Buckeyes have plenty of deserving players worthy of recognition
The Ohio State Buckeyes are in the College Football Playoff for the first time since the 2016 season. Even with at least one more game (Dec. 28 Fiesta Bowl vs. Clemson) on the horizon for the Buckeyes, we can take a moment to reward the dominating performances displayed by players throughout the 2019 regular season.
Offensive MVP: Justin Fields, QB
Fields came in as a transfer from Georgia in December 2018, was granted eligibility early in '19, and had a lackluster Ohio State spring game performance that had Buckeye fans somewhat concerned heading into the regular season. It would be accurate to say that those concerns have proven to be unfounded. With 40 touchdowns versus one interception, plus another 10 touchdowns on the ground, Fields earned a trip to New York as a 2019 Heisman Trophy finalist. Even though Fields finished third in the voting to winner Joe Burrow and runner-up Jalen Hurts, he figures to be on the shortlist of Heisman candidates for the 2020 season.
Defensive MVP: Chase Young, DE
Like his teammate Justin Fields, Young also was invited to New York City as a Heisman finalist. The winner of the 2019 Bronko Nagurski Award and the Chuck Bednarik Award, given to the best defensive player in college football, as well as the Ted Hendricks Award for best defensive end, Young is arguably the best defensive lineman in the history of Ohio State football. Young has already set the single-season record for sacks with 16.5 this year.
Best Freshman: Garrett Wilson, WR
Coming into a talented wide receiver group that features K.J. Hill, Binjimen Victor, and Chris Olave, Wilson ranks fourth on the team heading into the College Football Playoff with 26 receptions for 385 yards and five touchdowns. Wilson has also emerged as the team's leading punt returner, averaging 6.9 yards per punt return.
Garrett Wilson nearly takes his first college punt return to the house. 52 yards. pic.twitter.com/G6SVck4Zlo— Buckeye Sports Bulletin (@Buckeye_Sports) September 21, 2019
Best Play of the Season: Justin Fields' touchdown pass vs. Michigan
Forced out of the game due to injury, Fields was in the injury tent with his left leg being evaluated by medical personnel. Ohio State was holding a 35-16 lead at Michigan, leaving backup quarterback Chris Chugunov to keep the team steady. The very first play Fields returned to the field, he found Garrett Wilson in the back of the end zone, effectively ending the game at that point.
Best Performance by a Player: J.K. Dobbins vs. Michigan
On the road, with the aforementioned Justin Fields nursing an injury, Ohio State turned to Dobbins to carry the load against the Wolverines on the road. The junior running back responded with an impressive performance, rushing for 211 yards and four touchdowns on 31. It was during this game that Dobbins became the second-leading rusher in Ohio State history behind legendary two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin.
Best Game (Team Performance): "The Game" at Michigan
On the road in Ann Arbor, "The Game" always looms large for Ohio State fans. Ohio State was behind 6-0 early in the first quarter, but the Buckeyes scored a touchdown to take the lead and never trailed the Wolverines for the remainder of the contest. Ohio State eventually won the game in convincing fashion, 56-27, with the Buckeyes being able to claim their eighth straight win in this rivalry game.
Biggest Surprise: Big Ten Championship Game
While a heavy favorite to win, Ohio State came out against a fired-up Wisconsin team that was looking to avenge a 38-7 loss earlier from the season. Before Ohio State fans realized it, the Buckeyes were down 14-0 and looking at being upset in Indianapolis. Ohio State rallied to win in the second half 34-21, but the first half was all Wisconsin.
Biggest Disappointment: End of the first half of the Big Ten Championship Game
Ohio State had scored a touchdown to cut Wisconsin's lead to 14-7 and was set to get the ball first to begin the second half. All the Buckeyes had to do was hold on defense and the chance to tie the Badgers to open the third quarter was there. Instead, Ohio State played poorly on defense, allowing Wisconsin (namely Jonathan Taylor) to move down the field, scoring a touchdown right before the end of the half to reclaim a 14-point advantage. Yes, the Buckeyes won the game, but the disinterested tackling and lackluster effort were alarming.
Senior That Will be Missed the Most Next Season: K.J. Hill, WR
There are so many players who could fit this description, but it will be difficult to replace Hill's steadiness and consistency. The program's all-time leading receiver, Hill has always been a dependable and reliable receiver for any of the quarterbacks who have suited up since he enrolled in 2015.
Player to Watch in 2020: Master Teague, RB
With the likely departure of J.K. Dobbins to the NFL draft, all eyes will turn to Teague as the likely starting tailback in 2020. Teague has had a tremendous season as a complementary option in the backfield, posting 780 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Biggest Offseason Question Mark: Secondary
Jordan Fuller and Damon Arnette are definitely gone, while Jeff Okudah and Shaun Wade also likely to submit their names as early entrants for the 2020 NFL Draft. Ohio State has recruited well at the defensive back positions in recent years, but it will be the biggest focus for the program heading into 2020.