Location: Columbus, Ohio
2015 record: 12-1, (7-1 in the Big Ten)
Head Coach: Urban Meyer
2016 record so far: 2-0
What’s happened in 2016 so far
Showing off the skills of their young defensive players, the Buckeyes have dominated their first two opponents. After a 77-10 drubbing of Bowling Green in Week 1, Ohio State struggled in the first half against Tulsa but ultimately pulled away 48-3. Throughout both games, the defense has prevented opposing teams from scoring a single offensive touchdown.
Key offensive player
The duties of leading the offense for OSU fall on the shoulders of redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett. While Barrett is instrumental to the success of the team, the game changer for the Buckeyes is junior H-back Curtis Samuel. With two years of experience under his belt in Urban Meyer’s offense, Samuel was named as the No. 1 playmaker for the team by his coach before his 2016 campaign began. So far, the Brooklyn native has picked up 401 yards of total offense and has found the endzone three times. If you’re looking for the catalyst who can push OSU past its opponents, look no further than the junior H-back.
Key defensive player
On the defensive side of the ball, the Buckeyes lost a slew of starters from nearly every position. But junior middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan still sits in the center of the OSU defense and has been placed in a leadership role as the anchor of the Silver Bullets. Having contributed on defense since his arrival to Columbus in 2014, McMillan picked up 119 tackles last season, and was a finalist for the Butkus Award. Look for him to be the man shutting down the run game of OSU’s opponents and providing a veteran presence on the field.
While the Buckeyes have succeeded in multiple aspects so far in the 2016 season, the main concern of Buckeyes coaching staff is the experience level of the young players that have earned their way into the starting lineup. The wide receivers are one of the youngest groups on the field, and the inexperience has shown through the first two games of the season. In all, the wideouts for OSU have been targeted on less than half of Barrett’s pass attempts this season. Even with a sixth-year player in Corey Smith — who has yet to be targeted this year — the group has failed to produce at a similar level as last year’s team that contained three now-NFL wide receivers. If the Buckeyes falter in 2016, much of the blame could fall squarely on the pass catchers’ shoulders.