Some preseason questions for Ohio State and the Big Ten

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

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

One of those callbacks is when the big conferences, the so-called Power 5 conferences, hold their pre-season media days.

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

Here are some questions for Ohio State and the Big Ten as we approach this event:

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

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

Ohio State struggled with pass defense last year. Opposing quarterbacks threw 61% of their throws against OSU, which ranked No. 87 nationally in passing yards allowed.

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

Question: Can CJ Stroud win the Heisman Trophy?

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

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

It could depend on which team is undefeated by the time the Heisman votes are due days after the Big Ten and SEC championship games. It could be a tiebreaker if Stroud and Young are the top two contenders.

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

Answer: Because OSU’s goal is to stay undefeated and play for a national championship, it’s safe to say they all are.

You could say Michigan’s game, because losing two years in a row to the Wolverines would turn the world upside down at Ohio State. But this game is at home and there will be a lot 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 seems

as 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 has 16 teams, with maybe more on the way?

Answer: If there is a way to make a lot of money by changing your name, it will happen. On the other hand, caution may be in order, as Legends and Leaders didn’t fare too well when the Big Ten hastily picked names for their divisions in 2011.

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

Answer: Probably only if Notre-Dame wishes to join the Big Ten. This may be the only way to get there quickly. And ND doesn’t seem to be in a rush to decide whether to stay independent or join a conference.

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

Answer: 1. Pat Fitzgerald (Northwest); 2. (tie) Ryan Day (Ohio State), Kirk Ferentz (Iowa), Paul Chryst (Wisconsin); Mel Tucker (Michigan State), Greg Schiano (Rutgers); 3. (tie) Jim Harbaugh (Michigan), PJ 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 is a player to cheer on to finally stay healthy and get on the court for Ohio State?

Answer: Two come immediately to mind and there are probably more.

Julian Fleming was ranked the No. 1 receiver nationally in the 2020 recruiting class but, at least in part due to multiple injuries, he caught just 19 passes, including one for a touchdown, in his two first seasons at OSU.

The other is Kamryn Baab, who played just 31 snaps offensively in four seasons because he tore his ACL in both knees twice, dating back to his senior high school season. He was ranked among the top 100 recruits nationally 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 forget 5-star linebacker CJ Hicks. He’s playing in a position where OSU doesn’t have a lot of talent.

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

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

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

Answer: lose against Notre-Dame. Lose again to Michigan. Then these two teams compete 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.

Contact Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau

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