With Christmas on Saturday, we have submitted our wish list to Santa Claus this year. Even though there are some in Buckeye Nation that are on his naughty list, we are convinced that we will make the nice list. While we are definitely spoiled as Ohio State fans because we have one of the best athletic programs in the country, we are always looking for more success.
We know it can be hard to shop for the athletic program that has just about everything, but there are a couple wishes that Brett and Meredith have this year for Buckeye Christmas. While some Ohio State fans are already thinking of ways to run Ryan Day out of town, they are a little more rational with their wishes.
No matter what you end up wishing for this Christmas, we wish you and your families a Merry Christmas. Even though the Ohio State football season didn’t go exactly as planned, and the basketball program is dealing with COVID-19 issues, that doesn’t have to put a damper on spending time with your loved ones.
Today’s question: What would be your Christmas wish for any Ohio State sport?
We’d love to hear your choices. Either respond to us on Twitter at @Landgrant33 or leave your choice in the comments.
Brett’s answer: A Final Four run for the men’s basketball team
Honestly, at this point I’d even take a Sweet Sixteen run. In his first four years as head coach of the Ohio State men’s basketball team, Chris Holtmann has recorded 20 wins in each of those seasons. The problem is, in the three years the NCAA Tournament was held during that span, the farthest the Buckeye basketball team has made it to is the Round of 32.
This year has a little different feel for Ohio State. Not only do the Buckeyes have E.J. Liddell, who is in the conversation as one of the best players in the country, they also have already scored a win over Duke, who was the top-ranked team in the country at the time. The only thing that would be sweeter than giving Coach K the first loss of the season in his last year as head coach of the Blue Devils would be to give him the final loss of his head coaching career.
Things were a little shaky for the Buckeyes to start off the season. Ohio State needed a Zed Key shot at the buzzer to beat Akron, and were less than impressive in a loss to Xavier. The loss to Florida stings because the Gators got a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer to squeak out a victory. But, these issues are a little easier to deal with when considering Ohio State has only seen Justice Sueing play in a couple of games, while Seth Towns hasn’t seen the floor at all so far this season.
You can tell Holtmann has the basketball program headed in the right direction, he just needs to get over the hump and get the team to at least the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. This feels like it could be the year, since the Buckeyes have already played a number of good teams and never really been out of any game. Ohio State has already developed a layer of toughness that they’ll need heading into the heart of Big Ten play.
It’s hard to believe that we are going on 10 years since Thad Matta led the Buckeyes to the Final Four. Between that run and the team in 2006-07 with Greg Oden and Mike Conley that went to the title game, there isn’t much quite like a deep NCAA Tournament run. After coming out of winter, winning at least a few games in the NCAA Tournament just makes spring feel a little sweeter. Hopefully we get one of those journeys this year, to at least take our attention away from Ohio State football for a few extra weeks.
Meredith’s answer: A top-five defense for Ohio State football
My Christmas wish for Ohio State this year is a top-five defense in football. The Buckeyes finished this season 50th in the FBS in total defense, allowing more than 365 yards per game, and 23rd in scoring defense, giving up 21 points per game. The most embarrassing stat came from passing yards allowed: Ohio State finished 98th in the FBS in the category, giving up 247 yards per game.
This year was frustrating from a defensive perspective because, while there were times when the passing defense looked passable and times when the rushing defense was definitive in shutting down opposing backs, there were few times when all the defensive pieces came together, especially when facing strong opposing offenses.
Sure, there was that lockdown performance where the Ohio State defense allowed just seven points against Michigan State this season, but then there was that other time just a week later when five rushing touchdowns to Michigan running back Hassan Haskins.
Part of the challenge is that we, as Ohio State fans, have been spoiled when it comes to good defenses. We’re not so far removed from the Buckeyes’ 2019 defense which was fourth in the FBS, allowing just 13.7 points per game, or even from the 2015 scoring defense which was second in the nation, giving up 15.1 points per game.
Ohio State’s talent on defense has been undisputed for many years, with players like Chase Young, Nick Bosa, Denzel Ward, Jeff Okudah and Joey Bosa all being taken with top-five picks in the NFL Draft, and continuing to have strong NFL careers. However, things are shifting: 2021 was the first season since 2015 that Ohio State didn’t have a first round selection on defense. Sadly, 2022 looks like it’ll be a continuation of that trend.
So looking ahead, it would be nice to be able to count on the Ohio State defense to halt the opposition the way we’ve grown accustomed to. Plus, as the old adage goes, defense wins championships.