Ryan Day had reason to smile on Saturday morning.
After a gloomy week in Columbus following Ohio State’s loss to Michigan last Saturday, the Buckeyes got good news on Friday night when USC lost to Utah in the Pac-12 Championship Game, likely propelling the Buckeyes back into the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings on Sunday, when this year’s playoff field will be set.
Appearing on ESPN’s College GameDay on Saturday morning, Day said “there's a lot of excitement” within the program about getting the opportunity to compete for a national championship.
Ryan Day talks about how things have changed for Ohio State after USC's loss:— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) December 3, 2022
"You get an opportunity to go play in this thing, you're two games away from a national championship after feeling like, a few days ago, your season was over." pic.twitter.com/z1XQCKH8zO
“When you go through a few days where you think that maybe your whole season's gone, and all of a sudden you start to build hope and then you start to see the opportunity where everything's right out in front of you, it's almost like a second lease on life,” Day said. “So we're very excited. There's been a whole swing in the whole program here in the last 24 hours.
“The guys were sending text messages last night. Really, really excited. So certainly there's been a big swing in just the whole program. And so there's a lot of excitement right now. And you get an opportunity to go play in this thing. You’re two games away from a national championship after feeling like a few days ago like your whole season was over.”
Day said he missed the first half of Friday night’s game because he was driving back from Cincinnati, where he was making in-home recruiting visits with offensive line commits Austin Siereveld and Joshua Padilla. He watched the second half, though, and was certainly pleased with the way it unfolded as Utah outscored USC 30-7 in the final two quarters.
“I gotta give Kyle (Whittingham) a lot of credit, I thought that Utah played really, really well there in the second half,” Day said. “And our guys really were looking for an opportunity to finish this thing the right way this season, and I think that that opportunity is now in front of us.”
Coach Day, you're welcome. pic.twitter.com/J2Bj5RSeVW— Eleven Warriors (@11W) December 3, 2022
If Ohio State is going to take advantage of its College Football Playoff berth and make a run at a national championship, it’s going to have to play better than it did against Michigan, as the Buckeyes were on the wrong end of a second-half blowout in The Game as they were outscored 28-3 in the final two quarters. Day says the Buckeyes recognize that and that they quickly got back to work this past week, practicing on Wednesday and Thursday, in preparation for a potential playoff opportunity.
“There's no excuses for it,” Day said when asked about the Michigan game. “But I know moving forward, we're going to play loose, we're going to be aggressive and we're gonna go at people. And there can't be moving forward anybody in our program that presses at all or feels pressure. We're just gonna roll, and I think we can be a dangerous team in the playoffs.”
As the Buckeyes face the possibility of a rematch with Michigan in the CFP, Day said he reminded his team of what happened in last year’s CFP, when Georgia beat Alabama in the national championship game after losing to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.
“There's been things that have happened in the past where teams have been able to rally,” Day said. “And so we spent our time focusing on the things that we didn't do well, but by the end of the week, we were looking forward, and now we're really looking forward.”