Buckeyes begin uncertain season voted firmly in playoff picture

Spencer Holbrookabout 1 year
Justin Fields 9 by Birm-Lettermen Row
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields is heading into his second season as the starter. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

COLUMBUS — New season, same lofty expectations at Ohio State.

A Heisman Trophy favorite returns at quarterback. A loaded offensive line will pave the way for a record-setting offense. And a retooled defense will also look to lead the Buckeyes back to the College Football Playoff, an event they have never been to in back-to-back seasons.

Ohio State will begin its quest to return to the top of the sport on Sept. 3 at Illinois. And the Buckeyes will do so as the No. 2 team in the country, according to the Amway Coaches Poll that was released Thursday.

Clemson took the top spot after receiving 38 first-place votes. The Tigers were beaten last season in the national title game after taking out the Buckeyes in the semifinal. Ohio State, which received 17 first-place votes, is No. 2, followed by Alabama, Georgia and LSU.

As the Buckeyes begin training camp in preparation for the unprecedented, uncertain season they’re about to enter, they aren’t focused on rankings or preseason predictions. They want to win a national title, something they were close to last season before coming up short.

“We want to start off with beating [Michigan] and winning a Big Ten championship,” Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields said. “Then we want to go on, win the first playoff game and win the national championship. I think those are what the team is focused on right now.”

The Buckeyes are the top-rated team in the Big Ten. Six Big Ten teams are ranked in the preseason poll. Penn State is second in the league with the coaches voting it as the No. 7 team in America. Ohio State is scheduled to face the Nittany Lions on Nov. 7. Wisconsin checks in at No. 12, while Michigan is No. 15. Minnesota is No. 18 and Iowa is No. 23.

Ohio State-Ohio Stadium-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State is scheduled for its home opener against Rutgers on Sept. 12. (Greg Bartram/Imagn)

Amway Coaches Poll (Preseason)

No. 1 Clemson

No. 2 Ohio State

No. 3 Alabama

No. 4 Georgia

No. 5 LSU

No. 6 Oklahoma

No. 7 Penn State

No. 8 Florida

No. 9 Oregon

No. 10 Notre Dame

No. 11 Auburn

No. 12 Wisconsin

No. 13 Texas A&M

No. 14 Texas

No. 15 Michigan

No. 16 Oklahoma State

No. 17 Southern California

No. 18 Minnesota

No. 19 North Carolina

No. 20 Utah

No. 21 Central Florida

No. 22 Cincinnati

No. 23 Iowa

No. 24 Virginia Tech

No. 25 Iowa State