Preseason hype machine alert, if you don’t like it OR you don’t like Ohio State you should just stop reading at this point. Every season has it’s ups and it’s downs for every fan base there is no question about that.
In attempting to predict the ebbs and flows of the season, I’ve laid out the top 25 most intriguing storylines that everyone in Buckeye Nation will end up talking about this year…
1. Can Urban accomplish the same results in year two at tOSU
- Leading off with what’s most important, Urban Meyer. Urban won the National Title in his second season at Florida, playing The Ohio State University in a game that I will always remember but wish I could forget. The biggest thought surrounding this season with Urb is can he accomplish the same feat at OSU in year two? Expectations couldn’t be higher…
- Swerve. Honey badger hair, increasing leadership, increasing his ability to be a traditional quarterback, out game planning the Bucks opponents who have been scouting him for the last 9 months and being elusive as f@#k is still the talk of the town on Braxton. He must be ice cold.
3. Replacing Leadership (only go as far as the team is led)
- An underrated component of last years’ undefeated season was incredible leadership from resilient upperclassmen (think Boren & Simon). They were the guys who led during stressful situations. This ingredient is key to a team’s success. This year’s crop has already shown a failure to keep it in line (or at least out of the press) with Roby, Hyde & Rod Smith already getting in trouble. I’m concerned that the Bucks might be lacking in the player leadership department.
4. Defense under Shazier
- I challenge you to find me an OSU fan who isn’t a Shaz fan. Each year in the last two there have been obvious areas where #10 needs to develop, but it all leads into this year. Being the only returning starter in the front seven, Shaz is going to not only be the defensive leader, he needs to be able to gel the unit together AND make more plays.
5. Noah Spence & Adolphus Washington Being Butt Buddies
- Recruited together, originally thought to have to compete against each other but it has been easy to see from day one that this is the ultimate speed & strength combination. Spence will be an All American (eventually) while Washington has just been killing training camp. These guys are roommates now and emerging stars. If they shine together, Bucks D will follow suit.
6. Emergence of bright, young talent
- Every season since I can remember there has always been a young crop of talent to step up and contribute beyond preseason expectations. This year that talent pool is stronger than there has been in a while. Keep an eye out for the following:
- Dontre Wilson (see #1)
- Noah Spence & Adolphus Washington
- Armani Reeves
- Bri’onte Dunn/Warren Ball
- Eli Apple
- Jamal Marcus
- Joey Bosa
7. Disciplined Stars: Hyde & Roby
- Classic over reaction to situations that they shouldn’t have been in in the first place. Neither are guilty but both situations were disappointing. Non-OSU fans will use this way too much in conversation while Buckeye fans sweep it under a rug like it never happened. Roby will recover to be elite, not sure about Hyde with our back field.
8. Cal night game
- Remember when Cal came into the Shoe last year and scared the Bucks in the 4th quarter? I doubt that this year Cal will pose much of a threat to an early upset for the Bucks, but look for Coach Sonny Dykes to keep it competitive in the first half in OSU’s biggest name, non-conference game.
9. Wisconsin night game
- Wisconsin is just a huge thorn in the Buckeyes ass. Despite man close games, UW has only one once v. OSU since 2007. Every year the Wisconsin game gets “turnt up” getting better & better. This year its homecoming, at the Shoe, at night, in OSU’s first real test of the season. Buckeye defense needs to prepare for Melvin Gordon otherwise it’ll be a long night.
10. Northwestern Night Game
- Sneaky Northwestern has a great coach, they went 10-3 last year and have the most returning starters of any team in the Big 10 from last year (15). Plus it’s a night game in their stadium. It has all of the preseason hype but then again is it insincere to really lay back and suggest that “it’s just Northwestern”? It’s not like we’re going into Death Valley or Camp Randall at night…right?
11. Winning in West Lafayette
- OSU hasn’t won in West Lafayette in the last two outings to a very average Purdue team. That being said, OSU should have lost last year to Purdue. By that count 3 of the last 4 have been losses & near losses. Big trap game potential here if OSU gets by UW & NW. Let’s not forget that new HC Darrell Hazell knows Buckeyes better than anyone else.
12. Devin Gardner at QB for scUM
- Michigan fans are really going all-in with Gardner. He can’t even kiss the ground that Braxton walks on, but beyond the hate, he could be a Big 10 player of the year candidate if in November if we are talking about Michigan to a BCS game and Big 10 championship. Needless to say this isn’t going to happen but is a key Big 10 headline.
13. The Game
- Bigger than New Years, Thanksgiving, Summer Break, your birthday, my birthday, Jesus’s birthday, Valentine’s Day and Halloween put together. The catch this year is whether or not OSU & UM will have the opportunity for a rematch the following week in the Big 10 championship game.
14. Philly Brown
- Philly’s likability amongst Buckeye fans is going to skyrocket this season. Is he a contender to be our best player, hell no. But he will be in the regular rotation of every OSU fan’s top five favorite player and he is one of eight OSU captains. Look for Philly’s role to increase in a thin receiving core and for Braxton to lean on Philly under duress as his possession receiver. Oh yeah don’t underestimate his ability to go deep either.
15. Depth of Veterans at DB
- No excuses for this unit to not be the dominate unit in the defense. Christian Bryant, CJ Barnett, Bradley Roby, Dorian Grant and a crop of young talent make this unit something to mess with. Name me one team on OSU’s schedule that can truly air it out against this unit? I’ll wait…. The only real area of concern is Christian Bryant’s uncanny ability to generate 15 yard personal foul penalties in the worst situations.
16. What do we do with Jordan Hall
- You have to love Hall. Football’s version of David Lighty for the Bucks. Last year I called for Hyde over Hall because the offense was more productive without him. I have a hard time calling for Hall’s role to be limited but at the same time he is limited compared to our younger, more athletic backs. Give me Jordan Hall in situations where poise & leadership is needed, other than that let’s get the younger crop going.
17. Is Bri’onte Dunn going to be a bust?
- Don’t count on this. Bri’ is in a tough position having three seniors ahead of him and a stable of young talent behind him. Don’t forget Bri’onte was a five star stud coming out of HS. Look for Dunn to get his shot early in non-conference play. He better not look behind him because of point #17…
18. If you want to win, let Dontre spin
- Apparently this kid has already won the Heisman trophy and he hasn’t even played a minute in the live game. He is the Percy Harvin role that Buckeye nation has been waiting for since day 1 of the Urban renewal. Want to check him out? Just look at the first kick return of the season when he takes it to the house.
19. Is Kenny Guiton really that good?
- This statement pains everyone to really think about, but how confident can Buckeye nation be in ‘Captain Kenny’ in the even that Braxton goes down? KG was instrumental in saving our perfect season last year against Purdue, but if he had to start 2-3 games this year would the offense miss a beat?
20. Over under for dumb things said on social media by Cardale Jones +/- 1.5
- Over, that’s easy. Not a question. I’ll set it somewhere near 3 or 4. Remember “why do we have to go to class” statement on Twitter? Yeah, I’d like to forget that too.
21. When will Braxton have his Heisman moment?
- Michigan, in Ann Arbor, 4th quarter, down by less than a touchdown, Braxton will unleash a 20+ yard TD run leading the Bucks to a win.
22. Do the Bucks make the Big 10 Championship Game?
- When predicting the preseason gets bold. The answer is yes. After watching from the sidelines in the last two year, the Bucks accomplish business and make it to Indianpolis
23. Do the Bucks make it to the National Championship?
- Not jinxing us, not doing it, won’t go there. In that case, maybe the state up north wins it all this year (reverse jinx)
24. Urban Meyer Joined Twitter
- Well this already happened, go follow him @OSUCoachMeyer
25. Can tOSU be the team that takes down Alabama and ends their run of greatness?
- Look to elite coaching to take care of this. Give me Urban versus Saban as this year’s preseason storyline that every fan wants to see the season end with! Let the two settle their score on the national scene and let blood take on blood. #GoBUCKS!