ATLANTA — Ohio State is not apologizing for its place in the CFP, and the Buckeyes are every bit as confident of victory as No. 1-ranked Georgia.
So how good is this Ohio State team compared to others Ryan Day has coached? Buckeyes’ beat writer Nathan Baird addressed that earlier this week (below) as part of a five-question survey with DawgNation.
But even closer to the source, Ohio State All-American Marvin Harrison Jr. provided some perspective.
“I think we have confidence in one another,” Harrison Jr. said. “We know the talent we have on this team, offense, defense and special teams.”
Ohio State has 66 former blue-chippers on its roster (only Alabama has more), and Georgia has 64, per ESPN Stats & Information
And yet, the Bulldogs are a 7-point favorite over the Buckeyes in the CFP Peach Bowl Semifinal at 8 p.m. on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Ohio State actually started the season ranked ahead of this Georgia team, ranked No. 2 behind Alabama but one spot ahead of the Bulldogs.
The Buckeyes were ahead of Georgia when the first CFP Rankings came out on Nov. 1, too.
Of course, much has changed since then, as this look back at those first CFP rankings from the panel of experts on the committee reveals:
2. Ohio State
Ohio State was the Big Ten heavy most of the season, too, and was favored by 8 points over Michigan when the teams met the final week of the regular season in Columbus.
Being the favorite the past two years in the Big Ten, and not having anything to show for it has left the Buckeyes’ players in a salty mood this week.
“We know the last month has hurt, it has, but it has motivated our team,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said on ESPN College GameDay. “I think you can feel it at practice every day and we’re going to go and swing as hard as we can because there was a week there we didn’t have anything and when it’s taken away from you, it gives you a different perspective as you go back to work over the next month.
“We know that we have a huge challenge in Georgia, but that’s kind of the way we want it. In their backyard going down here, it’s just going to be a hard game. We get it.”
QUESTION: Where does this Buckeyes team stack up or rate compared with others in the Ryan Day Era?
NATHAN BAIRD: “OSU has been chasing the standard of Day’s first team, the 2019 squad that went 13-0 and lost to Clemson in the playoff semifinals.
This team probably came the closest to meeting that standard, and it’s because of the significant defensive improvement.
Day brought in three new defensive assistants, most notably former Oklahoma State defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Jim Knowles.
Last season the Buckeyes were 59th in total defense and 43rd in yards allowed per play. Now they are 11th in total defense and 17th in yards allowed per play.
Injuries prevented the offense from reaching its full explosive potential, but when healthy, this team can still put up a lot of points quickly.”