A few pre-season questions for Ohio State and the Big Ten


There’s really no offseason in college football these days. Even for fans it’s a year around passion.

But that passion intensfies as there are reminders in the summer that the season is getting closer.

One of those reminders is when the big conferences, the so-called Power 5 conferences, hold their preseason media days.

The Big Ten’s version of media days is scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Here are a few questions for Ohio State and the Big Ten as that event approaches:

Question: Can new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles fix Ohio State’s defense?

Answer: If he can, Ohio State is a national championship contender. If he can’t, OSU could have some stressful Saturday afternoons and evenings.

Ohio State struggled to defend against the pass last year. Opposing quarterbacks completed 61 percent of their throws against OSU, which ranked No. 87 nationally in passing yards allowed.

The Buckeyes’ overall defensive numbers against the run weren’t awful. They were No. 24 nationally in rushing yards allowed per game (127.8) and No. 27 in yards allowed per carry (3.7). But the run defense fell on its face against Michigan (297 rushing yards) and Oregon (269 rushing yards).

Question: Can C.J. Stroud win the Heisman Trophy?

Answer: He can win it but he will have to overtake Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, who won it last season when Stroud finished fourth in the voting.

Young got 684 first-place votes and Stroud got 12 so OSU’s quarterback will need a season similar to last year (4,435 yards passing, 44 touchdowns, 6 interceptions) and team success to surpass Young.

It could come down to whose team is undefeated at the time the Heisman votes have to be turned in a few days after the Big Ten and SEC championship games. That could be a tie-breaker if Stroud and Young are the two leading candidates.

Question: What is the most dangerous game on Ohio State’s schedule?

Answer: Because OSU’s goal is to go undefeated and play for a national championship, you could say they all are.

You could say the Michigan game because losing two years in a row to the Wolverines would turn Ohio State’s world upside down. But that game is at home and there will be plenty of motivation for OSU.

Ohio State has won six of the last seven games it has played at Penn State but the trip to PSU still looks

like the most dangerous game in a year when OSU has only four road games on its schedule.

Question: Will the Big Ten ever change its name? Will it still be the Big Ten in 2024 when it will have 16 teams, with maybe more on the way?

Answer: If there is a way to make lots of money by changing the name, it will happen. On the other hand, caution might be the word since Legends and Leaders didn’t turn out too well when the Big Ten hastily picked names for its divisions in 2011.

Question: After the surprising addition of USC and UCLA does the Big Ten have its eyes on more expansion?

Answer: Probably only if Notre Dame is interested in joining the Big Ten. That might be the only way it would happen quickly. And ND does not appear to be in a hurry to decide whether to remain independent or join a conference.

Question: How do the Big Ten’s 14 football coaches rank in job security, most secure to least secure?

Answer: 1. Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern); 2. (tie) Ryan Day (Ohio State), Kirk Ferentz (Iowa), Paul Chryst (Wisconsin); Mel Tucker (Michigan State), Greg Schiano (Rutgers); 3. (tie) Jim Harbaugh (Michigan), P.J. Fleck (Minnesota), James Franklin (Penn State), Bret Bielema (Illinois), Jeff Brohm (Purdue), Mike Locksley (Maryland); 4. Tom Allen (Indiana); 5. Scott Frost (Nebraska).

Question: Who’s a player to root for to finally stay healthy and get on the field for Ohio State?

Answer: Two come to mind right away and there are probably others.

Julian Fleming was ranked the No. 1 receiver nationally in the 2020 recruiting class but, at least partly because of several injuries, he has caught only 19 passes, one of them for a touchdown, in his first two seasons at OSU.

The other is Kamryn Baab, who has played only 31 snaps offensively in four seasons because he has suffered a torn ACL in both knees twice, dating back to his senior season of high school. He was ranked a top 100 recruit nationally coming out of high school.

Question: Is there a freshman who will play right away like running back TreVeyon Henderson and cornerback Denzel Burke did last season?

Answer: Probably not. But don’t write off 5-star linebacker C.J. Hicks. He plays a position where OSU does not have great talent.

Question: What would be an Ohio State fan’s dream season?

Answer: Beat Notre Dame. Beat Michigan. Win the Big Ten championship game. Beat Alabama to become an undefeated national champion.

Question: What would be an Ohio State fan’s nightmare season?

Answer: Lose to Notre Dame. Lose to Michigan again. Then those two teams play each other in the

national championship game.

Question: What’s a good guess for Ohio State’s record this season?

Answer: It could be 15-0. It could be 14-1. Or it could be 11-2 like last season if something unexpected happens.

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