Ranking the Top Seven Moments of Ohio State's 2020 Football Season

By David Regimbal on January 15, 2021 at 7:30 pm
Trey Sermon to the house

Ohio State's 2020 football season had its ups and downs, but there are certain moments that stand out a bit more than others.

Looking back at the whirlwind of the 2020 campaign, this season gave Buckeye fans a tremendous cache of memories that should last a long time — even though Ryan Day's squad fell short in the national title game against Alabama.

Thinking back to the start of the year, the season-opener against Nebraska felt like a celebration the season was even happening, and much of that was the result of how hard both the Cornhusker and Buckeye football programs fought to play this year.

There was Justin Fields' incredible start to the season in which he had as many touchdowns through three games (11) as he did incompletions.

And of course, it shouldn't be overlooked that Ohio State was able to capture its fourth consecutive Big Ten Championship.

There were certainly lows. Buckeye fans were refused their annual and delicious massacre of rival Michigan. They also saw their team fall short in the national title game against an Alabama squad that had the firepower to expose the shorthanded and overmatched Ohio State defense.

But after taking an extremely subjective and serious look at the totality of the season, these are the seven single best moments of the year.

No. 7: Trey Sermon's 32-Yard TD Run Against Clemson

Trey Sermon's sudden ascension into godmode was exactly what the Buckeyes needed to capture both the Big Ten title and its revenge victory over Clemson. After setting an Ohio State single-game record with 331 rushing yards against Northwestern, he backed that performance up with 254 yards of total offense against the Tigers in the Sugar Bowl.

His best run of the night came in the first quarter when he broke free for a 32-yard touchdown run to even the game at seven.

No. 6: Luke Farrell's 8-Yard TD Catch Against Clemson

Coincidentally, the sixth-best moment of the year came on the very next drive.

Senior tight end Luke Farrell came into the Sugar Bowl with just three catches on the season, and he — also by extension, the entire tight end group — wasn't expected to be a huge factor in the game. 

But Farrell had no intention of staying quiet against the Tigers, and he proved that by hauling in one of the most bizarre catches I've ever witnessed. The Clemson defender had every opportunity to bat the ball down, but all the forces of good and evil conspired against him at that moment, allowing Farrell to almost shrug the reception into his arms.

No. 5: Jeremy Ruckert's 17-Yard TD Catch Against Clemson

It's always cool to see how coaches work little wrinkles into their game plans.

Day showcased that in the second quarter of Ohio State's Sugar Bowl matchup against Clemson. Knowing Clemson's defense and it's aggressive tendencies, Day perfectly drew up a misdirection that got the Tigers defense flowing left before Fields found a wide-open Jeremy Ruckert, who had slipped right through the fold for a 17-yard score.

No. 4: Chris Olave's 9-Yard TD Catch Against Clemson

Battling back was a huge theme for Ohio State's football team in 2020, and that was the case in so many situations. From fighting to play the season itself to overcoming COVID-19 outbreaks, the Buckeyes battled every day.

That sentiment was put on full display in the second quarter of Ohio State's playoff matchup with Dabo Swinney's Clemson Tigers.

After suffering a brutal shot to the hip/rib area, Fields sat out just one play before returning to the Buckeyes offense, which was threatening the No. 2 seed with its third trip to the red zone.

Grimacing the whole time, Fields took the snap and ran right as he waited for Olave to break off his route. The moment he did, Fields snapped a pass that found its target, and Ohio State was once again showcasing it was ready to continue battling at whatever cost.

No. 3: Jeremy Ruckert's 12-Yard TD Catch Against Clemson

The third-best moment of Ohio State's 2020 season came right before halftime of its playoff showdown with Clemson, which entered the Sugar Bowl riding high from its ACC title game victory over Notre Dame.

The Buckeyes had a chance to put the Tigers in a world of hurt. Ohio State had failed to beat Clemson in the four previous matchups, three of which had come within the last seven years.

Leading 28-14, Fields put the exclamation point on the best half of football the Buckeyes had played all year when he connected with Jeremy Ruckert (who had caught a touchdown pass earlier in the first quarter, actually) for a 12-yard touchdown.

No. 2: Chris Olave's 56-Yard TD Catch Against Clemson

2020 was an important season for Olave because of how his 2019 season ended.

Last year, Ohio State's undefeated run came to a screeching halt in its Fiesta Bowl matchup with Clemson. Trailing by six with under a minute to play, the Buckeyes were threatening to take the lead when Olave suddenly broke off his route.

That mistake cost Ohio State the game because Fields threw where Olave's route should've ended, leading to a game-sealing interception.

That set the stage for Olave's redemption because the Buckeyes were fatefully paired against Clemson once again in this year's Sugar Bowl playoff semifinal. 

Olave scored not once, but twice against the Tigers defense. The first was the aforementioned nine-yard strike in the second quarter. The second came shortly after halftime when Fields threw a perfectly placed deep ball to Olave for a 56-yard score.

No. 1: Jameson Williams' 45-Yard TD Catch Against Clemson

The top moment of the season is one I believe is heavily underappreciated. 

In Ohio State's Sugar Bowl playoff matchup against Clemson, the Buckeyes were firmly in control with a 42-21 lead at the top of the fourth quarter. The Tigers would need several consecutive stops while scoring every chance they could to make it a game again — two things they had struggled to do all evening.

Those struggles continued when Fields found Jameson Williams behind Clemson's secondary for a 45-yard touchdown. It was actually the harder throw for Fields, who could've easily tossed it up to Garrett Wilson on the other side of the field. 

Ohio State went on to beat Clemson by a score of 49-28.

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