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Ohio State players tearing it up at Senior Bowl practice

Last year it was Terry McLaurin, this time it’s K.J. Hill

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Tony Gerdeman via Twitter

Hill is always open. The 6-foot, 192-pound Ohio State product was easily the most impressive route-runner in Mobile. He created separation with ease and made his competition look foolish in the process. He also hauled in a one-handed catch that dropped jaws on Day 3 that really put an exclamation point on his big week.”

- Austin Gayle, Pro Football Focus

Stop me if you've heard this before: an Ohio State wide receiver is drastically increasing his draft stock with a dominant performance day in and day out at Senior Bowl practice. Last year, it was Terry McLaurin. The wideout bullied defensive backs all week long, culminating in four receptions for 53 yards and a 20-yard rush in the game itself as he helped the North team to a 34-24 victory. McLaurin would be taken in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins, and went on to have one of the best years out of all rookies on that side of the ball.

The next man up appears to be K.J. Hill, who is looking to follow in McLaurin’s footsteps as he has absolutely embarrassed the competition in Senior Bowl practice all week long. PFF listed Hill as one of their top-10 risers in terms of draft stock, and they lauded his route running ability. Michael Renner of PFF even went on to say that Hill is one of a few guys in attendance that looks like they could step on an NFL field tomorrow and be a quality starter. What has made Hill’s performance in practice even better is that he has been making Michigan DB Josh Metellus look foolish on more than one occasion.

When he hasn’t been ruining the life of yet another Wolverine, he has been doing stuff like this:

Hill hasn’t been the only Ohio State player drastically increasing their draft stock this week. Jonah Jackson has been drawing many eyes at guard, with PFF calling him the most technically sound pass protector in the class and a sure-fire top-50 player, with a potential to be the top offensive guard on their board by the time everything is said and done.

Wide receiver Austin Mack and linebacker Malik Harrison have both also been handling business, as the pair each have made at least one highlight play throughout the course of the week. DaVon Hamilton has looked very good as well, overpowering offensive lineman on the interior as basically all the former Buckeyes in Mobile have done a great job of positioning themselves for the 2020 NFL Draft.

A big factor when it comes to determining the College Football Playoff teams in recent years has been who you play in your non-conference schedule. While some of the nations premier programs like to pack these openings with easy wins —*cough cough* Clemson and Alabama *cough* — Ohio State is taking a much different approach in the coming years.

While the Buckeyes non-conference opponents were not terrible this past season, as all three teams went on to play in their conference title games, they now have a ton of marquee matchups on the horizon. This all begins in 2020, where Ohio State will travel to Autzen Stadium to take on Oregon and then play the Ducks again in Columbus in 2021. They then have home-and-homes set up with both Notre Dame (2022-23) and Washington (2024-25).

That 2025 non-conference schedule gets even tougher, as in addition to the Huskies, the Buckeyes will host Texas. Originally scheduled as an away game, it was announced on Friday that the 2025 meeting between the two teams will take place in Columbus, while Ohio State will play the Longhorns in Austin in 2026. The swapping of locations made sense for both teams, and it moves the Bucks from six away games in 2025 to their usual five.

OSU also has a home-and-home scheduled with Georgia in 2030-31, with the first iteration taking place in Athens.

While at times it can make sense to schedule cupcakes early in the year, it can come back to bite you if you falter later in the year and have no big wins to fall back on. By scheduling all these tough non-conference opponents, Ohio State is giving itself some added leeway and a chance to pick up a huge win early in the year for the foreseeable future.

In case you have been living under a rock since football season ended, I am here to tell you that Ohio State’s basketball team, that at one point was very very good, is now very very bad. The Buckeyes were once on the cusp of being the No. 1 team in the country after three victories over AP Top 10 opponents, but have since lost six of their last seven games and could miss the NCAA Tournament altogether if things don't turn around quickly.

Last night, OSU was beaten at home by Minnesota, a team that prior the Thursday’s victory had been 0-6 on the year in true road games. Ohio State is now 2-6 in Big Ten play, ahead of only the bottom dwellers in Northwestern (1-7) and Nebraska (2-6). The game against the Golden Gophers was supposed to be a launching point, as the team was entering a three-game stretch of very winnable games and the chance to get back to even in Big Ten play. Instead, it was just another loss to add to what has been a miserable month of January for OSU hoops.

Ohio State will travel next to Northwestern, the very last place team in the conference, and then return home to take on Indiana. Winning on the road in the Big Ten has been near impossible this season for the league as a whole, unless apparently you're playing the Buckeyes in Columbus this month, but defeating the Wildcats is a must. The Hoosiers have been good this year, but like the rest of the Big Ten have struggled on the road, sitting at 1-3 in away games.

If Ohio State has any hopes of resurrecting what originally had looked to be a Final Four type of season, it is imperative that it finds a way to win these next two games. It doesn’t have to be pretty, and it almost certainly won't be, but the Buckeyes must get back in the win column fast before the hole they have dug themselves becomes too deep.

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