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Ohio State Buckeyes 2022 Season Preview

Ohio State Buckeyes
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

The Ohio State Buckeyes closed out the 2021 season in a situation they preferred not to be in as a program. Their eight-game winning streak against their rival, the Michigan Wolverines, was snapped, signaling elimination from the college football playoff. The program had made two back-to-back trips to the postseason. Unfortunately, the Buckeyes had suffered an early season loss to the Oregon Ducks, putting their playoff hopes in limbo. On a positive note, we got a glimpse into the future of how dangerous the Buckeyes can become for the 2022 campaign. The Rose Bowl featured the Buckeyes taking on the Utah Utes of the Pac-12 Conference. The game seemed to be Utah’s for the taking until the Buckeyes rallied from behind.

What stood out from that game was the skillset of Buckeyes wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Smith-Njigba set a Rose Bowl record with 347 receiving yards and three touchdowns. His teammate Marvin Harrison Jr. also contributed with three touchdowns as well. The Buckeyes would win 48-45 over the Utes. Like Alabama, Ohio State lost their top receivers to the NFL, Chris Olave, and Garrett Wilson. But they seemed to have reliable options ready to take their places, such as Smith-Njiba and Harrison. 

Previewing Ohio State’s Offense

The unit will feature some of the best players at critical positions in the Ohio State offense. Their top player, quarterback C.J. Stroud returns under center with many weapons. In the previous year, he established himself as a Heisman Trophy candidate and a future first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Stroud closed out the 2021 campaign by throwing for 4,435 yards, 44 TDs, and six interceptions. In addition, wide receiver Smith-Njigba will take on the leading role as the Buckeyes’ number one option in the passing game.

Last season he set a school record with 1,606 yards while playing among NFL-ready prospects in Olave and Wilson. An intriguing element of the Buckeyes’ offense is running back TreVeyon Henderson. He accounted for 1,248 rushing yards and 15 TDs last season. Henderson is a prime candidate to become a breakout player for the Buckeyes’ offense in 2022. If that’s the case, he may find himself among Stroud and others at the Heisman Trophy presentation ceremony.

Previewing Ohio State’s Defense

For a program known for producing elite talent on defense, 2021 was not the case for the unit. An early indicator of how Ohio State would perform on defense was an earlier game against Oregon. The team could not match the Ducks’ physicality that was put on display.

As a result, Ohio State would lose to Oregon 35-28. Those deficiencies would show up once more in the finale against arch-rival Michigan. With one loss on the season already, the Buckeyes’ national title hopes were pretty much sealed after their winning streak against the Wolverines was snapped.

While the defense was ranked in the top five in categories such as sacks and interceptions, they ranked ninth in points allowed (22.8.). To mitigate those issues, the Buckeyes hired renowned defensive guru Jim Knowles as their coordinator. Knowles will also have duties as the team’s linebackers coach as well.

A player to watch is defensive end, Jack Sawyer. Knowles likes his versatility and believes he can be moved around the defensive line. Sawyer will be surrounded by veteran players such as Taron Vincent, Jerron Cage, and Ty Hamilton. The unit is also expecting another productive year out of linebacker Tommy Eichenberg. He had a stellar outing at the Rose Bowl when he accounted for 17 tackles.

Important Games

Notre Dame: September 3

Michigan State: October 8

Penn State: October 29

Michigan: November 26

Win-Loss Projections: 12-0 (National Title Contender)

Ohio State’s offense is among the best in the country. They have NFL-level talent at critical positions. The defense will be under the guidance of Jim Knowles, a person who orchestrated the turnaround with Oklahoma State’s unit on defense. The matchups against Penn State, Michigan State, and Michigan could have playoff implications. If the defense shows significant improvement under Knowles, a CFP berth should be highly attainable.

Meet Derrick Branch, the founder and chief wordsmith at Strike 7 Sports. With a sharp focus on the NFL and the NBA, Derrick's expertise in sports is matched only by his passion for sharing it with others. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from the prestigious University of Arizona Global. Let his insightful and engaging writing take you to the heart of the action.

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