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2021 Ohio State college football preview: Buckeyes reload as national title contenders

Ohio State will go through plenty of changes on both ends of the ball, but the Buckeyes are still among the favorites to win it all in the 2021-22 season.

Ohio State Spring Game Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The Ohio State Buckeyes will replace a ton of talent that is now in the NFL and are set to bring in a new, inexperienced quarterback. But the Buckeyes are among the favorites to win the national title according to the oddsmakers on DraftKings Sportsbook.

The Urban Meyer-to-Ryan Day transition has been phenomenal in on-field results as well as recruiting, and this program is in as good of shape as just about any Nick Saban-less program in the sport. Ohio State went undefeated in their regular season games last year, and finished the season with a 7-1 record overall. The Buckeyes were blown out in the national title game against the Alabama Crimson Tide, but it doesn’t mean they’re that far away from winning it all themselves.

2020 Season Review

  • 7-1, 5-0 Big Ten, Won Big Ten Championship (22-10 vs. Northwestern), Won Sugar Bowl (49-28 vs. Clemson), Lost National Championship (52-24 Alabama)
  • Won six of eight games by double digits.

2021 Talent

2021 247Sports Composite Ranking: 2
ESPN Returning Production: 50% overall (121st): 55% offense (99th), 44% defense (119th)
Returning Talent Index: 1.02, 5th in Big Ten
Returning starters: 6/11 offense, 5/11 defense
* All rankings out of 130 FBS schools

Key Player

Quarterback: C.J. Stroud (Freshman)

The Buckeyes sent a quarterback to the first round of the NFL Draft for the second consecutive season with Justin Fields, and C.J. Stroud appears to be the next man up at the position. He threw just one pass last season that went for a 48-yard touchdown. Stroud is just a freshman, but Ohio State has the best group of wide receivers in the country for him to throw to. He is ready for a big season in Year 1 and could be a sleeper Heisman contender.

Offense (non-QB): WR Chris Olave (Senior)

The main star in this elite wide receiver group is Chris Olave, He played a big role in this offense in each of the last two seasons and in seven games, Olave averaged one touchdown and more than 100 receiving yards per game in 2020. He is a big-play wide receiver and should find his way behind Big Ten defenses often in what should be his final college football season.

Defense: DT Haskell Garrett (Senior)

The Buckeyes had a fantastic defensive line last season, and defensive tackle Haskell Garrett is set to return. He is going to play a key role in the middle of the defense. Ohio State probably has enough talent without him to roll through most teams on their schedule, but he will make his biggest difference against the top programs from the Oregon Ducks in Week 2 and their games in the College Football Playoff.

Team Stats Projections

2020 SP+ final: 2nd overall: 2nd offense, 10th defense, 86th special teams
2021 SP+ projection: 4th overall: 2nd offense, 38th defense

Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

To win national title: +400
To win Big Ten: -167
Win total: 11 (Over -125, Under +100)

2020 Against The Spread: 4-4-0
2020 Point Total: Over 5-2-1

2021 Ohio State Schedule

2021 Ohio State Football Schedule

Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Thursday, Sep. 2 at Minnesota 8:00 pm/Fox OSU -13.5
Saturday, Sep. 11 Oregon 12:00 pm/Fox OSU -10
Saturday, Sep. 18 Tulsa 3:30 pm/Fox N/A
Saturday, Sep. 25 Akron TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 2 at Rutgers TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 9 Maryland TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 16 OPEN TBA N/A
Saturday, Oct. 23 at Indiana TBA OSU -10.5
Saturday, Oct. 30 Penn State TBA OSU -12.5
Saturday, Nov. 6 at Nebraska TBA N/A
Saturday, Nov. 13 Purdue TBA OSU -23.5
Saturday, Nov. 20 Michigan State TBA OSU -26.5
Saturday, Nov. 27 at Michigan 12:00 pm/Fox OSU -10.5