We are just under 100 days from the start of the new college football season and now is the perfect time to discuss expectations, predictions, and a brand-new season.
In a year that saw Jaxon Smith-Njigba sidelined with an injury for a majority of the season, another embarrassing loss against that team up North, and one last second missed field goal in the college playoffs to the eventual champion Georgia Bulldogs, there was a lot to forget for Buckeyes fans last season.
On the other hand, returning starters including Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka, Tommy Eichenberg, and Miyan Williams, as well as incoming recruits Brandon Inniss, Noah Rogers, and Carnell Tate leave a lot to look forward to when the Buckeyes take the field on September 2nd.
The Good – Starting Receivers
You will be hard pressed to find a 1-2 receiving duo better than Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka
It is crazy to think that just two years ago Ohio State’s Wide Receivers coach Brian Hartline had Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka all on the same roster. With Olave, Wilson, and now Smith-Njigba in the NFL, the attention is rightfully placed on MHJ and Egbuka to take over the reins and lead the next group of elite receivers residing in Columbus. In their first two seasons together at Ohio State, MHJ and Egbuka combined for 171 receptions for 2,744 yards and 27 touchdowns. The most out of any duo in college football last year. Fourth year wideout Julian Fleming is also poised to have another strong season after recording his strongest showing in 2022 by pulling down 34 receptions for 533 yards and six touchdowns, all career highs and third best behind MHJ and Egbuka. There are some questions as to whether their production will be interrupted by the exit of C.J. Stroud to the NFL, but recent history and film tells us that the starting receivers should pick up right where they left off last year with another big season in 2023.
The Bad – That Team Up North
A previous record of 0-5 against the Buckeyes, Coach Jim Harbaugh has rattled off consecutive wins against his archrival, the first time since 1999-2000 and his teams have done so in dominating fashion. The rivalry between 2000 and 2021 had been completely one sided with Ohio State winning 17 out of 19 contests against the Wolverines. Over the past two years, Michigan, crossing the goal line six times in each game, has outscored Ohio State 87-50, including a historic five touchdown performance from running back Hassan Haskins in 2021. There have been some concerns over Coach Ryan Day’s ability to beat Michigan as he has fallen to 1-2 against them, the first Ohio State coach to fall to Michigan more than once since Coach John Cooper’s Buckeyes recorded ten losses against the Wolverines between 1988-2000. On the bright side, newly promoted Offensive Coordinator Brian Hartline should be calling a majority of the plays this year so a change up in the coaching staff might be exactly what Ohio State needs to get back on track. Ryan Day isn’t on the hot seat yet but another loss to Michigan is something that he can’t afford.
The Undecided – Quarterback
For the first time since 2021 there will be a new starting quarterback for the Buckeyes. Both Kyle McCord and Devin Brown look to take over a program that recent quarterbacks Justin Fields and C.J. Stroud solidified their game in. McCord, who has 41 completions for 606 yards and three touchdowns under his belt while serving as the backup to Stroud the past two seasons, has the upper hand when it comes to experience between the two quarterbacks. McCord got significant playing time in the Ohio State’s spring game finishing 18-34 with 184 yards and one touchdown. Despite the lack of collegiate experience and being sidelined for the spring game due to an injury to his finger, Brown hasn’t made the competition easy for his teammate. A mobile quarterback with solid arm strength and quick releases, combined with the comfortability to escape the pocket and attack with his feet keeps Brown in the mix and ready to go week one should his number be called to start. Coach Ryan Day hasn’t named a starter yet but be on the lookout over the next few weeks as we inch closer into summer for a decision. Regardless of the outcome, Buckeyes fans should be excited about the quarterback room this year.
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