Skull Session: Ohio State is a Tier-1 Title Contender, the Buckeyes Could Land Half the Top-10 Prospects, and We Remember Ohio State's Dominance Over Alabama Last Time

By Kevin Harrish on June 19, 2020 at 5:01 am
The Buckeyes are ready to go in today's skull session.

There are few surprises sweeter than learning Ryan Day is going to have a chance to shove a prison shiv between the ribs of a geriatric Nick Saban in front of 100,000 in Columbus' concrete cathedral.

I understand the game is more years away than Urban Meyer's entire Ohio State coaching career lasted, but I have no doubts a 76-year-old Saban will still on the sidelines.

Word of the Day: Legerity.

 TIER 1. In a given year, there are really only like five or 10 teams you can reasonably expect to win a national title.

A lot of folks across the country don't like to admit that, admirably believing that every team's got a shot, but it's really easy to come to terms with reality your team is one of the contenders every single year.

And this year's no different.

... when you’re talking about the biggest prize of them all, a national title, only a handful of teams realistically fit into that conversation.

Even among those contenders there is a stark departure from likely College Football Playoff teams and those fringe programs hoping to crash the conversation.

Today, we’re going to sort the 2020 national title contenders by tiers. All 15 teams included in 2020 Blue-Chip Ratio made the cutoff as did several potential spoilers. Remember, every champion in the internet era hit that blue-chip ratio threshold – a roster made up of at least 50 percent four and five-star recruits – so those 15 programs are the most likely teams to emerge as a champion.

Tier 1

Members: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State

This tier accounts for five of the six national titles of the CFB Playoff era. These teams are talented, deep and consistent.  Alabama and Clemson have reached the playoff in five of the last six seasons. Ohio State has cleared the 11-win barrier for eight straight seasons and it has finished in the top seven of the CFB Playoff voting each year of the format’s existence. These are college football’s constants, and nothing changes in that regard entering 2020.

Clemson (Trevor Lawrence) and Ohio State (Justin Fields) claim the best two quarterbacks in the sport. Both of those QBs are surrounded by deep and talented rosters with future first-round picks scattered across the board. Clemson’s schedule, even with a November trip to South Bend, is more favorable than any other contender. Ohio State does have difficult road games with Oregon and Penn State. But given that many stadiums must limit capacity due to COVID-19 concerns, those previously intimidating road games look far less daunting. Besides, Ohio State avoids the Big Ten West’s best teams in cross-division play.

I know there are plenty of people who like to downplay recruiting's role in winning a title (which frankly makes my brain want to explode) but this is what happens when your team is built on back-to-back classes that were the two best in program history at the time, especially when you later add the highest-rated quarterback prospect in program history to one of those classes.

Imagine that, the team that consistently pulls in the best players in the country is a perennial national title contender.

 HALF THE TOP-10. Despite a couple of recent high profile misses on the recruiting trail (*gasp* – has Ryan Day lost his edge?), Ohio State is still in prime position to sign an absolutely absurd 2021 recruiting class.

Here's the thing – even after missing out on the No. 3 player in 247Sports' top-247 who was once 100 percent crystal balled to the Buckeyes, Ohio State is still likely to land half of the current top-10. 

The updated 2021 Top247 is out and Ohio State targets are all over those rankings. The Buckeyes have the country’s No. 1 ranked class in the 247Sports Composite team recruiting rankings, and Ryan Day and Mark Pantoni and the staff are in position to add to that class in a big way when one looks at the updated Top247.

Currently Day and his staff have commitments from three of the top 10 prospects in the 2021 Top247. And when one looks at the updated rankings and the Crystal Ball, the Buckeyes are positioned to land five of the country’s Top 10 prospects. Defensive lineman J.T. Tuimoloau is the country’s No. 1 prospect and wide receiver Emeka Egbuka checks in at No. 8. The Buckeyes are the Crystal Ball leader to land both. Already committed to Ohio State are defensive end Jack Sawyer who is the country’s No. 5 overall prospect, offensive lineman Donovan Jackson who has moved up from No. 11 to No. 6, and running back TreVeyon Henderson who has moved up from No. 13 to No. 10 in the just released updated Top247.

And if that weren't enough, there are four top-60 players committed behind them.

I vividly remember my concern that Ohio State's recruiting might dip a bit with Ryan Day at the helm instead of Urban Meyer. Sometimes, I'm happy to be a moron.

The funny thing to me is Ryan Day's just warming up. Wait until he gets a couple of nattys under his belt, then ask me about his recruiting prowess.

 HARD KNOCKS. For you HBO Hard Knocks consumers, I have some delightful news: Joey Bosa and his desert-dry sense of humor will be coming to your television screen in August.

It won't be just Bosa, I'm sure we'll see a few Buckeyes in action. I personally can't wait to hear Buckeye legend Jake McQuaide mic'd up.

 REMEMBER LAST TIME? Alabama made the ill-advised decision to come back for more after Ohio State punched it in the mouth in the last meeting.

With the next meeting announced, it's a solid time to remember that even though that was a one-score game, Ohio State dominated the Tide all over the field.

It's important to note that Ohio State had the game's top-5 highest-rated players, and all five of them played drastically different positions. And somehow, none of them were the dude that ran for 230 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "Left Your Body" by Bad Books.

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