COLUMBUS, Ohio — We are just three weeks away from the start of the 2019 Ohio State football season and the Buckeyes are in the midst of fall camp.
There are plenty of storylines to watch for this season: new coaching staff, new quarterback, new strategies, etc.
So, it’s time for a few bold predictions as to what we can expect out of the Buckeyes this season in a time of turnover and uncertainty.
J.K. Dobbins Will Have His Best Rushing Season Yet
There seems to be a little bit too much talk about Dobbins having a “comeback season” this year. After all, how can you consider returning after a 1,053-yard rushing season with 12 total touchdowns a “comeback”?
Yet, there is plenty of truth to those statements as even though Dobbins had over 1,000 rushing yards in his sophomore season, he did take quite a step back from his freshman campaign when the starting running back racked up 1,403 rushing yards, crushing the record previously held by Maurice Clarett for most rushing yards by a freshman in Ohio State history.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what happened last season that led to Dobbins’ regression. Was it the fact that he had to split reps with co-starter Mike Weber who had dealt with injuries during Dobbins’ amazing freshman season? Was it the struggles on the offensive line throughout the season? Was it the fact that Ohio State didn’t have a dual-threat quarterback and didn’t run nearly as much read-option as they historically have in recent years?
There are many factors that play into the Dobbins taking a step back last year, but Buckeye fans can expect the junior running back to bounce back in a big way this season as I predict that J.K. Dobbins will have no less than 1,500 rushing yards this year.
Dobbins has put in a lot of work in the offseason to improve and back in spring ball, he stated that he wanted to be an Ohio State legend.
“I (regressed) last year,” said Dobbins. “I didn’t have the year I needed to have and I put that on myself and I’ll get back to that this upcoming year… I just have to get better.”
And Buckeye Nation can count on Dobbins to do much better this season.
Garrett Wilson Will Be A Top-3 Wide Receiver For The Buckeyes This Season
This may be the boldest prediction I have on this list, but it’s also one of my most confident predictions this season.
Perhaps the only incoming player to garner nearly as much praise as Justin Fields is true freshman wide receiver and 2019 five-star recruit Garrett Wilson.
Wilson has had nothing but good things said about him since he showed up on campus back in January, garnering praise from his teammates, his coaches, and the media.
“He’s going to play a big part in this year’s success,” Justin Fields said during an interview with BTN earlier this week. “He’s really been a big part of this offense. He’s gained respect from the whole team in just the way he’s been on the field, off the field. He works hard, so I’m very excited about him.”
“We think Garrett is going to help us this year,” first-year head coach Ryan Day said of Wilson. “The good thing for us is we had him in the spring, so we saw him flash. He does have a lot of ability.”
“He shows flashes every day,” returning senior wide receiver K.J. Hill said of Wilson. “He’s definitely going to help us a lot this year, I feel like. I just feel like he has to have a great training camp and be consistent.”
I could continue to rattle off several more positive quotes about Wilson from teammates and coaches, but I think you all probably get the point right now.
It’s also not all just talk about Garrett Wilson. From everything that I have seen from the freshman wide receiver in open practices this year so far, Wilson has been by far one of the top receivers on the field for the Buckeyes. He certainly has lived up to his five-star rating on the practice field, and I expect that to translate to the field during live-game action this upcoming season as well.
The new Ohio State coaching staff has hinted at the fact that talent will more than likely factor in more heavily over seniority than it has in recent seasons, and despite the fact that the Buckeyes have a plethora of veteran receivers such as K.J. Hill, Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor, Garrett Wilson has already established himself as one of the top receivers for the Buckeyes, at least on the practice field.
Buckeye fans can expect to see plenty of Wilson on the field this fall as teammates and coaches have stated. I’m going to go with the bold prediction that, despite there being so many talented and experienced receivers on this roster, Wilson will finish the season as one of the top-3 leading receivers for Ohio State this season, granted that the coaching staff is smart enough to get him on the field from Game One, which they appear to be.
Ohio State Will Win Their Third Straight Big Ten Title And Go To The College Football Playoff
This shouldn’t seem like that bold of a prediction for a team coming off of back-to-back Big Ten Championship titles, but I’m going to include this as a “bold prediction” given everything that has transpired since the Buckeyes claimed the conference title this past December.
After all, just three days after the Buckeyes won their second straight Big Ten Championship, now-former head coach Urban Meyer announced that he would be retiring from coaching following Ohio State’s appearance in the Rose Bowl.
Now, the Buckeye football program is in the hands of first-time head coach Ryan Day, who held the title of interim head coach for Ohio State’s first three games of the 2018 season due to Urban Meyer’s suspension. Day won all three games as interim head coach.
Ohio State will also be without the services of their Heisman finalist quarterback from the 2018 season, Dwayne Haskins, who left the program after last season to enter the NFL Draft.
Justin Fields, the highly-touted quarterback transfer from Georgia, seems poised to take on the starting QB position for the Buckeyes this season and will look to continue the dominance at the position that Haskins accomplished in 2018.
Despite the changes on the coaching staff, the quarterback position as well as several key positions on the roster, Ohio State appears to be “reloading” instead of rebuilding this season as the Buckeyes have already come in at No. 5 in the preseason coaches poll, the highest ranking of any Big Ten team.
The biggest struggle for the Buckeyes to win their third consecutive Big Ten title is going to be their tough schedule. Despite having no major non-conference opponents this season, Ohio State still has five top-25 opponents on their regular season schedule according to the preseason Coaches poll, as well as having games vs. Penn State and at Michigan back-to-back to close out the regular season with the Big Ten Championship Game the following week should they come out on top in the Big Ten East.
Many national sports media outlets are picking Jim Harbaugh to finally bring Michigan its first conference title in 15 years this season, but don’t be fooled by all the Wolverine hype. The Buckeyes still very well deserve to be the Big Ten favorites. I believe that they will three-peat as conference champions and subsequently secure a spot in the College Football Playoff for the first time since the 2016 season.
Ohio State will kick off their 2019 campaign three weeks from today on August 31st as they take on Florida Atlantic (FAU) at Ohio Stadium in their season and home opener. Kickoff for the game is scheduled for noon ET and the game will be televised on FOX.
Get ready, Buckeye Nation. The Ohio State football season is on the horizon.
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