Ohio State enters the 2015 college football season, happily perched at the top as the reigning national champions. While there are many Ohio State fans content to revel in the last season’s national title, head coach Urban Meyer has been actively preparing the Buckeyes to repeat.
For those who actively follow Ohio State, the 2015 team has been the squad pointed to by Meyer as a likely national championship contender. This entirety of this team is made up of players who were recruited by Meyer and his staff to come to Columbus. One of the lone holdovers from the seemingly distant Jim Tressel era is quarterback Braxton Miller, who returns after redshirting last season because of a shoulder injury.
Here’s a look at three reasons why Ohio State will once again make the College Football Playoff and three reasons the Buckeyes won’t finish in the top four.
Three Reasons Why Ohio State Will Make The College Football Playoff In 2015
1. The Talent Is Abundant
Ohio State lost talented and experienced players from its 2014 national championship team, but so many others return. First and foremost, Meyer will need to determine a starting quarterback, from the aforementioned Miller, J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones. Ezekiel Elliott returns at running back. Joey Bosa returns at defensive end. And it goes on and on, with yet another highly touted recruiting class arriving in Columbus. The Buckeyes’ talent level is at its highest point under Meyer, and does not seem to be peaking yet.
2. The Coach
The aforementioned Meyer is arguably at the top of his profession, with three national championships to his resume. A master motivator, Meyer truly has his pulse on the heart and psyche of his team, knowing the right moves to make and the proper buttons to push.
3. The Schedule
The 2015 schedule has its share of challenges, yet lays out well for the Buckeyes. The season opener at Virginia Tech will qualify as "must-see" TV for college football fans, as the Hokies were the lone team to defeat the Buckeyes in 2014. The other non-conference games (Hawaii, Northern Illinois, Western Michigan) shouldn’t pose much of a threat to the Buckeyes in the friendly confines of the Horseshoe. The Big Ten conference schedule brings Penn State, Minnesota and Michigan State to Columbus. Of course, the conference schedule concludes with a trip to Ann Arbor, where Ohio State will battle Michigan, That Team Up North.
Ohio State's 2015 Schedule
Athlon Projected Rank for 2015
Three Reasons Why Ohio State Will Not Make The College Football Playoff In 2015
The 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes overcame the loss of Miller, who was considered one of the preseason favorites to win the Heisman Trophy, thanks to the emergence of J.T. Barrett, followed by Cardale Jones, at quarterback. Can Ohio State handle a key personnel loss to another position group, such as offensive or defensive line?
2. The Quarterback Decision
Meyer has publicly stated that this decision at the most important position on the team will be exceptionally difficult to make. Miller, Barrett and Jones have their supporters among the fanbase. Could a quarterback controversy possibly fracture the team, helping to derail its repeat national championship hopes?
Possibly the most dreaded word in the English language to Meyer, the concern that the Buckeyes may go through the motions this fall, will be closely watched by the head coach and his staff. The 2014 Florida State Seminoles were the defending national champions and survived several close calls before a dominating loss to Oregon in the Playoff. Meyer and his assistant coaches will do everything possible to avoid a similar fate.
Ohio State is the prohibitive favorite to not only return to the College Football Playoff, but also repeat as national champions. The talent is in place, the coaching staff is well-respected and among the best in the country, and the schedule is challenging enough to keep the Buckeyes on their toes. Ohio State's biggest opponent will be the dreaded sentiments of complacency and entitlement, feelings Meyer will be continually be looking out for throughout the season.
Athlon’s Projected Final Ranking: 1
Athlon’s Projected Final Record: 13-0
Bovada Projected Over/Under Odds: 11
CG Technology Over/Under Odds: 11.5
5 Dimes Projected Over/Under Odds: 11
— 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.