Since the new SSG College Football playoff format began in 2014, no team has been able to successfully defend it’s National Title. Ohio State and Central Florida have each won 2 titles in the 5 seasons but they both decided to mimic baseball’s early 2010’s San Francisco Giants (won who World Series titles in 2010,2012 and 2014) with SSG Central Florida taking the odd years (2015 & 2017) and SSG Ohio State calling evens (2016 & 2018). As we look ahead to the 2019 season if you believe in patterns you have to think it’s Central Florida’s turn again. Ohio State fans might have different thoughts on the matter, and there are likely more than a dozen other schools that think this could be their year so it will be no easy task for either the Knights or the Buckeyes to win it for a third time.
For Ohio State, repeating as National Champion looks especially challenging when you consider that 4 year starting quarterback Andrew Cordova and running back Ronald Whitt, a 3 year starter who rushed for 1,931 yards a year ago to help the Buckeyes lead the nation in rushing, are both gone. In addition, the Buckeyes finding themselves looking for a new offensive co-ordinator in 2019 as well.
Running back might not be as tough a hole to fill with junior Randall Haywood and sophomore Thomas Lane both returning. Haywood gained 1,595 yards and scored 14 touchdowns while Lane ran for 511 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. Senior Steven Mercado, who gained 1,929 yards in 2016 but has played very little since, might also play a role.
Quarterback could be a different story. Like any National Champion contending school the Buckeyes have plenty of 5 star talent to step in at every position when someone moves on, and quarterback is no exception. The concern is there is very little experience returning. They likely starter is expected to be sophomore Jose Hough. Hough started 4 games last season when Cordova was hurt so he has some limited experience but he is being asked to replace one of the best leaders in the game. Cordova was a captain each of his final two seasons and started 51 career games.
While the only Buckeyes QB with any real game experience, Hough is not guaranteed to win the job. The Gainesville, Georgia native will have competition for the starting QB role in spring camp from a number of players. The Buckeyes have three other 5-star QB recruits waiting in the wings including junior Phillip Greene along with sophomores Mike Howard and James Kilpatrick. While it is highly likely the Buckeyes will add another 5-star QB in recruiting this year, it is probably unlikely that player would start as a freshman, although Cordova accomplished just that.
The defense and the running game has been Ohio State’s strength in both of it’s title seasons but you cannot discount the importance of having a quarterback with experience and poise. All eyes will be on the Ohio State quarterback, whoever he may be, come September as the one thing we do know is that QB will not be named Andrew Cordova for the first time in 4 years.