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NORMAN, Okla. — Most college football programs would be devastated by the loss of 16 starters from a team that finished ranked in the Top 5 the previous season.
But Ohio State isn’t most college programs.
And these weren’t just starters — they were elite talents. A record nine of them were selected in the first three rounds of the NFL draft last April. There were 12 Buckeyes drafted in all and 14 of the 16 departing Ohio State starters are now drawing NFL paychecks.
All that returned for coach Urban Meyer were his starting quarterback, center and a guard on offense and a starting end, middle linebacker and cornerback on defense.
So Meyer took a young team to Norman for what figured to be Ohio State’s first test of the season from a quality opponent. After demolitions of Bowling Green and Tulsa on the first two weekends of September, Meyer figured to find out just how talented his new-look Buckeyes were Saturday night against Oklahoma — a team that finished 11-2, ranked fifth in the nation and returning 17 starters.
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Meyer replaced 13 of his 16 departing starters with four-star recruits and it was business as usual for the Buckeyes, who rolled over the Sooners 45-24 to give Meyer and Ohio State their 19th consecutive road victory,cheap nfl jerseys. Meyer hasn’t lost on the road since he was coaching at Florida in November 2010, and his Buckeyes haven’t lost on the road since the regular-season finale at Michigan in 2011.
The Cowboys claimed Ohio State’s Big Ten MVP Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth overall pick of the 2016 draft. But the Buckeyes didn’t miss him Saturday night. Freshman Mike Weber and junior Curtis Samuel both gashed the Sooners on the ground with Weber ripping off runs of 35, 14 and 10 yards and Samuel 36 and 18 yards. Weber finished with 123 yards and Samuel 98 as Ohio State pummeled Oklahoma for 291 yards on the ground.
The New York Giants drafted cornerback Eli Apple with the 10th overall pick. The Buckeyes didn’t miss him Saturday as sophomore cornerback Marshon Lattimore, another first-time starter, picked off a Baker Mayfield pass and returned the interception 21 yards into the Oklahoma end to set up a second-quarter Ohio State touchdown.
The New York Jets drafted outside linebacker Darron Lee with the 20thoverall pick,wholesale nfl jerseys. The Buckeyes didn’t miss him a bit against Oklahoma as sophomore linebacker Jerome Baker intercepted a Mayfield pass and returned it 68 yards for a first-quarter touchdown. He also collected a sack.
The New Orleans Saints drafted wide receiver Michael Thomas in the second round with the 47th overall pick of the draft. The Buckeyes didn’t miss him Saturday night, either. Sophomore wide receiver Noah Brown tied a school-record with four touchdown receptions, including a 37-yard bomb on the snap following the Lattimore interception. He caught five passes on the night for 72 yards.
Seven of the starters who moved on to the NFL were underclassmen who left eligibility on the table to turn pro. Imagine how dominant Ohio State would be this season if one (Elliott), two (pass rusher Joey Bosa), three (Apple) or all seven of those starters had remained on campus? Even without them, the Buckeyes opened the season with a No. 3 ranking and figure to move up to 2 this week with Florida State’s loss Saturday.
The Buckeyes don’t rebuild under Meyer. They reload. In two of the last three years Meyer has landed a Top 3 recruiting class. And his early commits already place the Buckeyes second in the nation in recruiting for 2017,discount jerseys.
Only Alabama has been recruiting at the same level as Ohio State over the last three years, which explains why the Crimson Tide has gone 40-4 in that stretch and the Buckeyes 39-4 — and why Alabama and Ohio State figure to be ranked Nos. 1-2 this week.
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Ohio State has players on its bench each year who could start for most BCS programs. But in Columbus, they wait their turn and the chance to start — and that turn has come this season for the Browns,wholesale nfl jerseys from China, Lattimores and Webers. And the winning continues.
Listen to Rick Gosselin at 10:50 a.m. Tuesdays on Sportsradio 1310 AM/96.7 FM The Ticket with Norm Hitzges and Donovan Lewis.