After a solid but not good 11-1 season, the Ohio State Buckeyes will be missing out on the College Football Playoff. Instead, they will travel to Arlington, Texas as it’s Ohio State vs. Missouri in the Cotton Bowl. This will be the third time Ohio State will play in the Cotton Bowl and the first time since its 24-7 win over USC in 2017. This is also the 13th time Ohio State will suit up against Missouri. The last time these two teams met, Ohio State won, 35-14 in 1998.
After a season that the Buckeyes have had, there is plenty of apathy for the non-CFP bowl. Regardless, a trip to the Cotton Bowl is a fantastic opportunity for the student-athletes as well as getting to see who’s next up. Remember the Rose Bowl where the college football world was introduced to Marvin Harrison, Jr. and his three touchdowns? It was a “meaningless” bowl game.
The Season Closes Out With Ohio State vs. Missouri
With 11 wins, Ohio State finished with more wins than 118 FBS programs. They have two good wins and gave the number-one team its closest game of the season on the road. They finished with one of the best offenses in the Big Ten and one of the best defenses in the country.
For 95% of FBS programs, this year would be considered a success. At Ohio State, perhaps not so much.
The reality of Ohio State is that they have three goals going into every season: beat Michigan, win the Big Ten, and win a National Championship. When it comes to those goals, yes, the season was a failure.
However, despite that fact, there are plenty of ways to measure a successful season. Defensively, for the most part, Ohio State made massive strides with a very similar roster to last year. The Buckeyes saw the breakout performance of guys like Jordan Hancock and Sonny Styles.
On offense, the Buckeyes were home to one of, if not the best receivers in all of college football. Considering Harrison, Jr. was able to replicate his 2022 success with a sizable downgrade at quarterback is commendable at worst. Additionally, Ohio State continued to develop one of its best tight ends in recent memory in Cade Stover. TreVeyon Henderson was finally fully healthy down the stretch and reminded everyone just how good he was.
Only Siths deal in absolutes and boil down success vs. failure solely based on wins and losses which is what makes college football great.
The biggest storylines for Ohio State vs. Missouri will revolve around the eventual and inevitable opt-outs. Guys like Harrison, Jr. will have early first-round grades for next year’s NFL Draft and, objectively, it would behoove him to sit this one out. Who else
Henderson and Stover could be on their way out. Emeka Egbuka will be an interesting one to watch. There has been plenty of first-round hype and he will likely get a top-50 grade.
Defensively, Ohio State could look very, very different. Ohio State has future NFL players at just about every position. Jaylahn Tuimoloau is another potential first-rounder, as is Denzel Burke. Assuming Jim Knowles returns in 2024 and is not a head coach elsewhere, he will have his toughest task since coming to town in rebuilding that defense.
Individual’s personal feelings towards players opting out aside, there are plenty of business decisions to be made. Ohio State fans love to follow former Buckeyes into the NFL. The last thing these athletes need is another Jake Butt, Matt Corral, or Jaylon Smith situation.
Was Ohio State one of the four best teams in College Football this year? Perhaps! But the CFP has been finalized and the Buckeyes have to focus on Missouri in the Cotton Bowl. With only four teams, there will always be teams who will feel like they’ve been robbed.
Take solace in this: this is the final year of the four-team playoff. This is very likely the last time Ohio State misses the College Football Playoff barring a nuclear meltdown.