By Ramzy Nasrallah on August 16, 2023 at 1:15 pm
Dec 31, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18) celebrates his touchdown catch against Georgia Bulldogs during the first quarter of the Peach Bowl in the College Football Playoff semifinal at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
© Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

He has returned.

Ohio State's alien advantage is back again for another season. It doesn't seem fair.

Marvin Harrison Jr. presents an existential threat to every team this fall that finds the Ohio State Buckeyes staring back at them from the opposite sideline. It doesn't seem all that fair because Junior was NFL-ready last season.

The sport he plays still operates off the dated assumption all college kids require three full years to grow into pro bodies. Shhh don't say anything, just be cool.

Junior spent almost all of his freshman year collecting data behind three eventual 1st Round draft picks prior to getting a warm debut opportunity in Pasadena. He proceeded to grab three touchdown passes and wasn't even the first runner-up for MVP considerations. 

look at that legend sitting with some Colts player
Oct 2008: L-R Marvin Harrison, Marvin Harrison. © Robert Scheer/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

A fleeting datapoint for a generational talent playing amongst college kids for an extra year than is necessary. Blame our new CFP obsession for why we don't revere moments like that anymore. In any other era that's a story old men will tell unborn Buckeye fans in 50 years.

OSU does not have an official tradition to formally celebrate aliens like Harrison. Some teams give a no.1 jersey to their prized guy, but that's not really the case with this program. There's the Block O jersey, but that's got different intent.

Junior wears no.18. Last season Ohio State's big mismatch wore no.11, but he barely played. Nick Bosa was an alien's alien - he's from an NFL bloodline factory like Junior where sons outbeast their fathers. Similar luck struck no.97 early on in the 2018 season. He probably didn't need that whole season playing amongst college kids either, but that unit really could have used him.

Lousy luck also hit no.7 one play into the 2006 BCS title game, and no.8 one drive into the 2020 CFP title game. It happened to no.18 in the Peach Bowl nearly nine months ago. That's why you savor this victory lap season for a guy who should be making a lot more than just NIL checks.

But what's possible for Junior this season qualitatively dwarfs one year of NFL compensation.

We're 28 seasons removed from no.27 marching to New York for the sport's greatest distinction while his teammate - no.83 - took receiving's highest honor. This season, with modest optimism, last season's Biletnikoff runner-up can do what Eddie George and Terry Glenn did back in 1995. By himself.

That's worth coming back, and we haven't even mentioned Gold Pants or National Title yet.

Ohio State has dozens of other talented guys on scholarship, multiple quarterbacks with incredibly high upside to orchestrate the offense and probably most importantly - no complacency whatsoever. Everything is possible this season. Again.

He has returned. The Buckeyes are practicing. Football is almost here. Let's get Situational.


Aug 5, 2022; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Kyle McCord (6) and Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Devin Brown (15) during practice at Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus, Ohio on August 5, 2022. Ceb Osufb0805 Kwr 10
Kyle McCord still black-striped Devin Brown during a 2022 practice at Woody Hayes Athletic Center.© Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Eight-year old Harrison - pictured in the previous section - was a Colts game regular in 2008.

He was an intimate witness to what would be his father's final professional season. Senior was on the downslope of a storied NFL career, which is to say he only played in 15 games, only caught 60 passes and only scored five times. Decline is relative.

Senior's final 1st team All Pro season came as Junior turned six. A mere 175 miles to the east, his future position coach and now-coordinator was in his final season as the Tressel era's greatest big-play threat.

Brian Hartline averaged nearly 23 yards per catch in 2008, seven full yards greater than Peak Ted Ginn and six yards more than Junior last season. And Hartline pulled that off with true freshman Terrelle Pryor running a cautious ball control scheme for most of the year.

That's relevant entering 2023 because Hartline is now calling* plays with two green albeit fully-onboarded quarterbacks throwing to Junior and his fellow aliens, who - and this is unique at Ohio State - have a clear pecking order. The 2015 issue where Urban Meyer agonized over spreading the ball around to keep everyone happy should not be quite as intense.

IN 2022 the Buckeye offense piled up 490 yards per game without ITS best mismatch and while playing musical chairs at several other key positions.

Everyone will get theirs, in order. That's how a fully-operational scoring machine operates at maximum capacity. The running back room is back at full strength and fuller depth, which presents a similar cadence and priority.

Only 40% of the offensive line is entrenched, but that unit is being coached by a technician now in his second season. Last year the Buckeye offense piled up 490 yards per game without their best mismatch and while playing musical chairs at several other key positions. That's not normal, nor should it be the expectation.

I see the 2023 Buckeyes' average landing safely above 500 per game this season, because of what will be a tendency for opponents to attack scrimmage, where the only perceived weaknesses are. Like Senior's decline after 2006, weakness is relative. This Ohio State offense should exceed what its worthy predecessors produced, no caveats.

And that cute kid in the Colts jersey, the running back room and the coordinator who stretched the field in 2008 like no other Buckeye receiver of his era will be the primary reasons why.


The Solo

CONTENT NOTE: This season Situational enthusiasts are controlling the Intermission jukebox, and as is the case in your local tavern - nobody knows who's choosing the songs. You have the right to get mad. If this goes off the rails, good.

The Cars were the perfect New Wave band as well as the least Bostonish thing to ever come out of Boston. Manufacturing bangers that were simultaneously Totally 80s and yet somehow timeless is still a feat music scientists have not solved. It shouldn't be possible, and only the Cars pulled it off.

And Chopin, but that's a completely different genre. And he was the most Polish thing to come out of Poland during his era; we're comparing apples and pomarańczes here - let's stay focused.

On the art side, The Cars tapped Andy Warhol to direct Hello Again in what would end up being his final gig. He cast Gina Gershon, whom nobody knew at the time before casting himself as an extra - which is both obnoxious and an amazing flex. Alas, his final product did not get the airtime it deserved, which we'll cover in a moment.

Hello Again contains a keyboard solo. Let's answer our two questions.

Is the keyboard player in this video actually playing the keyboard?

Benjamin Orr handled keys for the song but doesn't appear in the video, probably for understandable Gina Gershon reasons. If you need to see Orr in action simply check out any live version - his stage performances were notoriously close to studio quality. VERDICT: Inconclusive.

Does this keyboard solo slap?

If we want to Ask The Real Questions we must first refer to the uncensored and original version of Warhol's video (NSFW, lock the door, maybe leave work, use a VPN) which was too sexy for MTV during an era when Dairy Queen had cocaine as an ice cream topping.

In summary: Warhol. Gerson. X-rated cinematography. Timeless banger vibes. Understandable that the sturdy keys holding the track together went underappreciated. VERDICT: Slaps

hey kids looks what's back in stock in all sizes

The Bourbon

There is a bourbon for every situation. Sometimes the spirits and the events overlap, which means that where bourbon is concerned there can be more than one worthy choice.

Panty melter. You're welcome.
Big Stick. A charred white oak stave in every bottle.

A Harrison Jr-themed offensive preview carries some obvious subtext. There isn't a defensive back in the game who can contain him for three consecutive plays, which means Ohio State can press the Junior button at its choosing.

I expect the Buckeyes to do that this season when necessary in lieu of spreading the ball around in a crisis, which we learned during the Michigan game is a comprehensively empty gesture in a sport where outcomes are all that matter.

Which is to say that no matter who ends up becoming Ohio State's starting quarterback (you had to get to the whiskey section to see quarterback for the first time in an offensive preview, that's how you know this is authentic #quality #journalism) he will have the advantage of the sport's biggest stick in 2023.

As we always say, there's a bourbon for every situation. This one seems obvious. Big Stick arrives with a charred white oak stave in the bottle that brings overwhelming oak to the experience. Paired with a palate that felt like Nila Wafers smeared with melted toffee, it all works quite well.

If you're facing a critical 4th down against Michigan, don't get cute, mix it up for the sake of variety or overthink the gravity of the moment. Lean on your Big Stick. That's why it exists.


Sep 17, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes running back TreVeyon Henderson (32) celebrates scoring a touchdown with offensive lineman Donovan Jackson (74) during the first half of the NCAA Division I football game against the Toledo Rockets at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch Ncaa Football Toledo Rockets At Ohio State Buckeyes
TreVeyon Henderson celebrates a touchdown with Donovan Jackson during the 1st half against Toledo Rockets. © Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch/USAT NETWORK

Self-awareness is understanding how what you're about to say might appear to unpoisoned readers. It's accepting that words live on the Internet are forever. They are made for screencapping and eternal ridicule. No one gets this more than I do

Now that we're aligned to the consequences of editorial bravery: I have zero concerns about Ohio State's offensive line. It is more than good enough to go 3-0, which means it has plenty of time to grow into a division, conference and CFP-worthy unit.

New center, newish tackles, a nasty run of soft tissue injuries and no worries how this unit will appear or perform in October, November or a year from now. None. This naivety feels appalling as I type it but I cannot shake this confidence.

A new starting quarterback behind an offensive line lacking in career snaps isn't exactly a guarded secret, and in the absence of Heisman candidates flanking both sides of scrimmage and lined up in the backfield, this might be a reason for anxiety.

It all seems far too weaponized to stay unseasoned longer than it has to, which a quick glance of Ohio State's schedule tells you is the first 25% of the season which concludes just prior to the team's second trip to the state of Indiana.

Zero concerns about the offensive line. Willing to become a bad meme if I'm dramatically wrong.

Thanks for getting Situational today. We'll peek at the defense next week.

Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka are poised for big 2023s for Ohio State
View 42 Comments