A quick look at what made Justin Fields' career at Ohio State so special
Ohio State has seen plenty of talented quarterbacks throughout its lifespan as a perennial power in the world of college football. Still, Justin Fields will leave Columbus as one of the all-time greats, even without bringing a national championship back to the school.
Fields announced on Monday that he has declared for the 2021 NFL Draft, ending his career as a Buckeye after two seasons. He initially began his college career at Georgia before transferring to play for Ryan Day and Co.
So, what exactly separated Fields from some of the other quarterbacks in Ohio State history? Here’s a quick look at what he did during his time with the Buckeyes.
Fields’ numbers were off the charts
There were some serious questions about Fields ability to lead a high-caliber program like Ohio State in 2019 as a first-time starter. With a brand new head coach replacing the legend Urban Meyer and some staff changes, it seemed like the incoming QB might have to adjust to life in the B1G.
Fields hit the ground running in Columbus. In his first game as a Buckeye, Fields completed 18-of-25 passes for 234 yards and 4 touchdowns while rushing for 61 yards and a score on 12 carries in Ohio State’s 45-21 win over Florida Atlantic. Everyone new, at that moment, Fields would be a special player.
Fields led Ohio State to a 13-1 record that season, beating Michigan and getting a win over Wisconsin in the B1G Championship Game to get the Buckeyes a spot in the College Football Playoff for the first time since the 2016 season. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist after throwing for 3,273 yards and 41 touchdowns with just 3 interceptions and completing 67.2% of his passes. He also rushed for 484 yards and 10 touchdowns.
This season, Fields again showed off his incredible talent by throwing for 2,100 yards and 22 touchdowns with just 6 picks and rushing 383 yards and 5 scores while completing over 70% of his passes.
We probably didn’t give Fields enough credit for his remarkable outings at Ohio State. What would’ve been considered a brilliant performance for most college quarterbacks was just another day at the office for Fields. But in 2020, we got some performances that impressed everyone.
In Fields’ first game of the 2020 season, he completed 20-of-21 passes for 276 yards and 2 touchdowns while rushing for an additional 54 yards and a score.
Through the first three games of the season (Nebraska, Penn State and Rutgers), Fields had as many incompletions as touchdown passes (11). It was an unheard of statistic in this era of college football.
None of that compares to what he did in the Sugar Bowl against Clemson, though. Despite suffering an incredibly painful hit to the ribs in the 1st half of the game, Fields had one of the most unforgettable games in College Football Playoff history.
Fields ended the game completing 22-of-28 passes for 385 yards and 6 touchdowns, leading Ohio State to a 49-28 victory over Clemson. And that’s the game that everyone will remember most from the QB’s career with the Buckeyes.
Two perfect regular seasons and only two losses
It’s hard enough to get through one college football regular season without a loss. Fields did it two years in a row. Not only that, he capped both of those seasons with B1G titles.
Fields was 17-0 in regular season games as a starter and 19-0 if you include the B1G Championship Game appearances. The only losses came to Clemson in the 2019 semifinal round of the College Football Playoff and this year’s National Championship Game to Alabama. Not too shabby.
Obviously, Ohio State was incredibly talented at all positions and Fields needed some help to keep his regular season record unblemished. Still, it’s an impressive feat for a starter over a two-year span.
Fields leaves Ohio State with a 20-2 record as a starting quarterback.
He helped bring back B1G football
Perhaps Fields’ biggest contribution to college football is that he helped bring back B1G football after the season had been canceled in August. Shortly after the league made the decision to postpone the season until spring, Fields launched a petition asking for the conference to reconsider.
That petition launched a massive movement from B1G players, fans, parents, coaches and just about everyone else involved in athletics. And, eventually, the conference decided to reinstate the college football season.
It proved to be a smart move, as Ohio State ended up competing for the national title, too.
None of that may have been possible if Fields didn’t speak up. Not only was he a leader for two seasons on the field, he proved to be one off the field, as well.