Eight position by position predictions for Ohio State the rest of the season:
The No. 1 thing to look for and hope for is good health for J.T. Barrett, now that he has regained the starting job that many people expected him to have all season.
Cardale Jones, who started the first seven games, will probably have a limited role unless a situation arises where OSU needs to throw the ball on almost every play or Barrett is unable to play.
Even with Barrett back in the lineup, Ezekiel Elliott will continue to be the irreplaceable player on the offensive side of the ball for Ohio State.
At some point, his streak of 13 consecutive games of rushing for more than 100 yards will come to an end. That could happen one of three ways — Ohio State is blowing someone out and the starters come out of the game early; he gets injured before he gets to 100 yards; or he’s an NFL rookie next year when the streak ends.
For a guy who caught 54 passes last season, including big ones against Michigan State and Alabama, Michael Thomas has heard a lot about who he isn’t, not who he is. He doesn’t have Devin Smith’s incredible ability to track a deep throw but he has had more than 100 yards receiving in two of OSU’s last three games. Expect more games like that.
Every time Braxton Miller makes a spectacular play, like his juggling catch against Rutgers, it is followed by coach Urban Meyer saying he needs to get the ball more. Will it happen this time?
Probably no unit has appeared more eneregized by Barrett’s return than Ohio State’s offensive line. The potential peril for the line is that it is not deep. As long as the starting unit stays together, OSU should continue producing 500 or more yards of offense per game.
The future should hold more of the same for this position group, which is a good thing. Joey Bosa and Adolphus Washington are dominating players and Tyquan Lewis and Sam Hubbard will continue to get better. And they’re not too shabby as they are now.
Want to know how valuable linebacker Joshua Perry is to Ohio State’s defense? After the senior captain went out of the Penn State game on the Nittany Lions’ second play of the game, they ran for 230 yards, including 194 yards on 26 carries by freshman Saquon Barkley. When he returned last week, Rutgers ran for 104 yards.
Another thing to look for is a big play or two by Darron Lee. He can get to quarterbacks and he can get to the end zone.
Early last season, cornerback Eli Apple and safety Vonn Bell were still proving themselves. This year, they’re veterans and Bell might be the standout of the defensive backfield. Like the offensive line coaches, the defensive backfield coaches will be holding their breath and hoping to keep the starters on the field.
Cam Burrows’ and Erick Smith’s injury, along with Damon Webb’s suspension, have left the Buckeyes thin at this position.
Bold prediction: Ohio State will have a field goal kicker connect from 40 yards or longer. Jack Willoughby has a career-best of 39 yards and back-up kicker Sean Nuernberger was 5 of 10 beyond 40 yards last season.