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Jim Fuller’s Top 25 Teams To Watch: No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes

Big Ten Favorite Looking to Reverse ATS Struggles

A promising 2022 season came to a disappointing end as Ohio State dropped games to Michigan and Georgia after opening the year with 11 straight wins, all by double digits. When looking at the NCAA football predictions, the Buckeyes failed to cover in just two of their first seven games before going 2-4 against the spread down the stretch.

The Buckeyes’ incoming freshman class was ranked fourth by the 247sports.com database.

Jim Fuller's Top 25 Teams To Watch: No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes
Carnell Tate #17 of the Ohio State Buckeyes makes a catch for a touchdown /Ben Jackson/Getty Images/AFP

The Buckeyes brought in three of the top 10-rated receivers with Carnell Tate, Brandon Inniss, and Noah Rogers leading the Ohio State recruiting class. Safety Malik Hartford was the top in-state recruit as Ohio State signed seven top-100 recruits

Ohio State went with quality over quantity when it came to working the transfer portal.

Ole Miss cornerback Davison Igbinosun, Syracuse safety Ja’Hada Carter, Northwestern safety Nigel Glover, Notre Dame receiver Lorenzo Styles, Ole Miss defensive lineman Tywone Malone and San Diego State offensive lineman Josh Simmons lead the list of incoming transfers.

Cornerback JK Johnson (LSU), linebacker Javontae JeanBaptiste (Notre Dame), receiver Caleb Burton (Auburn), offensive lineman Ben Christman (Kentucky) as well as safeties Jantzen Dunn (Kentucky) and Jaylen Johnson (Memphis) headed elsewhere.

According to college football odds, Ohio State (+700) is third in the odds to win the national title. The Buckeyes are ranked third in the Associated Press preseason poll and fourth in the coaches’ polls, trailing Big Ten rival Michigan in both polls.

Ohio State received eight of the 37 first-place votes and finished second to Michigan in the Big Ten East Division preseason media poll. However, when it came to the Las Vegas odds, Ohio State was the top pick at +160 to win the Big Ten title and came in at +110 in the odds to win the Big Ten East Division crown.

Ohio State Buckeyes

  • 2022 record: 11-2
  • 2022 Big Ten record: 8-1
  • Head coach: Ryan Day
  • Odds to win conference title: +160

The big question is who will be the starting quarterback after C.J. Stroud threw 85 touchdown passes and had 12 interceptions in 25 games as the Ohio State starter over the last two seasons.

There are reports that Kyle McCord and Devin Brown are still running neck-and-neck in the race to replace Stroud as the No. 1 QB.

McCord, who is 41-for-58 passing for 606 yards and three touchdowns over the last two seasons, is priced at +2200 in the Heisman Trophy odds. Brown threw just one pass for Ohio State a season ago and he comes in at +3500 in the odds to win the Heisman Trophy.

Whoever gets the job will be throwing the ball in the direction of superstar receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. early and often.

Harrison led the Buckeyes with 77 catches, 1,263 receiving yards, and 14 touchdowns in 2022. He is said to be bigger and faster than he was last season, and if the team that secures the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft is comfortable with their quarterback situation, it is possible that Harrison could become the first receiver to go first overall in the draft since Keyshawn Johnson in 1996.

Oh, by the way, Emeka Egbuka is also back after he had 74 catches, 1,151 receiving yards, and 10 touchdowns as a sophomore. Tight end Cade Stover added 36 catches and five touchdowns. The Buckeyes added Styles from Notre Dame and he had 30 catches in 2022 for the Fighting Irish. Julian Fleming would be a No. 1 pass catcher for most teams so there probably isn’t a team in the country with more game-breaking options in the passing game.

The running back room is pretty impressive as well. TreVeyon Henderson ran for 1,255 yards as a freshman before injuries limited him to less than 600 yards in 2022. Miyan Williams took on a larger role with Henderson missing five games and he might have topped 1,000 yards had he played in all 13 games. The 225-pound Williams had 14 TD runs as well.

Both starting tackles (Paris Johnson and Dawand Jones) are off to the NFL. Guards Matthew Jones and Donovan Jackson lead the returnees on the offensive line.

Ohio State finished sixth in the Big Ten in total defense and seven in scoring defense. Giving up big plays was an issue for the Buckeyes, who were tied for the conference lead as they allowed 11 plays from scrimmage of 50 yards or longer.

Tommy Eichenberg (120 tackles) and Steele Chambers (77 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions) lead the list of returning players on defense while Denzel Burke is an elite cornerback.

The defensive line is led by end Jack Sawyer and JT Tuimoloau while Michael Hall had 4.5 sacks on the interior a season ago.

Transfers Igbinosun, Carter, and Glover should improve the play in the secondary.

Those who bet online might want to keep in mind that 10 of Ohio State’s last 11 games finished over the total.

Ohio State allowed 87 points and 1,063 yards in the two losses and that needs to change for Ohio State to live up to the expectations in 2023.


If Ohio State was able to come up with one more defensive stop, the Buckeyes would probably be the defending national champions. Ohio State led Georgia late in the national semifinal only to allow the game-winning score with 54 seconds left to play as Georgia overcame a 14-point deficit in the final quarter.

With the ease in which Georgia dispatched Texas Christian in the national title game, would things have been that much different if Ohio State was playing in the College Football Playoff championship game?

Replacing Stroud will not be easy. However, there is more than enough talent for the Buckeyes to return to the CFP in 2023, especially if the defense shows some improvement.

Ohio State begins the season with a conference game as the Buckeyes head to Indiana. The Hoosiers were picked to finish near the bottom of the Big Ten in 2023.

The college football spreads list Ohio State as the 29½-point favorite in the season opener. The biggest test in the first month will come during a Sept. 23 trip to South Bend to face Notre Dame. The Buckeyes finished with a season-low 21 points in a win over the Fighting Irish in the 2022 season opener.

A three-game stretch in October against Purdue, Penn State, and Wisconsin could be rather challenging. Only the Penn State showdown is at home. Penn State is ranked in the top 10 in both national polls and should be a tough test.

Naturally, all eyes will be on the regular-season finale against Michigan with the 2023 game at the Big House in Ann Arbor. In recent years, the winner of that game also won the Big Ten championship.

Ohio State has won at least 10 games in 10 of the last 11 seasons, and the lone exception came during the 2020 campaign when the global pandemic limited the Buckeyes to eight games.

The price is set at -110 for Ohio State to go over 10½ regular-season wins and -120 to finish under that total so it could be another special season in Columbus.

2023 Schedule

  • Sept. 2 at Indiana
  • Sept. 9 vs Youngstown State
  • Sept. 16 vs Western Kentucky
  • Sept. 23 at Notre Dame
  • Oct. 7 vs Maryland
  • Oct. 14 at Purdue
  • Oct. 21 vs Penn State
  • Oct. 28 at Wisconsin
  • Nov. 4 at Rutgers
  • Nov. 11 vs Michigan State
  • Nov. 18 vs Minnesota
  • Nov. 25 at Michigan

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