Countdown to Kickoff: 21 Days

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.

Countdown to Kickoff: 27 Days

27. Eddie George may very well be my favorite athlete of all time. As a college football fan, it’s hard to get too tied to one individual player since most guys are only around for a few years. Eddie George is one of the first players I really remember watching from my childhood. There was nothing better as a kid than watching him run all over defenses on Saturdays in the fall. And Eddie was one of the few Buckeyes whose careers I followed after he went to the NFL. I loved watching his battles with Ray Lewis while he was with the Titans. George was the 6th Heisman trophy winner in Buckeyes’ history and owns a handful of all time records, including rushing yards in a season (1,927), rushing yards in a game (314) and 200-yard rushing games in a career (5). If it weren’t for a certain 2-time Heisman winner from the 70’s, Eddie George would probably go down as the greatest running back in Ohio State history. He was certainly the greatest Buckeye to don the number 27.

Countdown to Kickoff: 34 Days

34. JT Barrett threw for 34 touchdowns during his Freshman season, an Ohio State record. His most recent season was disappointing by comparison, although he still had a decent year from a pure numbers standpoint: 2,555 passing yards (4th best in Ohio State history) and 24 passing touchdowns (6th best in Ohio State history). If it weren’t for the way the season ended, JT’s 2016 campaign would have been considered a huge success. He already owns a number of Ohio State records, and he’ll own a lot more by the time he’s done playing. The one thing Barrett does not have, thanks to his injury in 2014, is a National Championship. He has the talent to lead the team there this year, as long as Urban Meyer and Kevin Wilson can get him playing at his full potential. Who knows, he may even pull in a Heisman vote or two…

Countdown to Kickoff: 35 Days

35.  Ohio State has won 35 Big 10 championships during their history, second only to that school up north, who has 42. The two schools have combined for roughly 45% of all of the conference’s championships, and the next highest total is Minnesota with 18. Historically the Big 10 has been a two horse race but with Penn State, Michigan State and Wisconsin all finding success in recent years things have been a little more exciting. The parity has helped bring the Big 10 into the discussion as the country’s premier, although I think the general consensus is that that title still belongs to the SEC. A few more College Football Playoff appearances and another national championship or two may swing things into the Big 10’s favor. I’m thinking the Buckeyes knock one of each off the list this year, but it all starts with Big 10
championship number 36.

Countdown to Kickoff: 40 Days


40.  An Ohio State legend and one of the Buckeyes’ six Heisman Trophy winners, Howard “Hopalong” Cassady wore number 40 during his time as half back at Ohio State.  Cassady helped lead the team to an undefeated championship season in 1954, and was a back to back first team All American in ’54 and ’55 (his Heisman Trophy season).  Cassady’s numbers would be consider less-than-impressive by today’s standards, but at that time he was one of the best to play the position.  He held several records at Ohio State upon his graduation, all of which have since been beaten.  Although it was not retired officially until the 2000 season, no Buckeye donned number 40 after Cassady’s final year in 1955.  The number is one of 7 uniform numbers retired by the program.  Due to roster numbers being what they are, Ohio State no longer retires jersey numbers, instead opting to honor players of particular importance to the University while still making the number available to future players.  Previously retired uniforms will remain retired, however, so there will never again be a #40 for the Scarlet and Grey. 

Countdown to Kickoff: 42 Days


42.  The Ohio State Buckeyes earned the first of their 8 National Championships back in 1942.  OSU has won more national titles in the “Poll Era” (since 1936) than any school except for Alabama and Notre Dame (and maybe USC and Oklahoma, depending on who’s counting…).  The Buckeyes are poised to add to that total, and there’s good reason to believe they’ll tack on at least one or two more during Urban Meyer’s tenure.  Personally, I believe they get it done this year.  I said previously that their success hinges greatly on the play of quarterback JT  Barrett, and I think new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson helps Barrett get back to his 2014 form, and the Buckeyes run the table for national title number 9.

Countdown to Kickoff: 43 Days

43.  Urban Meyer has coached in 43 Big Ten matchups (including two Big Ten Championship games) during his tenure at Ohio State.  He is 40-3 against conference opponents, with two losses to Michigan State and one to Penn State, by a combined 16 points.  That kind of dominance over a conference can only be rivaled by Nick Saban down in Alabama.  There are few guys out there that excel at both coaching and recruiting like Meyer does.  It seems like no matter how many top tier players leave for the NFL, another stud is ready to step up and take their place.  Even with Harbaugh taking over at Michigan, I have no reason the believe Meyer’s stranglehold over the Big 10 will end any time soon.  As long as he is at the helm the Buckeyes are always going to be in the National Championship conversation.

Countdown to Kickoff: 44 Days


 

44.  Ohio State ranked 44th in the nation in total quarterback rating last year.  The offense proved on numerous occasions that  they could put some points on the board, but they also looked completely flat at times.  If the Buckeyes hope to make it back to the college football playoff this year, they’re going to need some consistency on the offensive front, and it starts with the quarterback.  JT Barrett was having a phenomenal year during the 2014 National Championship before breaking his leg against Michigan.  He was never able to get into a rhythmn during 2015 while splitting time with Cardale Jones, but with the position all to himself last year he failed to live up to expectations.  I’m confident he can return to his 2014 form, and if so I really like the Buckeyes’ chances of winning their second National Championship in four years.

Countdown to Kickoff: 46 Days


46.  Ohio State had a +46 point differential in the 4th quarter in 2016, which was their worst quarter last year.  You can make the argument that this is partially because in their blowout victories, which they had a few of, they took their feet off the gas and put in the 2nd and 3rd stringers.  That may be true in some cases but even in their close games the 4th quarter was a little bit tighter.  The worst game was obviously against Penn State, where the Buckeyes were outscored 17-0 in the 4th quarter of a 24-21 loss, the only blemish on OSU’s regular season record last year.  They’re going to have to finish strong and close out games if they want a chance at the Big 10 title and potential playoff birth.  It all comes down to consistency.  It honestly seemed like there were two different Buckeyes teams last year.  When they’re at their best it’s hard for anyone to beat them.  The problem is making sure they perform at their best.

Countdown to Kickoff: 47 Days

47.  A.J. Hawk was one of my favorite Buckeyes of all time.  He contributed as a freshman during the 2002 National Championship season, the first Buckeyes championship of my lifetime.  I think that’s part of why I liked him so much.  From there he want on to be one of the best linebackers in OSU history.  He followed that up with a productive NFL career, spending the majority of it with the Green Bay Packers.  I was excited when he came to the Bengals in 2015 as well, although his most productive days were well past him at that point.  I think my favorite thing about Hawk was that hair though.  Hawk, Bobby Carpenter, Anthony Schlegel and Nick Mangold all decided to grow their hair out at OSU in honor of the late Pat Tillman.  That was an awful lot of ugly on one football team, but damn were they fun to watch.