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Ohio State Feels Urgent Desire To Prove National Supremacy

As they embark on a new season with title-or-bust expectations, Ryan Day and the Buckeyes are blocking out the noise and embracing the challenge.

There are so many things I'm looking forward to this season as it relates to Ohio State football, but perhaps above all else, I'm excited by how real the expectations feel.

Ryan Day's words at Big Ten Media Days still rattle around in my head.

"Maybe at some places 11–2 with a Rose Bowl victory is a good year. It isn’t at Ohio State,” he said. “Our three goals are: beat the team up north, win the Big Ten championship, win the national championship. That’s our goals, and those things didn’t happen last year.”

I don't want to dwell too much on last season on the eve of the 2022 campaign, but I've found myself thinking about those words a lot the last couple weeks.

You almost have to be a little crazy to think that. Almost.

But it's nothing new. It's not a surprise to hear something like that for one of the top programs in the nation. Heck, Nick Saban called last year a rebuilding year and they played in the national championship game. Ryan Day acknowledged in his very first press conference as the new head coach that "we're not allowed to lose around here." He knows the expectation.

There's an urgency around Ohio State's program heading into the season that I remember feeling in 2020 before the CoVID roller coaster. After feeling like the Clemson game was stolen from the Buckeyes in 2019, there was this hunger for revenge the following year. While that eventually came down at the Sugar Bowl, the Scarlet and Gray battled CoVID as much as any opponent all year and the national championship loss to the Crimson Tide didn't feel like a fair fight.

But it's different this time around.

There's something tangible about having a Heisman Finalist quarterback returning with all of his favorite options, combined with a new defensive coaching staff and scheme that should put forth a much better product this fall.

They have to.

Now the experience on that side of the ball matches the talent. Jim Knowles is being paid a boat load of money to be the "head coach of the defense", as Day likes to say. He's tried to re-instill a mindset on defense that we last saw in 2019, when the Buckeyes sure looked like they were national championship contenders all season long.

Nobody knows for certain where this ride is going to end in a few months. But Day is 34-4 overall as the head coach with a 23-1 record in the Big Ten. Since his arrival on staff in Columbus in 2017, his offense hasn't averaged fewer than 41.0 points per game and they've been top three nationally two of the last three seasons.

In fact, the Buckeyes are 38-0 when they score 40 or more points over those five seasons.

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The Buckeyes return five Freshman All-Americans from last season, including TreVeyon Henderson after breaking Maurice Clarett's program record for touchdowns during his freshman season.

But for all the weapons on offense, this team will go as far as the defense can take them.

The optimism is high, the pressure is on, they know their legacy is at stake ... and the Buckeyes welcome the challenge.

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