The term “rebuilding” doesn’t exist in Columbus. Instead, Ohio State has established itself as a program that is constantly reloading. That is no different as the Buckeyes enter the 2021 season.

Ryan Day is entering his third year with the program, posting an impressive 23-2 record as the head coach. His only two losses have come in the College Football Playoff.

Not bad for a new head coach replacing three-time national champion Urban Meyer.

Ohio State will enter the 2021 season as the favorite to win the B1G for a fifth consecutive year. The Buckeyes are also thought to be the league’s best shot to receive a bid to the College Football Playoff and compete for a national championship. With so much change, though, this might be Day’s toughest test as the man in charge.

With kickoff less than two weeks away, here are five bold predictions for the Buckeyes in 2021:

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1. The leading rusher is a true freshman

Yes, I’m buying the hype. Newcomer and former 5-star recruit TreVeyon Henderson was quick to shed his black stripe in spring practice. Day has raved about the freshman running back in fall camp. All signs point to Henderson making a quick impact for the Buckeyes.

Henderson might have some bumps in the road early getting acclimated to the college game (especially with Ohio State’s schedule), but at some point he’ll overtake Master Teague III as the top ball carrier. It might happen in the opener against Minnesota or it might come later in the year once he gets his feet wet, but it’s going to happen.

2. Whoever earns the job as starting QB will be a first-team All-B1G selection

Here’s a fun fact: Ohio State’s quarterbacks have been first-team All-B1G selections all three years Day has been in Columbus. If that’s not impressive enough, both Dwayne Haskins (2018) and Justin Fields (2019) were Heisman Trophy finalists in their first seasons as full-time starters for the Buckeyes. Call me crazy, but I think Ohio State will be just find at the quarterback position, regardless of who’s running the show.

C.J. Stroud still appears to be the favorite and he’ll probably lead the team from start to finish. Even if it’s Kyle McCord or Jack Miller III, I expect the Buckeyes’ starter to be on the first-team All-B1G list at the end of the year. That’s just what Day does.

3. Two receivers will eclipse 1,000 yards this season

In its illustrious history, Ohio State has only had five receivers eclipse the 1,000-yard mark. Parris Campbell was the most recent, hitting the mark in 2018. Prior to that, the most recent Buckeye receiver to hit that total was Michael Jenkins in 2002. Predicting two guys to hit that total seems a bit ambitious.

Guys like Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson don’t often share the field together, though. And even with Ohio State’s embarrassment of riches in the receiver room, it’s going to be difficult for the offense not to target those two guys frequently. Last year, Olave finished with 729 yards and Wilson totaled 723, and that came in just 8 games. Imagine what they can accomplish in a full 12-game slate.

4. Ohio State suffers its first regular season loss of the Day era…

Urban Meyer didn’t do it. Dabo Swinney hasn’t done it. Lincoln Riley hasn’t done it. Hell, even Nick Saban hasn’t done it. No current head coach in college football, or Day’s predecessor at Ohio State, has gone through the regular season unscathed in three straight seasons.

The law of averages suggests that Ohio State will lose a regular season game at some point. The Buckeyes do have a tough schedule, playing Minnesota in the opener, hosting Oregon in an early-season matchup and traveling to Indiana. Plus, Penn state should be much more competitive this year. I don’t think Day can get through three straight regular seasons without a loss, but picking the loss? Yeah, that’s the tough part.

5. But that loss won’t come to Michigan

Considering the last two decades, this might not fit the category of “bold predictions.” With Ohio State winning the last eight and 15-of-16, it’s really a lukewarm take, at best. Still, it’s worth mentioning that the Buckeyes should easily make it nine straight against the Wolverines.

Bonus: Sevyn Banks emerges as the top DB in the B1G

It’s probably fair to say that Ohio State’s secondary took a step back in 2020. With Shaun Wade gone and defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs focused on improving in that area, expect Banks to have a breakout year.

Banks had a solid season year in 2020, totaling 23 tackles, a team-best 8 pass break-ups and an interception in 8 games. He’s already told reporters that he’s looking forward to the opportunity to being the anchor of Ohio State’s secondary this fall. Banks has the talent to be a first-round pick and it sounds like he’s got the mindset, too.