When your backup’s backup is forced to start your conference championship, the semifinal and national championship, there is no way that your team can win, right?
Well, that’s not what the Ohio State Buckeyes believed after Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett went down with injuries this season. Cardale Jones made only his third career start on Jan. 12 in the national championship and led the Buckeyes to a 42-20 win over the No. 1 team in the nation, Oregon.
"To say we had this vision back in September or even August, no, not a chance," head coach Urban Meyer said. "I thought this was a team that we could battle and battle and find a way to win a bunch of games, and then a year later go make a run at it."
Well, “a year later” turned into this year for the Buckeyes.
Jones threw for 242 yards, a touchdown and an interception that was not his fault, but the real difference makers were sophomore Ezekiel Elliot and Ohio State’s offensive line. Elliot ran for a national championship record, 246 yards and scored four touchdowns—also a title game record. The offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage, giving Elliot running lanes all night. In his 36 carries, Elliot only lost yards once.
Everybody seemed to doubt this Ohio State team. Even after it finished the season with only a loss to Virginia Tech, many believed it didn’t belong in the nation’s top four. It went in as an underdog in its last three games against Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon, and won all three with a third-string quarterback.
"This goes down as one of the great stories in college football history," Meyer said.
Meyer now has won three national titles. He won two with Florida and now the first ever in the college football playoff era with the Buckeyes.
The scary part now is wondering how good this Ohio State team will be next year; it only started seven seniors and most of the team was made up of freshmen and sophomores. And according to Meyer, 2015 was the year his team was supposed to be ready to contend for a national title.