That's what we think, so with that in mind, we're asking 20 Questions when it comes to the Ohio State football team. Every day from now until the opening game week, we'll have our BSB writers answer one question about the Ohio State football team. Some will be serious, some will be funny, and none will be "Animal, vegetable or mineral?" But all should help you think about the upcoming season, hopefully in a different way than before.
Question 7: Seven Buckeyes made 1st or 2nd team All-Big Ten last year (four are back). How many make it this year?
Ryan Ginn: This is a really hard question to answer because it’s affected by the quality (or lack thereof) of 13 other teams and is determined by a diverse panel with a vested interest in spreading out the accolades. With that being said, I think it’s safe to say that Ohio State will top last season’s total. Not only are the Buckeyes more talented, but also last year’s vote came before Ohio State’s three most impressive games of the season.
I’ll start my selections by saying I think a quarterback gets on there, and I think Ezekiel Elliott will do well enough, too. It’s pretty hard to get more than three line choices, and I’ll say that Decker and Elflein represent the Buckeyes there. The wide receiver talent in the Big Ten isn’t what it was last year, so I think Ohio State gets two of those four spots – Michael Thomas and either Braxton Miller or Jalin Marshall.
Defensively, let’s go with Joey Bosa and Adolphus Washington on the defensive line and Joshua Perry and Darron Lee at linebacker. I’m actually pretty bullish on the Ohio State secondary, but I’m only comfortable with Vonn Bell as a likely All-Big Ten guy at this point. And hey, if Cameron Johnson does well on all 10 punts, maybe this is the year Big Ten voters remember he exists. So that’s a nice dozen for the Buckeyes – not bad!
Jeff Svoboda: Now this is an amazing question. This year, no less an authority than Phil Steele has the Buckeyes with eight first-team All-Big Ten choices and five more second-team players on the roster as part of his preseason prediction, giving the Buckeyes 13 such choices. That's a pretty big number, especially when you consider seven of those players are offensive players. It would be hard to see the Buckeyes not having an All-Big Ten quarterback unless Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett split time down the middle. Ezekiel Elliott and Michael Thomas also seem like good choices, and who would rule out Braxton Miller and Jalin Marshall as potential all-league players? Nick Vannett at tight end and Pat Elflein and Taylor Decker on the line also could and should be all-league players.
Defensively, Steele put Joey Bosa, Adolphus Washington, Darron Lee and Vonn Bell on his first team, though I could also see such players as Joshua Perry, Raekwon McMillan, Eli Apple and Tyvis Powell as all-league choices. On special teams, one has to think Cam Johnston would have to be considered as well, as would a return man such as Miller, Marshall or Torrance Gibson if the Big Ten put return men on the all-conference ballot.
So what's my guess? On offense, give me whichever quarterback starts along with Elliott, Thomas, Miller, Decker and Elflein. Defensively, I think Bosa bounces back from his suspension and gets the job done. I think Perry gets to the quarterback more and earns All-Big Ten honors, and it'll be hard not to keep Bell out of the running. I'm also a big Apple fan along with Lee, so I'll take those two as well. Johnston will fully deserve all-conference honors as well, giving the Buckeyes 11 choices. It very well could be more, too, except I think the voters will want to spread the wealth, so to speak.
Blake Williams: With all due respect to Michigan State, Ohio State has so much talent relative to the rest of the conference that the Buckeyes could really dominate the all-conference list this season. I certainly see them surpassing the seven players on the first or second team that they had last year, especially considering Ezekiel Elliott wasn’t one of those seven players.
Elliott is a lock to make the all-conference team this year, especially with the departure of all four running backs that were on the first or second team in 2014. Whoever quarterbacks the Buckeyes is also a lock for a spot and I expect Taylor Decker and Pat Elflein to be honored by the conference for a second consecutive season. The Buckeyes were not represented on the first or second team at wide receiver last year and I expect that to change this season, especially considering the four pass-catchers who were recognized are no longer playing in the conference. Pencil Mike Thomas on to the first team. If the conference recognized return men Braxton Miller or Jalin Marshall would certainly be there, but I still expect one of them to sneak in to a receiver spot. Give me Nick Vannett as a first- or second-team performer as well. Jeff Heuerman made the second team a year ago and Vannett had better numbers. That’s seven on the offensive side of the ball.
Defensively, I think Joey Bosa, Darron Lee, Vonn Bell and Eli Apple all make one of the two teams. Let’s throw Joshua Perry in for good measure. I don’t think Cam Johnston will get enough opportunities to be one of the two punters selected, though he will likely deserve it. So let’s call it 11 Buckeyes on the two teams. Shockingly, this almost feels like a conservative estimate.
Question 1: Who Will Start At Quarterback For Ohio State?
Question 2: If Ohio State swapped coaches with the other team for every game, what would its regular season record be?
Question 3: How noticeable will the loss of Tom Herman be?
Question 4: If Ohio State could bring back one player from 2014 for this season, who would it be?
Question 5: More all-purpose yards: Braxton Miller, Dontre Wilson or Curtis Samuel?
Question 6: Aside from Michigan State, which Big Ten team should Buckeye fans be most worried about?