Even after an offseason of turnover that included Urban Meyer stepping away and two top-tier players leaving for the NFL as first-round picks, expectations remain sky-high for No. 5 Ohio State. The Buckeyes start their season on Saturday at home against Lane Kiffin and Florida Atlantic, and it's expected to be more a coronation than a competition. Ohio State is favored by 27.5 points as coach Ryan Day leads the program into a new era. Will it be just as successful as the Meyer -- and before him, Jim Tressel -- years?
The Owls have some talent to make them more than a doormat, though. Former Oklahoma quarterback Chris Robison has another year under his belt. Former Alabama running back BJ Emmons is primed to fill Devin Singletary's shoes. Kiffin, even with all his antics, remains a formidable coach. But if an upset is brewing, confidence will be key -- and it's not exactly emanating from the Owls ahead of this game. Just ask Kiffin.
"Obviously, I didn't schedule these," Kiffin said this week about facing Ohio State in nonconference play a year removed from facing Oklahoma in FAU's opener last season. "These were scheduled before we got here, from the last athletic director. I don't think it is the best idea, especially following with UCF, another team that has been a top-10 team the last two years."
What will go down Saturday afternoon? Let's take a look. And don't forget to subscribe to our Cover 3 college football podcast. Listen below for locks for the top games in Week 1.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes reloaded. At every position. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins is gone, but succeeding him is former five-star prospect Justin Fields, who transferred from Georgia. Running back Mike Weber is gone, but J.K. Dobbins -- who led OSU in rushing -- is back. Receiver Parris Campbell is gone, but Binjimen Victor and freshman sensation Garrett Wilson should ease the load. And oh, by the way, Chase Young is going to be a monster:
Florida Atlantic: The skill talent between Robison, Emmons and receiver Willie Wright is a potent trio that could push FAU into the top half of the C-USA standings this season, but it's hard to overlook just how much they lost to the NFL and to graduation. The top-end talent should be good, but it's largely unproven, a point Kiffin himself made in camp earlier this fall.
"I don't think we are as strong at the top of our roster as we had been the past two years," he said via the Miami Herald. "But I think we may be stronger at the back of our roster."
If FAU is to have a shot at an upset, it will need a flawless performance from Robison and his top returning pass-catcher, tight end Harrison Bryant. Bryant last season caught 45 passes for 662 yards, but figures to be the top target in Kiffin's pass-heavy offensive attack this season.
Date: Saturday, August 31 | Time: Noon, ET
Location: Ohio Stadium -- Columbus, Ohio
TV: Fox | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Game prediction, picks
This game won't be close, but picking which side of the massive 27.5 point spread is a tricky one. The fact this game is in Columbus, under a new quarterback and the first game under Day, I'm expecting a motivated Buckeyes team to cover. Pick: Ohio State (-27.5)
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