Ohio State has rolled through most of its Big Ten games in recent years, but has taken tough criticism for a weak non-conference schedule.
That changes this year, as the Buckeyes head to Norman, Oklahoma in the season's third week to take on the University of Oklahoma, a team that made the four-team postseason playoff last year.
OSU was on the outside looking in when it came playoff time last season, but they hope to get back this year, and they're hitching their hopes to veteran quarterback J.T. Barrett.
But he's one of the few well-known players who'll take the field on Saturday for the season opener. For more on the season ahead, WOSU's Steve Brown and Thomas Bradley spoke with Eric Seger from the OSU football web site Eleven Warriors.
Click the play button below to hear their conversation.
The below text is an automatic transcription of the above conversation, please excuse all errors and typos.
Steve Brown: This weekend marks the start of another Ohio State football season. Joining me in studio this morning Thomas Bradley, my co-host for our weekly sports After The Score, also with us is Eric Seger from the OSU football site Eleven Warriors. Good to have you back Eric.
Eric Seger: Good to see you guys.
Steve Brown: So it's relatively rare that a 12-1 team is considered a disappointment, but OSU really was an overwhelming favorite in the preseason last year. They did slip up with Michigan State, other than that they run the table, but they they lost a lot of players and really not even a clear cut favorite to win the conference necessarily this year.
Eric Seger: No, you know you mentioned the 12 NFL draft picks. They got 16 starters to replace, a whole bunch of new faces you know bunch of freshmen on the team now just because all those guys left and you know they're still among some favorites to win the Big Ten, but they got to take care of Michigan and Michigan State.
Thomas Bradley: Lot of new favorites, a lot of new names for Ohio State fans to learn this year, but one name they don't need to learn is quarterback J.T. Barrett. Talk about stability he will bring to this relatively young team.
Eric Seger: There's a lot on his shoulders this year and I think that's kind of the way Ohio State wants it.
It's by necessity this year because you know he's the face of the program and he doesn't have Cardale Jones pushing him anymore to play quarterback. So there's going to be a lot riding on JT, but he's you know he's been in the program for four, this is his fourth year now he's a redshirt junior and he's a good player as well.
Steve Brown: The first two games knock on wood of course, should be relative formalities against Bowling Green and the second team is escaping right now.
Eric Seger: Tulsa.
Steve Brown: Tulsa. The third game at Oklahoma. They'll probably go into that game as an underdog and everything else plays out, and is this the first time they'll be an underdog since the 2014 national title game?
Eric Seger: I believe they were, yes because they were a favorite in every single game last year because of all the talent on that team. So that's pretty crazy in itself, but I think Urban Meyer is only been an underdog at Ohio State maybe a handful of times and he's won every single game.
So you know take that for what it's worth, but taking a young team on the road against a team that went to the college football playoff last year in Oklahoma, I mean it's going to be night game, it's going to be rowdy so that that will be kind of the game for Ohio State in the first month of the season.
Thomas Bradley: This is a young team. So where where do you see them in the month of December and January? Is this a team that could sneak into the playoffs?
Eric Seger: Absolutely. Yeah.
Thomas Bradley: Or is this a that could disappoint?
Eric Seger: I know that they didn't win the conference last year. Michigan State has won the Big Ten two out of last three years and you've got to give them respect as well because they beat Ohio State two out of the last three years too.
So, but I think that they really should be you know kind of considered the favorite to win the Big Ten just because those recruiting classes in the last few years have been just pretty crazy.
And there's a lot of guys that haven't played yet and are kind of out to prove what they got. So I think that even if they would fall to OU as long as they won the Big Ten and run the table, there there's no way they're not going to be in the playoffs.
Thomas Bradley: A lot of fans a little bit north of us and Michigan might argue that Michigan will be the favorite of the conference this year.
Eric Seger: Yeah they are deep as well. They have a lot of seniors and coach Harbaugh's is an excellent coach. He's a little wacky, but he knows what he's doing.
He's got pretty much the same roster back, but they've got to get some stability a quarterback. They haven't announced their starters. That's kind of coach Harbaugh's way, but you know Michigan fans have a lot to be excited about.
Steve Brown: Looking toward this game in particular this week, Bowling Green, the obvious storyline here is this is where Urban Meyer kind of came to fame.
Eric Seger: 15 years ago.
Steve Brown: Yeah 15 years ago, that's the main storyline. Bowling Green probably doesn't stand a chance, but is there anything you're looking at from a fan standpoint even for this weekend?
Eric Seger: You know it's the first game of the season so there's a lot of excitement, and you're as a fan you're going it's got to be like who is going to be the guys that are going to use to win games this year because a lot of it outside of J.T. Barrett is just they're all new.
So you know there is that connection and Urban kind of spoke about it on Monday, how he is you know he loves that school with a special place to him and it is the place that gave him his first head coaching gig so there's a lot to look forward to with that. But Ohio State should eventually wear him down and win pretty handily I think.
Thomas Bradley: Eric Seger covers the Ohio State football team for ElevenWarriors.com and the Buckeyes opened their 2016 season tomorrow against Bowling Green, head coach Urban Meyer's old school. Eric thanks for joining us.