Ohio State surpassed expectations in the first year under Ryan Day and now expectations are through the roof in his second year. After losing somewhat unluckily to Clemson in last year’s College Football Playoff, the Buckeyes are aiming for revenge.
Unsurprisingly, they are projected to win the Big Ten again and had the second-best odds to win the National Championship at +300, only behind Clemson (spring odds at 5Dimes).
There’s little reason to doubt the OSU offense with Day calling the shots. It also helps that they have one of the Heisman favorites in Justin Fields, who returns after a ridiculous campaign, averaging 9.2 yards per pass for 41 touchdowns and three interceptions, as well as 484 rushing yards and 10 more touchdowns.
That led to dominant numbers across the board and 46.9 points scored per game, which should be attainable in 2020. While there are talented incoming freshmen receivers, Chris Olave (849 yards, 12 TDs) and Garrett Wilson (30 receptions) are still there.
Running back should also be fine with Master Teague (789 yards) set to take up a bigger role with Marcus Crowley and Steele Chambers behind him.
And while Teague isn’t a guarantee to be ready by the fall because of an Achilles injury, they also added Oklahoma’s Trey Sermon to the mix. The return of three linemen should lead to business as usual for the offense.
Defense has Question Marks
While the offense is set with studs returning, the defense is a little more questionable, especially without much training in the spring. The Bucks held teams to less than 100 rushing yards and 12.5 points per game in 2019, but it’ll be difficult to match those numbers without guys like Chase Young on the line.
The good news for the defense is that linebacker is two-deep with upperclassmen at all three positions, including Tuf Borland and Pete Werner. The question will be everyone surrounding the linebackers, especially the secondary that lost three starters.
Cornerback Shaun Wade returns for his senior season, but the other three positions could be in flux most of the campaign. The line lost some top pieces, but it’s never been a worry for OSU and guys like end Jonathan Cooper and interior lineman Antwuan Jackson will lead the way with an array of experienced options.
Ohio State’s strength is seen in early odds over the likes of both Oregon and Penn State on the road as they opened as nearly touchdown-plus favorites in each. If they can get past Oregon early, that should lead to a mostly easy 5-0 record ahead of trips to MSU and PSU.
While back-to-back road trips are never easy, the Buckeyes are well suited to win each of those games, as long as things are going well for Fields and the offense.
Somewhat surprisingly, there may not be another real test on the schedule and that’s partly because Michigan visits Columbus this year.
If the Bucks win those early road games, it should be smooth sailing the rest of the way which could lead to another undefeated regular-season record and likely chance at the College Football Playoff.
2020 Ohio State Buckeyes Football Schedule and score predictions
***predictions are using data from 2019
Sept. 5 Ohio St 79 vs. Bowling Green 6
Sept. 12 Ohio State (-9.5) 28 at Oregon 19
Sept. 19 Ohio State 49 vs. Buffalo 9
Sept. 26 Ohio St 65 vs. Rutgers 6
Oct. 10 Ohio St 25 vs. Iowa 11
Oct. 17 Ohio St 38 at Michigan State 12
Oct. 24 Ohio St 26 (-6.5) at Penn State 19
Oct. 31 Ohio St 51 vs. Nebraska 11
Nov. 7 Ohio St 46 vs. Indiana 12
Nov. 14 Ohio St 59 at Maryland 14
Nov. 21 Ohio St 47 at Illinois 13
Nov. 28 Ohio St 34 (-11.5) vs. Michigan 14