By Kaleb Page
Let’s hop back in time for just a moment.
Let me take you back to a marquee game under the lights in Columbus, OH on September 6, 2014.
The game was between The Ohio State Buckeyes and Virginia Tech Hokies. A night game in the Horseshoe is a tall task for any team let alone Virginia Tech. However when the Hokies came to town they went all out on an Ohio State team that was still in the infancy stage in their season development.
The buckeyes just prior to the start of the season lost their center piece, the one everyone thought the entire season hinged on: Braxton Miller. When Miller went down, in stepped someone who everyone was scrambling to figure where he even came from. J.T. Barett took the reins and in only his second start faced off with the talented defensive mind of Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster. Foster also took advantage of an offensive line that was replacing four starters, three of which went on to be starters in the NFL.
All night Ohio State could just never seem to get it going. Whether it was dropped passes, poor blocking or even missed assignments on defense; there was a multitude of deficiencies to point out.
Upon losing the game 35-21 in a stunning home defeat, many looked to this team as a lost cause. A team that had no chance to even get anywhere near the college football playoff. The teams’ odds after the first game were 12 to 1. After the defeat, ESPN’s Darren Rovell found a ticket in Las Vegas that had the buckeyes at 75 to 1 odds to win the national championship.
Now I am no betting man but whoever had that ticket has to be doing a happy dance at this very moment.
Even though there were countless naysayers, tough road games, a loss of another quarterback and even the death of a teammate; this team became the ultimate definition of a team. Each and every week players on both sides of the ball stepped up to make plays and show how the team was growing. Even if I was not a fan of Ohio State I would have to be blown away with the resiliency and manner with which this team handled itself after so much adversity.
The college football playoff berth by the Buckeyes was set up after a 59-0 demolition with a third string quarterback (Cardale Jones) making his first ever start. It didn’t get any easier when the seeding gave the Buckeyes a match-up with the king of the SEC: Alabama. A game essential in Alabama’s back-yard, was just the second start for Jones but at the same time a coming out party for the talent, speed and physicality that this team developed from that loss early in September.
This past Monday night saw the improbable tale culminate the way it was meant to with Ohio State beating another stout team in Oregon. The first ever undisputed champion in college football history. Most teams that would have experienced the things this team did would have crumbled and maybe would have even struggled to go .500.
This team took that notion that they should feel sorry for themselves and threw it out the window. From “the slobs” (nickname of Ohio State’s offensive line) upfront developing into an unmatched force, Ezekiel Elliot fulfilling his potential to be a potent threat, a defense that found its mojo (the silver bullet defense is brewing up) and arguably the best coach in college football Urban Meyer; this team is complete. Their mantra of “The Power of The Unit” grew and grew as they needed everyone to make this dream a reality.
So do you want to take those 75-1 odds now…I sure wish I had way back when.
The Buckeyes mission is complete.