Ohio State Football: Nine predictions for the Buckeyes in 2017

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 12: Head Coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks on against the Oregon Ducks during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT
ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 12: Head Coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks on against the Oregon Ducks during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game at AT /

Predictions for the Ohio State Buckeyes as the opening game of the season draws near.

Expectations are high once again for Ohio State as it heads into its 2017 season opener against Indiana on August 31.

The Buckeyes are preseason favorites to win the Big Ten and make it back to the College Football Playoff.

Anything less for this team would be a major disappointment.  It might be fair to say anything less than winning the CFP would be a bust.

Given the stakes, here are nine predictions that I think will happen this year:

Nick Bosa Leads the Big Ten in Sacks

The defensive line is loaded with stars like Tyquan Lewis, Dre’Mont Jones, Sam Hubbard and Tracy Sprinkle.  All will shine, but Bosa will flourish in his second year collecting 11 sacks along the way.

J.T. Barrett Eviscerates his 2014 season stats

Barrett passed for 2834 yards and 34 touchdowns and rushed for 938 and 11 touchdowns in 2014. He’s on pace to own every significant passing record at Ohio State and he’ll get it. I think he ends up passing for 3200 yards and throwing 37 touchdowns.

J.K. Dobbins exceeds 500 yards rushing

Barrett and Mike Weber will get a bulk of the carries, but Dobbins is the future star.  He’ll get at least 100 carries and average five yards.  If he can manage to get 10 touchdowns as well, he will earn Big Ten Freshman of the year

Isaiah Prince earns first-team All Big Ten honors

No Ohio State player was more maligned in 2016 than Prince.  His footwork and pass protection were inconsistent leading many to call for his replacement.

Coach Urban Meyer told the press at the beginning of camp that Prince is “one of the most improved players on the team.”  If that is true, Prince will flourish in 2017 and be among the conference’s best tackles.

Defense will lead the FBS in scoring allowing just 14.5 points-per-game

This unit was close to that last year, finishing No. 3 allowing just 15.5 points-per-game.

We know the defensive line will be outstanding and the linebackers should be solid again with Jerome Baker and Chris Worley back, and Dante Booker returning after sitting out 2016 with a knee injury.

The only question mark is the backend, but DC Greg Schiano has proven it is plug and play in his secondary, not rebuild.

If they create anywhere near the same amount of turnovers as last year, this defense will be the best in the nation.

Offense will average 46 points-per-game

The 2014 offense averaged 44.8 points-per-game, but the numbers slid to 35.7 in 2015 and 39.4 last year. That downturn will end this year as Kevin Wilson will restore confidence and balance making the offense lethal again.

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Parris Campbell will return two kicks for touchdowns

It has not been a lack of talent that has hindered Meyer from having a legitimate weapon in the return game.  Dontre Wilson and Jalin Marshall were both capable of going the distance.  They just rarely made the impact we expected.

With his breakaway speed, Campbell has shown glimpses that he can be the boost this unit needs. He’ll get between 15-20 chances this year.  I expect him to take two to the house.

Buckeyes will win the Big Ten Championship

As great as Urban Meyer’s teams have performed during his time as the Ohio State head coach, the one glaring omission on his resume is lack of Big Ten Championships. Granted, the 2012 team would have won the Big Ten had it been eligible, but losing to Michigan State in 2013 and not making it in 2015 and 2016 are the two black eyes on the stellar five years of coach Meyer’s tenure.

Behind a dominant defense and the calming leadership of Barrett, Urban will get his second Big Ten Championship by beating Wisconsin again.

Next: Huge get for Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes

Closest game will be Iowa

Road game sandwiched between Penn State and Michigan State smells like a tight contest.  The Hawkeyes are not the favorites in the West, but are good enough to make some noise.  Buckeyes will win in Iowa City, but it won’t be comfortable.