Can Ohio State compete with Clemson and Alabama? | Yahoo Sports College Podcast

Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel and Pete Thamel, and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde discuss #5 Ohio State’s roster ahead of their opener vs. Nebraska, and if they believe the Buckeyes can compete with Clemson and Alabama.

Video Transcript

DAN WETZEL: Let's get to the Buckeyes. Minus 250. Yeah, they are 26-point favorites over Nebraska this weekend. Fields, Wade, Sermon, Olave, Davis. I mean, they're loaded. I don't think we need to discuss whether they can do well in the Big Ten.


DAN WETZEL: Can they beat Clemson and Alabama? Let's go to that. Because that's their standard. Pat, let's start with you. Can Ohio State win the national championship?

PAT FORDE: I think they can. I'm not saying they will, but I think they have the talent to, and they certainly have the offensive firepower. I mean, goodness gracious. Fields is back, Olave. They've got other young receivers that are coming on. They're gonna throw it and catch it.

Their running backs, they bring in Trey Sermon, transfer from Oklahoma. They bring back Master Teague, although he's coming off an Achilles. Their offensive line is good. They're gonna score.

Defensively, they've got some holes to fill. And I know for years, they basically have grown rush ends on trees when you go from the Bosas to Chase Young. I'm not sure they have that guy this year. Zach Harrison, a really good freshman, we'll see if he's ready to take the next step there. But I think defensively they're a bit susceptible.

Can they cover Alabama's guys if you're trying to look at that sort of matchup? I don't know. So I would say they can win a national championship. They certainly could be a playoff-caliber team, and then you see what happens when you get there.

PETE THAMEL: So I'm gonna focus on the weaknesses because we've spent plenty of time on the strengths. I'm gonna start at the safety position. You're gonna have Marcus Hooker, Malik's little brother, and you're gonna have Josh Proctor. There is a lot of unknown there, and I really feel like those two players are going to sort of make the difference whether Ohio State is excellent or in that elite playoff winning caliber.

When I go up and down this Ohio State defense right now and look at that, I do not see a, oh my God, he's a first round pick guy, other than Shaun Wade. Shaun Wade is clearly that guy. After that, I don't think anyone quite pops in that same category.

And other than Justin Fields, who we all think is gonna be a top 10 pick-- he's right behind Trevor Lawrence. Although probably not right behind. Probably a pretty good distance behind but can make up some of that ground with a high-end season.

I really feel like this collection of receivers at Ohio State is one of the best that they've had. Certainly the best collection of receivers in this Meyer today era. The name that I was told who's been buzzing during camp is Jaxon Smith-- and I think you say it Njigba, but I don't honestly know. He's one of their freshmen.

Julian Fleming is obviously another excellent freshman. They are very deep there, and they feel very good. Chris Olave, first-round pick. Garrett Wilson, who was the best receiver in the country two years ago, incoming. That is a wow group.

DAN WETZEL: To Pete's point about the defensive line. If that develops into a typical Ohio State defensive line and some of these guys that were great players, great high school players, turn into that next Bosa brother, Chase Young, that kind of guy, yeah, they can beat Alabama and Clemson. If you do not get a pass rush on Trevor Lawrence, you're not going to beat Clemson. So I hate to put it down to one thing. Yes and no.

Can they get pressure on him? You got no chance if Trevor Lawrence is gonna have time. He's playing way too well. So great season though. Obviously, we expect Buckeyes to win all the games in the Big Ten. If they don't, it'll be interesting.