College Football 2017: Ohio State Eyes Improved Offense

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Urban Meyer and J.T. Barrett look to dot the “I” in the upcoming 2017 college football season. (Getty)

Last time we saw Ohio State, Urban Meyer was shutout against Clemson for the first time in his career. Here’s why it does not matter.

Stats are only meaningful if they point to something bigger. While Meyer’s shutout is an interesting anecdote, it is a distraction from what really matters. Ohio State’s offense struggled down the stretch, and the Buckeyes are hoping to have solved these woes over the off-season.

Had Ohio State lost to Clemson 31-7 instead of 31-0 the story would still be the same. Ohio State struggled to put points on the board in the final three games of the season. The Buckeyes scored 17 points in East Lansing escaping with a one-point victory over Michigan State.

Ohio State scored 17 points prior to overtime in their rivalry matchup with Michigan. Finally, there is the College Football Playoff game with Clemson that ended Ohio State’s season in scoreless fashion.

Can Buckeyes fans expect the team to bounce back in 2017? Former offensive coordinator Tim Beck left for Texas, and Kevin Wilson stepped into the vacated role. It is a move that has been widely applauded in the off-season. Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi spoke with FOX Sports about Wilson’s talent.

“He’s one of the smartest guys I’ve ever coached with,” Narduzzi told FOX Sports. “He’s just understands the game at a different level. I think it’s a great hire for Urban.”

J.T. Barrett must improve this season. Barrett was a model of efficiency completing 61 percent of his passes and throwing 24 touchdowns compared to seven interceptions. Championship teams need more than just efficiency. For the Buckeyes to be a championship-caliber team, Ohio State needs to be explosive in December and January.

One would think if Barrett does not show improvement, the Buckeyes would be tempted to turn to highly-touted quarterback Dwayne Haskins. However, Haskins has yet to secure the backup position away from Joe Burrow.

There are other questions for Wilson to answer. As Land Grant Holy Land pointed out, the Buckeyes lost their two most explosive receivers in Noah Brown and Curtis Samuel leaving even more offensive questions heading into the fall.

There is little reason for panic in Columbus. Ohio State’s 2017 recruiting class ranked second on both Rivals and 247 Sports. Meyer proved last season Ohio State can win with young players as the school continues to reload after the most talented prospects move on to the NFL.

While Ohio State’s schedule is not full of cupcakes, the Buckeyes will be favored in most if not all of their games. Here’s a look at Ohio State’s schedule courtesy of FBS Schedules with a breakdown of the Buckeyes season outlook.

Ohio State 2017 Schedule

Aug. 31 at Indiana 8 p.m. ET ESPN
Sept. 9 vs. Oklahoma 7:30 p.m. ABC
Sept. 16 vs. Army 4:30 p.m. FOX
Sept. 23 vs. UNLV TBD
Sept. 30 at Rutgers TBD
Oct. 7 vs. Maryland TBD
Oct. 14 at Nebraska TBD
Oct. 21 BYE
Oct. 28 vs. Penn State 3:30 p.m. FOX
Nov. 4 at Iowa TBD
Nov. 11 vs. Michigan State TBD
Nov. 18 vs. Illinois TBD
Nov. 25 at Michigan 12 p.m. FOX

There is nothing about Ohio State’s schedules that initially appears problematic for the Buckeyes. Ohio State takes on Oklahoma in the second week of the season, but will have time to make up ground even if they end up losing the game. The Buckeyes face Penn State and Michigan State at home this season.

Ohio State will have to go on the road to face their rival at Michigan Stadium with a potential Big Ten title bid on the line. Overall, all signs point to Ohio State having every opportunity for a repeat College Football Playoff bid.

The Buckeyes need to watch out for sneaky road games against Nebraska and Iowa if they hope to win the Big Ten.

Heavy’s Prediction: Ohio State goes 12-1 with their lone loss coming against Oklahoma or Michigan.

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