Skull Session: Ohio State Has All-American Talent, Buckeye Football is in High Demand and An Undefeated Season Could Be In Store for Ohio State

By Chase Brown on August 16, 2022 at 5:00 am
Jaxon Smith-Njigba earned first-team All-American honors from The Athletic on Monday.

Wherever you read this Skull Session, I hope the morning weather feels like fall. It does here in Columbus, which means football season is almost upon us.

Let's have a great Tuesday, shall we?

 ALL-AMERICAN MEN. C.J. Stroud, TreVeyon Henderson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba are three of college football’s most talented players. Unsurprisingly, almost every preseason All-America list has them involved in some capacity, with Smith-Njigba a unanimous first-team pick while Stroud and Henderson make a lot of second- and third-team appearances.

That’s how The Athletic’s college football staff writers see the trio of Buckeyes. On Monday, the website released its preseason All-American nominations, with selections based both on past performance and expected 2022 results.

Smith-Njigba was placed on the first team with Southern California’s Jordan Addison, the 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner. Many pundits believe Smith-Njigba and Addison to be neck-and-neck for that trophy again this fall, as both are expected to flourish on the receiving end of Stroud and Caleb Williams.

Now the primary option in Ryan Day and Brian Hartline’s passing attack, The Athletic predicts an even greater impact from Smith-Njigba this season after his record-setting 2021 campaign.

The Buckeyes lost a pair of first-round receivers in Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, but they bring back Smith-Njigba, who led the team with an average of 123.5 receiving yards per game. In total, Smith-Njigba racked up 95 catches for 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns, boosted by his bowl-record 347 yards in the Rose Bowl. He caught 84.8 percent of his targets, which ranked third nationally among wideouts, per TruMedia.

Stroud and Henderson earned second-team preseason All-American honors from The Athletic. Stroud finished behind Alabama quarterback and 2021 Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young, while Henderson took a backseat to Bijan Robinson of Texas and Deuce Vaughn of Kansas State.

 BUCKEYES IN HIGH DEMAND. Ohio State football is one of college football's biggest brands, but they've never had the highest demand for tickets on StubHub, according to Front Office Sports. That all changed on Monday.

Ohio State's high demand in ticket sales can be attributed to its home schedule for 2022, which includes games against ranked opponents Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Even more, when the Buckeyes host Notre Dame on Sept. 3, it will be the first top-five matchup for a season opener in the program's 131-year history.

The Buckeyes have faced a top-five team as their initial opponent before, having lost 19-0 to No. 5 Penn State in 1978 and falling to No. 5 Alabama, 16-10, in 1986. Still, nothing will be quite like what will take place three Saturdays from now, when both Ohio State and Notre Dame will be among the top-ranked programs in the nation.

Ohio State and Notre Dame will be one of only three games between ranked opponents in Week 1, as No. 3 Georgia takes on No. 11 Oregon in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and No. 19 Arkansas hosts No. 23 Cincinnati. But Bill Bender of Sporting News is among the national college football reporters who have tabbed the contest between the Buckeyes and Irish as the must-watch game of Week 1

In other words, get ready for a show.

 UNDEFEATED SEASON ON TAP? Since the turn of the century, three years have started and ended with the number two, including 2002, 2012 and 2022.

Why does this matter?

In 2002, Ohio State football went 14-0 with a national championship victory over Miami (Fla.) in Jim Tressel’s second season as head coach. Ten years later, in 2012, the Buckeyes had another undefeated season at 12-0 under first-year program leader Urban Meyer; that team, however, could not participate in the postseason due to sanctions associated with Tattoo-Gate.

While I’m no conspiracy theorist, it’s interesting that Ohio State’s only undefeated seasons since 2000 came in years that started and ended with the number two. Here we are, in 2022, as Ohio State prepares for a season with legitimate championship aspirations. Could this Buckeye team continue the trend?

All I’m saying is that if Ohio State is undefeated throughout the regular season, wins the Big Ten title game and makes it past the first round of the College Football Playoff, legally bet your life savings on the Buckeyes. There’d be too much evidence not to do that.

 OLYMPIC VILLAGE. Since taking over as head coach of the women’s volleyball program in 2020, Jen Flynn Oldenburg has transformed the Buckeyes into a national powerhouse.

Last season, Ohio State women’s volleyball reached the Sweet 16 in last season’s NCAA Tournament after a record-breaking year, including 14 consecutive weeks in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) top 10 and achieving the highest ranking in program history at No. 3 in a midseason poll. The team finished with a 27-6 record with a 15-5 mark in Big Ten competition.

On Monday, the Buckeyes received the No. 7 spot in the 2022 AVCA preseason top 10. Junior opposite hitter Emily Londot, senior setter Mac Podraza and junior middle blocker Rylee Rader return as preseason All-Big Ten selections, hoping to lead Ohio State to its second Final Four and win the first national championship in program history.

“For the group that’s returning, it’s not said lightly that we’re going for it all, and that’s exciting to hear as a head coach,” Oldenburg said this past offseason.

Oldenburg’s squad starts its season with back-to-back matches against No. 2 Texas on Aug. 26 and Aug. 27 inside the Covelli Center. However, Buckeye fans can see the team perform before then, as Ohio State will host an intrasquad scrimmage at the same venue on Aug. 20. Admission to the scrimmage is free.

 SONG OF THE DAY. “Brothers” by Penny and Sparrow.

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