Ohio State was one of the top National Championship contenders in 2019 until the swift season’s end in the Fiesta Bowl.
Ryan Day’s second year at Ohio State carries the same expectations. Buckeye Fans will be looking for the team to make as far, if not further. With a more experienced quarterback and head coach, the Buckeyes should make it back to the College Football Playoff if they take care of business.
As we saw from the Urban Meyer era, one lapse in concentration could set the whole season back. So there are some things that Day will have to take care of to make sure that the Buckeyes not only beat the Purdue’s or Iowa’s on their schedule but finally beat Clemson in a bowl game.
With the talent Ohio State has, the Buckeyes have every chance at a National Championship. They just have to take care of a few details first.
How Ohio State can win the National Championship in 2020
Ohio State Needs to Develop a Vertical Game
J.K. Dobbins was one of five running backs in the country to carry the ball more than 300 times last season. Of those five, Dobbins had the highest average yards per carry. Dobbins’ contributions to the Buckeyes’ offense cannot be understated.
In order to offset the scaled-back rushing attack, the Buckeyes should emphasize the passing game.
Justin Fields will be in his second year in Day’s offense, and the wide receiver group is bursting at the seams. Chris Olave is returning and is one of the best deep threats in the country. Garrett Wilson will also be back, and the immensely talented freshman class will help bolster the group.
Fields’ greatest quality as a quarterback is to keep the ball away from the defense. He entered the Fiesta Bowl with only one interception on his record, so he takes care of the ball better than anyone else in the nation.
Having Fields push the ball down the field, especially in his second year in the offense, shouldn’t be a great risk. On the contrary, Ohio State’s passing should take a huge step forward.
Keep the pocket clean
Fields is quick on his feet, but like most inexperienced quarterbacks, he trusted his quickness too much. He got hit too many times for comfort but avoided any major injuries.
Thankfully, the Buckeyes have more talent in the quarterback room in 2020. But Day doesn’t want to have to go to the bench.
With Fields’ familiarity in the system, he hopefully won’t have to scramble too much. If he gets injured, that could send Ohio State’s National Championship hopes down the tubes.
Depending on who wins the backup job, the next man up will either be a less talented veteran or an inexperienced freshman. Keeping Fields healthy will be instrumental.
Get to the other quarterback
Ohio State is a factory for defensive linemen. If they want their National Title hopes to stay alive, they have to prove how deep they are.
The Buckeyes have to replace three of the four starters in the secondary and move the one remaining starter to a different position. The two outside cornerbacks from 2019 were first-round draft picks, so Shaun Wade is moving from the slot.
The defensive back unit will have some growing pains.
The best way to offset an inexperienced secondary is to get to the quarterback. They need to speed up the opposing passer’s clock to force bad throws. Decreasing the amount of time that the cornerbacks have to cover receivers will help them combat their inexperience.
Zach Harrison will be a force on the defensive line, and the front four will have support from a talented linebacker group. The Buckeyes are no strangers to tough defensive fronts. Now they have to rely on it more than ever.