The havoc and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic have spared no college football program. The Ohio State Buckeyes boast a tremendously talented team on both sides of the ball, guided by a rising star in the coaching profession in second-year head coach Ryan Day. Given all of its upperclassmen talent, it would be unfortunate if Ohio State is unable to play due to the circumstances beyond their collective control.
Day excelled in his first year as Ohio State's head coach, taking the Buckeyes back to The College Football Playoff for the first time since the 2016 season. Below are the reasons we determine why the Buckeyes will or will not be in the College Football Playoff in 2020:
Three Reasons Why Ohio State Will Make it to the College Football Playoff in 2020
1. The return of Justin Fields at quarterback
Throughout the football landscape, college or professional, a premier quarterback is crucial for the on-field success of a program. Ohio State boasts one of the nation's best in junior quarterback Justin Fields. A Heisman Trophy finalist in 2019, Fields is coming off one of the best statistical seasons at quarterback in Ohio State history. Fields threw 41 touchdown passes against only 3 interceptions, while also adding 10 rushing touchdowns. With another dominant performance, Fields will have Ohio State in the national conversation as a football playoff participant.
2. Ohio State's talented offensive line
Ohio State returns the majority of its offensive line, with three returning starters in senior left tackle Thayer Munford, junior Josh Myers at center, and junior Wyatt Davis at right guard. All three players could have declared for the 2020 NFL Draft but came back for another season in Columbus. Keep an eye on sophomore Harry Miller at left guard. Miller was heavily recruited by every top program in the country and could be next in line at center for Ohio State in 2021. Miller has the look of a future star along the offensive line.
3. The depth of talent
Ohio State has recruited well, with no discernible drop-off as the program transitioned from Urban Meyer to Day. Ohio State is welcoming in a recruiting class chockful of exceptionally talented players to complement an already impressive group in Columbus. The Buckeyes will arguably be more talented than any team that they line up against, as was evidenced by the dominant performances in 2019.
Three Reasons Why Ohio State Will Not Make it to the College Football Playoff in 2020
1. Unforeseen injuries
Fields is sensational at quarterback, but he suffered some nagging injuries down the stretch that Ohio State was able to overcome. With the departure of backup quarterback Chris Chugunov to graduation, the Buckeyes have only Gunnar Hoak, C.J. Stroud, and Jack Miller III at quarterback. Hoak is a graduate transfer from Kentucky, while both Stroud and Miller are true freshmen. It will be imperative for Fields to stay healthy, in order for Ohio State to return to the College Football Playoff. Look for Ohio State to play their backup quarterbacks when possible, to get them all the much-needed game experience.
2. Ohio State's secondary fails to jell
Fan-favorite Kerry Coombs returns to Ohio State as defensive coordinator and secondary coach. While the talent is on hand for Coombs to mold, the lack of overall experience throughout the unit is glaring. Thankfully for Coombs, Shaun Wade decided to return to Columbus instead of declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft. Wade is the most experienced player in the secondary, with players such as Cameron Brown, Sevyn Banks, and Marcus Williamson all vying for opportunities at open cornerback positions. Josh Proctor is a likely starter at safety. The talent is there — it will just be crucial to get the secondary to respond in a cohesive manner.
3. Ohio State's running game is a concern
J.K. Dobbins declared for the 2020 NFL Draft, leaving a gaping hole at the tailback position. Oklahoma transfer Trey Sermon has entered into the mix, with returning players such as Master Teague III, Marcus Crowley, Steele Chambers, and Demario McCall all back. Sermon and Teague may wind up platooning the position, as both are coming off injuries that have raised the level of concern by Ohio State fans about the tailback spot.
The talent and coaching are there for Ohio State to once again win the Big Ten and return to the College Football Playoff in 2020. With an uncertain schedule that is being dictated by the coronavirus, Ohio State can only do their very best whenever opportunities to play present themselves, as the Buckeyes will be playing a conference-only schedule. If Ohio State can play its full schedule of conference games, the Buckeyes should be among the four teams in contention for the national championship in 2020.