Ohio State Schedule Prediction: Part I

With the College Football season opener about a month away, teams are finalizing their lineups and putting the finishing touches on their game plans. Urban Meyer will be looking to add on to his impressive resume with another playoff appearance. This will be a tough challenge with only six returning starters on offense and defense combined. While Ohio State will certainly be a Top 25 team for the next several years, this year will give fans a hint at just how good with several new faces. Here is the LWOS Ohio State Buckeyes schedule prediction.

Ohio State Schedule Prediction: Part I

Week 1: Bowling Green

Both teams have had this game marked on their schedule since February. It will mark the beginning of the 2016-2017 season. Bowling Green will be looking to add on to an impressive 2015-2016 season which ended in a MAC Conference Championship.

X-Factor: Bowling Green’s Offense

James Knapke will take over at quarterback for the Falcons but will not have much around him. Both Roger Lewis and Gehrig Dieter had over 1,000 receiving yards and left the team this spring. Bowling Green will also lose half of it’s dual-threat rushing attack due to Travis Greene graduating. Donovan Wilson will take backup rushing snaps but after a poor 2.2 yards/carry season, not much is expected of him.

This game is not one Ohio State should lose and will serve as a great way to get their feet wet this seaosn. The young secondary will be able to play their first game together and after a few hiccups, Ohio State will win 42-14.

Week 2: Tulsa

With both teams likely coming off of Week 1 victories, they will meet in Columbus in Week 2. Tulsa will have a more experienced defense than Bowling Green had with 10 returning upperclassmen in the starting lineup. This is accompanied by a returning 4,300 yard quarterback in Dane Evans. So, how will Tulsa match up against Ohio State?

X-Factor: Tulsa’s Defense

Tulsa’s offense was not the problem last season. They scored 30+ points in 10 of 13 games but only won six. This is because the defense continually let them down by giving up 30+ points in 11 of those 13 match ups. Tulsa gave up the third most yards in the NCAA last season and the fifth most passing yards. Ohio State’s rushing game will be questionable due to Bri’Onte Dunn’s dismissal. Ohio State will have to focus on the passing game early on as a result.

While Tulsa’s defense may have more years under their belt than most, it’s not saying much. Even with significant improvements this year, the secondary will still be spotty at best. Ohio State should be able to run up the score in a 56-10 Ohio State win.

Week 3: at Oklahoma

This is the game that has been marked on every Buckeye and Sooner fan’s calendar since it was announced. The fast-paced Oklahoma offense against the stout Ohio State defense. The electric high-scoring Big 12 against the gritty, low-scoring Big Ten. This very well could be the game of the season.

X-Factor: Ohio State’s Secondary

It’s not a surprise what the game plan for Oklahoma will be. The Sooner’s will want to exploit the young secondary of Ohio State. Potential Heisman-winner Baker Mayfield will have several options as well. Gareon Conley will likely be paired up with Dede Westbrook who was overlooked most of last season due to Sterling Shepard and Durron Neal. Westbrook may not be a redzone threat, but that is where Mark Andrews comes in. Despite only 19 receptions last year, seven of them were touchdowns. Andrews also stands in at 6’5″ which will be a problem for Ohio State’s shorter secondary. Only one of Ohio State’s four starting secondary members stands above 6’0″.

Overall, this will likely be Ohio State’s toughest opponent in 2016. Oklahoma’s offense loves to play in shootout type games and Ohio State will not be able to keep up. The Buckeyes will lose 38-31.

Week 4: Bye Week

Week 5: Rutgers

In Week 5, Ohio State will finally begin their in-conference schedule. At 2-1 and likely barely holding on to a Top 10 spot, Ohio State will be looking to gain some ground with a big blowout win. If Rutgers is 2-2 as predicted here, then they will be coming off of an Iowa loss the previous week. With both team’s looking to rebound, who will get the upper hand?

X-Factor: Rutgers’ Defense

It is a well-known fact that Rutgers defense has been poor. Rutgers gave up over 460 yards/game last season, ranking them 113 of 128, and almost 35 points a game, ranking them 104 of 128. Jay Niemann was signed to help address these issues but still has doubts. In an interview in March, Niemann was quoted in saying, “It’s a mess”, in regards to his defense this season. With a core of inexperienced linebackers, Urban Meyer may use this game to help build Mike Weber into a 20 carry/game running back.

This is the game where Ohio State will open their offense up. In the first three games, Ohio State will not need to rush often with the starting lineup. The starters will likely be pulled in the third quarters against Tulsa and Bowling Green, and J.T. Barrett will be controlling the offense heavily against Oklahoma. Expect Weber to really open up against Rutgers in a 45-7 victory.

Week 6: Indiana

After a decisive win against Rutgers, Ohio State will be home again against Indiana. Again, Ohio State will likely be facing a team coming off of an in-conference loss. Indiana will have a similar issue that Rutgers has with an inexperienced defense but will tote an offense with much more potential. With Simmie Cobbs and Ricky Jones returning, Indiana’s passing attack could pose problems for Ohio State.

X-Factor: Indiana QB

As we come down to the last month of the off-season, Indiana has yet to determine a starting quarterback. They have narrowed it down to NJCAA transfer, Richard Lagow, and the sophomore Zander Diamont. This could lead to a potential dual-quarterback system. This system has been utilized in the Big Ten recently with mixed results. Ohio State tried this system but it did not lead to a very productive offense despite only one loss. Maryland also tried the system but it failed miserably and the Terrapins went 3-9. However, Indiana running the offense could work. Unlike Ohio State and Maryland, the two quarterbacks running the offense have very different styles. Lagow is a typical pocket passer with a rocket for an arm while Zander Diamont has made his highlights on the ground. A solid mix of the two could keep this game a lot closer than most people expect.

In the end however, Ohio State should be able to handle this game easily. While the score may be closer than people expect, Ohio State will still win with a score of 35-24.

Week 7: at Wisconsin

This will be the first big test for Ohio State in their conference schedule. At this point in the season, Wisconsin will likely be a much better team than their record indicates. 3-2 is a good possibility with losses to LSU and Michigan, but Wisconsin will get a bye week to prepare for the Buckeyes. Ohio State will also only be travelling for the second time this season. With this extra rest and urgency to win this game, Wisconsin will bring everything they have against the Buckeyes.

X-Factor: Bart Houston

In the day-and-age where quarterbacks are under the most pressure on a college football team, Bart Houston will be no exception. The fifth year senior is finally getting his chance to take the reigns at quarterback and will have the tools to succeed. Four of the top five receiving targets from 2015 are returning and Dare Ogunbowale will be looking for his first 1,000 yard rushing season. The pieces are in place for Houston to succeed, the only question is whether Houston ready to use them.

Ohio State will need to be ready for Wisconsin to throw everything they have at them. Starting the season off 3-3 is not what any team wants to do but with a tough schedule like Wisconsin, it seems likely. While Wisconsin will do everything to keep the game close, Ohio State will outmatch them in a close 38-31 win.

 

Check out Part Two of the Schedule Analysis.

Main Photo:

GLENDALE, AZ – JANUARY 01:  Head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes on the sidelines during the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)