Last year, Ohio State fell to Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinal, a stingy loss that clearly drove the team when it got its rematch with the Tigers this year. Following last night’s blowout loss to Alabama in the national championship, Justin Fields hopes that his young teammates carry this game forward in a similar fashion.
After his stellar performance in that Clemson game, Fields was clearly hampered by the injuries sustained in that game. He finished 17-of-33 for 194 yards and a touchdown, and 67 rushing yards. As a team, Ohio State was outgained 621-341 in the 52-24 loss.
For Fields, this was almost definitely his last game at Ohio State. In what was essentially one and two-thirds true seasons after transferring in from Georgia, he was a Heisman finalist, and led the Buckeyes to two Big Ten championships, a national semifinal and championship game appearance. While they didn’t get over the hump to win a title, he goes down as one of the best quarterbacks in program history.
Even so, going out this way has to be disappointing. He’ll almost certainly go to the 2021 NFL Draft, where he projects as a first-round pick. His post-game message to his team: “remember this feeling” and “never let it happen again.”
Justin Fields says he was telling the young guys on the team to "remember this feeling" walking off the field after a loss and to "never let it happen to this again."
— Colin Hass-Hill (@chasshill) January 12, 2021
For head coach Ryan Day and his staff, the big question is who will replace Justin Fields under center. C.J. Stroud and Jack MIller, two four-stars from the 2020 class, are both options that have been with the team this season.
And then there is Kyle McCord, the much-ballyhooed five-star QB out of Philadelphia who joins the team this spring. Ryan Day has already said he’ll have the chance to win the job. McCord isn’t backing away from expectations either, tweeting out “364,” the number of days until next year’s national championship, the moment last night’s game went final.
One thing that seems certain: Alabama will be involved in some way.