This past year was incredibly tough on all of us. In the face of a pandemic that has affected nearly 100 million people worldwide — including almost 23 million right here in the United States — seemingly everyone suffered some sort of hardship in 2020. Some people got sick, some lost their jobs, and some lost friends and loved ones. In a year that also saw the country battle with social injustice, political unrest, and even a brief bout with murder hornets, there was really little positive to look forward to from start to finish.
In the grand scheme of things, sports are silly and largely unimportant. But for many people, like myself, sporting events provide a few hours to sit back and escape the hardships of everyday life. In a season that almost never was, Ohio State was able to provide for a few weekends a little bit of joy in an otherwise excruciating period of time. The Buckeyes’ season may not have ended the way we had hoped, but it cannot be overstated what those few hours each week may have meant to so many people who were struggling and just needed a little bit of positivity to help them power through.
Last night’s national title game was brutal, but that doesn’t take away from all of the incredible moments that got us here in the first place. There were so many positives to look towards from this season — not only just on the field. From Justin Fields’ fight to get the Big Ten season reinstated, to Haskell Garrett’s miraculous recovery from a gunshot wound, to Larry Johnson becoming the first Black head coach in Ohio State history for a game. COVID-19 took away some of the enjoyment from week-to-week with an abundance of cancellations and player absences, but in the face of it all this season cannot be looked at as anything other than a success.
Of course, how could we talk about the happiness the Buckeyes brought to so many this season without looking through some of the biggest highlights of the year? From spectacular catches to big runs and breakout performances, the eight-game campaign managed to squeeze in a little bit of everything. On a day where many Ohio State fans are feeling a bit down, let’s look back at the moments that brought out the best in us.
Wilson’s 42-yard TD vs. Nebraska
Not only was this Justin Fields’ first touchdown pass of the season, but it was also the debut of Garrett Wilson in the slot. Right from the get-go, we knew this was going to become a deadly combo in the Ohio State offense, and year two of Fields in Columbus was off to a fantastic start.
Smith-Njigba’s insane TD catch vs. Nebraska
JSN is going to be a really good receiver at Ohio State for a long time. I still have no idea how the freshman was able to contort his body and get that foot down in bounds.
Wilson’s 62-yard run vs. Penn State
Before we knew Penn State wasn’t going to be very good this year, the Buckeyes kicked off this allegedly marquee matchup with a bang.
Olave’s 49-yard TD vs. Penn State
Chris Olave doing what Chris Olave does best: catch long TD passes.
Williams’ 38-yard TD vs. Rutgers
If you’re going to leave Jameson “Juiceman” Williams — the fastest player on the team — that wide open, you're going to have a bad time.
Olave’s 33-yard TD vs. Rutgers
Fields. Olave. Repeat.
Teague’s 41-yard TD vs. Indiana
Ohio State’s run game wasn’t completely stellar early in the season, but Master Teague found a bit of a groove against Indiana with a two-TD performance.
Wade’s pick-six vs. Indiana
There weren’t all too many defensive highlights for Ohio State this season, but this pick-six by Shaun Wade was the difference in the game against the Hoosiers.
Garrett’s pick-six vs. Michigan State
Big man touchdown? BIG MAN TOUCHDOWN! A fantastic play by Haskell Garrett, who was one of Ohio State’s best defensive players all season long. Just an incredible story.
Sermon’s 64-yard TD vs. Michigan State
The game against the Spartans was the true coming out party for Trey Sermon, setting the stage for a dominant postseason run for the transfer RB before an incredibly unfortunate injury at the very start of the national title game.
Stroud’s 48-yard TD vs. Michigan State
Ohio State’s backup QBs did not attempt a pass this season, but we may have gotten a small glimpse into the future of the position with this long TD run by freshman C.J. Stroud.
Sermon’s 331-yard performance vs. Northwestern
It’s way too hard to choose just a few plays from Sermon’s tremendous game in the Big Ten Championship — so I didn’t! Courtesy of former LGHL staffer Colton Denning, you can check out all of the running back’s highlights from his record-setting performance against the Wildcats.
The entire Sugar Bowl vs. Clemson
Once again, a game too good to choose just one highlight from. Ohio State’s entire season was leading up to this moment, and they passed the test with flying colors. Justin Fields, Trey Sermon and the rest of the offense were spectacular, while for really the first and only time all season the Buckeyes got a complete effort from their defense — highlighted by guys like Tommy Togiai, Tyreke Smith, Justin Hilliard and Pete Werner.
The national title game had a few highlight plays, almost exclusively on the offensive side of the ball outside the forced fumble by Baron Browning, but I think its best if we all just pretend the season ended after the blowout victory over Clemson. These players sacrificed so much to be able to play football this season, and we are incredibly thankful and appreciative of everything they and the staff have done as they battled adversity on and off the field for nearly five months.
Now, we look forward to a new campaign — hopefully one with a full schedule, fans in the stands and of course TBDBITL — of highlight plays and standout performances in 2021!