The Ohio State Buckeyes were a force to be reckoned with in college football in 2020. The Big Ten season was revived by Buckeye Quarterback Justin Fields, whose campaign forced the powers that be to reconsider their cancellation of the season. Ultimately, Ryan Day’s program fell at the final hurdle, culminating in defeat in the National Championship game to an incredible Alabama Crimson Tide. What does next season have in store for the 2021 Ohio State football team? A return to the playoffs looks likely, but can they go one better in 2021?
Previous draft classes have had blue chip talents coming from OSU. Jeff Okudah, Chase Young and Nick Bosa all came off the board in the opening minutes of draft night. The 2021 NFL Draft class however didn’t quite have that individual. Just one Ohio State alum was selected on Day One, and that was on offence (Justin Field, QB, Chicago). Linebacker Pete Werner was selected in Round Two, and Baron Browning heard his name called in Round Three. Defensive Tackle Tommy Togiai, Cornerback Shaun Wade, pass rusher Jonathan Cooper also found their home in the NFL on Day Three.
This year’s draft class appears to be a return to normal proceedings. The 2021 Ohio State football team can boast some of the nation’s premier talent: Defensive Ends Zach Harrison and Tyreke Smith and Cornerback Sevyn Banks are already tipped to be First Round Draft picks in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The return of Haskell Garrett for his “super” Senior year should provide quality and leadership on the defensive line. With Harrison and Smith coming off the edges, The Ohio State defensive front should be as mean as ever. The secondary room looks thin, with only Banks assured of a starting place.
Justin Fields’ departure to the NFL has left Ryan Day with a Quarterback competition of sorts, but C.J. Stroud is widely tipped to win the starting job. Stroud enters his Sophomore year as one of the nation’s most hotly anticipated players. He didn’t see any time on the field in his Freshman season, but should be suiting up for the season opener at Minnesota in September.
The Running Back room is lighter after the departure of Trey Sermon to the NFL. Sermon and Master Teague were a double-headed monster in the run game in 2020. The 2021 Ohio State offence will be more reliant on Teague in his partner’s absence. Sermon has vacated 34% of Ohio State’s rushing attempts and 42% of the team’s total rushing yardage. Sophomores Steele Chambers and Miyan Williams will be vying for some of those vacated touches in next year’s offence. Another player worth monitoring is Freshman TreVeyon Henderson, although we may not see the best of him until his Sophomore year.
The Buckeye offensive line has seen some outgoings. Guard Wyatt Davis and Centre Josh Myers graduated to the NFL in April. Fortunately, The Buckeyes have an eye for talent in the trenches, and should have the solution for the 2021 season.
The 2021 Ohio State football team will likely be at its strongest at wide receiver. Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson are two of the nation’s most skillful pass catchers. Add Sophomore Jaxon Smith-Njigba to the mix, and you’ve got a fearsome receiver room. Five star freshman recruit Emeka Egbuka will be waiting in the wings for his opportunity to shine, too. It is no surprise that Jameson Williams has transferred for his Junior year. His destination? The only team that could best The Buckeyes in 2021: Alabama.
Only Oregon looks like a team that can run The Buckeyes close in their 2021 schedule. The Big Ten is a competitive conference, but Ohio State seem way ahead out in front. The 2021 Ohio State football team should have no concerns about riding to another Big Ten Championship.
Thanksgiving weekend sees the return of The Game. One of many scheduling victims of the 2020 season was this year’s fixture with Michigan. The 2021 Ohio State football team should have no such worries of the fixture being denied to them.
Indiana’s defence gave Justin Fields a fright in 2020. Ryan Day will be prepared for his team’s visit to Bloomington in October. If the Buckeyes can overcome Oregon and Indiana, then we can expect them to go undefeated in the regular season again. Nevertheless, the 2021 Ohio State football team could face the same issue as its 2020 predecessor. The only thing standing in its way once more is Nick Saban and The Alabama Crimson Tide.