A recap of the 2022 season, photo editors highlight key moments

Ohio State opened its 133rd football season Sept. 3 with a 21-10 win over then-No. 5 Notre Dame. Three months later, the No. 4 Buckeyes clinched a meeting with Southeastern Conference champion and No. 1 Georgia during the Peach Bowl in the semifinal of the College Football Playoff.

Take a look at Ohio State’s season: 12 games, four on the road, eight in Ohio Stadium and one more guaranteed game.

Despite Ohio State’s loss to No. 2 Michigan in Columbus, the Buckeyes’ national championship hopes remain alive. In a season of marquee, “Top 10” caliber moments, The Lantern takes a look back at the stills that capture the 2022 season to this point.

Then-No. 2 Ohio State prepares to enter Ohio Stadium before the Buckeyes’ 21-10 win over then-No. 12 Notre Dame Sept. 3. Credit: Katie Good | Asst. Photo Editor

Ranked No. 2 at the time, Ohio State faced an early test with then-No. 5 Notre Dame. In front of a packed Ohio Stadium, the Buckeye season kicked off on Sept. 3. 

The energy in the stadium was lively as the Buckeye faithful cheered on the Buckeyes as Ohio State defeated Notre Dame 21-10. After a slow start and an injury to third-year wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who many considered to be the top receiver in college football heading into the 2022 season, the Buckeyes opened the season with a win and began to carve their path to the CFP.

Second-year wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18) secures a touchdown during then-No. 3 Ohio State’s 45-12 win over Arkansas State (3-9) in Columbus Sept. 10. Credit: Zachary Rilley | Photo Editor

After defeating the Fighting Irish, Ohio State returned to Ohio Stadium for its second of a five-game homestand to open the season against Arkansas State Sept. 10. The Buckeyes, much to the crowd’s enjoyment, displayed how electrifying their offense can be.

After only scoring 21 points against Notre Dame, the Buckeyes put up 45 points against Arkansas State as the Buckeyes defense held the Red Wolves to just 12 points. Second-year wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18)  was responsible for 18 of Ohio State’s 45 points. Securing seven catches for 184 yards, Harrison scored three touchdowns and officially re-introduced himself to Buckeye Nation following a massive Rose Bowl performance with as many scores a season prior.

Second-year wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18) celebrates a touchdown during then-No. 3 Ohio State’s 77-21 win over Toledo in the Ohio Stadium Sept. 17. Credit: Zachary Rilley | Photo Editor

Harrison has electrified Ohio State fans this season with his catches. 

During then-No. 2 Ohio State’s 77-21 win over Toledo Sept. 17, Harrison secured one of these catches. Keeping his feet planted in the corner of the endzone, Harrison reached out of bounds and secured one of two touchdowns of the day. 

After a brief consultation between the referees and some influence from Harrison himself, the wide receiver threw up his hands in celebration before the Buckeyes celebrated with him. Harrison caught six passes for 102 yards, securing Ohio State’s third win of the season.

Wide receiver coach Brian Hartline smiles as third-year wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (11) warms up before then-No. 3 Ohio States 54-10 win over Iowa in Columbus Oct. 22. Credit: Zachary Rilley | Photo Editor

Ohio State fans will forever look fondly upon the performances of third-year quarterback C.J. Stroud and Smith-Njigba (11). 

Their performances paved the way for hype for the duo heading into the Ohio State-Notre Dame matchup. Unfortunately, Smith-Njigba suffered an injury early in the game that sidelined him for most of the season. 

However, fans still hoped for his return. Finally, as then-No. 3 Ohio State prepared for its matchup with Iowa, Smith-Njigba made an appearance and suited up for Ohio State for the first time since Week 1.

Much to the delight of Ohio State fans and wide receiver coach Brian Hartline, Smith-Njigba padded up and prepared to play. Smith-Njigba caught one pass for seven yards in Ohio State’s meeting with Iowa, which ended up being the final game of Smith-Njigba’s Ohio State career. 

Despite injury disappointment, Hartline, who can often be seen smiling and keeping a light mood during pregame warmups with his wide receivers, coached Smith-Njigba for three seasons and will now have the pleasure of watching his former receiver enter the NFL.

Ohio State second-year wide receiver J.T. Tuimoloau (44) celebrates a sack during then-No. 3 Ohio State’s 44-31 win over then-No. 13 Penn State in the Beaver Stadium Oct. 29. Credit: Katie Good | Asst. Photo Editor

With the clock ticking and a packed stadium of hostile fans, then-No. 3 Ohio State took on then-No. 13 Penn State in its second road game of the season Oct. 29 and its first matchup against a top-25 opponent since its Week 1 meeting with then-No. 5 Notre Dame. 

Entering the fourth quarter with a slim 16-14 lead over the Nittany Lions, the Buckeyes needed a massive fourth quarter to keep their undefeated record. Penn State did not make it easy. Scoring 17 points in the fourth quarter, Penn State gave Ohio State all it could handle. 

The only thing stopping Penn State from putting Ohio State away was second-year defensive end J.T. Tuimoloau (44). With one of the best single-game performances in college football history and a monster fourth quarter, Tuimoloau gave Ohio State the edge it needed to silence the Penn State crowd and return to Columbus with a win. 

Recording three tackles for a loss and six in total, two sacks, a forced fumble and fumble recovery and two interceptions — one of which he returned for a touchdown — Tuimoloau helped hold off the late Penn State run. Ohio State went on to score 28 points in the fourth quarter, but Tuimoloau’s late pick six sent the Nittany Lions faithful to the exits, ending their upset hopes. Ohio State defeated Penn State 44-31.

Second-year defensive tackle Michael Hall Jr. (51) signs autographs following then-No. 3 Ohio State’s 21-7 win over Northwestern in Evanston, Illinois, Nov. 5. Credit: Zachary Rilley | Photo Editor

With massive wind gusts, freezing temperatures and severe weather pounding Evanston, Illinois, then-No. 3 Ohio State’s 21-7 win over Northwestern Nov. 5 was anything but pretty. 

Struggling to overcome the elements, Ohio State grinded out a tough road win in an environment that felt more like a home game than an away one. In a stadium meant to overflow with purple, scarlet and gray dominated the stands.

These Buckeye fans didn’t shy away from the weather. Following Ohio State’s win, fans stayed to cheer on the Buckeyes and offer support as they headed to the locker room.

Second-year defensive lineman Michael Hall Jr. (51) and other Buckeyes stopped to make sure these fans’ loyalty didn’t go unnoticed. Taking time to take photos and sign autographs, Hall was one of the last players off the field and greeted every fan he possibly could. 

Hunched over to sign a fan’s jersey, Hall displayed his appreciation for Buckeye Nation as he headed to the locker room.

Graduate wide receiver Xavier Johnson (10) sheds a tear after Ohio State graduate fifth-year receiver Kamryn Babb’s (0) first touchdown. Then-No. 3 Ohio State defeated Rutgers 56-14 Oct. 1. Credit: Zachary Rilley | Photo Editor

Following a string of medical setbacks, graduate wide receiver Kamryn Babb secured his first touchdown of the season during then-No. 3 Ohio State’s 56-14 win over Indiana Nov. 12. 

Babb’s catch was the emotional apex of the season thus far, and it resulted in a standing ovation from the crowd and a sideline clearing celebration from Ohio State players and staff. 

Surrounded by teammates, coaches and a stadium of Buckeye faithful, Babb was mobbed by multiple emotional teammates excited to celebrate the veteran receiver. Caught in that emotion was graduate wide receiver Xavier Johnson. Johnson can be seen shedding a tear as he celebrated his fellow wide receiver. 

Johnson, who joined Ohio State in 2018, has spent multiple seasons with Babb and been a firsthand witness to his setbacks and comebacks.

A Michigan fan sits among the Ohio State student section during “The Game”  Nov. 26.  Then-No. 3 Ohio State lost to then-No. 4 Michigan 45-23. Credit: Zachary Rilley | Photo Editor

Prior to its meeting with then-No. 4 Michigan, then-No. 3 Ohio State had an unblemished record. 

Despite a strong start, the Buckeyes were no longer undefeated after Michigan defeated Ohio State in Columbus Nov. 26 and gave the Wolverines their second win over the Buckeyes in two years. In the first installment of “The Game” held in Ohio Stadium since 2018, Ohio State fans packed into the ‘Shoe and made their voices heard.

In a sea of scarlet and gray, only small patches of maize and blue could be seen. Ohio State’s Block “O” student section was almost entirely Buckeye fans, with a few exceptions.

Peaking their heads out of the crowd, small pockets of Michigan fans and Ohio State fans watched their respective teams battle for a spot in the Big Ten Championship and a near guaranteed chance to compete for a national title. Ohio State would go on to lose 45-23, potentially ending its chance to play in the CFP.

Despite its late loss to Michigan, Ohio State was given a second chance. With a few key losses, the Buckeyes earned the final spot in the CFP and kept their national title hopes alive.

Taking on the Georgia Bulldogs in what could be their final game of the 2022 season, Ohio State will travel to Atlanta to play in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, located a short hour-and-a-half drive from Georgia’s campus, for the Peach Bowl.

The Buckeyes will compete for a chance to play for a national title against Georgia in a stadium that has become a second home for the Bulldogs, who will play in it for the third time for the Peach Bowl. A lot is at stake for the Buckeyes, including a chance at redemption against Michigan. 

However, in an emotional and high stakes season, the 2022 Ohio State team has one more chance to cement its legacy.

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