Finally, the Big Ten has announced its updated plans for a fall 2020 football season, with the conference officially reversing course on its August decision to punt football until the spring. The Big Ten has reportedly unanimously voted to begin its season Oct. 24.
Taking into account opt-outs, here is my projected order of finish for the conference.
1. Ohio State
2. Penn State
5. Michigan State
Ohio State seems primed to run away from the pack in the Big Ten, but a pair of potential All-Americasn have opted out of the season in recent days. Offensive lineman Wyatt Davis is out and so is cornerback Shaun Wade, who was the only returning starter in the secondary.
What can you say about Ohio State? The Buckeyes are loaded again despite losing superstar running back J.K. Dobbins and defensive end Chase Young. Heisman Trophy frontrunner Justin Fields is back to lead the Big Ten’s top offense from last season (46.9 points per game), and the Buckeyes can build around receiver Chris Olave, who averaged more than 17 yards per catch. The big question mark is running back Master Teague, who suffered an injury in the spring. Will Oklahoma transfer Trey Sermon, who has also battled injuries, potentially step in if Teague is not ready when the season begins? The pandemic provided Teague some much-needed extra time to rehabilitate and get stronger.
Kerry Coombs is now the defensive coordinator and must replace a sack machine (Young), six defensive backs and two players (Young and linebacker Malik Harrison) who combined for more than 37 tackles for loss. Simply put, a lot more will be asked from Fields and a wide variety of talented (and young) receivers as the defense could potentially take a small step backward in the fall with only two returning starters.
Ryan Day seemingly had Ohio State playing with better focus in 2019, and the Buckeyes should be more motivated after the loss to Clemson in the playoff.