Big Ten champions are busy preparing for the Cotton Bowl classic against USC
With a little more than two weeks to go, Urban Meyer and his coaching staff are busy preparing Ohio State to take on USC in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. While the coaches and players are busy with preparations for their Dec. 29 game in Arlington, Texas, here are some awards that relate to the 2017 season, up until this point.
Offensive MVP: J.T. Barrett, QB
Barrett will leave Ohio State holding virtually every Buckeye passing record, along with many Big Ten marks. While the records Barrett holds are impressive, his leadership is what makes him the team's most valuable player.
Defensive MVP: Denzel Ward, CB
Ward came into the 2017 season primarily known for his play on special teams. While he continued to deliver timely plays on coverage units, Ward emerged as Ohio State's best defensive back, often coming up with crucial interceptions in big games.
Best Freshman: J.K. Dobbins, RB
Dobbins (above, right) was the talk of fall camp, earning rave reviews from coaches and teammates alike. The talk was justified, as Dobbins ran for 181 yards in the season opener at Indiana. Dobbins has already set a new Ohio State freshman rushing record with 1,364 yards, and has one more opportunity to pad those numbers.
Best Play of the Season: Marcus Baugh's game-winning TD vs. Penn State
With less than two minutes to go, Baugh caught the touchdown pass from J.T. Barrett that gave Ohio State its first lead against the Nittany Lions. Baugh's reception capped off the Buckeyes’ furious comeback after trailing 35-20 headed into the fourth quarter.
Best Performance: J.T. Barrett vs. Penn State
When the game was on the line, Barrett played at his absolute best. He was flawless in the fourth quarter of the comeback against the Nittany Lions, completing all 13 of his pass attempts. Barrett finished the game 33-of-39 passing for 328 yards and four touchdowns, while adding also leading the way with 95 yards on the ground on 17 carries.
Best Game: Ohio State 48, Michigan State 3
Coming off the inexplicable 55-24 loss at Iowa the week before, nobody knew how Ohio State would respond against a Michigan State team that had challenged the Buckeyes continually throughout Urban Meyer's tenure. Ohio State dominated from the onset, winning 48-3, beating a Spartans team that finished 9-3 in the regular season.
Defining Moment: Ohio State Takes the Lead at Michigan
Ohio State was down 14-0, before coming back to tie the Wolverines with about six minutes left in the second quarter. Michigan retook the lead in the third quarter and seemed in good shape as J.T. Barrett left the game due to an injury. Trailing 20-14 after blocking the Wolverines’ PAT attempt, redshirt freshman quarterback Dwayne Haskins took over the quarterback duties and came up with a clutch third-down conversion by completing a pass to wide receiver Austin Mack. Following a Haskins scramble, J.K. Dobbins punched it from the 1-yard line to give the Buckeyes their first lead late in the third quarter. Michigan wouldn’t score again as Ohio State went on to win 31-20 for a sixth straight victory over its archrivals in “The Game.”
Biggest Surprise: Tuf Borland at Middle Linebacker
Borland was thrust into action against Army, due to senior starter Chris Worley suffering an injury. Borland's play at middle linebacker was so good that Worley was moved back to his natural position of outside linebacker, enabling Borland to stay on the field as a starter.
Biggest Disappointment: 55-24 Loss at Iowa
Years from now, Ohio State coaches, players and fans will all lament the devastating 55-24 loss at Iowa. While Ohio State expected a challenge, nobody could have foreseen how poorly the Buckeyes played against the Hawkeyes. This was the game that effectively ended Ohio State's chances of getting into the College Football Playoff.
Senior That Will Be Missed the Most Next Season: J.T. Barrett, QB
Ohio State fans have focused upon Barrett's flaws and shortcomings as a passer. Next season, Ohio State fans will see how Barrett was able to fully execute the Ohio State offense with his legs, while also getting an idea about the leadership he provided during crucial moments.
Player to Watch in 2018: Dwayne Haskins, QB
Haskins is the front-runner for the starting quarterback position in 2018. Gifted with a strong arm, Haskins will be under the microscope as soon as the winter workouts and spring football begins for Ohio State.
Biggest Offseason Question Mark: Starting Quarterback
While Haskins may win the starting job, his hold on it is by no means secure. Joe Burrow also will battle for the spot. The primary backup in 2016, Burrow suffered a broken hand in fall camp that allowed Haskins to take his spot on the depth chart. True freshman Tate Martell has impressed coaches and teammates with his performances on the scout team this season, so the quarterback competition is something definitely worth keeping an eye on.