There’s so much I’m looking forward to this season when it comes to Ohio State football, but perhaps above all else, I’m excited about how real expectations feel.
Ryan Day’s words at the Big Ten Media Days still ring in my head.
“Maybe in some places 11-2 with a Rose Bowl win is a good year. It’s not in Ohio State,” he said. “Our three goals are: beat the team up north, win the Big Ten championship, win the national championship, those are our goals, and those things didn’t happen last year.
I don’t want to dwell too much on last season on the eve of the 2022 campaign, but I’ve found myself thinking about those words a lot in the past two weeks.
You almost have to be a little crazy to think that. Almost.
But this is nothing new. It’s no surprise to hear something like this for one of the best programs in the country. Damn, Nick Saban called last year a rebuilding year and they played in the national championship game. Ryan Day admitted in his very first press conference as the new head coach that “we have no right to lose here”. He knows the wait.
There’s an urgency around the Ohio State schedule heading into the season that I remember feeling in 2020 before the CoVID roller coaster. After it felt like the Clemson game was stolen from the Buckeyes in 2019, there was that thirst for revenge the following year. Although it finally happened at the Sugar Bowl, the Scarlet and Gray fought CoVID as much as any opponent all year and the national championship loss to the Crimson Tide didn’t seem like a fair fight.
But it’s different this time.
There’s something tangible about the return of a Heisman runner-up quarterback with all of his favorite options, combined with a new defensive coaching staff and a program that should deliver a much better product this fall.
Now experience on that side of the ball matches talent. Jim Knowles is paid a large sum of money to be “the head coach of defense”, as Day likes to say. He tried to reinstill a mindset on defense that we last saw in 2019, when the Buckeyes looked like national championship contenders all season long.
No one knows for sure where this ride will end in a few months. But Day is 34-4 overall as a head coach with a 23-1 record in the Big Ten. Since joining Columbus’ staff in 2017, his offense has averaged no less than 41.0 points per game and they’ve been top-three nationally two of the past three seasons.
In fact, the Buckeyes are 38-0 when scoring 40 or more points in those five seasons.
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The Buckeyes fire five first-year All-Americans from last season, including Tre Veyon Henderson after breaking up by Maurice Claret program record for touchdowns in his first season.
But for all weapons on offense, this team will go as far as the defense can take them.
The optimism is high, the pressure is on, they know their legacy is on the line…and the Buckeyes welcome the challenge.
Be sure to check out our new message boards, Buckeye Forums. We’d love to bring you into the conversation during the season.
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