There is only one team that many believe can keep Clemson or Alabama from winning another national championship. Sandwiched between Ohio State’s title in 2014 and LSU’s in 2019, are four championships that were shared between the Tigers and the Crimson Tide.
Can Ohio State make it two years in a row without a Clemson or Alabama national champion?
The Buckeyes, who are ranked No. 3 in Athlon’s Preseason Poll, came close last year to making it to the title game. However, the Tigers rallied from a 16-0 hole in the second quarter and outscored Ohio State 29-7 in the last 33 minutes of the game.
Clemson sealed its Fiesta Bowl victory in the semifinals of the College Football Playoff when Buckeyes’ quarterback Justin Fields was intercepted in the end zone by safety Nolan Turner with 37 seconds to play.
Clemson is Athlon’s Preseason No. 1 team and is picked to win another national championship in 2020, while Alabama is ranked No. 2. But Ohio State may have something to say about it. Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day was adamant after the Fiesta Bowl his team would use what happened in the game as a driving force for the 2020 season.
Replay overturned three plays that all went the Tigers’ way in their 29-23 victory at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. The one that had Day and the Buckeyes upset the most was when Justyn Ross appeared to fumble the ball after corner Jeff Okudah stripped it from his hands as he tried to bring the ball in. However, replay decided Ross never had control of the ball and overturned the call on the field of a fumble.
It was a big blow for Ohio State as the loose ball was returned for a defensive touchdown.
“I am not crying about it. But at the same time, those were big plays that didn’t go our way. And certainly again, a range of emotions about that,” Day said after the game.
Fields is back for his redshirt sophomore season and will likely be the center of the offense. Last year, Fields accounted for 51 touchdowns. This year, he will not have to share the backfield with J.K. Dobbins, who is now in the NFL.
Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson return as Fields’ top receivers, while Oklahoma Trey Sermon will likely start the season as the starting running back in the place of Dobbins. The offensive line is once again strong and deep.
On defense, the Buckeyes will try to reload with a new defensive coordinator. Kerry Coombs is the guy who will have to find replacements for defensive end Chase Young and corners Damon Arnette and Jeff Okudah, as well as safety Jordan Fuller and linebacker Malik Harrison.
Ohio State’s secondary was arguably one of the best secondaries in the country in 2019 and they proved it against Clemson.
A Sept. 12 date at No. 10 Oregon will be an early test for an Ohio State team that was not truly tested in 2019 until it made it to the Big Ten Championship Game. The Buckeyes won each of their first 13 games by at least 11 points.
They also have a date at No. 5 Penn State on Oct. 24, which will likely decide who earns the right to play for the Big Ten Championship. The Buckeyes have won the last three Big Ten Championships after Penn State won it in 2016.
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