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[2020] Season Preview: Ohio State Buckeyes

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Ohio State's stellar defensive line can make some noise in the Big Ten this season

 

Overview

 

Ohio State is coming off of a 8-5 season (5-2 in conference), which was a slight disappointment for the fans after the playoff appearance in 2018. Considering that they lost several key players in the offseason (including star tandem Cody Albright and Moussa Goode) many experts think that the Buckeyes will not be able to improve that record in 2020. However, there is hope for Coach Fever's team, as they have many talented young players on the roster who are ready to step up. Thanks to the newly implemented schedules each Big Ten team has to play 9 conference games, which means Ohio State too has to face tougher foes than in previous years. Additionally, all of their OOC opponents are solid at least, so the Buckeyes will have to work hard if they want to finish at a respectable position in their division.

 

Strengths and Weaknesses

 

DE Khairi Bryant 5-10 263 So Andrean (Merrillville, IN) 3.0 of 5.0 [Blitz]

DT Carter Sutton 6-6 324 Sr Owens Community College (Toledo, OH) 4.5 of 4.5 [2-Gap]
DT Javier Hannah 6-5 297 (Sr) Muskegon (Muskegon MI) 4.0 of 4.0 [1-Gap]

DE Cece Condon 6-1 263 (Fr) Sandwich Community (Sandwich, IL) 3.0 of 5.0 [Contain]

 

It is clear that Ohio State's biggest strength is their defensive line. Sutton and Hannah are experienced defensive tackles who will go on to have a career in the NFL. However, the real potential of this line comes from the defensive end position. Khairi Bryant had a breakout freshman season in 2019, and he quickly established himself as one of the best pass rushers in the conference. For the 2020 season he pairs up with the other prized recruit of Ohio State's 2018 recruiting class, Cece Condon. If he can perform as well as Bryant did last season, then the Buckeyes D-line will soon terrorize Big Ten offenses.

 

 

QB Raymond Dow 6-1 185 Sr Oconto (Oconto, WI) 3.5 of 3.5 [Scrambling]

FB Kendrick Loftus 5-9 221 Jr Edison Community College (Piqua OH) 4.0 of 4.0 [Pass Blocking]

 

The departure of Albright and Goode left a big void in Ohio State's offensive backfield, and filling that void might prove problematic in 2020. Dow and Loftus have been around the team long enough to know the offense, but they have no game experience. And practice is definitely not the same as playing in front of a 100,000 rowdy fans. We saw at Michigan last year what an inexperienced QB-RB duo can cause, and I fear that the same could be the downfall of this Ohio State team. To make things worse, the Buckeyes only have 3 wide receivers on their roster, so Dow cannot expects much help from that part of the offense. If they can establish a solid ground game they can score enough points to let their defense win the game, but don't expect this offense to light teams on fire.

 

Key Games

 

Week 6 vs Maryland

Week 7 @SMU

Week 14 vs Michigan State

 

One thing seems sure to me: the Buckeyes cannot drop games against weaker division opponents like Indiana or Rutgers; failing to win those games would probably jeopardize Ohio State's postseason chances. In addition to playing in the toughest conference in the nation, their OOC games are against Arizona, Arizona State and SMU; it doesn't take an expert to see how easily things can go wrong for the Buckeyes if they don't pick up the pace quickly enough. However, I think Coach Fever will manage to lead this team to 7-8 wins and make a decent bowl game.

jmjacobs, Bubada and SageBow like this

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