OPINION: Ohio State is poised to compete for titles

Sean Blevins headshot

Sean Belvins

New Ohio State transfer quarterback Justin Fields was ruled eligible to play immediately by the NCAA on Friday, a move that solidifies what is arguably the biggest pull of the first-ever college football free-agency window.

All of the uncertainty about the Buckeyes’ quarterback room is resolved. Ohio State now has a good chance of going undefeated next year and are one of the only teams in the country that has a legitimate shot at challenging Alabama and Clemson.

New OSU coach Ryan Day has done everything right so far in his first month; not only did he steal two stellar defensive coaches from Michigan, but he simultaneously locked up several top recruits. The previous defensive staff has mostly been replaced, which makes sense since they needed to go.

The Buckeyes were 93rd in the country last year in terms of total yards allowed, which is unacceptable. Ohio State got left out of the playoff because of its defense last year­ — that shouldn’t happen again. It’s not a stretch to say that Ohio State will win at least one title in the next five years.

Ohio State is in good hands with Justin Fields at quarterback. He’s a Heisman caliber player, and I think the drop off between him and Haskins will be minimal, if anything. It also doesn’t hurt that Day is a quarterback whisperer.

Nick Foles threw for 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015 with Day as his quarterback coach, and many analysts have credited Haskins’ strong play last season to Day. I am thrilled to see what Fields will do next season and I think he’ll blossom into a strong Heisman candidate whose production can rival that of Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence or Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Haskins threw for 50 touchdowns, and I think Fields is good enough to approach 30 passing touchdowns to go along with 10 touchdowns on the ground.

At this juncture, I think it’s safe to say that Ohio State, Clemson and Alabama will all be undefeated going into the college football playoff next year. Alabama’s toughest games are at Texas A&M, at home against LSU and then a likely SEC championship game matchup against Georgia.

Clemson’s hardest game is against Texas A&M and whoever they destroy in the ACC Championship. Ohio State’s biggest games are at home against Wisconsin and Penn State, but that all leads up to the what could be a de facto playoff game when they travel to Michigan for 2019’s iteration of “The Game.”

The fourth playoff spot will probably be between some combination of teams that will include Notre Dame, Oklahoma or Georgia. Each “Power 5” conference, with the exception of the Big 12, has extremely lopsided divisions and means that when Ohio State and Alabama are facing off against other Top 10 teams in their conference championship, Clemson is facing off against some unranked ACC doormat. These conferences would be wise to adopt what the Big 12 does in scrapping the divisions and making the championship game the two best conference teams. This would not only solve the debate about who the best “true team” is, but it would also give us much more entertaining matchups.

Sean’s way too early college football playoff:

1. Clemson

2. Alabama

3. Ohio State 

4. Oklahoma

Sean Blevins is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected].