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The 2017 Ohio State football team will represent Ohio State University in the 2017 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The Buckeyes will play their home games at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State will play as a member of the East Division of the Big Ten Conference. They will be led by Urban Meyer, who is in his 6th season as head coach at the school.

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August 31 – Ohio State at Indiana

Analysis: Oh, boy. This should be fun. Kevin Wilson “resigned” from his head coach position at IU after the 2016 season, largely due to player mistreatment issues that were hanging over his head. And now, that same offensive guru is on our side of the field, leading OSU’s offense for the 2017 season. Spoiled as we are, nobody in Columbus would consider back-to-back six win seasons and bowl appearances a success, but for IU it was the first time since the early 90s that a coach had gotten them that far when Wilson did it in 2015-16.

While he was calling plays for 2 and 3* recruits before, he’ll now have 4 and 5* talent to use at his disposal at OSU. Combine his already proven offensive successes (see: Northwestern, Indiana and Oklahoma) with the fact that this is a night game, on the road, against the school that pushed for his resignation just nine months prior, and this one should be exciting.

On average, Meyer has beaten Indiana in each of his five seasons by about two touchdowns. However, that spread is a bit deceiving, as the average margin of victory in Bloomington is only five points, compared to 21 points in Columbus. I envision a slow start to get a feel for the new OC’s style, but then an eventual separation by the Bucks.

Score Prediction: Ohio State 38 – Indiana 17

September 9 – Ohio State vs Oklahoma

Analysis: Remember that game against Oklahoma last year? Wow, what a thing of beauty that was. For me, that was the highest point of the year, in terms of team performance. We offered OU one of their worst home losses in school history, dismantled the #14 ranked Sooners 45-24*, and left the field looking like a playoff team. On top of that, our “basic” defense held Baker Mayfield to a Passer Rating of 120.6, which was his lowest total of the year by a LOT (he broke the all-time mark, previously set by Russell Wilson, by averaging a 196.4 QB rating for the year).

Since the season ended, Baker has gotten himself into some trouble (props to the Fayetteville PD for their tackling skills), and could potentially be suspended for the OSU game or making his first start of the year… at night, in Columbus. In addition, they’ve also lost their scary pair of RBs, Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon, to the NFL (though Mixon’s a piece of garbage and should be in jail – yep, I know it was 2014, but still), along with insanely talented WR Dede Westbrook. Aside from those pieces, the Sooners return a ton of talent and should be a top ten team for a good portion of the season, and likely a Big 12 winner for the third consecutive year.

However, that talent won’t outplay OSU’s, especially given the circumstances/location of the game, and the fact that the Bucks’ coaching staff will have an extra two days to prepare for Stoops and company. I predict a closer game than last year’s blowout, but a solid victory for OSU.

Score Prediction: Ohio State 35 – Oklahoma 26

September 16 – Ohio State vs Army

Analysis: God bless America, and thank you for your service to this great nation.

Ok, looking for positives aside from my respect for their school choice and military service… Army went 8-5 last year and won a bowl game. They return a senior QB who has thrown for more than 100 yards in a game just four times in his collegiate career, largely due to the Black Knights running the ball about 85% of the time, as is apparently required of military institutions. After that, you don’t really need to know a whole lot of other information just yet.

So, does Army have a chance? No, they do not. Notre Dame beat them 44-6 last year. Yes, 4-8 Notre Dame. Yuck.

Score Prediction: Ohio State 45 – Army 10

September 23 – Ohio State vs UNLV

Analysis: Man, remember those early 90s UNLV, Tarkanian-coached basketball teams? Larry Johnson, Greg Anthony, Stacey Augmon and company just demolishing their competition at times and winning a title game by 30 points against Duke?!

Well, this is the same school, but a different sport and no legit shot to win this game, so I just figured I’d lead off with nice things to say again before slamming them back down to earth.

I don’t see many scenarios, barring unforeseen weather conditions, where OSU doesn’t lay this one on pretty heavily. The Rebels put up decent point totals last year, averaging just above 30, but couldn’t stop anyone all year on defense. Combine that with the fact that they’re traveling across the US to play in the Shoe… nah, they’re done.

Score Prediction: Ohio State 52 – UNLV 17

September 30 – Ohio State at Rutgers

Analysis: Ah, dear, sweet Rutgers. Hey, they beat Howard (I’m assuming that’s a school and not just one dude) and New Mexico last year… which is nice. They also failed to score a point in 2016 when playing against OSU, TSUN, MSU, and PSU. Yep, you read that correctly. They lost 224-0 to those four Big Ten teams combined. <Poo emoji>

Look on the bright side for Rutgers, no matter what happens this year for them, they’ll be able to continue their stellar Twitter game and ride the coattails of their conference mates (This was tweeted after the B1G’s success in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Rutgers, however, was dead last in the league.):
Score Prediction: Ohio State 56 – Rutgers 6

October 14 – Ohio State vs Maryland

Analysis: Rutgers might be holding steady at the bottom of the barrel, but Maryland isn’t too far off. The Buckeyes took them to the woodshed last year, as it was the second of their consecutive 62-3 victories (hold on, Nebraska, I’m getting to you next). OSU had eight (8!!) different players break free for gains of more than 20 yards in the 2016 game, and five of them are back in 2017 (Weber, McCall, Hill, Victor and Campbell). Be warned, Buckeye fans, watching the clips below make what happened on New Year’s Eve even more perplexing.

Maryland returns one of the three QBs that played against OSU last year, but has several productive players coming back, including their leading rusher and receiver. Hey, I’m sure they’ll put up much more of a fight this coming season when they play at home, right? Wait, what’s that? The 62-3 beating WAS at home?! Oh, sweet mother Mary. Sorry, Terps.

Score Prediction: Ohio State 52 – Maryland 10

October 14 – Ohio State at Nebraska

Analysis: I heard lots of people, prior to our kickoff against the Huskers last year, suggesting that Nebraska’s top ten ranking at the time was simply a result of not playing anyone. On top of that, neither them, nor Wisconsin, really looked that good in their OT battle the week before, but because it was a tight game between highly ranked teams, I still didn’t know what to expect. And then, the game started. No matter how you slice it, this game (and the opponent) was U-G-L-Y for the Huskers.

Tyler Durbin, OSU’s kicker, beat the Cornhuskers 14-3 himself. Our defense outscored them by 9, thanks to a pair of pick-sixes by Damon Webb and Malik “the freak” Hooker. The Bucks offense ran and passed at will (our QBs completed 73% of their passes and our rushers boasted a beastly 5.7 yards per carry on 42 attempts).

So, will that happen again this season? No. The stars aligned and OSU put a whooping on them on that night in early November of 2016. And yet, it might not get too much better for the Huskers in 2017. Playing in Lincoln will obviously help, but they have lost their two QB options (Tommy Armstrong and Ryker Fyfe), top two rushers (Terrell Newby and Armstrong), and three of their top four receivers (Jordan Westerkamp – who is also a magician in his free time -, Brandon Reilly, and Alonzo Moore). On the other hand, the departure of the senior QB, Armstrong, allows them to finally move away from a spread offense, and into the pro-style offense that we expect Mike Riley (HC) and Danny Langsdorf (OC) to run.

I expect their offense to come out and try to control the time of possession with a combination of runs and short passes to frustrate and tire OSU’s defense. However, unless we see drastic improvements from Nebraska’s defense (giving up 49 points won’t win you too many games), then I expect OSU to be able to put enough points on the board to overcome any newfound offense they’ve managed to create since last November.

Score Prediction: Ohio State 42 – Nebraska 24

October 28 – Ohio State vs Penn State

Analysis: We are… much better against them when we don’t have to play at night, hear that damn lion roar constantly, and see 100,000+ people in white cheering for their team (and these dumb dumbs). In other words, Give me an Urban team against Penn State at home, and I’ll give you a 10+ point differential. And that, is giving a lot of respect to this Big Ten champion, seeing as his other two games against them at home have been wins by 49 and 28, in 2013 and 2015, respectively.

With that in mind, I fully expect this one to be a slugfest, and an epic test for our young defensive backfield. Sure, it comes in the middle of the year when they’ve already been somewhat battle-tested, but McSorley’s arm and PSU’s talented WR corps will certainly be much more intimidating than anything else we’ll see, to that point, outside of possibly Oklahoma. Even without my next point, which is a strong one, I assure you, I’d have OSU winning this one. However, combine the fact that OSU is playing at home, where it has had PSU’s number, with the fact that the Nittany Lions will be coming off of a tough game with TSUN the week prior and OSU will be coming off of a bye week… and that’s a recipe for a victory (and probably more conspiracy talk, since that’s what Penn State fans all hold minors in).

It’s also my hope, since the Penn State game in 2016 was basically when our offense first sputtered and stopped working, that the addition of QB Coach Ryan Day will be noticeable in this game. In other words, I hope to see Barrett finally get back to throwing WRs open instead of waiting until they’re open to unleash the downfield passes. My prediction is that we get somewhat conservative in this one, due to it being a tight game early, but Barrett’s tutorials and a strong run game crush the Lions’ hopes at back-to-back East Division titles.

Score Prediction: Ohio State 31 – Penn State 20

November 4 – Ohio State at Iowa

Analysis: Is there a better gig in the world than head football coach at Iowa? They overachieved in 2015, which all but guaranteed that Kirk Ferentz would win several Coach of the Year honors. Aside from that, he’s had one double-digit winning season in the past decade and his teams are consistently between six and eight wins per year. For that, he makes just shy of $5 million dollars a year. I’m not really throwing any new information out there for you, it’s just that every once in a while, I like to remind people that he’s still coaching mediocre to slightly above average football teams and getting paid more than ten times what the leader of the free world makes in his position. Hooray, football!

As for their team in 2017? Meh. Not good, not terrible. Probably another 7-8 win season and a 3rd or 4th place finish in the West Division. They’ll have a strong O-line, a very good RB in Akrum Wadley (see the highlights below… many of which include Jabrillol Peppers overrunning the play and missing a tackle), but will also have to replace significant players on the defensive side of the ball in Desmond King and Jaleel Johnson.

In short, I’d expect Iowa to bore us to death with their style of play, frustrate us a bit with their solid size and talent in the trenches, but ultimately lack the ability to stop OSU’s rush attack and WR play, which I expect to be much improved with the emergence of Victor, Campbell and the youngsters (Mack, Grimes) in Zone 6.

Score Prediction: Ohio State 38 – Iowa 16

November 11 – Ohio State vs M*chigan State

Analysis: Sparty is a very weird one to try and predict since, well, they surprised most of us last year by fighting us to the brink, while also posting a 3-9 record overall. My apologies for the short write up on them, but… I have no idea what to expect from Michigan State in 2017. My brain tells me that it can’t get worse, but they’ve been suspending players left and right this offseason, and that’s off of a team that failed to beat Maryland and Illinois last season.

I just can’t figure out how they’d improve tremendously, given how awful they were last year. With the heat that the Buckeyes took for playing such a tight one with the East Lansing Boys in 2016, I expect us to lay it on ol’ Sparty and make Dantonio angry all day long.

Score Prediction: Ohio State 42 – M*chigan State 13

November 18 – Ohio State vs Illinois

Analysis: The Lovie Smith-led Illini are currently like the member of your golf foursome that you dragged out to play and encouraged with tidbits like, “just try your best,” and, “you’re only playing against yourself.” I do think that Lovie will right the ship, but I don’t see it happening overnight. This 3-9 team may turn into a five or six win team in 2017, but those will likely come at the expense of Ball State, Rutgers, Indiana, Purdue, and a couple of other minor upset games (think: Nerdwestern, Iowa, Minnesota). Losing their QB, Wes Lunt, who’s been on the roster in Champaign since the late 90s, won’t make their jump into bowl relevancy any easier.

I still have nightmares about Juice Williams (I’ll be honest, just don’t even click on that link and ruin your Friday) and the team that knocked us from the #1 spot in the BCS a decade ago, but that team isn’t walking through the tunnel in Columbus this year. Ohio State has too much of everything for Lovie to overcome with the roster that he has. Hide your kids, hide your wives (yep, still using it), this one won’t be pretty.

Score Prediction: Ohio State 48 – Illinois 7

November 25 – Ohio State at That School Up North

Analysis: Quick, get in line if you’ve never beaten Ohio State!

Oh, and if you’re wondering how that trick play turned out… Ask Jerome Baker (Thanks to Ramzy for uploading that video to YouTube), as he ended up with a sack for a loss of almost a million yards.

Now, let me just say… JT Barrett definitely got the first down, as this video clearly shows.

Ok, enough about last year’s game, since UM fans will simply say that I’m living in the past, despite their best wins of the past 10 years being vicarious upset victories that other schools managed to pull off. Damnit, I can’t stop. Alright, last one… in case you’d forgotten, last season’s OSU team had 46 freshmen on their roster, compared to M*chigan’s 43 seniors.

Ah, screw it… I’m still not done… how’s this for a recruiting advantage: High school students entering their senior year in 2017 have only seen the Wolverines beat the Buckeyes three times in their lives (two of which, 2000 and 2003, they were likely much too young to remember). But hey, I’m sure their great-grandparents have a thing or two to say about those tremendous winged-helmet teams of the 30s and 40s!

 

As we all know, anything could happen in this game (or at least that’s the common quote, despite the Win/Loss column suggesting differently since the turn of the century), but I think that Urban’s Bucks can cruise up to Ann Arbor and add to the two-game win streak in their building. While both schools lose their top three receiving threats from the 2016 season and return their QBs, the return of OSU’s rushing attack and loss of De’Veon Smith for UM might weigh heavily on the outcome of this game. Couple that with the fact that UM’s defense is decimated after senior departures, while OSU returns its entire defensive line and two starting linebackers.

Like last year, I expect this game to have some significant ramifications on the line and begin with a ton of energy. Once the teams settle in, I think OSU will pound the ball through the heart of the Wolverine defense and demoralize them with ball possession and a costly turnover or two. I don’t think we’re looking at a blowout, like 2015, but probably a game within reach, but no true danger, in the 4th quarter. And with that, my daughter will hopefully continue on with her life, turning five, and not knowing anything but OSU perfection against That School Up North.

Score Prediction: Ohio State 27 – TSUN 17

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