This season, Ohio State will look to recover from its two-loss outing a year ago, get back to the Big Ten title game, and make a run for the College Football Playoff.
How do the Buckeyes look against their 2022 football schedule?
The ESPN Football Power Index prediction machine went to work on that, simulating Ohio State’s football season 10,000 times to come up with the team’s odds in every game.
Week 1: vs. Notre Dame
Arguably the toughest game on the Buckeyes’ slate this fall, the Fighting Irish will likely be a top 10 ranked team and come in with the nation’s premier offensive line and one of the best receiving targets in tight end Michael Meyer.
But the Irish still have questions at quarterback and in the defensive backfield, against which Ohio State’s elite receiving corps should have the advantage at home.
- ESPN picks: Ohio State, 83.5%
Week 2: vs. Arkansas State
Butch Jones could be the savior the Red Wolves are looking for, but he won’t have saved this program in time for an early September tilt at Ohio Stadium.
ASU was a two-win team a year ago, one against an FCS squad, and the other against UL Monroe. An early season shot for the Buckeyes to impress the College Football Playoff selectors with a big showing.
- ESPN picks: Ohio State, 99.3%
Week 3: vs. Toledo
Toledo was a 7-6 team last fall, but this time around brings back a solid returner at quarterback, some proven production at the skill positions, and a defense that will rank inside the Top 50 nationally.
This should be an improved team when it gets into MAC play, but won’t have anything like the speed to match up against the Buckeyes’ deep threats anywhere on the field.
- ESPN picks: Ohio State, 98%
Week 4: vs. Wisconsin
Ohio State owns the last eight against the Badgers, including three Big Ten Championship Game wins.
Most of Wisconsin’s defense — a unit that ranked No. 1 ahead of Georgia in the nation in yards allowed and was second in points surrendered — won’t come back in 2022, but with the coaching and talent on offer, it should still be among the best in the conference.
Graham Mertz looks like a dud at quarterback, but Braelon Allen is already blossoming into one of the Big Ten’s best rushers — the youngster carried for 1,268 yards last season with 12 touchdowns and a nearly seven ypc average.
- ESPN picks: Ohio State, 92%
Week 5 vs. Rutgers
Rutgers’ third-worst scoring offense in the Big Ten was good for just about 19 points each time out last fall, while giving up almost 25 ppg to opponents.
Ohio State should have the easy advantage at the line of scrimmage, as the Bucks did a year ago in a 52-13 rout.
Noah Vedral should return at quarterback, but he has some real competition in Gavin Wimsatt. If the Knights make a switch there, expect a faster, more mobile offensive attack.
- ESPN picks: Ohio State, 98.5%
Week 6: at Michigan State
Ohio State stepped on a rejuvenated Spartans team last fall in a 56-7 rout, and that was with running back Kenneth Walker on the field.
He won’t be back, but quarterback Payton Thorne is, and he’ll have receiver Jaylen Reed going deep again, too.
But how well will Mel Tucker have repaired MSU’s awful secondary from year to year? The unit was by far the Big Ten’s worst in 2021 and ranked 111th in college football.
- ESPN picks: Ohio State, 83.1%
Week 7: vs. Iowa
Iowa returns much of a physical, well-coordinated defense that was Top 25 nationally, but also lost center Tyler Linderbaum and still hasn’t figured out how to consistently attack the deep field yet.
Ohio State fans don’t need reminded of the last time their team met this Big Ten West opponent: the infamous trip to Iowa City in 2017, when OSU’s playoff hopes went up in smoke in a 55-24 Hawkeye rout no one saw coming.
- ESPN picks: Ohio State, 95%
Week 8: at Penn State
Sean Clifford is back after a 3,000-yard, 21 TD outing in 2021, but Penn State has major holes to fill a defense that ranked third in scoring in the Big Ten.
James Franklin, fresh off that $75 million deal he signed last year, also needs to create a strategy running the ball after finishing second-worst in the conference last season and just lost Noah Cain to LSU. Ohio State has won the last five in this series.
- ESPN picks: Ohio State, 82.9%
Week 9: at Northwestern
Just a year removed from playing Ohio State in the Big Ten title game, the Wildcats stumbled through 2021, winning a single game in conference and losing its final six, not scoring more than 14 points in any of them.
NU was the league’s worst scoring offense and the only team that failed to score at least 200 total points. Predicting what Northwestern will be beforehand is always difficult business, but on paper this team isn’t going anywhere.
- ESPN picks: Ohio State, 96.8%
Week 10: vs. Indiana
What a difference a year made for the Hoosiers, who went from a 12th ranked, 6-2 team to a two-win afterthought.
IU was good for just 17 points per game last fall and will lose wide receiver Ty Fryfogle. But it gains Missouri transfer quarterback Conner Bazelak, a 2,500-yard passer, something for first-year coordinator Walt Bell to work with.
Indiana put up under 11 ppg in Big Ten games and allowed over 35, not exactly a formula for success.
- ESPN picks: Ohio State, 98%
Week 11: at Maryland
This was one of the more productive offenses in the Big Ten last season, good for over 440 yards per game, but the Terps surrendered over 32 points per game against conference foes and still needs help in every phase on that side of the ball.
Ohio State has combined for 139 points in its last two against Maryland, but played a nail-biting 52-51 victory last time out in College Park.
- ESPN picks: Ohio State, 90.6%
Week 12: vs. Michigan
Jim Harbaugh is back after flirting with the NFL again, but he has some major surgery to do at running back, offensive line, and defensive line — all the positions that helped win that game against Ohio State last year. And are currently weaknesses that the Buckeyes can exploit in this year’s rematch.
- ESPN picks: Ohio State, 84.8%
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