Countdown to Kickoff: 16 Days

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.

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: 22 Days

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.

Countdown to Kickoff: 23 Days

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).

Countdown to Kickoff: 25 Days

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.

Countdown to Kickoff: 26 Days

26. Ohio State threw for 26 touchdowns in 2016. 19 of those touchdown passes were thrown to players who are no longer with the team, meaning returning Buckeyes only accounted for 7 of those touchdowns. The receiving corp has been lackluster these past couple years, and this year’s group needs to step up in a big way. The Buckeyes will look to get production from Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin, KJ Hill, Binjimen Victor, Austin Mack and Johnnie Dixon. All 6 had game experience last year, the most of which coming from Hill, Campbell and McLaurin, all of whom caught double-digit passes last season. With an extra year of experience under their belts and a new offensive coordinator in the mix, there’s good reason to believe that the Buckeyes will have one of the most potent passing attacks in the country. Especially if they can established the deep threat that’s been absent since Devin Smith left.

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: 28 Days

28. Ohio State’s defense recorded 28 sacks during the 2016 season, a rather mediocre total, tied for 54th in the country. 28 is the lowest sack total for a Buckeye defense since 2011, the year they went 6-7 prior to Urban Meyer’s arrival. A tough defense has been a Buckeye staple, and they’re going to have to improve on that total in 2017. Tyquan Lewis returns as the active leader on the team in career sacks with 16.5. Look for him to have a huge senior year on the defensive line. Nick Bosa should see more playing time in his sophomore season as he being to live up to the comparisons to his brother Joey. The defense returns 6 of the starting front 7 from last year, with plenty of experience coming off the bench as well. That bodes well for Ohio State, and I expect the defensive to put up 40+ sacks in the coming season. Getting to the quarterback early and often will be key for the Buckeye defense, especially with he loss of 3 out of 4 starters in the secondary.

Countdown to Kickoff: 29 Days


29. Ohio State opens up the season on the road with a conference matchup against Indiana. It has been 29 years since the Hoosiers last beat the Buckeyes, with the last time coming in 1988, a 41-7 Indiana victory in Bloomington. It’s not often that Ohio State falters against Indiana, with only 12 losses to the Hoosiers all time. The Buckeyes have more wins over Indiana (72) than over any other opponent. That being said, there have been times in recent years when Indiana has given Ohio State all they could handle. The last two matchups in Bloomington (2012 and 2015) were both one-score games. With this being the first game of the year, on the road, against a conference opponent, it wouldn’t surprise me if this one is a little too close for comfort. Ultimately I think the Buckeyes will win, but I do think it will be a close one, and everyone will probably overreact to the fact that it wasn’t a blowout. Indiana’s no slouch though, having made a bowl game the past 2 seasons, so the Buckeyes will have their work cut out for them.

Countdown to Kickoff: 30 Days

30. JT Barrett has recorded 30 rushing attempts twice in his career, his highest single-game rushing attempt total. Coincidentally, both of Barrett’s 30-attempt games came against Michigan (2015 and 2016). I’ve never been a big fan of utilizing the quarterback like a second (or first) running back. Having a quarterback that is a threat to run is a huge asset, but if that is his primary function then you start to limit yourself. It’s a great dynamic to have, especially when a play breaks down, and a well-timed QB draw can be a game changer if you can catch the defense off guard, but I hate to see teams abandon the pass in favor of the QB run. I think JT is a talented passer when given the opportunity, and I hope Kevin Wilson can get him playing at his full potential. If he can mix in 10-15 rush attempts a game, I think that would be a good mix. Except for when he rushes 30 times for 250 yards and 4 touchdowns against Michigan. Anything goes against that team up north.