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Know Your Foe, Week 7: No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes

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You need to know your nutty neighbors at The Ohio State University. 

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Ohio State University

Location: Columbus, Ohio
Enrollment: 64,868
Home Stadium: Ohio Stadium
Head Coach: Urban Meyer (5th year, 56-4, .933)
Conference: Big Ten (East Division)

Series History

First Game: November 16, 1912 (Penn State won 37-0)
Last Game: October 17. 2015 (Ohio State won 38-10)
Overall: Ohio State leads 18-13
Current Win Streak: 4, Ohio State

Last Season (12-1 overall, 7-1 conference in 2015)

The Buckeyes had a banner year during Meyer’s fourth year as head coach, going 12-1, losing only to Michigan State. Not bad for the 2014 national champions. Ohio State tied for the East Division championship with Michigan State and went bowling at the Fiesta Bowl, where the #7 Buckeyes defeated #8 Notre Dame 44-28. Ohio State finished the season ranked No. 4 in the AP Poll.

Offseason

After a winning season, many expected some senior level leaders to depart, but likely didn’t expect that the Buckeyes would have 12 players enter into the 2016 NFL draft, including nine underclassmen declaring. Some key departures included quarterback Cardale Jones, wide receiver Michael Thomas, running back Ezekiel Elliot, defensive end Joey Bosa and wide receiver Braxton Miller along with underclassmen safety Vonn Bell and corner Eli Apple, just to name a few.

What’s helping Ohio State get past these losses is their 2016 class, the nation’s number four recruiting class (first in the Big Ten) as compared to PSU’s 2016 class ranked at 20th in the nation, fourth in the Big10 . Urban Meyer landed commitments from several five and four-star athletes, including five-star defensive end Nick Bosa, and four-star players Binjimen Victor (wide receiver), Dwayne Haskins (quarterback), Keandre Jones (linebacker), and Malcolm Pridgeon (JUCO offensive tackle).

Last year, the Buckeyes had a notable player change, with the suspension of wide receiver Torrance Gibson for the fall 2016 semester (due to an unspecified violation of the university’s code of student conduct).

Ohio State also had a few coaching changes, first when offensive coordinator Tom Herman left for the head coaching job at Houston, with former Nebraska Coach Tim Beck joining to replace him. Stan Drayton took a running backs coaching job at the Chicago Bears, and was replaced by former Notre Dame coach Tony Alford.

Last Week

The Buckeyes are 6-0 overall for 2016. OSU played No. 8 Wisconsin on the road last week, coming back from 10 point deficits twice to defeat the Badgers in overtime 30-23. The Buckeyes trailed 16-6 heading into the half, with their only points in the first half from kicker Tyler Durbin. That must have been some halftime pep talk, because the Buckeyes came back with scores in the third, fourth and in overtime.

J.T. Barrett accounted for 318 yards of total offense and three touchdowns in a 30-23 overtime win. Barrett scored two rushing touchdowns, and connected with Noah Brown on a touchdown pass in overtime for the final score. He finished 17 of 29 for 226 yards with one interception, and ran for 92 yards on 21 carries.

Corey Clement ran for 164 yards on 25 carries for Wisconsin (4-2, 1-2). Tyler Durbin, the Buckeyes’ walk-on kicker, hit a career-best three field goals during the game. with the final kick with less than four minutes to go in the fourth quarter, pushing the Buckeyes into overtime.

Offense

With multiple underclassmen departing for the NFL, Ohio State returns just 22% of their offense, but they’ve got QB Barrett, Ohio State’s all time leader, with 89 touchdowns, beating Braxton Miller’s previous record of 88. Barrett became Ohio State's all-time leader in touchdown passes with 61 in his career.

There’s no question that the Buckeyes are a high scoring offense, with Ohio State averaging 49.3 points per game (fourth in FBS and second in the Big Ten). The Buckeyes also rank fourth in the nation and first in the Big Ten rushing, averaging 300.5 yards per game. Mike Weber (102.0), Curtis Samuel (76.0) and J.T. Barrett (72.3) all rank in the Top 12 in the Big Ten for rushing yards per game.

RB Mike Weber is second in the Big Ten with 102 yards per game with four Touchdowns. He has totaled 612 rushing yards on 94 attempts.

Defense

The Buckeyes are returning only 36% of their defense this year, but that doesn’t seem to be causing them any problems on defense . Ohio State is ranked No. 11 nationally in total defense and No. 7 against the run. The Buckeyes are 3rd in FBS in scoring defense, allowing just 12.8 points per game. They gave up their first rushing touchdown at Wisconsin, leading the FBS with just that aforementioned rushing touchdown allowed on the season. They’re also 4th in FBS in turnover margin, with 13 turnovers caused. And they’re doing it with 6 juniors, 4 sophomores and 1 freshman starting each game.

Junior Raekwon McMillan, one of the best defensive players in college football, boasts 36 tackles overall and 2.5 TFL this year. Keep an eye on linebacker Jerome Baker, who leads Ohio State with 39 tackles and 5 TFL this year, and Malik Hooker, who leads the Big Ten with 4 interceptions.

Special Teams

With kicker Sean Nuernberger out with a groin muscle pull, walk-on Tyler Durbin started the year at kicker. He’s a recent transfer from James Madison University and a former college soccer player who had never kicked a football before giving it a try as a walk-on at OSU. He’s doing fine at 8 for 8 on the season, leading the Big Ten in scoring and kick scoring.

Blog

Read more about The Ohio State University Buckeyes football team at Land-Grant Holy Land, the SB Nation blog for Ohio State.