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Rivalry rumor: CJ Stroud possibly staying at Ohio State in 2023

CJ Stroud, the generational Ohio State quarterback whose career has been defined by an 0-2 record vs. Michigan, might be staying at OSU.



Nov 26, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) is tackled by Michigan Wolverines defensive lineman Rayshaun Benny (26) in the second half at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Despite an 11-0 start to the 2022 season, Ohio State’s top-2 ranking and undefeated record all fell apart on November 26th, 2022. The Michigan Wolverines, who were also 11-0 at the time, came into Columbus and gave the Buckeyes an even worse beat down than they did the year before in Ann Arbor (42-27). Michigan’s 45-23 win over Ohio State in ‘The Shoe’ felt like a massive turning point in the UM-OSU rivalry, but for CJ Stroud, the Michigan loss meant even more.

CJ Stroud is defined by Michigan losses

From 2012-2020, Ohio State football was undefeated against Michigan; in fact, Ohio State has won all but five matchups since the turn of the century. That being said, U-M remains undefeated against Ohio State this decade with back-to-back blowout wins over the Buckeyes. Since 2021, OSU has seen an elite quarterback under center: CJ Stroud. Stroud is touted as one of the nation’s top QB prospects heading into the 2023 NFL Draft, and has the potential to be the No. 1 overall pick this year.

That being said, Stroud has unfinished business at Ohio State. In 2021 — his first year as a starter — Stroud led the No. 2 Buckeyes into Ann Arbor with a 10-1 record and a trip to the Big Ten Championship on the line. No. 5 Michigan — who was a heavy underdog at the time — limited the Buckeyes to a mere 27 points in its 15-point win. The year after, Stroud’s Buckeyes had a similar opportunity in Columbus, but again fell short.

In 2021, the loss set OSU to 10-2 overall and to the Rose Bowl game. Ohio State finished the year with 11 wins and a close win over Utah in the Rose Bowl, yet the season still felt like a disappointment. Last year, despite being as close as anyone has ever been to beating Georgia over the past year, Ohio State shanked a game-winning field goal to fall to 11-2 overall yet again.

While Stroud’s numbers have been great during his time with the Buckeyes, his legacy is primarily defined by one thing: he is winless against Michigan. On top of that, Stroud has 0 Big Ten Championship appearances, 0 College Football Playoff wins, and one postseason win (2022 Rose Bowl). If that was not enough, Stroud has not finished above No. 3 in the Heisman voting in back-to-back years despite being one of the favorites on a yearly basis.

CJ Stroud’s career at Ohio State — much like Ryan Day’s last two seasons — has been disappointing. When he is on, Ohio State looks unstoppable, but when the lights get too bright, the Buckeyes tend to fold.

If Stroud had beat Michigan — just once — OSU would have gone to a Big Ten Championship game and likely the Playoff as well. With that in mind, it is safe to stay that Stroud’s career has been defined by the Buckeyes two-straight losses to Michigan — both of which came in dominant fashion.

Could Stroud return to Columbus in 2023?

Ohio State is losing a lot of talent this year but could still be a huge threat to the Big Ten and CFP in 2023. Right now, the rumor is that CJ Stroud could be holding out for a massive NIL package to then decide whether or not he wants to return to Ohio State next season. Seeing as Stroud is a projected top pick this year, this could be one hell of an NIL deal.

Regardless, Stroud staying would not be good news for Michigan football. As funny as it has been to see Ohio State lose two-straight games to U-M with a generational QB, beating Stroud three times in a row would be exponentially harder. CJ Stroud has until Monday to declare for the NFL Draft, and while I see it as likely that he leaves Ohio State, this offseason could get a lot more interesting if Stroud stays.

Only time will tell, but this is certainly a storyline to keep an eye on over the weekend.

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