for the Buckeyes.
Offensive MVP: RB Ezekiel Elliott
"Feeding The Zeke" has been the mantra since the conclusion of the 2014 season. Elliott is the focal point of the offense, and will be counted on more than ever as the Buckeyes begin the November stretch run.
Defensive MVP: DE Joey Bosa
While Bosa has not been as dominant as a pass rusher this season as he was in 2014, he is the key defender that every opposing offense must account for on every play. It will bear watching how Bosa performs with the toughest opponents still remaining on Ohio State's schedule.
Best Moment of the First Half: Braxton Spiller takes Hokies for a Spin
Miller's dynamic spin move in the opening victory at Virginia Tech is certainly the most memorable play for the Buckeyes. Miller's development as a playmaking wide receiver has been among the most discussed topics for Ohio State fans and college football fans everywhere.
Dip From Class Early Like... https://t.co/AYZh9vwhMb— DJ EAZY (@DJEazyRT) October 15, 2015
Best Newcomer: DE Sam Hubbard
Hubbard, a redshirt freshman, has established himself as one of the Buckeye players to watch for 2015 and beyond. Hubbard's potential as a pass rusher has only begun to emerge.
Biggest Surprise: DE Tyquan Lewis
There are a few candidates here, with the aforementioned Hubbard, as well as cornerback Gareon Conley in the running. Lewis gets the nod for becoming Ohio State's leader in quarterback sacks at this point of the season.
Three Things To Watch In The Second Half
1. Offensive Development
The Buckeyes unveiled a two-quarterback system that worked versus Maryland, but did not flourish versus Penn State. Can head coach Urban Meyer keep this platoon system running well, and not allow a quarterback controversy to envelop the Ohio State locker room?
2. Rush Defense
Ohio State gave up considerable yardage in victories over opponents such as Indiana, Maryland and Penn State. How will the Buckeyes fare against other B1G opponents in November?
3. Turnover Issues
Since the conclusion of the 2014 season, the Buckeyes have given up the ball far more frequently than their opponents. This must be rectified in order for Ohio State to repeat as national champions.
Ranking the Toughest Remaining Games on the Schedule
1. Nov. 28 at Michigan
"That Team Up North" is always a tough game. With the Wolverines playing better under new coach Jim Harbaugh, this game may determine the B1G East Division champion. The Wolverines have played spoiler to Ohio State in years past, and nothing would make Michigan fans happier than to eliminate Ohio State from the College Football Playoff discussion.
2. Nov. 21 vs. Michigan State
Considered the toughest game as the season began, this game has lost some luster, due to the rash of injuries that have plagued Michigan State. This will be Ohio State's final home game of the season, and will help to serve as an elimination game for the B1G East Division race.
3. Nov. 14 at Illinois
Illinois has had a somewhat surprising season under interim head coach Bill Cubit. Ohio State usually has difficulty in Champaign, with the windy atmosphere wreaking havoc on the passing game, and this trip should be no exception with the Illini eager to play spoiler.
4. Nov. 7 vs Minnesota
A scheduled night game against the Golden Gophers, Ohio State will look to this game as a springboard for the conference stretch run. Minnesota has had an inconsistent 2015 season, but the Buckeyes should have little difficulty with them in Ohio Stadium.
5. Oct. 24 at Rutgers
The first trip to High Points Solutions Stadium for the Buckeyes should be memorable. A night game, against a Rutgers team that is struggling on and off the field, should be entertaining for Buckeye fans who will make the trip.
— Written by Chip Minnich, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a diehard Ohio State fan. Minnich also writes and podcasts for menofthescarletandgray.com, a site dedicated to Ohio sports with a special emphasis on the Buckeyes. Follow him on Twitter @ChipMinnich.