Ohio State football preview: Buckeyes 2017 schedule, roster and three things to watch

Urban Meyer has embraced the future at Ohio State. And he's using it to the Buckeyes' advantage.

Urban Meyer enters his sixth year at Ohio State after compiling a 61-6 record the past five seasons, and the coach has the Buckeyes in familiar territory heading into 2017.

Ohio State will be among the favorites to win the Big Ten East Division and perhaps make a run at a third berth in the College Football Playoff. The Buckeyes made some coaching changes —including the hiring of former Indiana coach Kevin Wilson as offensive coordinator and Ryan Day as quarterback coach —after a 31-0 loss to Clemson in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. The offense can thrive around J.T. Barrett, who returns as one of the most-decorated quarterbacks in Big Ten history.

MORE: What's Urban Meyer's recruiting secret?

The Buckeyes are ranked No. 4 in Sporting News' Way-Too-Early Top 25, and here's a preview of Ohio State’s 2017 schedule, roster and biggest questions entering the season.

When is Ohio State's spring game?

Ohio State’s LiFE Sports spring game is scheduled for April 15 at 12:30 p.m. at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

Where will Ohio State's spring game be televised?

Ohio State’s spring game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

2017 Ohio State football schedule

Aug. 31: at Indiana (Thursday)

Sept. 9: vs. Oklahoma

Sept. 16: vs. Army

Sept. 23: vs. UNLV

Sept. 30: at Rutgers

Oct. 7: vs. Maryland

Oct. 14: at Nebraska

Oct. 21: BYE

Oct. 28: vs. Penn State

Nov. 4: at Iowa

Nov. 11: vs. Michigan State

Nov. 18: vs. Illinois

Nov. 25: at Michigan

Dec. 2: Big Ten championship game

2017 Ohio State recruiting class

Ohio State had an average rank of No. 2 across four major recruiting sites and the general consensus is this could be Meyer’s best recruiting class ever. It features five five-star recruits in Baron Browning, Jeffrey Okudah, Shaun Wade, Chase Young and Wyatt Davis, not to mention four-star quarterback Tate Martell.

2017 Ohio State roster

Ohio State’s roster will be updated in the spring and fall here.

Three things to watch

1. What's next for J.T.?

In theory nothing, but Barrett returns to school facing the same national-championship-or-bust-standard with the Buckeyes. Barrett is 26-4 as a starter and has 100 total touchdowns for his career, and Wilson and Day were brought on to help re-tool a passing game that was unreliable in games against Penn State, Michigan and Clemson last season. Barrett’s career has seen just about every possible turn with the Buckeyes, and how that meshes with Wilson will be an interesting storyline in the spring and fall camp.

2. Who is the big-play receiver?

Meyer brought in Wilson to help the Buckeyes throw the ball better, but the loss of Curtis Samuel and Noah Brown to the NFL Draft once again leaves the Buckeyes looking for big-play receivers. Terry McLaurin and Parris Campbell have made plays in spots, and Binjimen Victor attracts attention with his 6-foot-4 frame. This has been a priority for a couple seasons, and Meyer seems more intent than ever on fixing it.

3. Who steps up in the secondary?

For the second straight season, Ohio State must revamp its secondary. Malik Hooker, Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley all left for the NFL Draft, and that leaves a cast that includes Damon Webb, Erick Smith at safety and Damon Arnette and Denzel Ward at cornerback. Okudah and Wade are early enrollees. Defensive coordinator Greg Schiano and assistant Kerry Coombs molded last year’s secondary into one of the nation’s best. Ohio State had seven pick sixes in 2016. This unit has talent, but it might take a little more time.

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