1. Ohio State has spent more time atop the AP poll than any other team in college football history. The Buckeyes have found themselves at number 1 a total of 105 times. Their 871 weeks in the top 25 also ranks first among all schools. This year they start out ranked #2, behind Alabama, but there’s a strong possibility that the Buckeyes spend some at the #1 spot this year. Of course it doesn’t really matter where you start, it’s all about where you finish. Urban Meyer has the Bucks ready to go and, barring any major setbacks, the Buckeyes should return to the College Football Playoff for a chance to redeem themselves after last season’s abysmal semi-finals performance. Ohio State has the talent and the coaching staff to run the table this year, but they’re going to need be more consistent in all facets of the game. Of course you can’t go 14-0 without first going 1-0, and we’re just a day away from seeing if the Buckeyes will start the season unblemished. It’s bound to be an exciting season, and I fully expect to see the Buckeyes hoist the National Championship trophy in January.
2. There have many great Buckeyes to wear the number 2, particularly in recent years. The one that stands out to me the most is Mike Doss. The hard-hitting safety ranks 11th in school history for career tackles at Ohio State, and is first all time for career tackles by a defensive back. The three-time All American helped lead the Buckeyes to a national title during the 2002 season, a season in which he was named Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year. Doss also added 8 career interceptions, which is no small feat for a strong safety whose primary role was run support. Doss was a special talent and is probably my next favorite defensive Buckeye ever after AJ Hawk. There were many OSU greats to wear #2, but Doss was #1 in my eyes.
7. Ohio State’s seven Heisman trophies ties them with Notre Dame and USC for the most of all time. The Buckeyes also have the distinction of having the only two-time Heisman trophy winner in Archie Griffin. The school has a history of great athletes and legendary players. If all goes well this year, Ohio State could take the lead for themselves with eight Heisman trophies. JT Barrett is currently on the short list of Heisman trophy favorites this season, and at the very least should find himself with an invitation to Manhattan at the end of the year. Already one of the most prolific quarterbacks in OSU history, bringing home the top award in college football would cement his legacy as one of the greatest Buckeyes ever. He has the skills and a talented, albeit relatively unproven, supporting cast to do it. If he lives up to his potential this could be a special season for the Buckeyes.
13. Ohio State ranked 13th in the nation in points per game during the 2016 season. Ohio State’s 39.4 points per game were less than a touchdown shy of Western Kentucky’s 45.5, which led all teams. The Buckeyes exceeded the 60 point mark three times during the season, but they also failed to top 30 points on four occasions and required overtime to hit that mark in two others. It was feast or famine for the Buckeyes’ offense, and you never knew which OSU team was going to show up on any given Saturday. The Buckeyes were also aided by 7 defensive touchdowns during the year. The offensive weapons are there this year, but to have any chance of making it back to the college football playoff they’ll have to use them effectively. While a strong defense is a key component of a championship caliber team, you can’t rely on your defense for points if you hope to win it all.
14. Ohio State’s last national title came just 3 short years ago following the 2014 season. That was the first year of the new college football playoff system. The year got off to a rough start with starting quarterback Braxton Miller re-injuring his surgically repaired shoulder in training camp, ending his season before it even began. Freshman quarterback JT Barrett was thrust into the starting role, but the Buckeyes stumbled out of the gate, losing at home to a mediocre Virginia Tech team during the second week of the season. While things were looking bleak at the time, Ohio State righted the ship and Barrett went on to have one of the greatest seasons for a quarterback in OSU history. Heading into the last game of the year against Michigan the Buckeyes were flying high, having climbed back up to #6 in the AP poll. Things once again took a turn for the worst when JT Barrett went down with a broken leg late in the game, ending his season as well. The outlook was not positive for the Buckeyes as they were essentially down to their third string quarterback heading into the Big 10 Championship game against Wisconsin. That all changed with a 59-0 OSU rout, and from there the Buckeyes went on to defeat Alabama and Oregon to become the first ever champion in the new College Football Playoff era. The 2014 season had its ups and downs, but will ultimately go down as one of the best seasons in OSU history.
16. JT Barrett will go down as one of the best quarterbacks in Ohio State history. He already holds a number of Ohio State records, including career passing touchdowns (69), career completions (529) and total touchdowns responsible for in a career (100). If all goes well this year he could end up with several more by the season’s end, including career passing yards and career completion percentage. While Barrett has been inconsistent at times, part of the blame for that falls on the offensive line and the play calling. A new offensive coordinator and a more experienced line should do wonders for Barrett and the Buckeyes this year. Barrett will likely be in the top 5 favorites for the Heisman Trophy this year, and he has the talent and the tools to land himself a spot at ceremony in Manhattan at the end of the year.
21. This is Parris Campbell’s year to be the man on Ohio State’s offense. With 12 career starts, he is the most experience member of the wide receiver group. His 121 career yards on 13 receptions are far from impressive, but he has an opportunity to expand on that greatly. Campbell looks to slide into the H-back role previously filled by Curtis Samuel. Urban Meyer has been raving about Campbell this off season, and by all accounts he looks like he’s ready to be the featured man in OSU’s passing attack. Campbell should get touches on special teams as well, as he was the Buckeyes’ main kick returner last year. He’s going to have plenty of opportunities to make plays this year, and I’m excited to see what he and JT Barrett can do together under new OC Kevin Wilson.
22. Les Horvath was Ohio State’s first Heisman Trophy winner, taking home the coveted award in 1944 after leading the Big 10 in rushing and total offense. Horvath was a jack of all trades, playing quarterback, halfback and safety for the Buckeyes. In addition to a Big 10 championship in 1944, he helped lead the Buckeyes to the school’s first national championship in 1942. Horvath’s number 22 was retired by the Buckeyes in 2001. Being the first Heisman Trophy winner at a school known for having more Heisman Trophies than any other. Hopefully the Buckeyes can add another to that list soon.
23. The Buckeyes have 23 bowl victories during their history. Technically they have 22 official victories, as the 2011 Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas was vacated by the school, but since I saw the game myself on TV and witnessed the Ohio State victory, you can't convince me that it didn't happen (but stay tuned for tomorrow's Countdown to Kickoff where I talk about Ohio State's 22 official bowl victories). While that number doesn't rank anywhere at the top of the list of most bowl victories of all time, it's still an impressive stat. Their overall bowl record isn't as impressive, however, with 22/23 wins and 25 losses. Of the 23ish bowl victories, 7 came from the Rose Bowl (7-7 overall) and 2 have come in National Championship Games (2-2 overall). Getting to the big dance is great, but ultimately it doesn't mean anything if you don't come away with the victory. Luckily for the Buckeyes there are now two chances every season to add to their bowl victory total, thanks to the College Football Playoff. And this year they have an opportunity to add to their Rose Bowl and Championship Game totals, so it's win-win (hopefully).
25. The Buckeyes have finished within the top 5 of the AP Poll 25 times since its inception in 1936. 10 of those top 5 finishes have come in the past 15 seasons, the most in the nation during that span. The Buckeyes haven’t always been the best team in the country, but no team has been as consistently good as the Buckeyes in recent years. That’s only translated to two championships over that time, but Ohio State is poised to continue their success at least into the near future. With the current coaching staff and recent success on the recruiting trail, I’d bet my money that the Buckeyes add at least one or two championships in the next 5-10 years. Ohio State currently sits at number 2 in the preseason Coaches Poll. The AP preseason poll has yet to be released, but expect the Buckeyes to fall somewhere between 1 and 3. While the preseason polls are nice, they ultimately mean absolutely nothing. All that matters is where you are at the end of the season, and I fully expect the Buckeyes to finish at the top.