The Little Things: Overlooked But Important Milestones Ohio State Hopes to Achieve in 2020

By David Wertheim on November 29, 2020 at 8:25 am
Justin Hilliard

Right on cue, wasn't it?

Ohio State, which hadn't had a positive COVID-19 test within the program since June, suddenly, out of nowhere, has its season now up-in-the-air due to a myriad of positive diagnoses this week.

While the Buckeyes were (are?) national championship contenders, there are some overlooked but important milestones surrounding the team as well.

Justin Hilliard and Jonathon Cooper's Last Hurrah

The last man standing from a 2015 recruiting class in which he was the only five-star, Justin Hilliard's Ohio State career has been marked by injuries and other factors that have left him unable to reach the potential the Buckeyes expected when they signed the linebacker from St. Xavier high school in Cincinnati six years ago.

Last year, Hilliard showed promise with some timely plays and this season was playing a large role in a linebacking corps that was clearly Ohio State's best position group on the defense to date. 

Hilliard has said he won't come back for year seven despite the NCAA giving basically a free year of eligibility to all student-athletes due to COVID-19. It would be a shame to see his career end with yet another "what if?"

Similarly, after an injury-plagued 2019, Jonathon Cooper elected not to play in the Big Ten Championship game or the playoffs versus Clemson in order to preserve his eligibility for this season. 

Cooper has arguably been Ohio State's best edge rusher this season, with 1.5 sacks, and has also been a remarkable leader, earning the first ever No. 0 jersey in honor of Bill Willis.

2017 Class Potential to be Undefeated Against Michigan

I mean, the last few classes have been undefeated against Michigan, but this is still a feat that needs to be celebrated. The seniors from the 2017 class that are still with the Buckeyes, such as Wyatt Davis, Josh Myers, Baron Browning, and Haskell Garrett, have yet to lose against Michigan.

Barring anything catastrophic, they should be able to face off against the Wolverines in two weeks, giving the 2017 class their shot. But who knows how many of them will be eligible to play, as we do not know which specific players have tested positive for COVID-19. 

Ryan Day's Impressive Streak

After winning three regular-season games in 2018 and 12 last year, coupled with the four so far in 2020, Ryan Day has a 19-0 record in the regular season as Ohio State's head coach.

Urban Meyer won 24 straight regular-season games to begin his Ohio State tenure, and Day could have passed that in a normal 2020 campaign. 

Alas, we now will have to wait until next year to see if he can do it, as the Buckeyes will not play five more regular-season games in 2020.

The 2021 QB Battle

One of the more interesting storylines coming into the season was the battle between 2020 signees C.J. Stroud and Jack Miller, as to which would seize the upper hand going into 2021. 

Well, we haven't really figured it out so far. Miller has seen the most action, leading a drive and scoring against Nebraska, while Stroud was in for all of one play against Rutgers. But this is just too small of a sample size to call.

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