Despite massive personnel losses and the least-experienced roster in the country, Ohio State is picked to win the Big Ten by college football guru Phil Steele.
That might surprise long-time readers of Steele — proudly declares himself the most accurate predictor in a crowded field of CFB prognosticators — because the Buckeyes feature heavily in one of the annual features Steele relies on to come up with his overall rankings: The “draft day hangover.”
Per Steele’s system that awards points based on how highly a player was drafted, Ohio State nearly lapped the field in terms of not just draft losses but quality personnel walking out the door. The Buckeyes’ 63 points are nearly double the 36 of Alabama and 35 for Notre Dame.
Why does that matter? Steele writes in his annual preview magazine teams that amass 12 or more points over the past 19 years he analyzed ended up with a worse record than the previous season more than 65 percent of the time.
Of the 20 teams that had more than 35 points in Steele’s system in a given year, 15 had a worse record than the previous season – though it is worth mentioning one of the teams to buck that trend was Ohio State in 2006. Two of the other exceptions — 2012 Alabama and ’14 Florida State – came in the last four seasons.
But coach Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes are still No. 9 in Steele’s national “power poll” and his pick to win the Big Ten East. The power poll is derived from a combination of nine metrics Steele has developed over the year.
Iowa is predicted to defend its Big Ten West title, thanks in part to a weak schedule that does not include Ohio State or Michigan State. The Hawkeyes play Michigan, Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin, but all those games will be in Iowa City.
Ohio State returns only three starters on offense, three starters on defense and 40 percent of its letterwinners overall.