The Ohio State Buckeyes have a clear goal for the 2014 season: Win the Big Ten title and secure a spot in the College Football Playoff. Urban Meyer has quickly developed the Buckeyes into one of the premier teams in the country thanks to an explosive offense and a very stout defensive front. But despite being heavily favored to do so last season, Ohio State is still looking for their first conference title and major bowl victory under Meyer this fall. Helping them get there this season will be big Michael Bennett at defensive tackle who should be one of the most disruptive players in the conference in 2014.
Having Bennett in the middle helped the Buckeyes boast the No. 9 rushing defense in the country last season as he gave interior offensive linemen fits with his athleticism. The 6-foot-3, 285-pound senior finished the year with 42 tackles, including 11.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks. His ability to create penetration up the middle made him a constant presence in opposing backfields and a major headache for offensive coordinators trying to gameplan around him. Re-establishing the line of scrimmage on the other side of of the ball was central to what made the Buckeyes so good on defense last season.
And it will be a major theme once again in 2014. Ohio State should have one of the best defensive fronts in the Big Ten this season and it all centers around Bennett in the middle. While Noah Spence and Joey Bosa may get more headlines at defensive end, having a disruptive force like Bennett in the interior of the defense creates opportunities for the rest of the Ohio State defense to make plays. A strong defensive line revolves around the play of their tackles and in Michael Bennett, Ohio State has one of the best.
The potential was already there for Ohio State to make a run at a Big Ten title but now the pressure is on for the team to deliver on that potential and bring some hardware back to Columbus. For the Buckeyes to do that in 2014, they’ll need a big season from their senior leaders, and none could be bigger than Michael Bennett at defensive tackle.