Skull Session: Chase Young and Jeffrey Okudah Are Potential Top-10 Picks, What if Ohio State Beat Michigan State in 1998, and Buckeyes Crack the Nation's Top-100

By Kevin Harrish on July 10, 2019 at 4:59 am
Ryan Day can still sling it in today's skull session.

This is now my official stance regarding Ohio State's ranking in ESPN's BPI index:

My father would be proud.


Word of the Day: Verbose.

 THE TOP-100. It's 2019 and we've yet to figure out how to win consistently without any good players.

Thankfully, Ohio State's got that covered pretty much every year, and this year isn't any different as at least three players crack Sports Illustrated's Top 100 college football players this season.

87. Ohio State QB Justin Fields

After transferring from Georgia in January, Fields has big shoes to fill in the follow-up act to Dwayne Haskins's record-setting season. He got off to a rocky start in Athens, but the tools that had Fields going back and forth with Trevor Lawrence atop the 2018 recruiting rankings are still all there. Fields's athletic 6'3", 223-pound frame should provide the dual-threat capabilities the Buckeyes were missing with Haskins a year ago, and new head coach Ryan Day knows how to make use of them.


82. Ohio State RB J.K. Dobbins

Dobbins’s freshman year put him on track to become the next great Ohio State running back, but his sophomore campaign went less smoothly, as his yards per carry dipped from 7.2 to 4.6 when he took on a larger role in the offense. Dobbins will be expected to do even more this season, and Ryan Day's first season at the controls depends in large part on a return to Dobbins's freshman form.


76. Ohio State LB Malik Harrison

After playing mostly on special teams his freshman year, seeing minutes in five games, Harrison got his first start in November of his sophomore season, posting six tackles and a sack to play himself into increased minutes going forward. Last season, Harrison beat out former five-star recruit and future Arizona Cardinals free agent signee Dante Booker for the starting linebacker spot and tied for a team-high 81 tackles, including 8.5 for loss, as well as 2.5 sacks and an interception. As the only Ohio State linebacker with a sure-thing starting spot in 2019, Harrison will be a crucial pillar of the Buckeyes’ defense.

Before you throw your laptop out the window in disgust at Chase Young and Jeffrey Okduah's absence on this list, this is only players No. 100-51

If those two don't make the other half of the list, by all means, break out the pitchforks.

 WHAT IF... My good pal Tom Orr is at it again with his hypotheticals, but I'll tell you what, this one ain't too fun, cause we're about to rip open a two-decade old scab.

I know some of y'all have gone through great lengths to remove this event from your memory anyway, but what if Ohio State never lost to Michigan State in 1998?

The TL;DR for the first part is pretty obvious – Ohio State cruises past Iowa, beats Michigan and Tennessee and wins the 1998 national title with one of the best, most talented football teams of all time. That's fairly easy to imagine.

But the ripple effects are where it always starts to get interesting.

From Tom Orr of The Ozone:

With a win over Tennessee in the first BCS championship, a lot of the “S-E-C! S-E-C!” narrative of the mid-2000s is probably tamped down some. It certainly neuters the “Ohio State can’t beat the SEC” talk.

Without Tressel in Columbus in 2002, Larry Coker probably owns back-to-back national championships at Miami.

Oh, and remember that 1998 Michigan State team? Their coach had gone 6-5-1, 6-6, and 7-5 in his previous three seasons. With a loss to the Buckeyes in 1998, he wouldn’t have had his big resume-building win and would have finished 5-7 in 1998. That could have left him on the hot seat in 1999. Instead the win over OSU was a massive boost to his reputation. When the Spartans improved to 9-2 the following fall, he bolted for a higher-profile job. The name of that coach, who could have been on the hot seat and who might never have gotten a bigger head coaching gig if the punt missed Clements?

(Extremely Paul Harvey voice) You might know him as Nick Saban.

So a third-quarter punt hitting Nate Clements leg indirectly led to Nasty Nick's Alabama empire? That's one hell of a butterfly effect.

Honestly, you could write an entire book about what would have happened if Nick Saban were never hired by LSU. It probably means Urban Meyer stays and dominates at Florida, and ultimately Ryan Day could have succeeded him there instead of at Ohio State.

Call me crazy, but I'm not sure I'd make this switch even if it did guarantee at least the 1998 national title.

 TOP-10 PICKS. Ohio State's had at least two top-15 picks in the NFL Draft three of the past four years, and there's a solid chance it happens again this year.

Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated put together his ungodly early 2020 mock draft for the top-10 picks, and both Chase Young and Jeffrey Okudah crack the list.

3. Washington Redskins (+10000): Chase Young, DE, Ohio State

Last year, the Redskins took a DC-area native that became a Buckeye. Next year, they get another one. Young’s a freakish talent who was earmarked as a future top-five pick from the minute he stepped on to campus in Columbus, and carried the burden of making up for the loss of Nick Bosa on the team’s defensive line last fall. Will he be the best player in next year’s draft? That’s debatabl, but it’s hard to find a guy with a higher athletic ceiling.


8. New York Jets (+5000): Jeffery Okudah, CB, Ohio State

Okudah’s been up-and-down, but finished his sophomore season strong, and has shown his toughness and competitiveness on special teams throughout his time in Columbus. He has the talent to go this high. I’m betting here on ex-Niners secondary coach Jeff Hafley (now the Buckeyes DC) to help him put it all together, and sneak past LSU’s Kristian Fulton and Alabama’s Trevon Diggs to be the first corner taken.

Man, if you would have told me two years ago that Chase Young and Jeffrey Okudah would be top-10 NFL Draft picks after just three seasons at Ohio State, I would have... Absolutely believed you.

The No. 7 and No. 8 overall prospects coming out of high school are now projected top-10 picks. Crazy.

Finding a diamond in the rough is awesome, and guys like Darron Lee, Pat Elflein and Michael Thomas are incredible stories, but sometimes finding and evaluating elite talent really is that obvious.

 NEW NAME, NEW THREADS. The TBT team made up almost exclusively of Buckeye alums was forced to change its name this year because Ohio State wasn't too keen on them using the school's official colors as their team name.

Yes, how dare a team full of alums rep their alma mater for free on national television.

Anyway, they had to change their crispy uniforms as well, and this is where they landed:

I can't honestly call this an improvement on last year's, but I can't hold it against them because it's not exactly their fault. They did what they could with what they were allowed to do.

 “WINE AND CHEESE CROWD.” The state of Michigan football: having your fanbase proverbially dunked on by an Alabama basketball coach.

Nate Oats – a former Michigan high school hoops coach – had some spectacularly spot-on takes about the inhabitants of the Big House.

What's quieter: The Big House or the Schottenstein Center?

 NOT STICKING TO SPORTS. Building new Chicago apartments in a factory... Japan blasted a hole in an astroid and is now going to try to land there... Poop-eating slugs are infecting Hawaiians with brain parasites... When the Allies wanted a German nuclear scientist dead, they sent a ballplayer to kill him... Man’s 14 burrito-shaped packages of meth get him 15 years in prison...

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