Ohio State might have missed out on this season’s College Football Playoff, but Buckeyes fans should be optimistic about the team’s chances next season, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Rittenberg:
“The team that fell just short of the No. 4 spot this year should have a good chance to leave no doubt about its playoff profile in 2018. Ohio State will lose key seniors and draft-eligible juniors, but its depth chart features quite a few sophomores, freshmen and juniors who will return.”
Ohio State was listed first among teams not in this season’s CFP as most likely to break through next season by Rittenberg. Many believed the Buckeyes deserved a spot in this season’s four-team field, but instead the berths went to Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia and Alabama. Ohio State instead received a berth to the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29 against USC.
The Buckeyes will look different next season, without quarterback J.T. Barrett — who Landof10’s Kyle Lamb said has a lot on the line in the Cotton Bowl. But QB Dwayne Haskins proved a solid option in limited time, most notably going 6-for-7 for 94 yards against Michigan on Nov. 25 after Barrett left late with an injury. The Buckeyes went on to win, 31-20.
If Barrett gets the starting nod in 2018 he’ll have help in the backfield, with running backs Mike Webber and J.K. Dobbins slated to return. On defense, some starters will be gone but star defensive lineman Nick Bosa will be back, among others.
For now, Ohio State is focused on USC and the Cotton Bowl, which will air Friday on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. ET.