As the final seconds ticked away, the scoreboard read 42-20. Based on the expert predictions and odds in Las Vegas, one would assume Oregon’s high octane offense had once again led them to a decisive victory.
However, it was Ohio State’s unofficial anthem “Hang On Sloopy” that accompanied a shower of confetti when the clock hit 00:00. On Monday, Jan. 12, 2015, the Ohio State University throttled the Oregon Ducks in the first ever College Football Playoff National Championship game.
So much for being “over-rated.”
So much for being the “underdogs.”
And so much for being “undeserving of a playoff spot.”
The Buckeyes heard all the criticism, but for the third straight game, OSU stifled its favored opponent and went on to win the school’s overall 8th college football national championship—and the first ever championship in the playoff format.
From everyone with ties to the state: Thank you Buckeyes.
Championships of any sort are exceedingly rare to come by, and especially with Ohio sports. Just ask people in the Cleveland area. That is why it’s important to really take a step back and appreciate what the Buckeyes were able to accomplish this season.
Their season was pronounced dead when they lost starting quarterback and potential Heisman candidate Braxton Miller before the season even started. They then dug their own grave when they lost at home to a lowly Virginia Tech team on the second game of the season.
Then something extraordinary happened.
The red shirt freshman backup QB J.T. Barrett sparked life into a lost season and slowly but surely steered the ship in the right direction, restoring hope to Buckeye Nation. With Barrett under center, the Buckeyes ripped off 10 straight wins, as he passed for 34 touchdowns compared to just 10 interceptions. His play forced him into the Heisman conversation, and deservedly so.
A season that started off so tumultuously became nothing but smooth sailing for the Buckeyes.
Then, for the third time in one season, OSU’s ship sank in one foul swoop.
Against their biggest rivals, Michigan, Barrett sustained a season-ending leg/ankle injury and had to be carted off the field. Ohio State’s hopes and dreams left on that very same cart.
In came Ohio State’s third-string quarterback, Cardale Jones.
The Glenville product (homegrown from Cleveland) at this point in his career was best known for tweeting, “Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play football? We ain’t come to play school, classes are pointless.”
Needless to say, Jones didn’t inspire much confidence. Not yet.
Jim Ricciardo, a recent OSU grad now living in Cleveland, recalls his thoughts about Cardale Jones when Cardale first came in the game versus Michigan and then his thoughts leading up to the following game against Wisconsin:
“When J.T. went down, I thought our post-season hopes were finished. I thought there was no way that OSU would beat whoever they were going to play in the Big Ten Championship, and I thought about how unlucky we were to lose two quarterbacks in one season. I mean, what else could go wrong?”
But all that changed in a whirlwind. Things took a turn for the best, and in a hurry.
Guided by unprecedented coaching from Urban Meyer, OSU went on to not only beat Michigan, but rattle off three straight dominating victories over opponents that were deemed superior. In the Big Ten Championship game, the Buckeyes obliterated Wisconsin 59-0, a performance that pushed them into the top four and into the College Football Playoffs.
Then they went up against the number one ranked team, Alabama, and once again, Cardale Jones and the Buckeyes emerged victorious in one of the most physical games played all season long.
Up next: the Oregon Ducks.
The third-stringer from Cleveland, Cardale Jones, matched up against Oregon’s Heisman Trophy Winning QB Marcus Mariotta.
Cardale came out on top.
That’s not to say he did it alone. OSU’s defense manhandled the opposition while their Offensive Line bullied opposing Lineman and Linebackers, allowing Ezekiel Elliot to carry the brunt of the Offense in dominating fashion.
Just like that, Urban Meyer, Cardale Jones and the rest of the Ohio State football team were crowned the 2015 BCS champions.
They overcame more adversity than anyone believed they could, which makes this championship especially sweet. It’s only right that every Ohioan feel a sense of pride when thinking about the Buckeyes, regardless of whether or not you have any direct ties to the school.
Ohio against the world, and Ohio came out on top.