Best-Case/Worst-Case Scenarios For Ryan Day's First Season at Ohio State

By David Regimbal on July 1, 2019 at 3:00 pm
Ryan Day

Ohio State has the talent to make a run at the College Football Playoff, but enough unknowns to lose a handful of games.

That's the spectrum Ohio State fans have to come to grips with before the start of the 2019 season.

The Buckeyes roster is absolutely loaded with talent, anchored by 13 former 5-star recruits (far and away the most in the Big Ten) and a trio of recruiting classes that ranked inside the top five nationally. But the staff is completely revamped after Urban Meyer's retirement, and new head coach Ryan Day is preparing for his first season as the leader of a football program.

Ohio State also has to replace that record-shattering quarterback who will be playing on Sundays this fall.

So exactly how high is the Buckeyes' ceiling in 2019? And alternatively, how far could they potentially fall?

Best Case Scenario

Everything clicks for Day right out of the gate.

The overhauled defensive staff, led by co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, piece together a dominant defensive scheme and clearly communicate their vision to the unit.

The defensive line becomes an overpowering force with Chase Young emerging as a potential No. 1 overall pick in next year's NFL draft, while Zach Harrison emerges as the next great Buckeye defender. Both reach double-digit sacks by season's end.

The linebackers, bolstered by speed and a position coach who didn't have to list "groomsmen" on his resume, don't continually run themselves out of every play. The secondary learns how to turn around every once in a while, helping the Buckeyes defense rank inside the top 10 for points and yards allowed.

The offense thrives under new quarterback Justin Fields, who's running ability adds another element to Day's lethal offense. He doesn't have quite the passing numbers Haskins posted in 2018, but he settles for 4,000 total yards and over 40 touchdowns.

With Fields as a threat on the ground, J.K. Dobbins makes his freshman season look like a preview. He finds lanes easily and breaks 200 rushing yards in four of Ohio State's 12 regular season games.

With both sides of the ball humming, Ohio State marches through the Big Ten unscathed and earns a bid to the College Football Playoff.

The Buckeyes also make it the entire season without committing a targeting penalty.

Worst Case Scenario

Nothing goes the way Day planned when he took over in January.

His defensive staff never gels. Mattison tries his best, but the defensive issues that infected the team during Greg Schiano's watch are too big to overcome in a single season. The linebackers continually crowd the line of scrimmage out of habit and get blocked into oblivion as the defense gives up big play after big play.

The offense struggles without Haskins at the helm. Fields flashes, but with just one offseason to learn Day's vast playbook, he doesn't engrain himself in the offense quickly enough and the unit struggles as a result.

The ground game improves, but not by much. With Fields' struggles in the passing game, opposing defenses load the box to limit Dobbins' explosiveness. 

Ohio State gets upset by Luke Fickell and Cincinnati in Week 2, and after steadying the ship through September, everything falls apart down the stretch. A road loss to Northwestern in Week 8 derails the team, and the Buckeyes go on to lose to Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan.

Jim Harbaugh drinks an entire gallon of milk at the postgame press conference. 

Ohio State gets an invite to the Pinstripe Bowl.

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