The Ohio State football team finished last year with an 11-2 record and a Rose Bowl victory, but the Buckeyes also lost to Michigan, failed to win the Big Ten title and missed out on the College Football Playoff.
It was still a good season for the Buckeyes, who finished sixth in the Associated Press poll, but head coach Ryan Day told reporters that there are still "scars" from last season amid the team's annual sky-high expectations.
"Last year, we were so young that we didn't know what we didn't know," Day said (h/t Bill Rabinowitz of the Columbus Dispatch).
"This year, we know what it's like to lose a game. We know what it's like to lose that rivalry game. And that was not good. And so there are some scars there, which is a good thing."
As Day noted, last year's team was inexperienced. That's not so much the case this year, especially with Heisman Trophy candidate and quarterback C.J. Stroud entering his second season as the starter.
"The expectations don't change year in and year out at Ohio State. We all know that. So is it different this year? No. The team is different, though. We have more experience than we had last year. We have a veteran quarterback coming back, a lot more guys on defense who are veterans, and a new scheme on defense."
The Buckeyes will open the 2022 season against Notre Dame on Sept. 3.
They will enter the season as the unanimous Big Ten favorites. They are also the No. 2 team in the country behind Alabama in numerous preseason rankings, including lists from Phil Steele, Wayne Staats of NCAA.com and ESPN's college football power index.
The offense was tremendous last year, averaging an FBS high of 45.7 points per game. The defense was hit or miss and finished 38th in points allowed (22.8 per game).
The run defense notably struggled in the team's two losses against Oregon (35-28) and Michigan (42-27), with the Ducks' CJ Verdell (195 total yards, three touchdowns) and Michigan's Hassan Haskins (169 rushing yards, five scores) going off.
Changes were made on that side of the ball, though, as Jim Knowles left Oklahoma State to become the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Ohio State. The Cowboys allowed the fifth-fewest yards per run (2.7) last year.
Ohio State has a track record of excellence and over the past two decades has reached five national title games, winning two. OSU also hasn't lost more than two games in any of the past 10 seasons.
This year's team looks like it'll be in the thick of the national title race as usual, and it very well could leave the scars from last year behind en route to a better season.