Between everyone starting their way-too-early predictions and with preseason practice right around the corner, it is safe to say everyone is getting football fever. In anticipation of the start of college football, we’re revisiting all Big Ten teams, recapping what they did last season and a little of what’s to come. And of course, how the Spartans will fare against them in competition. Stay tuned for a new team every week.
A sea of gold confetti falls from the sky as the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrate being crowned the first champion of the playoff era. The 42-20 victory over the Oregon Ducks proved to be the perfect ending to cap off a roller coaster ride of a season for the scarlet and grey.
Battling the injury bug all year long, the Buckeyes had to overcome not just one quarterback change, but two.
Due to the preseason injury to then-Heisman Trophy hopeful, three-year starter, and two-time Big Ten MVP, Braxton Miller, the Buckeyes leaned on J.T. Barrett, who was a Heisman Trophy candidate in his own right, leading the Buckeyes to a 10-1 record before fracturing his ankle against rival Michigan.
Enter Cardale Jones.
The third-string sophomore proved to be a dandy, as Jones orchestrated one of the most impressive postseason performances in college football history: beating Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship game, Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and Oregon in the National Championship Game.
In those three games, Jones threw for 742 yards, five touchdowns and rushed for one. Granted, the team surrounding him was not too shabby either.
This season, the Buckeyes look to defend their National Championship and Big Ten Championship with a large number of returning players.
Defensive end, Joey Bosa anchors one of the toughest defenses in the nation, which is always the focal point in Buckeyes success – a strong running game, and a hard-nosed defense.
Offensively, does the loss of Devin Smith and Evan Spencer at the wide receiver position hurt a little? Sure. But if running back Ezekiel Elliott performs like he did in the postseason, the Buckeyes should have a balanced attack that will put them in position for back-to-back titles.
Although the biggest news in Columbus was the announcement of Miller moving to the wide receiver position, making the quarterback competition between Jones and Barrett.
Is Miller’s career at the quarterback position completely over? I don’t believe so. I think Urban Meyer has plenty of tricks up his sleeve, especially given his background at Florida.
Tim Tebow was not a stereotypical quarterback, but he was extremely effective during his time as a Florida Gator, and I foresee Miller’s athleticism as an ace in the deck for the Buckeyes.
The toughest contest the Buckeyes face this season is the November 21 matchup against Michigan State.
Last season, the Buckeyes edged past the Spartans 49-37, and lead the overall head-to-head meeting 29-14.
Connor Cook threw for 358 yards and two TDs in last season’s bout, which was a part of the 536 total yards the Spartans gained against the Buckeyes. If Cook puts on a show like he did in East Lansing one year ago, the Spartans have a chance to knock off the defending champs.