Ohio State football: National Championship only the beginning for Buckeyes?


The 2014 season featured the very first College Football Playoff. The Buckeyes entered the season as a heavy favorite to earn one of the four playoff spots. When Braxton Miller went down, those opinions changed in a hurry. With a young, inexperienced quarterback J.T. Barrett stepping in, most of us couldn’t help but think the season was over. At first, the season started to look like it was going to be a disappointment, even though they started out with a 34-17 win over Navy. The loss to Virginia Tech really made the Playoff seem improbable. Yet the team responded by rallying around each other, which lead to a 13-game win streak. The win streak continued on; even after Barrett’s injury during the final game of the regular season, Cardale Jones managed to lead the team to a national title.

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The championship season brought a lot of adversity and the team was able to overcome all of it. The Buckeyes showed a lot of resiliency which rubbed off on the underclassmen. That momentum can carry over towards future success of this team. Losing six key starters; Michael Bennett (Jaguars), Devin Smith (Jets), Doran Grant (Steelers), Curtis Grant (Chargers), Evan Spencer (Redskins), and Jeff Heuerman (Broncos), this past championship may only be the beginning of a dynasty in Columbus.

One of the biggest factors of the season was how well the defense played, especially down the stretch. The defensive unit only will only lose three starters in Michael Bennett, Curtis Grant, and Doran Grant. This year’s defense features key starters with two more seasons of eligibility; Joey Bosa (junior), Darron Lee (red shirt sophomore), Eli Apple (red shirt sophomore), and Vonn Bell (junior). All of these starters remember how it felt losing to Virginia Tech in Week 2. They also remember the passion and what it took to overcome obstacles to become national champions. Darron Lee and Joey Bosa are arguably the best players on the team, but more importantly are the leaders of the best unit on the team.

Jan 12, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end Joey Bosa (97) in action against the Oregon Ducks in the 2015 CFP National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Offensively, the team lost starters such as Devin Smith, Jeff Heuerman and Evan Spencer this off-season. While all three players were key contributors and play makers, they aren’t losses that will keep this offense from moving forward. Wide-outs Smith and Spencer were good receivers with big-play ability, but Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson, and Michael Thomas will all give the team big play ability at receiver for whichever quarterback ends up starting. Unlike last year, the team is returning four starting offensive lineman, which should not only provide protection for the quarterback, but also assist running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Not many teams at the college level can can say they have three Heisman-caliber quarterbacks, with two of them having two more years of eligibility and starting experience. To give that perspective importance, I give this example: If Cardale starts this year, it’s likely he enters the NFL Draft, which gives Barrett the start for the 2016 season. Both Jones and Barrett had good chemistry with the offense, which gives the team a good probability that their success continues on.

Jan 12, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Cardale Jones (12) throws a pass during the fourth quarter against the Oregon Ducks in the 2015 CFP National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

With all of these returning starters and only a minimum amount of lost starters, the Buckeyes are poised to be title contenders for at least the next two seasons. Let’s not forget what the national championship does for recruiting. Urban Meyer’s pitch could be something as simple as, “Would you like to play for a championship team?” I’m not the only one to do the research, as every player they recruit can figure out the potential of this team going forward. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but the Buckeyes should be favorites to make the playoffs and contend for another championship.

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