Why No. 1 Ohio State Will And Won't Win The Title

By Mike Craven/@CravenMike and Emily Van Buskirk/@Emilnem

Ohio State snuck into the College Football Playoff over TCU and Baylor in 2014 and made the voters look smart by knocking off Alabama and Oregon to win the championship. The Buckeyes are deservedly ranked first in the nation entering the season, but winning a championship is never an easy task.

Why Ohio State Won’t Win The Title

The only thing harder than winning a championship in sports is winning titles two years in a row and that is what Ohio State faces this year as the defending national champions. The Buckeyes proved last season that any team with a berth into the College Football Playoff can take home the hardware, so even if Urban Meyer’s team wins the Big 10 it doesn’t mean it even reaches the final much less wins it all.

It is hard to argue Ohio State isn’t the favorite to win it all again this year, but it would be easier to do so without all the pressure that the Buckeyes face. Meyer has an embarrassment of talent at his disposal, but the same team that won it all in 2014 lost in the opener – at home no less – to Virginia Tech last season and barely snuck into the College Football Playoff because the Big 12 didn’t crown a singular champion.

The schedule sets up well for Ohio State because its hardest game, Michigan State, is at home. Also working in Ohio State’s favor is it can lose a game and still get a berth into the four-team playoff if it still wins the Big 10. But it won’t be the cakewalk everyone assumes. Michigan State is a real threat and football produces unusual results each season.

So while the Buckeyes deserve to be the favorite entering the season, penciling them in to repeat will be tougher than it appears on paper. –Craven

Why Ohio State Will Win The Title

Ohio State will repeat as national champions for three very simple reasons (that have nothing to do with the QB carousel): Urban Meyer, Ezekiel Elliott and the Buckeyes “favorable” schedule.

Coach Meyer told ESPN in their college football preview that Elliott is basically his shoulder to lean on.

"A coach's best friend is a running back who can shoulder the load while you figure other things out," said Meyer. "What Ezekiel Elliott did at the end of last season might be the best illustration of that I've ever seen."

Elliott ran for 696 yards and eight touchdowns in OSU’s final three games last year.  His season totals looked something like this: 273 carries for 1,878 yards and 18 touchdowns all while averaging 6.9 yards per carry.

I’m also just going to leave this stat right here: 92.7 percent.  That would be Ohio State’s win percentage since Meyer took over in 2012, giving them a 38-3 record during his tenure.  So there’s that.

Finally, we come to the schedule, which is not strong by normal standards but it is the sturdy platform with which Ohio State will build its repeat championship season on. Ohio State is favored by at least a touchdown in every game on its schedule this season, with the Michigan State game being the closest at -7.  The only other games of concern are the season opener at Virginia Tech, the midseason matchup against Penn State and the final game in the Big House.

But all signs point to the perfect storm – expect Ohio State to hoist that championship hardware again in January.   –Emily

 

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