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How Ryan Day can beat Urban Meyer to national title for Buckeyes

Ryan Day-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football
Ryan Day has a chance to win a national title in his second season for Ohio State. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football

How Ryan Day can beat Urban Meyer to national title for Buckeyes

Ohio State is one of the most decorated college football programs in the country, and 2020 should be another year for a dominant Buckeyes team. Lettermen Row is breaking down five Ohio State records that could fall in 2020. Next up: Ryan Day, who is aiming to win a national title in Year Two at Ohio State.

COLUMBUS — Ryan Day nearly pulled it off in Year One at Ohio State.

The Buckeyes, under Day for the first time, were just a couple plays in the Fiesta Bowl away from getting a shot at a national title. They were 13-1 with a win over rival Michigan and a Big Ten championship ring. They were statistically one of the best Ohio State teams of all time. But as the Buckeyes entered the offseason, none of that mattered. They came up short of their ultimate goal.

“I think it was a successful season, for sure,” Day said in January. “I just think that in the first year of this coaching staff and a first-year quarterback and all the different things that came in — the defensive staff — there were so many positive things in the way we played.

“Certainly we didn’t reach all of our goals, though. And that’s something we’ve got right back in here this past week and talked about. And they’re hungry. This team’s going to be hungry, turned around. It’s obviously fresh off the loss. That was a tough game to swallow. But we’re already moved on, looking towards the future.”

It took Urban Meyer until Year Three to win a national title at Ohio State, partially because NCAA sanctions kept them out of the BCS title game during Meyer’s debut season. Woody Hayes won his first title in Year Four.

But Jim Tressel won a title in his second season.

Ryan Day could do the same with the talent assembled in Columbus for next season. It’s an expectation that it happens early in his Ohio State coaching career, and 2020 is Day’s chance to grab one to cement a budding legacy.

Ryan Day-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ryan Day could become the second Ohio State coach to win a national title in his second season. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

The record: Urban Meyer won a national title in Year Three for Buckeyes

How Ryan Day can break it: Day wouldn’t be breaking a record, rather matching Tressel for it.

But he’ll forever be chasing Meyer’s legacy because he’s the coach who replaced him. It’s not crazy to think he can grab a title before his predecessor, either. Day has a Heisman Trophy-candidate quarterback returning for another season in Justin Fields, who could lead the Ohio State offense to places it’s never been. Day has one of the best offensive lines coming back in the country and one of the most talented wide receiver groups in program history, thanks to the recruiting efforts of his top assistants. And all of that is just on offense.

Defensively, the Buckeyes will replace nearly the entire secondary, but they have talent all over the field and one of the best defensive lines year-after-year, regardless of who they lose. And Ohio State certainly has an elite group of assistant coaches to help Day achieve a national title in his second season guiding the program, which would vault his career trajectory at Ohio State ahead of Meyer’s.

It won’t be that easy, as Clemson, Alabama, Georgia and others reload for title runs of their own. Ohio State has a September trip to title-contending Oregon that could be tricky, and the Big Ten is never full of guaranteed wins.

But if Ryan Day can get through the regular season undefeated like he did last season, there’s a great chance he’ll finish the job and lift the College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy, one he was just a few plays short of last year in his first season.

Spencer Holbrook

Spencer Holbrook covers Ohio State football and basketball for Lettermen Row. A graduate of Ohio University's Scripps School of Journalism, he's in his second year covering the Buckeyes. He was previously the sports editor at Ohio's student newspaper, The Post, where he covered Ohio University football and men's basketball.