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With McCord in the portal, what will the Cotton Bowl and beyond look like for Ohio State?

The Buckeyes’ future plans changed on Monday.

Ohio State v Michigan Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

I’m sure I’m not the only one who rolled over to check their phone this morning and was immediately awakened by the news of Kyle McCord entering the transfer portal. A million thoughts were swirling around in my brain. When did he decide on this? What does this mean for the Cotton Bowl? What quarterback should the Buckeyes target in the transfer portal? And so much more... let’s get into it.

First off, this isn’t a total shock. During Sunday’s press conference, Ryan Day hinted that he wasn’t sure who the starting quarterback would be in the bowl game or next year. Every time a reporter asked a question about the position, he kept dancing around it, never truly giving an answer.

I wonder if Day’s answers at the press conference and their conversations about the future behind closed doors are what pushed McCord over the edge and made the decision final for him. Once he learned that he wasn’t the definite QB1 any more, maybe that is what changed his mind.

So, what is the Cotton Bowl going to look like? I’m sure we will hear more about this in the weeks to come, but my guess is that we are going to see Devin Brown and Lincoln Kienholz split time. Why wouldn’t you? Yes, Day said that his priority is winning the game, but you also have to see what you have in store for next season. Plus, I believe these guys also have the talent to help the team win the game. Win-win situation.

It will be interesting to see what weapons Ohio State will have on offense. With a lot of guys going pro and maybe opting out of the game, and some in the portal, who knows who Brown and/or Kienholz will be throwing to. Julian Fleming is a definite no as he is in the portal. TreVeyon Henderson and Marvin Harrison Jr. are questionable, as they will most likely be going pro.

That leaves them with (most likely) Emeka Egbuka, Cade Stover (I feel like this man will refuse to NOT play), Carnell Tate, Brandon Innis, Xavier Johnson, Chip Trayanum and Dallan Hayden. This is a pretty darn good group of guys, with a nice mix of veteran experience and some freshmen getting the opportunity to show what they’re all about.

Michigan State v Ohio State Photo by Ben Jackson/Getty Images

McCord’s decision to transfer makes the bowl game a lot more intriguing. Now, we will have the opportunity to see Brown play in (potentially) a full game, and Kienholz play some meaningful snaps. This will be the first true look at who Buckeye fans could be watching on Saturdays next fall.

Or, it could be a totally different guy who isn’t even on the team yet. Air Noland is the five-star commit who will be a freshman next year, but I honestly don’t see Day starting a true freshman when he has other options.

Who are those other options? Well, McCord isn’t the only highly-touted QB who put his name in the transfer portal. Oklahoma’s Dillon Gabriel, Oregon State’s DJ Uiagalelei, Washington State’s Cam Ward, UCLA’s Dante Moore and so many more have entered the portal as well.

Oregon State v Oregon Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images

Gabriel had a really nice season with the Sooners, throwing for over 3,600 yards, 30 touchdowns, six picks and finishing with a 87.3 QBR, good for fourth in the nation. Uiagalelei put up solid numbers, with 2,600 yards, 21 TDs, 7 INTs, and a 80.8 QBR.

Rumors are that Ward could be the No. 1 target for the Buckeyes. He threw for 3,700 yards, 25 touchdowns and seven picks, but finished with a 60.6 QBR. He has one year of eligibility remaining, so he could be the one-year veteran QB that the Buckeyes need while they let Noland take a year to develop.

I feel like I could write ‘what if’s’ all day about who could end up under center next year. Arch Manning could enter the portal if Quinn Ewers decides to stay another year at Texas. What if he wanted to be a Buckeye? I mean at this point, half of college football’s quarterbacks are in the portal, so anything is possible.

Either way, I think this is a win-win for both sides. I wish nothing but the absolute best for McCord, and I hope he balls out wherever he ends up. I think a fresh start is needed for both him and for the Buckeyes. He was getting relentlessly hated on by a vocal minority of the fanbase, as people didn’t believe he was the man for the job. Now, someone else will have the opportunity to prove that they are. Let the madness begin!