THE FAVORITE: OHIO STATE
The notion that the Buckeyes would decline because of Urban Meyer’s departure as coach was dispelled by Ryan Day in his first year. Ohio State went 13-1, ending its season with a 29-23 loss to Clemson in a College Football Playoff semifinal. Day dominated Michigan 56-27 on the road, humiliating coaching adversary Jim Harbaugh just as Meyer had. Harbaugh continued to bark at the Buckeyes during the offseason, but Harbaugh is 0-5 against Ohio State and is obviously barking up the wrong tree. While the Wolverines are still searching for the right quarterback, the Buckeyes have a Heisman Trophy candidate at the position. Justin Fields, a Georgia transfer, passed for 3,273 yards, rushed for 484 yards and accounted for 51 touchdowns in his first year in Day’s more aggressive offense.