If everything goes well, Ryan Day and three of Ohio State’s football players traveling to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the Big Ten’s football media days last week will be the first of three trips OSU makes to that stadium this season.
The Big Ten championship game, which Ohio State has won the last four seasons, is scheduled there on Dec. 4.
And the College Football Playoff’s national championship game will be there on Jan. 10. This is the first time the CFP title game has been played in a northern city after being played in Dallas, Phoenix, Tampa, Atlanta, San Francisco, New Orleans and Miami.
The national championship trophy was on display at Big Ten media days. It was so close Day and the three players could have reached out and touched it, but he predictably downplayed the idea holding that trophy after the national championship game is something they’re thinking about now.
“We’re not going to spend our time worrying about trying to win the national championship because we’ve got some big games early in the season with a young quarterback,” Day said on Friday. “That’s where the focus has been, not ‘Let’s get back to the national championship.’ “
Ohio State got to the national championship game last season and was beaten 52-24 by Alabama. The Buckeyes dominated Clemson 49-28 in their playoff semifinal game, avenging a controversial 29-23 loss to the Tigers in a playoff semifinal in 2019.
That loss to Clemson included several controversial calls that went against OSU, which might have provided some extra motivation for the Buckeyes in 2020.
Junior defensive end Zach Harrison said the 2019 loss to Clemson didn’t rise to the level of an obsession but it was something OSU’s players hadn’t forgotten last season.
“It wasn’t obsessive but we definitely knew we wanted to beat Clemson,” Harrison said on Friday.
The loss to Alabama has not made the Crimson Tide an obsession, either, he said.
“Of course we didn’t end the season as we wanted to but it hasn’t been like there’s an obsessive focus on Alabama. We’re just worried about how to get better as the Buckeyes every single day and how do we improve ourselves. If we’re playing our best ball nobody in the country can beat us.”
Day said, “If we do get back to the championship season it will start to make a difference down the road. If we start to win some games maybe some of those experiences will pay off for us. But we’ve got to get there first.”
Ohio State also has another trip to the state of Indiana which could make a major difference in how this season unfolds.
The Buckeyes play at Indiana on Oct. 23. The Hoosiers’ only loss in the Big Ten last season was 42-35 to OSU in a game in which the Buckeyes led 35-7 in the third quarter.
Two of Indiana’s players who were at Big Ten media days, quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and his No. 1 receiver, Ty Fryfogle, said they’re already looking forward to that game.
“I’m excited. That’s the team everybody wants to knock off,” Fryfogle said. Penix called a Big Ten championship “something we just expect to happen.”
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau