Skull Session: Already Dreaming About Clemson vs. Ohio State in 2020, the Buckeyes Were Somehow the Third-Most Improved Team This Season, and Jonathon Cooper is Ready to Return

By Kevin Harrish on January 8, 2020 at 4:59 am
Larry Johnson is a legend in today's Skull Session.

Losing is bad and decidedly unfun, but let's not act like Chris Holtmann didn't pull some sorcery with much less talented teams in the past two years. I'll save my complaints for May.

Word of the Day: Crag.

 FIELDS VS. LAWRENCE PT. II. I think the only thing that's going to keep me from dwelling on that sickening loss this entire offseason is the thought Clemson and Ohio State are looking like the best teams in college football again next year, and revenge is almost certainly an option.

And it ain't just us, it seems all of college football is looking forward to the sequel to that duel in the desert. The game was just so good that nobody's going to stop dreaming about the rematch until we get it.

Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields will be back, however. The two just led the way in maybe the best game of the season -- Clemson's 29-23 Fiesta Bowl win over Ohio State -- and are both true sophomores. We will get another year from each, and they'll have known weapons around them: Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson (combined 79 catches, 1,281 yards, 17 touchdowns) will lead Ohio State's receiving corps, and while Clemson could lose junior receivers Tee Higgins and/or Amari Rodgers, Justyn Ross (61 catches, 789 yards) and Joe Ngata (17 for 240) will be back, at the very least. And that says nothing of the blue-chip freshman WRs both teams will be bringing in.

Considering the Tigers and Buckeyes will almost certainly be the top two teams in most offseason polls, the entire 2020 season will be framed as a road to a Fiesta Bowl rematch. Will both teams face plenty of hurdles? Of course. But they are the standard to which everyone else will be measured.

I know it's barely January, but I'm already salivating thinking of the chance to murder Clemson in vigilance like Inigo Montoya.

I know there's an entire offseason and 13 other games before it can happen, but this team's going to be so damn hungry (and loaded) that every team on the docket is going to get absolutely nuked.

Oregon, you're on notice. Autzen Stadium is about to be razed.

 IMPROVING UPON ELITE. Last season, Ohio State went 13-1, beat six different top-25 teams, won the Big Ten Championship and the Rose Bowl and had a Heisman Trophy finalist at quarterback.

For most teams, that's markedly better than it's ever going to get. But for Ohio State, there was PLENTY of room for improvement.

Even after all last year's team accomplished, this year's team was still so much better than it's the third-most improved team in the country.

In Ryan Day's first season, Ohio State made one of the most drastic turnarounds in the country while already a top-10 team. Day talked a whole lot over the offseason about maintaining the identity of the program and "enhancing" it where needed.

Mission accomplished.

 THE RETURN. Jonathon Cooper had a wild rollercoaster of a season. He started as a team captain looking to eat as the starting edge opposite Chase Young, and he ended up redshirting but still playing against Michigan.

That's not exactly how you'd draw up a fourth season at Ohio State, but he definitely made it work.

Getting Coop back for one more season is one hell of a bonus. Redshirting him this season is something you would never do on purpose (outside of a video game), but honestly, it might turn out to be even more beneficial in the long run.

Instead of replacing two starting defensive ends, you return a veteran team captain who still hasn't even touched his potential in his first three playing seasons. Works for me.

 BEST DAMN AUCTION IN THE LAND. If you're in the market for some absolutely one-of-a-kind Buckeye collectibles (shit, some of this stuff is so old you could safely call them "artifacts"), Eleven Warriors user Il_Padrino shared one hell of an auction that kicks off at noon today.

Items include:

If any of y'all are looking for an early wedding gift for me and my beautiful bride, we sure wouldn't turn down a game-worn jersey from Ohio State legend Lydell Ross, who is arguably the best running back in Buckeye history.

 TRUCK STOP FABIO HAS REGRETS. It seems Chase Winovich has some regrets about being a contemptable asshat throughout his senior season of college.

“I almost feel bad for the people that knew me when I was a kid or in high school or even in college,” Winovich said Monday. “I felt like I’ve grown so much this past year in 2019. It’s one of those things I just can’t wait to show the world, and I’m excited for the future moving forward. But we’ve got a lot more work to do.”

To be honest, Truck Stop Fabio is hard to hate, because he may as well be just a cartoon character to me. He was just Wile E. Coyote – somehow absurdly confident, but certain to just get an anvil dropped on his head like usual.

And boy did that anvil drop.

 NOT STICKING TO SPORTS. A Mexican cartel doctor who allegedly tortured DEA agent now runs taco shop... The tragedy of art's greatest supermodel... How the CIA, FBI and Secret Service come up with their codenames... The first potentially habitable Earth-size planet has been discovered, and it's nearby... Welcome to the Czech town that invented the dollar... A family court judge is accused of having a threesome in the courtroom... 

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