After a near miracle bid to the College Football Playoffs followed by a devastating loss to Clemson, Ohio State football fans are itching for the season to start, and with good reason; the 2017 season is shaping up to be one fans and players alike won't soon forget.
During recruiting season for the Class of 2017, the race for the best overall class was a close one. Ohio State and Alabama were essentially neck and neck, but after National Signing Day in February, Alabama sealed the deal with the best class in the nation according to Landof10.com. Ohio State finished at runner-up, but fans should not be disappointed. In Urban Meyer's press conference on August 7, he said that this true freshmen class is "better" than he has previously had. He is not sure how many will start but remains confident in the depth they provide the roster.
In terms of coaching changes, it's out with the old and in with the new offensive coordinators. The offense is now under the direction of Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day. Wilson, who has extensive experience as an offensive coordinator, is fresh off the head coaching job at Indiana, while Day is a Chip Kelly protege joining the staff from the NFL. Together, they bring a belief in up-tempo offense, a great change from the last few seasons. The second half of this past season's Michigan game was proof that up-tempo is the way to go, while the game as a whole proved that a change in staff was needed as well.
Coach Meyer himself is making changes this season, too. In years past (and in his book), Coach Meyer has stressed the idea of being "nine units strong." However, after a rough ending to the season, the team motto became "one strong." This is the idea that a player can't contribute to their unit without being fully committed to bettering themselves.
Another factor contributing to the success of the upcoming season is the return of veteran quarterback J.T. Barrett. Barrett, a redshirt senior, lost some of the greatest pieces of his offense to the draft, but Ohio State is known for having great depth. This includes developing wide receiver Johnnie Dixon and running back Mike Weber, both of whom had key breakout moments last year.
To put the scarlet cherry on top, Ohio State has a favorable schedule this year. The Buckeyes will not face Wisconsin, who is predicted to win the Big Ten West. They play Oklahoma at home after a nine-day break and Penn State at home after a bye week. There are no back to back road games. With that, there's no reason the Buckeyes should perform anywhere near sub-par.
USA Today predicts that Ohio State will be the only undefeated team this year; Alabama even has one loss and Michigan two, according to their stats. The Amway Coaches' Poll has OSU ranked second in the nation. Colin Cowherd from Fox Sports Radio believes that the Buckeyes will claim the national title. He cites that they are the "best ever" defensively, as said by defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, and that the weakness of the other top teams (Alabama, Florida State, USC) are their offensive lines. This leaves Ohio State set for nothing but success.
As Buckeyes, we know our men in scarlet and gray will smash through to victory. The journey begins August 31 away at Indiana.