Since Jim Harbaugh made the “born on third” quip in 2021, Ryan Day has been stomped at home by Michigan, he has lost a Playoff semifinal game, he has yelled at Lou Holtz on national television, he has lost to Michigan again — becoming the only Buckeye coach this century to lose 3 straight to the Wolverines — and he has lost a Cotton Bowl in which his team mustered only 3 points.

To say it’s a big year for Day is probably an understatement.

Ohio State has quite a bit of production to replace — 56th nationally, per Bill Connelly, with 62% back on offense and 68% back on defense — but the stars on defense came back to chase a title and Day was ultra-aggressive in the transfer portal to retrofit the offense.

Will Howard takes over at quarterback, and the Buckeyes hope the Kansas State transfer provides more stability at the position. Quinshon Judkins joins TreVeyon Henderson in the backfield, potentially forming the best 1-2 punch in football. Emeka Egbuka leads one of the most promising receiver rooms in the nation.

Dating back to 2017 when Day first joined the program as an assistant, Ohio State’s offense had ranked no worse than 11th in scoring. The Buckeyes led the nation in scoring in 2021 and then ranked second in 2022.

Last year, the Buckeyes were 2 touchdowns worse per game than the year prior and crashed to 45th nationally. They were 25th nationally in efficiency, but the offense was uncharacteristically troubled and those indicators were present throughout.

Given what returns and what was added to supplement the roster, anything short of a first-round bye in the College Football Playoff would likely be viewed as a disappointment in Columbus.

In preseason SP+, Ohio State ranks second nationally, viewed as 3.3 points better than Michigan, 4 points better than Penn State, and at least 2 touchdowns better than any other Big Ten school not named Oregon.

In preseason FPI, Ohio State ranks fourth nationally, viewed as nearly a field goal better than Penn State, a touchdown better than Michigan, and at least 11 points better than any other. ESPN’s power index gives Ohio State a 26% chance to win the Big Ten, a 67% chance to make the CFP, a 19% chance to make the national title game, and an 11% chance to win the whole thing.

The least favorable odds on a bet for Ohio State to make the CFP (-650 at several books) still carries an implied probability of 87%.

If you put stock in ESPN’s FPI, there may be some value to you in a bet on Ohio State to miss the CFP. At DraftKings, a ticket for Ohio State to miss out is priced at +425. That’s a 19% implied probability compared to what FPI says is a 33% chance.

Ohio State’s win total is set at 10.5 at most books. DraftKings currently has the best price on the over (-140). Caesars has the best price on the under (+145). In each of the last 2 seasons, Ohio State has only suffered 1 regular-season loss — to Michigan at the end of the schedule. In 2021, Ohio State lost twice in the regular season — Michigan and Oregon. From 2018-20, the Buckeyes suffered only 1 regular-season loss.

They’ve had more than 1 loss in a regular season only twice since 2012.

During that time, Ohio State is 76-5 at home and 98-8 in conference games. Only Alabama has a better winning percentage at home. No one has a better win percentage in their conference games.

In the nonconference, Akron, Western Michigan, and Marshall all come to the Shoe. Road games include Michigan State, Oregon, Penn State, and Northwestern. Conference home games include Iowa, Nebraska, Purdue, Indiana, and Michigan.







Ohio State can probably lose twice and still make the CFP. Perhaps even a third loss wouldn’t close the door, particularly if those losses were to the top teams in the league.

Of course, losing multiple to a group of Penn State, Oregon, Iowa, and Michigan would put some heat on Day. Losing a fourth straight game to Michigan, particularly after all the offseason upheaval that occurred in Ann Arbor, would have some calling for Day’s job.

But Ohio State doesn’t have to beat Michigan to win the Big Ten or make the CFP. That’s to say nothing of Ohio State’s desire to beat Michigan, and that could very well take precedence after 3 years of frustration and embarrassment.

Day doesn’t embark on such an expensive offseason rebuild just to skate into the CFP. He lured Chip Kelly away from a Big Ten head coaching job to be his new offensive coordinator. He pulled safety Caleb Downs from Alabama and Judkins from Ole Miss. He added a quarterback for the present and 2 quarterbacks for the future. And he signed the No. 5 high school class in America.

The defense returns 10 of its top 13 tacklers from last season, a group spearheaded by NFL hopefuls who delayed professional careers to chase a title at Ohio State.

This is akin to the Avengers assembling. It’s comical how talented this Ohio State roster is.

But that has been Day’s reality since he took over the head job at Ohio State. Harbaugh’s “born on third” comment was probably more fact than opinion and Day, entering Year 6, has yet to reach home.

My colleague, Connor O’Gara, has Ohio State earning the No. 1 overall seed in this season’s Playoff. Doing so would make the Buckeyes the favorites to win the title, something Ohio State hasn’t done since 2014.

Agree? FanDuel is the place to lay a wager on the Buckeyes to win it all. The book is currently offering Ohio State +420 to win the CFP.