CFN Take: Ohio State Wins Big Ten Title
Posted Dec 6, 2014

Ohio State Buckeyes 2014 ... Head Coach: Urban Meyer

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Ohio State Buckeyes

2014 Schedule
2014 Record: 12-1

Aug. 30 Navy (in Balt.) W 34-17
Sep. 6 Virginia Tech L 35-21
Sep. 13 Kent State W 66-0
Sep. 27 Cincinnati W 50-28
Oct. 4 at Maryland W 52-24
Oct. 18 Rutgers W 56-17
Oct. 25 at Penn St W 31-24 2OT
Nov. 1 Illinois W 55-14
Nov. 8 at Michigan St W 49-37
Nov. 15 at Minnesota W 31-24
Nov. 22 Indiana W 42-27
Nov. 29 Michigan W 42-28
Dec. 6 Wisconsin W 59-0
Dec. 6 Big Ten Championship
Ohio State 59, Wisconsin 0

And You Care Because … In an absolutely dominant performance, Ohio State started scoring on its first drive and didn’t stop, with Devin Smith catching a 39-yard touchdown pass and Ezekiel Elliott followed it up with an 81-yard scoring dash. Smith added touchdown grabs from 44 and 42 yards out, and Elliott ran for a 14-yard score, but it the exclamation point came on a four-yard Melvin Gordon fumble return for a touchdown from Joey Bosa for a 38-0 halftime lead. Curtis Samuel added two fourth quarter touchdown runs.
What Else? Ohio State QB Cardale Jones completed 12-of-17 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns, and ran eight times for nine yards
- Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon ran 26 times for 76 yards
- Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott ran 20 times for 220 yards and two scores, and Devin Smith caught four passes for 137 yards and three touchdowns
- Total yards: Ohio State 558 – Wisconsin 258
Game Rating: D

Nov. 29 at Ohio State 42, Michigan 28
And You Care Because … Ohio State won the rivalry, but it lost its star as QB J.T. Barrett got carted off the field with a leg injury. The rest of the Buckeyes stepped up when needed, with Ezekiel Elliott breaking a 21-21 tie with a two-yard touchdown run, and busted out a 44-yard scoring dash on 4th-and-1 to get some breathing room. Darron Lee put it away on a 33-yard Devin Gardner fumble return for a touchdown. The Wolverines fought hard all game, controlling the clock with three good touchdown drives with Drake Johnson running for two short scores and Gardner finding Jake Butt for a 12-yard score, but Barrett was terrific with a six-yard touchdown pass to Nick Vannett and two scoring runs before getting hurt.
What Else? Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett completed 13-of-21 passes for 176 yards and a score, and ran 15 times for 89 yards before getting hurt.
- Michigan QB Devin Gardner completed 22-of-32 passes 233 yards and two touchdowns with a pick, and ran 14 times for 21 yards
- Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott ran 17 times for 121 yards and two scores
- Time of possession: Michigan 34:05 – Ohio State 25:55
Game Rating: B

Nov. 22 at Ohio State 42, Indiana 27
And You Care Because … Ohio State pulled away late, but it was a fight late into the third quarter. Indiana got up 20-14 on a 90-yard touchdown run from Tevin Coleman – to go along with a two-yard score and two Griffin Oakes field goals – and then with 2:20 left in the third, it was the Jalin Marshall show, returning a punt 54 yards for a score and dominating the fourth with three touchdown catches from six, 15 and 54 yards out. Coleman added a 54-yard touchdown run in the final moments, but OSU’s explosion was complete.
What Else? Ohio State WR Jalin Marshall caught five passes for 95 yards and three scores, and returned two punts for 56 yards and a touchdown
- Indiana RB Tevin Coleman ran 27 times for 228 yards and three scores
- Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett completed 25-of-35 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions, and ran 20 times for 78 yards
- Time of possession: Ohio State 33:42 – Indiana 26:18
Game Rating: B

Nov. 15 Ohio State 31, at Minnesota 24
And You Care Because … In the snow and cold, J.T. Barrett ran through the weather and the Minnesota defense with an 86-yard scoring dash early on to go along with a 57-yard touchdown pass to Jalin Marshall for a 14-0 lead. David Cobb ran well for the Gophers, scoring three touchdowns including runs from five and 30 yards to tie it up, but Barrett found Michael Thomas for a 30-yard touchdown pass and Evan Spencer for a 22-yard score on the way to a commanding 31-14 lead. Cobb ran for a 12-yard score in the fourth and the Gophers pulled within seven on a late field goal, but the Buckeyes recovered the onside kick.
What Else? Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett completed 15-of-25 passes for 200 yards and three touchdowns with a pick, and ran 17 times for 189 yards and a score
- Minnesota RB David Cobb ran 27 times for 145 yards and three touchdowns
- Third down conversions: Ohio State 9-of-13 – Minnesota 5-of-14
- Turnovers: Ohio State 3 – Minnesota 2
Game Rating: B

Nov. 8 Ohio State 49, at Michigan State 37
And You Care Because … Ohio State’s offense was unstoppable as J.T. Barrett threw three touchdown passes and ran for two more, and Ezekiel Elliott came up with two second half scoring runs on the way to a shocking win. Michigan State’s offense kept up for a while, helped by Jeremy Langford touchdown runs from 33 yards out in the first and one yard away in the second, but Barrett found Michael Thomas on a 79-yard touchdown pass and closed out the first half on a 44-yard scoring play to Devin Smith for a 28-21 lead. MSU pulled within four on a 40-yard Michael Geiger field goal, and then it was all about the OSU O the rest of the way, even with the Spartans getting a 16-yard Josiah Price touchdown catch and a one-yard touchdown from Langford in the fourth.
What Else? Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett completed 16-of-26 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns, and ran 14 times for 86 yards and two touchdowns
- Michigan State RB Jeremy Langford ran 18 times for 137 yards and three touchdowns
- Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott ran 23 times for 154 yards and two touchdowns
- Third down conversions: Ohio State 10-of-14 – Michigan State 8-of-15
Game Rating: B

Nov. 1 at Ohio State 55, Illinois 14
And You Care Because … Ohio State applied a beating, scoring the first 48 points of the game with Devin Smith catching touchdown passes from 32 and eight yards out, and Curtis Samuel going on two touchdown runs. Backup quarterback Cardale Jones found Dontre Wilson for a 27-yard touchdown in the third quarter, and everything was put on cruise control from there. Illinois got two late touchdowns, but the game was over.
What Else? Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett completed 15-of-24 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns, and he ran seven times for 38 yards
- Illinois QB Aaron Bailey completed 9-of-16 passes for 79 yards and a score, and led the team with 39 rushing yards on 16 carries
- Turnovers: Illinois 4 – Ohio State 1
- Total yards: Ohio State 545 – Illinois 243
Game Rating: D

Oct. 25 Ohio State 31, at Penn State 24 2 OT
And You Care Because … Joey Bosa sacked Christian Hackenberg on Penn State’s final chance in overtime as Ohio State finally put the game away. The Buckeyes appears to have the game in hand with a 17-0 halftime lead with J.T. Barrett finding Jeff Heuerman for a one-yard score, and Ezekiel Elliott running for a ten-yard touchdown, but Penn State roared back in the second half, starting with an interception return for a touchdown from Anthony Zettel. Hackenberg found Saeed Blacknall for a 24-yard score, and Sam Ficken forced overtime with a 31-yard field goal with nine seconds left. In the first OT, Bill Belton gave Penn State the lead with a one-yard run, but Barrett needed just three plays to get the Buckeyes into the end zone to tie it up. In the second overtime, Barrett ran for a four-yard touchdown, and Penn State couldn’t answer.
What Else? Rushing yards: Ohio State 219 – Penn State 16
- Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett completed 12-of-19 passes for 74 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions, and ran 20 times for 75 yards and two touchdowns
- Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg completed 31-of-49 passes for 224 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions
- Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott ran 26 times for 109 yards and a score
Game Rating: B+

Oct. 18 at Ohio State 56, Rutgers 17
And You Care Because … J.T. Barrett was on fire, running for two touchdowns and throwing for three others as Ohio State rolled by Rutgers. The Buckeyes took a 14-0 first half lead on Barrett’s first touchdown pass and a one-yard Ezekiel Elliott run, but Rutgers stayed in it with a one-yard Desmon Peoples run. OSU scored 42 straight points highlighted by a 33-yard Barrett run in the third and 26-yard pass to Nick Vannett in the second.
What Else? Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett completed 19-of-31 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns, and ran seven times for 107 yards and two touchdowns
- Rutgers QB Gary Nova completed 17-of-28 passes for 192 yards and an interception
- Ohio State averaged 8.1 yards per carry – Rutgers averaged 3.9
- Rutgers: 3 turnovers, no penalties – Ohio State one turnover, four penalties
Game Rating: C-

Oct. 4 Ohio State 52, at Maryland 24
And You Care Because … Ohio State was unstoppable from the start taking the opening drive down the field and finishing with a one-yard Rod Smith touchdown run, and it didn’t slow down. The Buckeyes took a 31-10 lead into halftime and got up 38-10 helped by four touchdown passes from J.T. Barrett to four different receivers including a 30-yarder to Devin Smith and a 25-yard play to Michael Thomas. Maryland got a two-yard touchdown run from Wes Brown to temporarily stop the bleeding, and Brandon Ross ran for a two-yard score, but Barrett opened up the fourth quarter with a nine-yard touchdown run. Raekwon McMillan made it a Buckeye blowout with a 19-yard interception return for a score.
What Else? Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett completed 18-of-23 passes for 267 yards and four scores, and ran 16 times for 71 yards and a touchdown
- Maryland QBs C.J. Brown and Caleb Rowe combined to complete 24-of-40 passes for 244 yards and a touchdown with four interceptions
- Maryland LB Cole Farrand made 17 tackles with a tackle for loss and a broken up pass
- Time of possession: Ohio State 36:36 – Maryland 23:24
Game Rating: D+

Sept. 27 at Ohio State 50, Cincinnati 28
And You Care Because … The two quarterbacks put on a show with Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett throwing four touchdown passes but Cincinnati’s Gunner Kiel hanging around with four scoring throws of his own including a 78-yarder to Chris Moore in the third quarter to pull the Bearcats within five. But OSU scored 17 unanswered points on a Barrett 24-yard touchdown pass to Dontre Wilson and a 34-yard throw to Devin Smith, who also caught a 19-yarder late in the first quarter. Moore also caught touchdown passes of 60 and 83 yards out for UC.
What Else? Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel completed 21-of-32 passes for 352 yards and four scores, and Chris Moore caught three passes for 221 yards and three scores and a 73.7 yard average.
- Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett completed 26-of-36 passes for 330 yards and four scores
- Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott ran 28 times for 182 yards and a score
- Time of possession: Ohio State 41:56 – Cincinnati 18:04
Game Rating: B

Sept. 13 at Ohio State 66, Kent State 0
And You Care Because … J.T. Barrett threw six touchdown passes with two to Michael Thomas, and Curtis Samuel ran for 100 yards and two touchdowns as Ohio State took out its Virginia Tech frustrations on Kent State. The Golden Flash offense only managed 79 passing yards and 47 on the ground, turning it over three times.
What Else? It wasn’t a perfect performance for Ohio State, but there’s no problem with 628 yards and 66 points. There were three turnovers, but they didn’t matter.
- Kent State didn’t have any room to move – the offense was warmed under. Colin Reardon completed 14-of-27 passes for 76 yards and three picks, and Nathan Strock completed one of seven throws for three yards.
- Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett completed 23-of-30 passes for 312 yards and six touchdowns with a pick, and best of all, he only ran eight times for six yards. He doesn’t need to run – the running backs have to keep getting the ball.
- Third down conversions: Ohio State 8-of-12 – Kent State 2-of-14
Game Rating: D-

Sept. 6 Virginia Tech 35, at Ohio State 21
And You Care Because … Virginia Tech came out with a suffocating defense and effective offense getting touchdown runs from two yards out by Michael Brewer and 14 yards away from Marshawn Williams in the first quarter, and a ten-yard Sam Rogers scoring grab in the second for a stunning 21-7 lead. Ohio State came back with Michael Thomas taking a J.T. Barrett pass 53 yards for a touchdown, and with a 15-yard Ezekiel Elliott scoring run to tie it up in the fourth. The Hokies answered. Bucky Hodges caught a ten-yard touchdown pass midway through the fourth, and then it was up to the defense, attacking Barrett and forcing a late interception to Donovan Riley, who put the game away with a pick six.
What Else? Virginia Tech came up with seven sacks with two from Dadi Nicholas and Derek Di Nardo. Kyoshen Jarrett came up with two picks along with four tackles, and Chuck Clark led all defenders with ten tackles and a tackle for loss.
- Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett completed just 9-of-23 passes for 219 yards and a score, but he threw three picks. He led the team with 70 yards and a score on 24 carries.
- The kicking game was a huge problem for the Buckeyes. Sean Nuernberger missed from 40 and 27 yards out.
- Each team turned it over three times. Virginia Tech was flagged ten times for 107 yards and Ohio State seven times for 62.
Game Rating: B

Aug. 30 Ohio State 34, Navy 17 in Baltimore
And You Care Because … It was a dogfight for Ohio State down 14-13 in the third quarter, but J.T. Barrett connected with Devin Smith for an 80-yard touchdown to open things up, and then the running game went to work. Ezekiel Elliott ran for a ten-yard score and Michael Thomas caught a nine-yard touchdown pass to help the Buckeyes pull away, but it took a while.
What Else? Call this the sigh-of-relief game. No, no one on Navy makes the Ohio State two-deep, and yes, with one of the best defensive lines in America, the Buckeyes should’ve won this game in a walk, but Navy is always a quirky team to get past. Survive and advance – Ohio State did just that.
- So how was J.T. Barrett? 12-of-15 for 226 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, and while he’ll never run like Braxton Miller, he led the team with 50 yards on nine carries. The Buckeyes came up with 194 yards and used a variety of options, but the ground game didn’t take control until late.
- Navy needed to be perfect, and wasn’t. The running game cranked up 370 yards, but it didn’t take total control of the game and there weren’t any big pass plays to open things up. QB Keenan Reynolds was held in check, running 23 times for 42 yards with a score, and his misread led to a 61-yard fumble recovery for a score from OSU’s Darron Lee.
- It’s almost as if Ohio State just needed to get through this landmine. Watch out for a much sharper effort next week against Virginia Tech.
Game Rating: B

2014 Preview 

Someone can say 99 nice things about you, but it’s the one negative comment you’ll remember.

Urban Meyer can win 24 games in a row at Ohio State, but it’s the two losses that everyone will remember - for now.

Ohio State doesn’t play in the same figurative league as everyone else in the Big Ten, and for the moment that includes Michigan and even recent champions Wisconsin and Michigan State, too. It’s national title or bust for a program that’s bound by nothing, gets almost any recruit it really, really wants, and has an A-list head coach with two national championships on the résumé. But even with all the success, all the talent, all the facilities and all the amazing things going its way, getting any appreciable love and respect from the SEC types is hard, and nothing short of a national championship will change that.

The main criticism is fair – Ohio State came up with a nice, but hardly dominant win over Wisconsin last season, and the second-best win in the Meyer era came against an okay Nebraska team in 2012. It’s not like Urban’s days at Florida when every other week brought a new, massive challenge to deal with – the Buckeyes simply haven’t had many chances to face anyone with a pulse over the last two years. Put the Ohio State team of the last two years in the SEC and it’s probably Georgia, at best.

The defense went bye-bye against a mediocre Michigan squad to only fan the flames of skepticism even further, and when the big question was whether or not an undefeated Buckeye team actually deserved to play for the BCS championship over an SEC champion with one-loss, the question was answered with a thud. One 34-24 loss to Michigan State later, and the national title chance that was set up so perfectly on a tee was gone, along with the aura of invincibility under Meyer’s watch.

Had the Buckeyes come out and blasted away at Clemson in the Orange Bowl – the same Clemson team that got its doors blown off at home by a Florida State squad that went to Pasadena – the narrative at the end of the year might have changed. The thrilling 40-34 shootout loss to the Tigers gave the naysayers have all the ammo they needed.

But the two losses from the 2013 season don’t matter much for the prospects for the 2014 campaign. It’s Ohio State, so if it goes 13-0 and wins the Big Ten title with victories over Virginia Tech, Michigan State, Michigan and (probably) either Nebraska or Wisconsin, it’ll be in the inaugural College Football Playoff no matter what, and 12-1 with a conference championship will almost certainly get it done, too. And then it doesn’t matter a lick what the SEC types or the other critics have to say – get in the playoff, win two games, and the respect will be taken and well-earned.

But getting there won’t be quite so easy.

Even without superstar quarterback Braxton Miller, consider the season a complete and utter failure if there’s a playoff-ruining loss along the way to Navy, Virginia Tech, Kent State, Cincinnati, Maryland, Rutgers, Penn State, Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana and/or Michigan, meaning the team just has to play up to its talent level to book 11 wins. It’ll all come down to the road game at Michigan State, and making sure it’s able to handle everyone’s best shot.

The defensive line should be among the best in the nation and will destroy any and all mediocre running games, and the secondary has a chance to be even better despite the loss of Bradley Roby, C.J. Barnett and Corey Brown. The O line has to reload, but it had to come up with some new ideas when Meyer first came to Columbus and it turned out to be fine. There are more than enough weapons at the skill positions, the coaching staff is peerless, the recruiting class was yet again full of NFL talent, the schedule is light and breezy, and there’s a Heisman-caliber quarterback in Braxton Miller to be the catalyst for a special season.

It’s all set up perfectly for the Buckeyes, but it’ll take just one misfire to ruin all the fun. 24-2 was nice, but for Ohio State, it wasn’t good enough. Anything less than a national title won’t be good enough, either.

What to watch for on offense: Don’t expect any shying away from the power game. Remember when Urban Meyer couldn’t coach a good running back? That was one of the few on-field issues at Florida – he failed to develop the star tailback recruits who came to Gainesville. That ended with Carlos Hyde, who ran for over 2,500 yards and 31 touchdowns over the last two seasons. The line needs the most help up front, and while it’s going to be a fight to get the starting five set going into the season, everything will be fine – talent isn’t a problem.

Getting rushing production won’t be an issue with J.T. Barrett now under center, but can Ohio State take control of games like it was able to with Hyde pounding away? Ezekiel Elliott is a 6-0, 225-pound back who has the ability to provide a little thump, and 6-3, 231-pound Rod Smith certainly has the size. There might be a bit more of a rotation than in recent years, but if Meyer has a back who’s getting the job done, he’ll ride him.

What to watch for on defense: Get ready for complete and utter dominance from the defensive front. Terrific last year, the line helped a run defense that gave up just 1,532 rushing yards and nine scores on the season, but linebacker Ryan Shazier was the top playmaker behind the line, and now he's gone. Boo hoo. 2013 superstar recruit Joey Bosa appears ready to blow up after coming up with 7.5 sacks, DT Michael Bennett is an almost-certain top ten overall draft pick, Noah Spence – issues and all – will be fantastic on the end after an early suspension, and Adolphus Washington is about to become a dominant force. There's depth behind the fantastic front four, more talent on the way, and the versatility to mix things up a bit. Expect the line to spend most of 2014 in opposing backfields.

The team will be far better if … the secondary doesn’t suck. It’s not like the Buckeyes were facing Baylor and Texas Tech every week, but they couldn’t seem do handle anyone’s passing game. It didn’t matter when Cal hung up 371 yards and three scores – the Bears were awful – but Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis did whatever he wanted, Northwestern quarterbacks completed 25-of-31 passes for 343 yards, and the wheels completely came off late. OSU gave up 288 yards to Illinois and then got torched by Indiana for 320, Michigan for 451, Michigan State for 304 and Clemson for 378, allowing 16 touchdown passes over the final five games.

Can the pass defense possibly be better without Bradley Roby, Corey Brown and C.J. Barnett? Yeah. Doran Grant is a great place to start at one corner, and Tyvis Powell is a solid nickel defender. 2013 super-recruit Vonn Bell suffered a knee injury, but he should be fine, and the recruiting class is bringing in more NFL talent in Erick Smith, Damon Webb and Marshon Lattimore. Helped by a killer pass rush from the defensive front, expect the nation’s 110th-ranked pass defense to improve.

The Schedule: It’s a fun non-conference slate dealing with the Navy rushing attack in Baltimore to kick things off, and then hosting Virginia Tech in an interesting BCS conference matchup before rolling through Kent State. Cincinnati is dangerous, but the Buckeyes get a week off to prepare before hosting the (most likely) best team in the American Athletic. And then it’s Game On, kicking off the Big Ten season at Maryland.

OSU gets the two new guys in the first two conference games, facing Rutgers after a week off following the Maryland game, and then there’s a run of three road games in four weeks going to Penn State, Michigan State and Minnesota along with a home game against Illinois. Home dates against Indiana and Michigan could be shootouts to close things out.

Best offensive player: Senior TE Jeff Heuerman. With Braxton Miller out for the year, the hope is for J.T. Barrett to become the new superstar. However, Heuerman is now the best player on the attack with the ability to stretch the field with the speed to come up with a 57-yard touchdown catch against Clemson and the size to outmuscle defenders for the ball. He might not be the type of receiver who'll lead the team, but he'll be a dream of a safety valve for Barrett.

Best defensive player: Senior DT Michael Bennett. An almost certain first round selection had he come out early, the 6-3, 285-pound veteran will be the anchor of a phenomenal line that helped the D come up with 42 sacks and 91 tackles for loss last season. Bennett isn’t huge, but he’s tough, active and aggressive with the ability to play inside or out. Exactly what the NFL is looking for, he’s on display now for the next level as a dream 3-4 end, even though he can do a little bit of everything. It’s not like the great line needs an anchor, but he’ll act as one.

Key player to a successful season: Redshirt freshman QB J.T. Barrett. Welcome to the fun, rookie. Actually, he's a redshirt freshman who's being thrown into the spotlight now that Braxton Miller is out for the year with a shoulder problem - and he's a good one. While he's not all that big, he fits the Ohio State dual-threat mold with 6-1, 225-pound size, excellent quickness, and a good enough arm to get by. He wasn't a superstar of superstar prospects, partly because he suffered a knee injury, but he's a strong all-around talent who now has to fill in for the two-time Big Ten Player of the Year. Good luck.

The season will be a success if ... the Buckeyes get into the College Football Playoff. Winning the Big Ten title is the main goal that everyone will be talking about, but that’ll be empty if there isn’t an invite to the adult table at the end of it. There might be just enough holes to have major problems with a Florida State or an SEC champion, but as long as there’s a shot at the title, it’ll be a good year. Just get in and then hope for the best – the Buckeyes should be able to hang around with anyone. Anything less than a spot in the playoff will be a disaster, especially is some other Big Ten team makes it in.

Key game: Nov. 8 at Michigan State. Leave the hoopla over the Michigan rivalry to the casual fan – Ohio State needs to win the Big Ten game of the year to achieve its big goals. The Big Ten championship loss served as a preview of what’s to come, setting the tone for a tremendous rivalry now that the two are in the same division. The Buckeyes owned the matchup for years, but it’s turned into a war over the last three showdowns with the Spartans winning 10-7 in 2011 and losing 17-16 in 2012.

2013 Fun Stats:
- First Quarter Scoring: Ohio State 229 – Opponents 69
- Sacks; Ohio State 42 for 292 yards – Opponents 22 for 136 yards
- Rushing TDs: Ohio State 45 – Opponents 9
- 2014 Ohio State Preview - What You Need To Know & Top Players

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