The holidays have come and gone. I hope you got everything on your wishlist! In terms of what Ohio State athletics gifted to their fanbase this year, Buckeye Nation should be fairly happy (never satisfied, of course). Starting back in January by making it to the National Championship game, fast forwarding to Nov. 30 when the Bucks upset the No. 1 Duke Blue Devils and many moments in between, here are my favorite gifts Ohio State sports gave me in 2021.
Beating Clemson in the CFB Playoff Semifinal
Sweet, sweet revenge. The Buckeyes got another chance to beat the Tigers in the semifinal, and this time they came out on top. Following an extremely disappointing loss in the Fiesta Bowl the year prior, Ohio State was left with a bitter taste in their mouth. A lot of questionable officiating calls in the game left Buckeye fans wondering “what if?”
This year, Justin Fields left zero question of who the better team was. He threw for a Sugar Bowl record six touchdown passes. Not to mention he did all of this even after suffering a devastating hit to the ribs by James Skalski in the second quarter. Also, Trey Sermon continued his monster two-game greatness, rushing for 191 yards and one TD.
Ohio State had been waiting for this opportunity for a year, and they took advantage, winning by a score of 49-28. Yes, the Bucks got demolished by Alabama in the title game. However, I am choosing to focus on the satisfaction of beating Dabo Swinney, Trevor Lawrence and the entire Clemson team.
Watching Former and Current Buckeyes in the Olympics
Everyone loves watching the Olympics. What makes it even better is if you have specific people to root for. Ohio State had a total of 26 current and former Buckeyes in the Games — a school record. While Kyle Snyder is a household name for the majority of Buckeye Nation, there were a lot of other great athletes that made themselves known at the Games.
Ilse Paulis of the Netherlands won a bronze medal in women’s rowing. Nichelle Prince helped Team Canada take home the gold in women’s soccer. Hunter Armstrong, a current Ohio State athlete, won gold in the men’s 4x100 meter medley relay in swimming. Last but certainly not least, the aforementioned Snyder won a silver medal for the United States in wrestling.
Those were the four athletes that took home some hardware, but there were a lot of great stories from this event. Adelaide Aquilla went from being a walk-on at Ohio State to an Olympian shot putter. Christine Clemons ran with some amazing Doritos-inspired earrings. The Leverett brothers both made the American air pistol team. The Kyridou sisters both rowed for Greece. Clearly, I could go on and on for each athlete, but overall it was very fun to watch the Buckeyes compete in the Olympics!
The 2021 Football Season
While it certainly didn’t end the way Buckeye fans had hoped, there were still so many bright spots during this season. C.J. Stroud and TreVeyon Henderson had legendary debut seasons, with Stroud being a Heisman finalist. A lot to look forward to from these freshmen in the future.
We got to witness one of the greatest receiving trios in school history in Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. I don’t know if we will ever get to see so much talent at the receiver position at the same time ever again, but it was a lot of fun to watch this season.
Lastly, this team showed resiliency. Following an early loss to Oregon, the Buckeyes bounced back and didn’t lose another game until the very last one of the season. They beat Penn State in an absolutely electric atmosphere. They showed their dominance against Purdue and trampled Michigan State. It was an exciting season full of talent— and Buckeye Nation gets to see it on display one last time at the Rose Bowl.
Upsetting No. 1 Duke on Nov. 30
This game solidified the men’s basketball team as legit. It was one of the craziest atmospheres the Schottenstein Center has ever held. The Bucks battled back and forth against the Blue Devils the whole night (primetime on ESPN!), and came out victorious.
Zed Key scored a career-high 20 points, E.J. Liddell finished with a double-double and Cedric Russell had his shining moment as a Buckeye, coming into the game and going a perfect 3-of-3 beyond the arc during crunch time.
Duke led by 13 points at halftime, yet Ohio State never gave up, storming back in the second half and winning by a score of 71-66. Fans stormed the court after the final buzzer, and the entire nation was shocked by the upset. This started the beginning of a four-game winning streak for the Bucks, which will be put to the test again on Tuesday.
What was your favorite Ohio State sports gift from 2021?
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Beating Clemson in the semifinal
Watching Buckeyes in the Olympics
The 2021 football season