The Ryan Day-led Ohio State Buckeyes have shot out the gates with a 5-0 record. Thanks to to all-world quarterback Justin Fields spearheading a high octane offense and the defense playing like the Silver Bullets of years before, Ohio State is firing on all cylinders. Meanwhile, most pundits have been quick to downplay the success of Fields and the Buckeyes, but a Saturday night blowout in Lincoln, Nebraska, put the country on notice.
A trip to Memorial Stadium was Fields’ first big challenge in a long college football season. With a program like Nebraska that revels in its history, they were clamoring for their first big-time win under head coach and former Cornhusker legend Scott Frost.
With the atmosphere in a frenzy, ESPN's College Gameday present, and appearances from Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade, the odds were against Fields and the Buckeyes to flourish. Even though the Nebraska team doesn’t pale in comparison to the teams of the 1990s, there was a certain feel about this game that Buckeye fans are all too familiar with.
Coupled with OSU’s past blunders against Iowa (2017) and Purdue (2018) along with Fields’ inexperience, it was slated to be a dreadful night for the Buckeyes... one that never transpired. The jitters were absent and Fields aced this test with flying colors.
He completed 15 of 21 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns while adding 72 yards and one touchdown on the ground en route to a 48-7 blowout. After some speculation at the start of the season, it’s clear that Fields is good as advertised and many can say that he’s surpassed expectations. Everyone knew that Fields had a lot of potential, but by the time he leaves Ohio State, he may be placed in the same pantheon as Troy Smith, Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett, and Dwayne Haskins.
While it's still early for that, it's not out of the question.
Fields was a highly-touted recruit coming out of nearby Atlanta, Georgia. He was regarded as a can’t-miss-prospect. He was arguably the best quarterback in the past decade. Depending on who you talk to, Fields and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence were 1A and 1B in their respective class. The football world sort of forgot about Fields as he sat behind Jake Fromm while at Georgia, and his rival classmate channeled his inner Ronnie “Sunshine” Bass by leading the Tigers to the national championship.
This season Fields is back in the spotlight and he’s showing that he is one of the best players in the country. In five games, the first-year starter has tallied 23 total touchdowns, zero interceptions, and he has the Buckeyes primed for a College Football Playoff bid if they continue to run the table.
While Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts and LSU’s Joe Burrow have better stats and played against better opponents, Fields’ isn’t too far behind them when talking about the top quarterbacks in the country. When Fields arrived in Columbus he was more hype because he was unproven. Now it’s safe to say that he is better than advertised.
Fields and the Buckeyes are figuring it out sooner than what many thought. That should be a scary feeling for the rest of the country.
Yes, the Buckeyes have played a weak schedule, which is not up for debate. That doesn't mean that Justin Fields isn't one of the best quarterbacks in the country. Because of his play through five games, the Buckeyes are playing at such a high level, compelling well-known Buckeye hater Mark May to call the Bucks the best team at this point in the season.
With remaining games against Big Ten powers Michigan State, Wisconsin, Penn State, and of course Michigan, Fields has a tough road ahead. If he keeps up his Heisman-like play, he will add summa cum laude to his resume and the Buckeyes will be making their third trip to the College Football Playoffs.