Ohio State Football: Sophomores key to title run

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 02: Running back J.K. Dobbins
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 02: Running back J.K. Dobbins /

Just as in 1968 and 2014, for the Ohio State football team to win a national title the sophomore class will have to play a significant role.

The Ohio State football program is known for producing special teams with a band of true sophomores.  The 2018 season has that potential.

In 1968, Woody Hayes put together a group of 14-plus “Super Sophs” that started or significantly contributed in route to the national championship, his first since 1961.

Jack Tatum, Mike Sensibaugh, Jim Stillwagon, John Brockington, Jan White and Rex Kern led that star-studded class that went on to finish 27-2 with two Big Ten titles.

Only upsets by Michigan in 1969 and Stanford in the 1971 Rose Bowl kept this group from having a three-year run of national titles.

Fast-forward 47 years to 2013, when Urban Meyer assembled a recruiting class that arguably was the best ever.

Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott, J.T. Barrett, Darron Lee, Eli Apple, Vonn Bell, Billy Price and Jalin Marshall were the stars.

Dontre Wilson, Tyquan Lewis, Tracy Sprinkle, Gareon Conley and Chris Worley were also part of this class.

This group brought home the inaugural College Football Playoff championship in 2014.  Like the 1969 team, they failed to repeat falling to Michigan State 17-14 on a last second field goal in 2015.

Will the 2017 class deliver this season?

J.K. Dobbins already made himself a household name rushing for 1403 yards and seven touchdowns as a freshman.

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Chase Young and Jeffrey Okudah gave Buckeye Nation early flashes into their potential and are expected to breakout this year.

Thayer Munford locked down the left tackle spot in the spring.

Along with these four, Baron Browning, Isaiah Pryor, Shaun Wade, Tate Martell, Josh Myers, Wyatt Davis and Marcus Williamson are fighting for starting spots.

They’ll face early season road challenges at TCU and Penn State.  How well the young guys handle these big stage moments will go a long way in determining the Buckeyes chances of making it back into the playoff.

Next: Top 10 defenses and CFP contenders?

I expect them to pass both tests and spend the month of October sharpening the tools to get through the back half of the season.