Skull Session: Marvin Harrison Jr. Deserved the Biletnikoff, A Look at Ohio State’s Heisman Candidates Since 2018 and Columbus is a College Town

Buckeye Nation rejoiced on Thursday as Tanner Holden sank a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to down Rutgers and give Ohio State a win in its Big Ten opener.

The play went just like Chris Holtmann drew it up.

 WAIT… WHAT? On Thursday night while watching the ESPN College Football Awards show, I clenched my fist, looked toward the sky – more accurately, the ceiling of my apartment – and cried out in a loud voice, “Why?”

Of course, this was in response to the announcement of Tennessee’s Jalin Hyatt as the winner of this year’s Biletnikoff Award. Indeed, according to the voters of the honor presented to college football’s best pass-catcher, Hyatt had a better and more impactful season than Marvin Harrison Jr.

I understand Hyatt had more yards, touchdowns and yards per catch than Harrison this season, but it’s not like he blew Harrison’s out of the water statistically. Take a look at their side-by-side contributions to Tennessee and Ohio State this year, including advanced metrics from Pro Football Focus:

STATS JALIN HYATT MARVIN HARRISON JR.
SNAPS 424 389
ROUTES 386 367
TARGETS 89 108
REC 67 72
REC% 75.3% 66.7%
YDS 1,267 1,157
Y/REC 18.9 16.1
TD 15 12
YAC 537 309
YAC/REC 8.0 4.3
Y/ROUTE 3.28 3.15
ADOT 13.6 14.1
DROPS 5 1
Note: ADOT = Average depth of target

Yes, the stats favor Hyatt (but again, not by much). However, what about the eye test? Perhaps I have my rose-colored glasses on (or scarlet-colored glasses?) when watching Harrison perform weekly. Still, I am pretty confident that no other receiver in college football, including Hyatt, made some of the spectacular catches Harrison hauled in during the regular season.

I mean, seriously. He has the nickname Super Marv for a reason. Nobody except Harrison was doing things like this in 2022:

Isn’t it mesmerizing? Cheers to the media team for such a creation. I have no idea how long something like this takes, but I’d imagine it was pretty time-consuming.

The picture makes me remember how talented Ohio State’s rosters have been over the last five seasons and how Haskins, Fields, Stroud and Young were the most talented on their respective teams in those years. That reveals how special they all were (and are, in the case of Stroud) while wearing the scarlet and gray.

Oh, and that reminds me of something. If you visited the Eleven Warriors website on Thursday, we asked which of these players had the best season when they were individually nominated as Heisman Trophy finalists. Here is how that poll turned out:

  1.  Justin Fields, 2019: 44% (of the vote)
  2.  Dwayne Haskins, 2018: 26%
  3.  Chase Young, 2019: 25%
  4.  C.J. Stroud, 2021: 5%
  5.  C.J. Stroud, 2022: 1%

Of course, Stroud is the only player who can still win the award and hopes to do just that this weekend. The Heisman Trophy ceremony is set to take place at 8 p.m. on Saturday in New York City and will be broadcast on ESPN.

Stroud was the favorite to win the honor for most of the season before Ohio State’s loss to Michigan. He was usurped by USC’s Caleb Williams, who is still the frontrunner heading into Saturday despite the Trojans losing to Utah in the Pac-12 Championship Game, according to most sportsbooks.

But who knows? Maybe the Heisman voters will surprise us Saturday night.

 COLUMBUS IS A COLLEGE TOWN. Despite Columbus hosting two major league sports franchises and a minor league baseball team, Ohio State’s capital is and always will be a college town. You know it. I know it. This city belongs to the Buckeyes.

The Columbus Blue Jackets made that much clear on Wednesday when they announced they would move the start time of their Dec. 31 game against the Chicago Blackhawks at Nationwide Arena from 7 p.m. to 1 p.m. so as not to overlap with the 8 p.m. kickoff for the Peach Bowl between Ohio State and Georgia.

From a Blue Jackets press release:

“New Year’s Eve is going to be a special day for Ohio sports fans and moving our game to the afternoon will allow our fans to not miss a minute of Blue Jackets hockey or the excitement of watching the College Football Playoffs that evening,” said Kathryn Dobbs, Blue Jackets Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer.

Yes, that’s right. The Columbus Blue Jackets, a hockey team in the NHL – a professional league representing one of the four major sports in the United States – bent to the will of the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Now, let’s be clear: the Blue Jackets are hot garbage this season, primarily because of injuries on every line and a nonexistent defense, but they’re still a professional sports team. It really should be the CBJ that has the power to do what they want, not the amateurs wearing scarlet and gray.

But that’s how it has always been in Columbus. Ohio State runs this town. And with the Buckeyes playing in the College Football Playoff, there was no option for the Blue Jackets other than to play second fiddle.

However, if you’re a fan of the Jackets, perhaps this is good news. Now you have afternoon plans on New Year’s Eve, and you will be able to see them be obliterated at 1 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. and not miss any of the Buckeyes’ matchup with the Bulldogs. I see this as a huge win!

 OLYMPIC VILLAGE. Folks, Ohio State has some talented women’s teams. Like, really talented women’s teams. But we only have room to talk about two of them to wrap up this Skully.

Let’s start with women’s basketball, who beat The Fighting Ryan Days of New Hampshire, 92-36, on Thursday. If you looked at that score and thought, “Wow! That looks like a blowout!” then you would be spot on. But the final score doesn’t tell the entire story.

Soooooooooooo, yeah. Ohio State was only up 39-29 at halftime but outscored the (and this is their real nickname) Wildcats 53-7 in the second half, including a 30-4 run in the third and a 23-3 run in the fourth, to win by 56 points. Cotie McMahon led the team with 20 points, followed by Taylor Mikesell with 19 and Taylor Theirry with 14. Defensively, the Buckeyes forced 27 turnovers and blocked four shots.

I’d say that makes it a good day for the women’s basketball team.

Let’s move on to the women’s volleyball team. Man oh man, Emily Londot was an unstoppable force, collecting a career-high 29 kills on Thursday.

Londot’s performance, along with those of Mac Podraza, Rylee Rader, Kylie Murr and Jenaisya Moore, pushed Ohio State past Minnesota and into the Elite Eight for the first time since 2004.

Those players were making it incredibly hard to finalize the match recap yesterday afternoon as they kept racking up more and more statistics at the end of the final set. But it’s a good thing they did because Ohio State needed every point they could to defeat the boogeyman that was the Sweet 16 for the program.

Cheers to Coach Jen Flynn Oldenburg for what she has done in her three seasons with the programs. Let’s cap this year off with a natty, Volleybucks.

 SONG OF THE DAY. “I Feel Good” by James Brown.

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