There’s one game left, but the Big Ten is back, thanks to head coach Urban Meyer.
CBS Sports is reporting that now that Meyer’s Ohio State Buckeyes are playing for the National Championship, Ohio State, and the Big Ten overall, can now tell the world how good they are. And on January 12, the Buckeyes can show them, too.
In the second semifinal game, Meyer led his charges to a convincing 42-35 victory over number one Alabama. Alabama once held a 15-point lead during the second quarter, when Ohio State started their comeback. Meyer had told his team that two fellow Big Ten teams, Wisconsin and Michigan State (both of whom Ohio State had defeated earlier this season), had won their New Year’s Day bowl games (Wisconsin beating Auburn, 34-31, and Michigan State coming back to beat Baylor, 42-41) in an effort to show his Buckeyes they were more than able and capable to beat Alabama.
“Maybe the Big Ten isn’t that bad,” Meyer said. “Maybe the Big Ten is pretty damn good, or certainly getting better. The mind is a fragile thing…. There’s no doubt that when we saw Wisconsin beat Auburn, that was a major, major moment for us to win this game.”
When you consider that Ohio State were overcoming some sizable obstacles, it makes their win even more impressive. The Buckeyes had suffered their only loss to Virginia Tech at home in September, then after losing starting quarterback Braxton Miller and second string J.T. Barrett, Ohio State’s hopes were pinned onto third string quarterback Cardale Jones, a sophomore with no collegiate experience, to win the game, and Jones played admirably well.
The Bleacher Report is showing that 11 of the 22 starters on both offense and defense were freshmen or sophomore, so the odds were definitely stacked against Ohio State. Or so it seemed.
Ohio State righted the ship and reeled off five victories, including a 49-37 victory over then number eight Michigan State. The Buckeyes got more bad news at the last game of the regular season against Michigan. J.T. Barrett suffered a broken ankle in the fourth quarter. Ohio State were now going into the championship semifinals without their Heisman Trophy-candidate Barrett, and a team that had been consistently replacing players on both sides of the ball. Well, the “next man up” strategy worked like a charm.
Third string quarterback Cardale Jones replaced Barrett admirably, leading Ohio to victories over Wisconsin for the Big Ten Title, then beating Alabama soundly for the right to meet Oregon in the very first National Championship game.
Urban Meyer has got the Ohio State players right where he wants them; he’s given them the ability and opportunity to take the championship trophy home to Columbus.
[Image courtesy of USA Today]