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Ohio State will win opener easily — and there is value to starting that way

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Dwayne Haskins will be making his starting debut for Ohio State in September. (Joe Maiorana/USA TODAY Sports)

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Ohio State will win opener easily — and there is value to starting that way

The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics on the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.

There is just no way to look at Oregon State as anything other than a punching back for Ohio State to warm up with when this interminable offseason ends and the real football begins again. The Beavers are one of the worst teams in America, appear to be starting over essentially from scratch with their roster and probably won’t have even a single position where they can match up with the machine Urban Meyer has built. Maybe that sounds a bit too harsh to Oregon State fans, but there are a lot of reasons the Buckeyes are favored to win the opener in the Horseshoe by 38 points.

So, there won’t be any attempt here to convince people not to sleep on that first opponent. And it certainly won’t make my list of possible upset alerts for Ohio State. But that doesn’t mean it should just be overlooked entirely, not that there was much danger of that anyway with so many folks in scarlet and gray clamoring for a look at Dwayne Haskins leading the attack.

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Urban Meyer will learn plenty about Ohio State in the season opener. (Greg Bartram/USA TODAY Sports)

More than anything, the official starts of the Haskins Era for the Buckeyes is going to make that likely blowout appointment viewing no matter what. After all the debate about who would definitively replace J.T. Barrett during the spring, speculation about whether or not the quarterback runs will be scaled back and now the couple months of hype now that Haskins is the guy, the redshirt sophomore will get his chance to put his stamp on the attack. Even if that Saturday becomes nothing more than a glorified scrimmage, the Buckeyes are playing a team from a Power Five league, the score counts and they will get the best shot possible from Oregon State. Haskins is going to get valuable reps and experience, and those should never be discounted.

Beyond that, Nick Bosa’s bid to become a No. 1 overall draft pick and maybe a dark-horse candidate for the Heisman Trophy will be launched. Ohio State will get to start tinkering with the workload for the loaded backfield with J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber returning to carry the ground game. If a couple position battles like at middle linebacker or safety don’t have clear, definitive winners, Ohio State should be afforded an opportunity to carry the competition over into the season with an eye on the first real test in Week Three down in Dallas against TCU.

Plus, there’s a new bonus available with Meyer now able to play freshmen in up to four games without them losing a redshirt. Might the first game of the year be a chance to see some members of the vaunted 2018 signing class to gauge whether or not they even need a redshirt?

All of those things will make for an informative return to action for Ohio State, regardless of the level of competition. Plus, most simply, it’s football again after months without it. But there are a lot of reasons for Ohio State fans to be looking forward to the game, even if the Beavers aren’t one of them.

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Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.

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