INDIANAPOLIS — For the first time since Ryan Day’s tenure as Ohio State coach, the Buckeyes didn’t come Big Ten Media Days as defending league champions.
Michigan wears this crownand the Buckeyes are determined to reassert themselves as conference kings.
“I think what’s unique about Ohio State is that every year we’re expected to win everything,” Day said Wednesday. “It’s part of the deal here. Often you make 11-2 and win the Rose Bowl, you say it’s a hell of a season. Well, not around here. Our goal every year is to beat Team Up North and win the Big Ten Championship and win the National Championship, and we didn’t get those things last year.
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Day is entering his fourth year as Buckeyes coach. Each year has been faced with major challenges. Last year, Ohio State broke in on a new quarterbackCJ Stroud, who had never thrown a collegiate pass and an inexperienced defense in most places. He knew growing pains would be inevitable. The team’s weaknesses, especially on defense, were exposed in losses to Oregon and Michigan and in the first half of the Rose Bowl victory over Utah. Day hired Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles to fix that side of the ball.
“Expectations don’t change from year to year in Ohio State. We all know that. So is it different this year? No. The team is different, however. We have more experience than last year. We have a returning veteran quarterback, a lot more guys on defense who are veterans, and a new pattern on defense.
In other words, there will be no excuses this year.
“Last year we were so young we didn’t know what we didn’t know,” Day said. “This year we know what it’s like to lose a game. We know what it’s like to lose this rivalry game. And it was not good. And so there are scars there, which is a good thing.
Ohio State opens its season against Notre Dame on September 3. This matchup will give the Buckeyes some extra incentive during training camp, which begins Aug. 4.
“It amplifies the preseason for sure,” Day said. “You know you have to play your best football right away. You can’t take a match or two to find your place, so this match is going to be amped up. It’s going to be kind of a frenzy, and we know that, so pre-season is going to be very important.
The Buckeyes are playing a busy schedule. Besides Michigan and Our Lady, the Buckeyes face tough tests from Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan State and Penn State.
“Every time you play, you put it on the court,” Day said. “That’s what’s at stake, and you have to make sure you understand that when you show up each week. The thing we are focusing on this year is competitive stamina, being able to play week after week and playing our best football at the end of the season.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State football coach Ryan Day expects Big Ten and national titles