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Losing To Oregon Fresh In Buckeyes' Mind During Notre Dame Preparation

Ohio State opens the season with perhaps its most challenging opponent of the year - meaning there's no time to work out any hiccups.

When the Buckeyes prepared to open the 2021 season - no offense to Minnesota, who actually turned out to be a pretty decent team (not to mention they played Ohio State tough) - the vast majority of Ohio State fans were geared up for Week 2 against Oregon.

We all know how that turned out.

The Buckeyes came out flat, C.J. Stroud struggled a little bit as his right shoulder continued to bother him, the defense couldn't come up with a way to stop Oregon offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead's game plan and the Scarlet and Gray suffered a stunning loss.

This year, Ohio State's big non-conference game comes one week sooner.

There is no ramping up or getting your feet underneath you before you play Notre Dame. Week 1, under the lights, with SO much on the line for two teams that have exceptionally high expectations.

Last year, Ryan Day made it pretty clear he thought his team was inexperienced (especially in critical moments) and that it was going to take the Buckeyes a little while to "catch up" from all the time they missed during the CoVID-impacted 2020 season (which included canceling spring practice).

That's not an excuse any longer.

I asked Ryan Day what his sense was of how the Buckeyes are handling themselves this time around knowing how important the first game of the season is next month.

"They've been in big games," Day said. "They've got scars. They've got stars on their chest from winning games, but they've also got some calluses. I think that makes it good, they understand it, there's some experience there.

"I mean listen - everyone is going to be juiced up for that game, but it's certainly not going to overwhelm anybody. We've been there before. We've been in the bright lights, we know what that's like, but we know how important it is to go win that game and it's certainly on the back of everybody's mind here in camp."

You can catch the rest of what Day had to say during his press conference here (we'd appreciate it if you subscribed to our YouTube channel).

The reality is, Ohio State was still in a favorable position to make the College Football Playoff as a 1-loss team last year if they would have beaten Michigan and won the Big Ten title. Losing an early season game against a really good team shouldn't be the end of the road for the Buckeyes, considering their ability and star-power.

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But it also puts an enormous amount of stress on the rest of the season because there is absolutely no margin for error the rest of the way.

The Buckeyes had a good year in 2021. 11-2 and a Rose Bowl win is nothing to shake your head at. But Day acknowledged last week at Big Ten Media Days that last year wasn't good enough and the expectations are much higher (perhaps even unfairly so) for a program of their caliber.

A win in Week 1 won't be easy, but kicking off the season by beating Notre Dame would put the country on notice that Ohio State is back and ready to make a run at a national championship.

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