COLUMBUS, Ohio — Confetti is probably still stuck to the Cotton Bowl trophy, and Ohio State certainly earned a couple days to relax after capping its season with one more win over a top-shelf opponent.
But there’s no time to rest here now that 2018 has arrived. Sure, the sprint to the traditional end of the recruiting period is ahead this month and spring practice is still a couple months away. Since when should that stop us from making some way-too-early predictions about what’s going to happen with the Buckeyes next season?
Let’s get to it with five crystal-ball projections that are certain to be accurate.
1. Dwayne Haskins will be the next starting quarterback
Maybe this doesn’t qualify as going out on a limb, but considering the importance of the quarterback position and how long Ohio State was able to rely on stability behind center, this is the perfect place to start as the program moves on from J.T. Barrett. Dwayne Haskins has all the tools needed to be the guy to make a smooth, successful transition for the Buckeyes. The glimpses at his arm strength, the composure he showed in leading Ohio State back in The Game and better mobility than he perhaps gets credit for are just part of the equation. But by the end of spring practice, it will be clear that Haskins is solidly in the top spot on the depth chart.
2. Nick Bosa is going to top his brother in career sacks
The rotation of the Rushmen has perhaps kept Nick Bosa’s numbers a bit lower than they could be thanks to a lighter load of snaps. But that shouldn’t be as much of a factor next season, which should allow Bosa to chase down his big brother’s career sack total — and top it. Joey finished with 26 sacks during his decorated career, and Nick will head into what will likely be his last season at Ohio State with 13.5. Based on his development and the opportunity to play more, the bet here is that little brother is going to get some bragging rights at home.
3. Ryan Day will be the next branch on the Urban Meyer coaching tree
Ohio State’s quarterbacks coach has already had at least one opportunity to take over a program in the SEC, according to Urban Meyer. And there will be more chances for Ryan Day to take his offensive creativity and ability to relate to players off to lead his own team soon. There’s no telling which job will be open or enticing enough to get Day to leave a comfortable spot with the Buckeyes, but if Haskins shines in his first season as a starter there will absolutely be offers coming Day’s way. After working two years for Meyer, he’ll also have the full support of the boss to move on with his career.
4. Ohio State isn’t going to run table
Anybody who hadn’t already recognized the strength of the Big Ten shouldn’t be in the dark now after that dominant display during bowl season. (It appears that the College Football Playoff selection committee may have needed the reminder, although maybe now it will have learned the lesson that the champion of the best league in the country should be in the four-team field. But that’s another story.) All of that power in the league, though, is going to make it close to impossible to navigate the season without suffering a setback. Ohio State is going to be the favorite to defend the conference championship, and I’m picking the Buckeyes to win the Big Ten again. But just looking at road trips to Penn State and Michigan State, there’s a good chance the Buckeyes won’t get to Indianapolis unscathed.
5. The next starting center will win Rimington Trophy
Who is going to replace Billy Price? Honestly, I have no idea what’s going to happen in a key position battle that will feature at least Brady Taylor and Matthew Burrell, and perhaps a wildcard or two. All I know is that when Ohio State settles on a snapper, the program has shown a remarkable knack for developing him into the best center in the country. Now, obviously it helps to have experienced, supremely talented guards such as Price or Pat Elflein taking over that spot. But after back-to-back Rimington victories, I’m just going to give the Buckeyes the benefit of the doubt on doing it again.