Ryan Day and Ohio State’s 2021 CFP Hopes Might Have Just Been Secured

Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day took over for Urban Meyer after the 2018 college football season. In Day’s first two seasons with the Buckeyes, Ohio State has made two consecutive College Football Playoff appearances and has reached a national championship game. Fans don’t know what to expect out of the Buckeyes next season with quarterback Justin Fields going to the NFL. However, Day and Ohio State just got some news that could help secure their CFP hopes for the 2021 season.

Ryan Day has led Ohio State to two CFP appearances

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Ryan Day took over the Ohio State program in 2019, and the Buckeyes had an incredible team that season. They ultimately started the year 13-0 behind the play of Justin Fields, who threw for 3,273 yards, 41 touchdowns, and three interceptions in 2019. They also had running back J.K. Dobbins, who gained over 2,000 rushing yards, as well as three receivers who gained over 550 receiving yards.

The Buckeyes’ defense that year was also incredible as they had No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft Chase Young and No. 3 overall pick Jeffrey Okudah. This is in addition to other NFL players like Jordan Fuller and Damon Arnette.

All this talent led them to the CFP, but they then barely lost in the semifinals to the Clemson Tigers, 29-23.

In 2020, though, Ohio State had to overcome a ton of challenges due to COVID-19, but was still one of the best teams in the country. The Buckeyes started 6-0 and reached the CFP again. Then, in the CFP semifinals, Ohio State got its revenge for its 2019 CFP loss, as OSU defeated Clemson, 49-28.

However, once they got to the national championship game, they ran into one of the greatest college football teams of all-time, as they lost to the Alabama Crimson Tide, 52-24.

Since that loss, Ohio State has lost Fields, who declared for the NFL draft. Offensive lineman Wyatt Davis and defensive lineman Tommy Togiai also declared for the draft. This makes their potential for next year unknown, but recent news just massively helped their 2021 CFP hopes.

Chris Olave is coming back

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Chris Olave was Fields’ top target each of the last two seasons. After he just caught 12 passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns in 2018, Olave led the Buckeyes in receiving yards in 2019 with 840 to go with 12 touchdown catches on 48 total receptions. 

In 2020, though, he proved to be even better. Olave played in nearly half the amount of games in 2020 as he did in 2019 due to COVID-19 (seven total), but he caught 50 passes for 729 yards and seven touchdowns. Had he played in 13 games like in 2019, he was on pace to record 92 catches, 1,353 receiving yards, and 13 touchdown catches.

This led to him becoming a top prospect for the 2021 NFL draft, as Mel Kiper has him as the seventh receiver, according to ESPN. Olave, though, announced on Jan. 18 that he is returning to the Buckeyes for his senior season.

This move could be significant for the Buckeyes and their 2021 CFP hopes.

The Ohio State Buckeyes will have several great wide receivers in 2021

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Unless they get someone from the transfer portal, the Buckeyes will most likely have an unproven quarterback for the 2021 season. 

Ohio State has the No. 2 overall pro-style quarterback for the 2020 class in CJ Stroud and the 13th-ranked pro-style QB from that class, Jack Miller. In addition to those two, they will also have five-star prospect and the No. 3 pro-style QB in the 2021 class, Kyle McCord.

Whoever plays quarterback, though, will have potentially the best group of receivers to throw to in the country. In addition to Olave, Ohio State will also have Garrett Wilson, who had 43 catches for 723 yards and six touchdowns for the Buckeyes in 2020, as well as both No. 1 receivers from the 2020 and 2021 classes, Julian Fleming and Emeka Egbuka. This is in addition to Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who was the fifth receiver in the 2020 class, and Gee Scott Jr., the 10th receiver in that class. 

Ohio State will also have the eighth-ranked receiver from the 2021 class, Jayden Ballard, and Marvin Harrison Jr., the son of NFL Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison.

So, no, Ohio State won’t have Justin Fields next year, but the Buckeyes’ offense will still be absolutely stacked as guys like Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson could lead Ryan Day and OSU back to the CFP.

Stats courtesy of Sports Reference; Recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports