Just How Good Is Ohio State?

Tommy Gilligan / USA TODAY Sports
Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

The first week of the U.S. college football season wraps up with a Labor Day game featuring Ohio State University, the defending national champs. If you’ve missed the hype (and there’s been a ton of it), the Buckeyes are expected to turn in one of the better seasons in the history of the sport.

In late August, the Buckeyes became the first-ever team to be named the unanimous No. 1 selection in the 65-year history of the preseason Associated Press college football poll. Elsewhere, in a round-up of preseason predictions, 29 of 47 sportswriters picked the team to win the national championship again; the next closest teams garnered four votes each.

One major reason the Buckeyes are expected to be so dominant is because of their ability to retain quality players. Fifteen of the Ohio State’s combined starters on last year’s offense and defense are back with the team this year. That list includes running back Ezekiel Elliott, whom many believe to be a lead contender for the Heisman Trophy, three standout quarterbacks, and Joey Bosa, a defense end whom some predict will be the top pick in next year’s NFL Draft. (Sports prognosticators are also predicting that players from this year’s Ohio State team could break the record for the number of players selected from one school in next year’s NFL draft.) It also helps that their coach, Urban Meyer, is one of two college football coaches to win a national title with two different schools.

But before all that, the Buckeyes have to win their first game tonight. Their opponent is Virginia Tech, which upset Ohio State in the second game of the season last year. It was the Buckeyes only loss last year.