Fresh off a come-from-behind 39-38 victory over then-No. 2 Penn State, all signs pointed to the 2017 Ohio State Buckeyes as being able to get back into the College Football Playoff discussion. Yes, Ohio State had lost in week two 31-16 at home to Oklahoma, but the Buckeyes had the formula that would allow them to get back to the playoff -- win the remainder of their games, starting with a road trip to Iowa.
Every Ohio State fan remembers what happened next.
Picking up the pieces from the 55-24 defeat at Iowa, Ohio State won its remaining games, including a 27-21 victory over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game and beating USC 24-7 in the Cotton Bowl. The defending Big Ten champs have lost several key players, most notably quarterback J.T. Barrett, but the talent, coaching and Buckeyes schedule are in place for Ohio State to remain at the forefront of the playoff conversation in 2018.
Athlon asked a few editors and college football contributors to share their realistic win/loss projection for Ohio State in 2018.
Ohio State Football Game-by-Game Predictions for 2018
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Ohio State is once again the team to beat in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes don’t have many glaring holes for 2018 and one of the biggest uncertainties (quarterback battle) surrounding the team was answered after spring ball. With Joe Burrow transferring, this is Dwayne Haskins’ offense for 2018. Haskins is a better passer than former starter J.T. Barrett, which should allow coach Urban Meyer’s offense to attack downfield more. Haskins is surrounded by a strong supporting cast, including two standout running backs in J.K. Dobbins (above, right) and Mike Weber. The outlook is similar on defense. New co-coordinator Alex Grinch is one of the top assistant hires for 2018, and there’s no shortage of talent in the trenches. The linebacker position is the top concern for Grinch and Greg Schiano, but this unit has plenty of former top recruits ready to step up. Ohio State’s schedule features a few obstacles. Road trips to Penn State and Michigan State won’t be easy, while a neutral-site matchup against TCU awaits on Sept. 15. And of course, there’s the showdown against Michigan. The guess here is Meyer’s team stumbles once in league play but beats the Wolverines to claim the Big Ten East title.
Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
Ohio State catches a bit of a break by not playing Wisconsin and Iowa, the top two teams (on paper) from the Big Ten East. But the Buckeyes do play two of the other three contenders from the East on the road. Michigan might be the most talented team on the schedule, but the biggest potential land mine is the Sept. 29 trip to Penn State. In Week 3, the Buckeyes play TCU in Arlington, Texas. That will be a challenge, but it's a game they should win.
Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer)
Wax on, wax off, the Buckeyes are loaded. The roster Urban Meyer has assembled is right there in the same group as Alabama and Clemson plus returns some bona fide stars in guys like tailback J.K. Dobbins and end Nick Bosa. The schedule sets up well too, with an early non-conference test against TCU and staying at home against rival Michigan. Facing Penn State so early on the road with a rebuilding back seven is a little concerning but it's that trip to East Lansing that may prove trickiest in the Big Ten East race. It seems like there's a little different vibe around the program this season and I think OSU is hungry enough to get back to the playoff once again.
Chip Minnich (@ChipMinnich)
Urban Meyer and his staff are well-positioned for a playoff run in 2018, despite losing seven players to the NFL draft, as well as record-setting quarterback J.T. Barrett. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins is ready to take the reins of the Ohio State offense that will feature tailbacks J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber. While Meyer is considered one of the early pioneers of the spread offense that is so common throughout college football, he has stated that Haskins "is going to change how we attack defenses" this upcoming season.
Junior defensive end Nick Bosa will be the biggest name on that side of the ball, and can probably look forward to facing double-team blocking assignments in the same manner that his older brother Joey did in 2015. And remember the name Chase Young. Young is a sophomore who is well-known by Ohio State fans, was highly recruited, and could emerge as one of the best defensive ends within The B1G.
The schedule has its challenges, but the biggest games are well-spaced throughout the course of the season. The four toughest games are the neutral-site contest at AT&T Stadium against TCU (Sept. 15), at Penn State (Sept. 29), at Michigan State (Nov. 11), and THE GAME versus Michigan (Nov. 24). Each of those games should give Ohio State fans concern, but those are the kind of games the Buckeyes will need to win to be considered among the nation's elite teams. As the 2018 season begins, Ohio State is well-liked by the Vegas oddsmakers to be in the College Football Playoff.
Ohio State has long preached the mantra of "we don't rebuild, we reload." It will bear watching to see how Meyer uses the new redshirt rule, with a recruiting class ranked second in the nation in 2018. Even with an inexperienced quarterback, and some difficult road games, look for Ohio State to rely upon its talented running game to help Haskins get through those potential rough spots, for Bosa and the defense to wreak havoc on opposing offenses, and for the Buckeyes to be undefeated going into The Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 1 in Indianapolis.