Ohio State: Buckeyes Are Just About In The Clear

It looks like Ohio State is going to roll to another appearance in the Big Ten Championship Game, and a chance at their second straight conference title. It’s still relatively early in the season to be talking about this, as we’re not yet in the crucial month of November, but it seems like the race for the East was over as soon as Penn State blew a lead last week and allowed the Buckeyes to escape Happy Valley with a win.

That game ensures that, unless some complex tiebreakers happen, the Buckeyes would need to lose twice for Penn State to take first place in the division. The Penn State team that they recently beat was the toughest team on their schedule, and now, it looks like there’s a limited number of teams that can realistically go toe to toe with the Buckeyes.

Some looked to Indiana, which entered their game against Ohio State with a  4-1 record, as the team that might give the Buckeyes a challenge despite being big underdogs. And Indiana did keep things close, but during the fourth quarter, they were outscored 14-0 and the Buckeyes pulled away without letting their opponents back into the game.

“I’m not going to lie, we were probably still tired from last week. Definitely was a little low in energy in practice during the week,” said quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. But that low energy in practice didn’t keep Ohio State from surviving another week, staying in first place in the division.

On the same day, Michigan State lost to Northwestern by a score of 29-19. The reason why that’s significant? Going into the week, Ohio State had two ranked teams in their remaining schedule: Michigan, and Michigan State. Now, after their second loss of the year, it just doesn’t look like the Spartans are in the right shape to even be considered a true challenger. They’ve given Urban Meyer problems in the past, yes, but MSU is 3-2 this year. In both of their losses, they were favored to win.

Assuming that Michigan State isn’t a big threat to pull off the upset, Ohio State has very good chances of running the table in the regular season. It’s not expected that they’ll lose to someone like Minnesota, Purdue, Nebraska, or Maryland after all. The most threatening team on their schedule is Michigan, whose only loss this season is in nonconference play, but that’s just one game.

It’s not that Ohio State is guaranteed to win, but at this point, they’ve vanquished their top threat and Michigan State’s poor season has already put the Spartans out of the running for the East. Barring a result that would be considered a major upset, there’s only one game this season where Ohio State isn’t the favorite firmly. And that’s a game where you can throw the records out the window.

Anything can happen in Michigan versus Ohio State, so the Buckeyes aren’t in the clear yet. But it’s fair to say that they’re almost there. After all, how many are seriously picking them to lose to Maryland, Michigan State, or the three Big Ten West opponents left on their schedule?

Big Ten: Meyer, Harbaugh, And Frost Lead Conference In Salary

College football head coach is a well-paying job, at least in the FBS. In major conferences like the Big Ten, that’s doubly true. USA Today recently released their list of head coach salaries for 2018, and two of the three highest paid coaches in the entire country are from the Big Ten Conference.

Nick Saban takes the top spot, but behind him are Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh. It makes sense, considering that Ohio State and Michigan are two of the most popular and wealthy teams not just in the conference, but in all of college football. The SEC has the most coaches in the top ten for salary, but Michigan and Ohio State pay more than any of those schools with the exception of Alabama.

Surprisingly, the third highest paid coach in the Big Ten is Scott Frost, who has lacked success so far with Nebraska after an 0-4 start to the season. However, Frost was coming off of an undefeated season with UCF at the time that the contract was signed, explaining the high dollar amount. While Frost is the third highest paid coach in the conference, he’s the tenth highest paid coach nationally.

After Frost, the next highest paid coach is Lovie Smith, of Illinois. He surprisingly makes more than Penn State’s James Franklin, who rounds out the top five for the Big Ten. There’s two more coaches from the Big Ten that are in the national top twenty, Kirk Ferentz of Iowa and Mark Dantonio of Michigan State. They come in at number 17 and 18 respectively, giving their schools a lot of success over the past years for the relatively low salaries.

The Big Ten is certainly interesting when looking at the contracts, because while the most valuable schools are no stranger to paying their coaches almost eight million dollars a year, the conference as a whole has performed well in comparison to the SEC despite the SEC generally paying more to its coaches, even at middling programs such as Texas A&M and Auburn.

Big Ten: The Biggest Winners And Losers From Week Five

The fifth weekend of college football is over, with less upsets this week but still some interesting results. The Big Ten especially had an exciting weekend, with the result of the Ohio State versus Penn State game causing a shakeup in the polls as Ohio State moved into the top three, and Penn State fell out of the top ten entirely and most likely out of the race for the Big Ten East.

Who emerged as the winners, and who emerged as the losers on Saturday?

Winner: Ohio State Buckeyes

There’s a very real chance that Ohio State finishes the regular season undefeated. The toughest opponents on their schedule at this point are Michigan and Michigan State, but it looks like they can run everyone else over easily. Upsets happen, but one shouldn’t just assume that a top three team will be upset because it’s technically in the realm of possibility.

No, it looks like the Buckeyes will either take a loss against one of the Michigan teams, or play for the Big Ten title with an undefeated record. They’re listed here as winners because they just got past the hardest game on their schedule, even if it took some bizarre missed tackles and a similarly ridiculous playcall near the end of the game to let them take the lead. Still, despite the Penn State team collapsing, the Buckeyes earned the win.

Now, they just have to get through the rest of the season with an even bigger target on their back. Can they do it? It would have sounded unlikely at the start of the season, but with the way Dwayne Haskins Jr. is playing in his first season as a starter, it’s not so bold of a prediction anymore.

Loser: Scott Frost And Nebraska Fans

This once great program can’t catch a break. Nebraska has started the season with no wins and four losses, the latest one coming at the hands of Purdue. Some predicted that the 0-3 start would make the Huskers come out with something to prove, leading them to a division win against an opponent that has shown up with mixed performances and close losses this season. This game, though, wasn’t as close as the other ones featuring Purdue this season.

The Nebraska defense still isn’t much better. They allowed 42 points, giving Purdue their best offensive performance of the entire season. It’s not the way that Scott Frost wanted things to start off in his first year as Nebraska’s head coach, and it certainly won’t help the Cornhuskers in recruiting. It doesn’t matter that this is a rebuilding year and that the team wasn’t expected to win.

While they weren’t expected to be good, an 0-4 start is worse than anyone but the most pessimistic of fans imagined. It’s going to severely hurt the confidence in head coach Scott Frost, and while he’s still supported by the fans for now, none of the hype that existed before the season is still there. The hype is what went away first. How long will it be before the locker room is lost, or the rest of the confidence held by the fans?

The answers to those questions depend on when Nebraska picks up win number one.

Loser: Good Playcalling

Penn State called an interesting play on their last possession of the game against Ohio State, which ended with a turnover own downs. To call the play interesting, however, is really sugarcoating it. Let’s tell it like it is. It was a bizarre call, and it helped the Buckeyes win the game. In the end, it came down to one play to continue the drive with a chance to win the game by kicking a field goal.

And instead of going for literally any other option, the staff called a play to send Miles Sanders right up the middle, where he would be stopped far short of the first down marker. The same Miles Sanders that had less than 50 yards for the entire game.

“We knew they were going to make their linebackers jump when we moved Miles, and they weren’t going to be set in position, and it was going to give us a chance to get a hole up the middle and crease them,” said Trace McSorley, in an attempt to explain the thought process behind the play. “We weren’t able to pick up a twist, and a guy got in the backfield and made a play.”

Look on any fan forum of choice, and you can find plenty of confusion about this playcall not just from Penn State fans, but from fans around the country. That’s why this is the second thing in the loser’s section. It’s fitting because in this case, it might have lost Penn State the game.

 

Photo Gallery: The Penn State vs Ohio State Gameday Experience

Ohio State versus Penn State didn’t disappoint. The battle between two top ten teams, and Big Ten rivals, ended with a single point deciding the outcome. It was close enough that a Penn State two point conversion in the fourth quarter could have changed the result entirely, sending it to overtime instead of forcing the Nittany Lions to drive down the field and score on their last possession… Something that they fell short in doing.

The game was, of course, the yearly White Out for Penn State. College Gameday was there, too. As a result, the mood around Happy Valley was completely focused on the game. It was a sensation that lasted from the early hours of the morning all the way to the game itself.

Want to see what the game day was like from the perspective of your average fan?

Check out this exclusive picture album below.

Big Ten Football Preview & Viewing Guide For Week Five

It seems like the season just started, but we’re already five weeks into college football. This week doesn’t have as many marquee matchups, but it does have some games worth watching and Saturday evening will be capped off by one of the biggest games of the year, both in the Big Ten Conference and nationally. All of the Big Ten teams that are playing this week will have their games today, with no early midweek games this time around.

What games can fans check out?

Rutgers vs Indiana, 12:00 PM on BTN

The Big Ten Network is televising one of the first games of the day, with a noon kickoff. This isn’t one that’s going to draw in neutral fans, however, because it’s between Rutgers and Indiana. The Scarlet Knights are looking for a better showing in front of their home fans after MAC contenders Buffalo came into their house and beat them 42-13 last Saturday.

It wasn’t a pretty showing for Rutgers. They gave up two touchdowns to both the top quarterback and top running back for the Bulls, and while UB is 4-0, it’s still not a good loss considering the lower conference that Buffalo plays in. Also, losing 42-13 at home to MAC opponents isn’t a good way to keep fans in the seats for the rest of the season.

Indiana is in a better place and has three wins so far, their only loss to nationally ranked Michigan State. Based on momentum, an Indiana blowout win isn’t out of the question.

#21 Michigan State vs Central Michigan, 12:00 on Fox Sports 1

This one is the first Big Ten game of the day that features a ranked team. That ranked team is Michigan State, which should come out guns blazing and look to bounce back from the decent performance but overall loss against Arizona State, in a game where a good amount of people penciled them in as the winner. The Spartans have had a long break since that game, which was on September 8.

All of that doesn’t help Central Michigan, a team that’s 1-3 and coming off of their sole win… Which was against FCS opponent Maine. They lost all three of their opening games, but to their credit, they did face SEC opposition Kentucky as well as the Big 12’s Kansas. While neither of those schools are powerhouses, they have much more in the way of resources than the Chippewas do.

Their passing defense is actually decent, they haven’t allowed an opposing QB to throw for more than 200 yards this season after all, but they gave up almost 300 yards on the ground to Kentucky and will likely give up a lot to the Michigan State running attack led by L.J. Scott.

You can watch this game on Fox Sports 1 if you want, but don’t put too much faith in CMU to pull an upset here. Not with MSU having extra time to prepare to bounce back after their loss to ASU.

Nebraska vs Purdue, 3:30 PM on BTN

This one is interesting for the wrong reasons. Well, more specifically, it’s interesting because everyone wants to see if Scott Frost is going to pick up another loss in his rookie season as the head coach of the Huskers. It would be hard to imagine things starting this way before the season, but Nebraska’s most recent result was a blowout loss at the Big House where their defense gave up 56 points and looked like it was closer to a FCS level.

Purdue, on the other hand, has had good form in the past couple of games. A win over Boston College, a very close loss to Missouri that featured an important bad call from the referee. They were upset by Eastern Michigan before that, but it was by one point. Purdue has played everyone close this year and should come in as the favorite. Form matters, and Nebraska’s form is historically bad while Purdue has stayed in every game.

This one won’t be televised on Fox Sports, though, and you’ll have to tune into the Big Ten Network if you want to watch it at 3:30.

Northwestern vs #14 Michigan, 4:30 PM on FOX

The first of the two Big Ten games that feature top fifteen teams is Northwestern versus Michigan. The Wolverines have to go on the road for this one, and it shouldn’t be too hard of a task for them. Northwestern is struggling this season and has a couple of bad losses already after winning their season opener and looking decent in it.

Back to back home losses followed that win, against Duke and Akron. This is the last game of that home stand before Northwestern has to head back on the road to face the other major team in Michigan, the Spartans. But it doesn’t seem like they’ll get a win in front of their home crowd.

Michigan rushed for 285 yards against Nebraska while only allowing 39 yards on 30 attempts. Realistically, it’s a good result for Nebraska to make this a competitive game and not fall victim to the same fate as Michigan’s last opponent, a blowout loss where everyone couldn’t wait for it to be over by the time the fourth quarter arrived.

This game is being broadcast nationally on FOX, meaning neutrals will hope for it to be a close result.

#9 Penn State vs #4 Ohio State, 7:30 PM on ABC

It doesn’t take much explaining why this is the best game of the week. The circumstances around the meeting between these two budding rivals means that the division title may be on the line, and in turn, a trip to the Conference Championship Game and potentially a trip to the College Football Playoff. If neither team slips up for the rest of the season, it will mean that this was the game that decided the Big Ten East.

Penn State is ranked lower, but you can through rankings out the window. They’re going to change after this game no matter what the result is, anyway. Penn State can make a large gain by winning, but the loser will almost certainly fall significantly after taking their first loss. Not only that, but two Heisman contenders are battling at the quarterback position in Dwayne Haskins Jr. and Trace McSorley.

The game is a White Out, something that Penn State has mastered. You can be sure that the atmosphere will help, and it makes the result even harder to predict. If you care about the Big Ten at all, or just want excitement, this is the game to watch tonight. With it starting at 7:30, the rest of the Big Ten will have played already by the time this one kicks off.

Ohio State Buckeyes: Penn State Game Is The First Real Test

Ohio State will have their first real test four weeks into the season, when they travel to play Penn State on the road, at night. Some teams played close games in their openers, others were challenged in weeks two and three as the season continued and more teams played the first games of their conference schedules. Ohio State, though, they’re a bit different.

It’s not that they haven’t played anyone good, but a good team isn’t always a challenging one. TCU was a good team. But they weren’t on the level of the Buckeyes. Sometimes, for a team like Ohio State, the true danger comes from not playing opponents that are the same caliber very often.

We’ve seen it happen before. Iowa going undefeated in the Big Ten West and then losing the conference title game to the winner of the east. Wisconsin losing to Ohio State last year in the conference title game, after running the table in the West. Believe it or not, it is possible to be too good.

That’s the reason why coaches aren’t automatically upset when they play a team close, even if that team is supposed to lose by a larger margin. While winning every game by big margins is nice for the fans, and inspires confidence, that confidence can be a double-edged sword. Play too well every week, and you can find yourself struggling once you go up against another team that’s on the same level.

And while Penn State is slightly below Ohio State in the rankings, they’re certainly on the same level. If Penn State pulled off the win, it wouldn’t be out of the question for them to trade places in the polls with the Buckeyes. They have advantages that other teams don’t, too. Ohio State had to play TCU in Texas, but TCU doesn’t have near the amount of fan support that Penn State does.

Playing at Beaver Stadium at night is something that you would expect from a late season matchup. Not one in week four. If you’re the visiting side, it’s not the game that you want as one of your first real challenges of the year. Because let’s face it. Oregon State, Rutgers, and Tulane were all warm up games. Even counting TCU as a quality opponent, the Buckeyes have at the most only faced a single team that’s anywhere close to their level.

Now, they have to go into an environment that is known as one of the best in college football. It comes only shortly after Urban Meyer returned as the head coach of the team, and while his absence didn’t have much of an impact, that wasn’t against teams like Penn State.

The point here isn’t that Ohio State is going to lose, or that they haven’t played anybody. It’s that they may be unprepared for a true test, while Penn State started the season out by almost being upset. Additionally, they turned relatively close games against Pittsburgh and Illinois into blowout victories. They’re no stranger to playing in close games like these, and they’ve come out on top in each one of these.

If Ohio State enters halftime, or even the fourth quarter, how will they react? That’s a question that’s hard to answer because they have less experience in those close games. But if the game is close, Penn State is closer to a sure thing. As much of a sure thing as you can have in a game like this, which will be decided by a small margin because of the two teams roughly being on the same level.

We don’t know yet if Ohio State will show up when it matters in a game like this. They may, they may not. But if there’s one distinct disadvantage that they have compared to Penn State? It’s that, while we can’t predict accurately how either side will perform, Ohio State has more unknowns.

And that’s why this isn’t just the biggest game of the season for them, it’s the game that will show us just how “for real” the Buckeyes really are.

Three Big Ten Games To Watch On Opening Weekend

College football has been going since the end of August, but the first Saturday in September marks the start of the real season. It’s the day when most of the country’s teams will begin their seasons, and that includes the majority of the Big Ten. Plenty of teams are playing, with the games starting at noon, but which games are the ones worth watching?

Three Games From The First Saturday Of Football

Northern Illinois @ Iowa, 3:40 PM on the Big Ten Network

This one is on BTN rather than ESPN or FOX, but don’t let that fool you. It should be an interesting matchup between a hopeful Big Ten West contender and an underdog that enters the season renewed after losing ground last year to quarterback injuries.

MAC Defensive Player of the Year Sutton Smith, who had 14 sacks last season, returns for Northern Illinois as a junior, and quarterback Marcus Childers will have more preparation for a starting role as well as more experience. Safety Mykelti Williams is another player to watch on the underdog team. As a sophomore, he had the third-most tackles on the team, with 73.

Northern Illinois only managed an 8-5 record, but they did have some bad luck during the 2017 season and that might cause the Hawkeyes to sleep on them heading into the opening game of the season for both teams.

Oregon State @ Ohio State, 12:00 PM on ABC (Or Texas vs Maryland)

Alright, there’s a decent chance that this one isn’t actually a good game. But it’s one of the first games of the day, and there’s more intrigue around it than, say, Texas versus Maryland. No offense, Maryland.

The reason this game is so interesting is that head coach Urban Meyer is suspended for it. Not that the talent level of Ohio State is any lower because of it, but stranger things have happened in college football than a team losing to a big underdog on opening day because they don’t have their head coach for whatever reason. Coaching is one of the most important aspects of the game, and once you remove a successful head coach for even one game, anything can happen.

Oregon State, though, did not have a good time last year. They only won one game, and head coach Gary Andersen felt bad enough about the situation there to leave 12 million dollars on the table and leaving the program of his own accord. While there is a chance that the off the field drama affects Ohio State, there’s also a chance that the Buckeyes run riot on their opponent and start Dwayne Haskins’ career as a starter off the right way.

In that case, it might be a perfectly good idea to flip the channel to Texas versus Maryland, assuming you aren’t a fan of either team and just want to see action.

Michigan @ Notre Dame, 7:30 PM on NBC

Did you really think this game wouldn’t be on the list? This one isn’t just the best Big Ten game of the week, but one of the best games in the nation, period. For those who have been complaining about neutral site games, and top programs not wanting to play each other home and away anymore, this one is for you.

Jim Harbaugh needs to get results at Michigan, after having a few years to bring in some of his own players, and this game should be a make or break one for him and his staff. Except, it’s not a late season game within the conference. It’s on the first Saturday of the season, and you don’t see too many openers with this much on the line for both teams.

Both of these fanbases are very large and vocal, and you can bet for sure that the loser will have a decent amount of people calling for the head coach to be fired. Also, Shea Patterson will make his Michigan debut. That’s not something that you’ll want to miss, especially if your favorite team plays the Wolverines later in the year.

Harbaugh hasn’t had a star quarterback since coming back to the University of Michigan. Will having that, plus a tough defense, be enough to knock off a top fifteen ranked rival? We’ll all find that out soon, with the top night game of the first weekend.

Ohio State Football: What Are The Buckeyes’ Expectations In 2018?

Ohio State comes into the season as the betting favorite to win the Big Ten, but things aren’t that simple. The school is stuck in a complex situation, and the fate of head coach Urban Meyer will be determined in the coming days after a meeting of the Ohio State Board of Trustees. Supposedly, suspension is the most likely outcome.

For the team itself, that outcome isn’t as bad as Meyer being fired outright. Still, it would be hard to claim that entering the season with a different head coach in charge isn’t something that will negatively effect the players. Especially when the pressure is already tremendous this year, with the Buckeyes starting out in the top five of the AP Poll.

What is expected of Ohio State entering this season?

Every team that begins the season in the top ten, let alone the top five, believes that they can win the championship. Only four teams will have the chance to play for a title, however, and Ohio State starts off as the last team out. But championships aren’t decided by preseason predictions, and making the playoffs is definitely the expectation for the team that is the favorite to win one of the toughest conferences in college football.

It’s true that Ohio State doesn’t have an experienced quarterback this year. They’ll have to pick between redshirt sophomore Dwayne Haskins Jr. and redshirt freshman Tate Martell, and it looks like Haskins will be the one to come away with the starting job. While neither player has significant playing time, Ohio State doesn’t necessarily need to win with just their quarterback carrying the team.

They have a loaded backfield with J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber returning, forming one of the best one-two punches in the nation. Dobbins had 1,403 yards as a freshman, and an average of 7.2 yards per rush. Dobbins isn’t the most physically intimidating of football players, but while defenders may assume that he’ll be an easy tackle, his strengths lie in his speed and his movement.

Dobbins’ 2017 highlight reel was filled with outside runs and cuts to the outside, with the freshman displaying how light on his feet he is. He also uses his low center of gravity better than many would expect, meaning it’s not a given that he’ll go down on first contact. He’ll surely have more than seven touchdowns in 2018, and his impact will be combined with that of Mike Weber, who rushed for 10 touchdowns last season.

Their defense returns Jordan Fuller, who had the second most tackles on the team with 62. Junior defensive end Nick Bosa is also being hyped up for good reason. The Buckeyes lost defensive line talent to the NFL, but that means that Bosa will have more time on the field in addition to a larger role.

Bosa has shown himself to have a good sweep move to get outside of the offensive tackle, and that combined with his pure athleticism should help him improve on his 8.5 sacks from last year.

It all doesn’t mean that the team won’t be without its challenges. Ohio State won’t start any senior linebackers this season, and that could negatively impact the organization of their defense. But that’s something that should work itself out over the course of the season, as a leader emerges.

That leader may just be outside linebacker Malik Harrison. “Malik is a playmaker that’s got a lot of people looking at him,” said linebackers coach Bill Davis, back in the spring. He also spoke about some of the other members of that unit. “It’s exciting to watch them take their leadership role. We talk about leadership being more about actions than words, and I think that’s kind of what they’re trying to do.”

Perhaps the biggest question mark is Dwayne Haskins Jr. The redshirt sophomore had some playing time as the backup to J.T. Barrett, but wasn’t a starter last season. He threw for 120 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game earlier this year, but there’s always risk involved with introducing a new quarterback that hasn’t played as a starter in the past. He flashed his deep arm in the spring game and made some precision strikes downfield to decently covered receivers, but it’s hard to judge a player fully from his performance in a scrimmage.

Overall, Ohio State has playmakers on both sides of the ball and whether or not they make the playoffs should be determined by if they slip up in a select group of games against other elite teams. Namely, their games on the road against Penn State and Michigan State and their home game against archrivals Michigan. They also face a top 20 team during nonconference play in TCU, and that presents an interesting challenge.

The Urban Meyer scandal may just be the difference between the Buckeyes coming away with the Big Ten title, and not even playing for it. Looking at this forum surrounding Meyer’s odds on keeping his job, it looks like he won’t be fired. Even if Meyer only receives a suspension, it’s something negative that will hang over the season. And it’s the reason why few will be surprised if the playoffs come around and the Buckeyes are on the outside looking in. The Big Ten will likely have a playoff team, but there’s a reason why Wisconsin is trending up and Ohio State is trending down.

Season Prediction: 11-2, Rose Bowl winners

Ohio State Football: Training Camp Insights From Ryan Day

Off the field, the Ohio State football team has been surrounded in drama. On the field, however, progress is being made in the preparation for this season, which will begin in less than two weeks. At least, that’s what acting head coach Ryan Day’s latest training camp update would indicate.

While a head coach isn’t going to tell everyone the weaknesses of their team going into the season, it’s still interesting to see what the staff have said about their players at this point in the offseason. The update goes through all of the team’s position groups, starting with the one that everyone pays the most attention to, quarterback.

“In our entire room, we have zero collegiate starts,” Day began, referencing the graduation of multi-year starter J.T. Barrett. Replacing Barrett, of course, won’t be an easy task considering the fact that he threw for just short of 9,500 yards across his four year career with the Buckeyes.

“That being said, Dwayne Haskins and Tate Martell have been putting in work on and off the field to get themselves prepared for an excellent season. They have both been taking the majority of reps in practice… We can see improvement in each of the QBs on a daily basis.”

Haskins, who was the backup to J.T. Barrett last season, received some game time but has zero starts. He’s believed to be the favorite for the starting job, and was the number seven pro-style quarterback coming out of high school in the 2016 class. The younger Tate Martell, on the other hand, was the second ranked dual threat QB in the class of 2017.

The quarterback competition isn’t the only one going on right now. “Thayer Munford and Josh Alabi have been competing for the starting left tackle spot while Brady Taylor, Michael Jordan, and Josh Myers have all been taking snaps at center,” Day wrote.

There’s some more interesting position battles in the secondary. “Damon Arnette and Kendall Sheffield are poised to continue the tradition of great Buckeye CB play… [Safety] Jordan Fuller in particular has established himself as a leader and as a playmaker on our defense. There has been excellent competition to determine who will be the starter opposite Fuller, between Isaiah Pryor and Jahsen Wint. Brendon White and Amir Riep are fueling the competition by showing up on film and making plays.”

The positive report from training camp comes at a time when many are doubting the Buckeyes, because of the ongoing investigation involving Urban Meyer. Still, they take a very talented roster into the season, whether or not Meyer makes it to their first game in September.

Ohio State: Nick Bosa Leads The Way For Big Ten In ESPN Player Rankings

College football has always been more of a team sport than an individual one, but that doesn’t mean player rankings aren’t one of the most debated subjects for fans. ESPN released their list of the top 50 players heading into the 2018 season, and interestingly, there’s no Big Ten players in the top five. Leading the list is Houston’s star defensive tackle, Ed Oliver. Then there’s Bryce Love, Will Grier, and two separate members of Clemson’s talented defensive line.

Where does Ohio States’ Nick Bosa rank?

The first Big Ten player, Nick Bosa, comes in at number six. A junior with big potential ahead of him, Ohio State fans will gladly tell you that Bosa isn’t just on the team because of his last name. He has the talent to stand alone, and would probably be at the same spot on this list even without the famous brother.

That’s not to say that it doesn’t help to have some name recognition. His play style definitely reminds people of Joey Bosa, who also starred at Ohio State during his college football days. With Ohio State losing some talent to the draft, most notably defensive end Sam Hubbard, Bosa will get more snaps and more chances to back up his ranking this season.

While he was the first Big Ten player to show up in the top ten, he wasn’t the only one. Wisconsin’s top running back, Jonathan Taylor, is next on the list. There’s no surprise there, as one could make an argument that Taylor, who is only a sophomore, is the best back in the country. During his freshman season, he rushed for almost 2,000 yards and scored 13 touchdowns, while averaging 6.6 yards per carry. The entire nation will be watching to see if he can improve on that in 2018.

There’s two more Big Ten players in the top 20: Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary, and Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley. One of the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy this year, McSorley is the second highest rated QB on the list behind West Virginia’s gunslinger Will Grier. Of course, these are just preseason picks. One of the interesting parts of college football is looking back each season and seeing which seemingly safe predictions turned out to be wildly wrong.

With most college football teams opening their seasons during the first week of September, we’ll soon get to see which players rise and which ones just can’t keep up with the expectations.