Written by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)
Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
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The Buckeyes did the impossible last night. They won the 2014 College Football National Championship on the back of their third-string quarterback, neutralizing the top three Heisman Trophy contenders on the way. My thoughts reflect what everyone in the media keeps saying, the Buckeyes were not supposed to do this.
But reverse psychology seems to work well for the Buckeyes. If you tell them they can’t do something, then you usually get to sit back and watch them do it.
In 2012, when everybody wrote them off because of their post-season ban, the Buckeyes held up the middle finger to the football world by going undefeated. Then in 2013, the Buckeyes inexplicably dropped the Big Ten title game to Michigan State and the Orange Bowl to Clemson.
With Braxton Miller injured in the Orange Bowl and two painful losses fresh in their minds, the Buckeyes had redemption on the mind going into the 2014 season. Then Braxton Miller got hurt…again.
Hope was pretty much lost as Ohio State hung its hopes on their backup, J.T. Barrett. Barrett managed to look “okay” in the Buckeye victory over Navy, but he certainly wasn’t easing the doubts of the Buckeye faithful. Those doubts were then confirmed as the Buckeyes dropped their home opener to Virginia Tech, who would go on to embarrass not only themselves, but the Buckeyes as well by going 6-6.
At this point, most of Buckeye Nation was ready to pack it in and wait for the return of Braxton Miller. But then things started to get interesting as Barrett found his groove, leading the Buckeyes to nine straight victories, including a huge upset of Michigan State on the road.
Then disaster struck again as J.T. Barrett broke his ankle during the Michigan game.
As great as the season was going at that point, we all were quietly thinking that all good things had finally come to an end. Sure, we were playing for a Big Ten title, but we were pretty sure our chances of winning that game were over as we had to rely on our unproven and occasionally controversial third-stringer, Cardale Jones.
Cardale Jones promptly shocked the conference by leading the Buckeyes to a 59-0 blowout of the Wisconsin Badgers, and then he shocked the nation by leading the Buckeyes to a 42-35 victory over SEC juggernaut Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
Surely this magic couldn’t continue right? Oregon and Marcus Mariota would surely put Jones in his place right? Wrong. Ohio State showed the world right where they belong, and here’s what we learned from their journey:
Depth Wins Championships
The obvious view of Ohio State’s depth is at the quarterback position. We get that. But you also have to look at Ohio State’s defensive line. Tommy Schutt played a huge role in the National Championship game as he rotated in and out of the line to give everybody a much needed breather against the fast-paced Oregon Ducks offense. If it weren’t for him, this might have been a different game.
You also can look at the running back position for signs of depth. Jalin Marhsall, Dontre Wilson, and Curtis Samuel all were available to give the Ducks a lot of options to cover on defense. This helped pave the way for Ezekiel Elliot to have the massive game that he did.
Urban Meyer is THE Best Coach in College Football
Sure, Nick Saban has one heck of a run to show for his years at Alabama, but his teams never faced this sort of adversity. Did Meyer’s team drop a stupid game to Virginia Tech? Sure. But his team also learned from that loss and grew by leaps and bounds throughout the rest of the season. Each week we saw a better team than we saw the week before. And when the unthinkable happened and J.T. Barrett went down, Urban made sure that Cardale Jones was coached up and ready to lead this team. Add to all this the fact that the Buckeyes are about to get a whole lot deeper with a nice crop of recruits for the 2015 season, and the SEC better start getting nervous.
The Run Game Didn’t Die With the Spread
With all this talk about finding that perfect “Percy Harvin” player to complete Urban Meyer’s offense, I thought for sure that the power running game was all but dead at Ohio State. But that’s not the case at all. Urban Meyer has adapted his offense to include the power running game and has even leaned on it when solid production was needed. Ezekiel Elliott’s three-game streak of 200+ yards definitely shows that the run is alive and well at Ohio State.
This Team is Just Getting Started
As I mentioned a little bit ago, Urban Meyer is one heck of a recruiter. This team still has holdovers from the Tressel years on it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing (Cardale Jones was a Tressel recruit after all and so was Braxton Miller), but we’ve seen the growth that two solid seasons of Meyer’s brand of recruiting has produced at Ohio State. Do the names Darron Lee, Raekwon McMillan, Joey Bosa, Jalin Marshall, Curtis Samuel, and J.T. Barrett mean anything to you? Those are the dominant names of Meyer’s early recruiting efforts that are making plays right now. What about Stephen Collier, Torrance Gibson, Justin Hilliard, Eric Glover-Williams, or Michael Weber? Yeah, that’s a whole list of four and five star recruits that are either already here or are coming to Columbus next season. This team could be scary good next year, and maybe even the year after that.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s one great day to be a Buckeye! I couldn’t be more proud of this team and I’m nothing but excited to see what the future has in store for them. Go Bucks!