It seems like the Ohio State Buckeyes have always been a great football program. You can go back to the days of the legendary Woody Hayes who coached the team from 1951 through 1978, a period in which Hayes led them to 5 of their 8 National Championships.
Hayes was followed by Earle Bruce, John Cooper and Jim Tressel who all had varying degrees of success with the Buckeyes. But none of them were able to bring another National Championship home to Columbus except Tressel whose 2002 team did it.
Coach Urban Meyer
Fast forward to November 28th, 2011 when former Florida coach Urban Meyer accepted the position as the team’s new Head Coach. Meyer had won two National Championships as the Florida coach but ended up leaving the program for health reasons in 2010.
When the opportunity arose for Meyer to return and coach his alma mater he jumped at the chance. Born in Toledo, Ohio and a graduate of Ohio State, Meyer's first full season as Buckeyes coach began in 2012.
Since then, the team has an amazing 50-4 record and a 2014 National Championship to its credit. Last season, the team had an impressive 12-1 season with a 44-28 Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame.
However, the team was hit hard by graduations and NFL departures as only six starters will return for the 2016 season, three on each side of the ball. One of them is Quarterback J.T. Barrett. Now a junior, Barrett is without question the number one returning starter and will again be one of the team's best players. The Buckeyes will also need to find a replacement for the program’s No. 2 all-time rusher in Ezekiel Elliott. Redshirt freshman Mike Weber should emerge at that position with H-back Curtis Samuel also available. The team also took some hits at wide receiver and along the line. There is no question that Meyer has the talent but most of the replacements are as yet unproven.
Defensively, Meyer brought in Greg Schiano as Defensive Coordinator and Associate Head Coach. With Schiano’s college and pro credentials, expect the defense to be strong once again. Middle Linebacker and All-Big Ten player Raekwon McMillan returns to anchor the defense. Other talented players to watch include ends Tyquan Lewis and Sam Hubbard as well as cornerback Gareon Conley.
With the team breaking in a lot of new talent, Meyer may have to do one of his best coaching jobs yet. The experts think he can do it as the Buckeyes were ranked 6th in the initial Associated Press rankings.
Remember it was actually Michigan State that took the Big Ten title last year and went to the College Football Playoff. In addition, Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines are also expected to have a strong season so it won’t be easy for OSU.
A quick look at the schedule shows an early test against the Oklahoma Sooners in Norman on September 17th. The Sooners played in the playoff last season and are currently ranked No. 3 heading into this year. They will need to travel to Michigan State on November 19th but they get Michigan at home to end the regular season a week later.
It will be interesting to see how quickly some of the new talent rises to the top for the Buckeyes and how far it can take them. Stay tuned.
I love college sports, especially football. You may not always agree with me, but you will see I'm passionate.