It’s all the way or bust for Buckeyes this season

It’s all the way or bust for Buckeyes this season

A few thoughts from the week in sports …

It’s championship or bust for the Ohio State football team this season.

With three legitimate Heisman Trophy candidates back to lead the way in quarterback C.J. Stroud, wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba and running back TreVeyon Henderson, the oddsmakers predict the Buckeyes are on a collision course to meet top-ranked Alabama for the national title.

Of course, the college football playoff is a long, long way off.

No. 2-ranked Ohio State has its sole attention on a big-time opener when No. 5 Notre Dame visits Ohio Stadium for a primetime matchup on Saturday (7:30 p.m., ABC).

There will be no easing into the season this year for Ohio State, which will play a top-10 matchup in an opener for the first time since 1986 (No. 5 Alabama beat No. 9 OSU, 16-10).

This will be a great tone-setter for the team that wins and leave the loser with little margin for error the rest of the way. Since the four-team playoff format started in 2014, there hasn’t been a team with two losses qualify.

Ohio State is expected to light up the scoreboard like a pinball machine, or smart phone/tablet game for our younger readers.

Stroud passed for the second most yards (4,435) and touchdowns (44) in Ohio State history in 2021 while Smith-Njigba hauled in 95 receptions for 1,606 yards despite playing in the shadows of Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson (both in the NFL now).

Henderson carried the ball 183 times for 1,248 yards and 15 TDs.

In a 48-45 Rose Bowl win over Utah, Stroud passed for a school-record 573 yards and record-tying six TDs, with Smith-Njigba grabbing 15 catches for an FBS bowl record 347 yards and three TDs.

The Buckeyes’ defense didn’t get the job done last year, though, and they suffered losses against Oregon and Michigan.

“Maybe some places, 11-2 and a Rose Bowl victory is a good year. It isn’t at Ohio State,” coach Ryan Day told reporters.

New defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, who did an outstanding job at Oklahoma State, has set a goal of being a “top-five defense.” The Buckeyes were surprisingly bad on defense last year, ranking 96th out of 130 FBS schools in passing defense and No. 100 on third-down defense.

The Notre Dame-Ohio State opener will have a playoff atmosphere. Adding to the intrigue, new Fighting Irish coach Marcus Freeman played linebacker for the Buckeyes from 2004-08.

ESPN’s Game Day crew will be in Columbus, the ’Shoe will be jam-packed and millions more will watch on TV. College football is back, and I can’t wait.

Mantle card sells for $12.6 million

It’s no secret sports memorabilia can be worth a lot of money — trading cards, autographs, game used equipment, bobble heads, et cetera.

You name it and there’s probably someone out there who collects it and is willing to pay money for it.

However, no one’s ever forked over cash like an anonymous buyer did for a mint condition 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card at Heritage Auctions on Aug. 28. The SGC graded 9.5 Mantle card sold for $12.6 million, which was the most ever paid for a sports memorabilia item.

Anthony Giordano of New Jersey sold the card, which he originally bought for $50,000 at a New York City show in 1991 — not a bad return on his investment.

I’ve been a collector since grade school and have always dreamed of coming across a valuable old stash of sports cards or other collectibles.

Like many kids in the 1980s, I bought lots of card packs hoping to make some extra cash. It wasn’t until many years later we found out the cards were so over-produced from 1986-93 that it’s now known as the “Junk Wax Era.” Most are worthless.

I’ve never had the funds necessary to get into the Mickey Mantle market — even his nonrookie cards are expensive — but I’ve had fun collecting some old Cleveland Indians and Browns cards. A couple 1909 T206 Indians tobacco cards and some old Jim Brown cards are my favorites.

Collectibles are fun to show to family and friends, work out some trades now and then, or just share stories of the players pictured. The COVID pandemic seemed to revitalize the memorabilia industry with people stuck at home getting out their collectibles.

To all you collectors out there, whether it’s sports, movies, comic books or something else, happy hunting.

It would be nice to get a big payday someday, but collecting for me is mainly about having fun.

Parting shots

I was sorry to learn of the recent passing of Bob McComas, a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania resident, at age 66. Many longtime area residents remember McComas as a sports writer for The Daily Record in the 1970s. He was a 1974 Wooster High graduate who was interested in sports from an early age.

McComas went on to become a sports information director and sports writer in Pennsylvania. He was a dedicated member of the Lions Club.

We had actually talked a couple times recently about a book he was working on.

Prayers to McComas’ family and friends.

—Lots of Browns fans — and local talk radio hosts — are worried about the team after a lackluster preseason.

Some of those same pessimists were laughing about how bad the Guardians were a week into the MLB season, and now Cleveland is likely headed to the playoffs. I’ll admit I wasn’t very optimistic.

The point is it’s way too early to tell how good or bad the Browns will be. NFL teams don’t show much in the preseason, and the veterans don’t play much.

The true test will come when the Browns visit the Panthers on Sept. 11 for the hugely anticipated season opener against their former quarterback. That will be must-see TV.

Aaron Dorksen can be emailed at AaronDorksen24@gmail.com.