Ohio State is again the odds on favorite to win the Big Ten. But despite being the favorite year-after-year, it hasn’t won the league more often than not under Urban Meyer. Which team is the biggest threat to the Buckeyes’ chances to take the conference crown this year?
Buckeye Battle Cry: What Team Poses the Greatest Threat To Ohio State’s Chances At A B1G Title In 2018
College football is starting to approach in the rear-view mirror and for places like Columbus, Ohio, expectations will be sky high yet again. Simply put, it’s Big Ten Championship and College Football Playoffs or bust almost yearly for Ohio State.
But, as always, other contenders will be there — especially in the best division in all of college football — the Big Ten East.
So who will rise up and be the biggest threat towards Ohio State repeating in the conference? Is it Penn State, Michigan State, or will Michigan finally come through? What about Wisconsin?
The writers discuss in the latest Buckeye Battle Cry.
Contact/Follow Terry Johnson
Although both Penn State and Wisconsin have the talent to upset the Buckeyes, Michigan State is the team to watch.
Make no mistake about it: Sparty has derailed OSU’s national championship hopes quite a few times in recent history. The Spartans won a hard-fought 17-14 decision in Columbus in 2015, which eliminated OSU from the Big Ten championship game (and ultimately, the College Football Playoff). They did the same thing in 2013, dominating OSU in the fourth quarter to ruin a perfect season. Likewise, the Spartans made play after play in the second half of the 1998 contest, costing the Buckeyes a chance at the national championship.
Put differently, Michigan State ruined 15% of Ohio State’s seasons over the past 20 years.
There’s no reason to think that Michigan State couldn’t do it again this year. The Spartans return 19 starters from last season’s squad, including nine from a stellar defense that ranked seventh nationally in yards per game. Add in the added motivation of avenging an embarrassing 48-3 loss and this contest has all the makings of an upset special.
Contact/Follow Phil Harrison
I can get on board with Michigan State, but I actually think the Spartans’ big brother is flying under the radar this year and poses the biggest threat.
Yeah, Jim Harbaugh has been the punchline of a few jokes from Ohio State fans since arriving in Ann Arbor, but he’s quietly put together a team that — for once — might be taken for granted.
The Wolverines return nine of eleven starters from a defense that was a top five unit, have a bushel of skill position players back, and might actually have a quarterback that can be more than the black-sheep of the offense with the transfer of Ole Miss QB Shea Patterson.
I’m not calling for it, I just think things could be more interesting with this team in Ann Arbor than many believe.
Contact/Follow Mark Russell
I feel like Michigan State poses the greatest threat to another Buckeye Big Ten Championship.
Sparty is coming off the 2017 season posting 10 wins with one of the youngest rosters in all of college football. 23 returning players have starting experience.
Michigan State boasted one of top defenses in the country last year and have nine starters returning. Yes, I know the Bucks hung close to half a hundred on them in 2017, but being a top 20 defense in the best division in college football has to count for something.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Spartans got a big boost when running back LJ Scott decided to return for his senior season. And quarterback Brian Lewerke has shown signs of brilliance under center. Lewerke compiled over 3300 yards of total offense in 2017, second most in program history.
Michigan State has seemed to have a propensity to sneak up on OSU in recent history. Sparty is often overlooked and Mark Dantonio plays the “no respect” card better than anyone to get the most out of his guys.
On paper, Ohio State is without a doubt the better team, but the game won’t be played on paper. November in East Lansing is almost never fun and the Bucks had better come prepared for a battle.