Meyer teaches the Buckeyes to believe, and it pays off with a National Championship

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Meyer teaches the Buckeyes to believe, and it pays off with a National Championship

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“And the party starts for the Ohio State Buckeyes!” announced ABC sportscaster Keith Jackson as the final play concluded. The Ohio State football team had beaten the then-goliath Miami (Florida) Hurricanes to win the 2002 National Championship in double overtime.

Yet, since that fateful night in Tempe, Arizona, Buckeye fans everywhere have experienced one postseason failure after another (the 2006 AND 2007 thrashing from SEC teams in the National Championship are definitely games to forget).

Then in late 2010, the football program took a dive in a tattoo scandal that forced Head Coach Jim Tressel to resign. There was a year of rebuilding with Luke Fickell (*shudders) and then IT came. The Urban Era.

Urban Meyer, the Toledo native, came home in 2012 to be the head coach at Ohio State. He promised: “We’re going to make the great state of Ohio proud with everything we do.”

And right off the bat, the changes were evident.

With Braxton Miller under center, the up-tempo option offense exploded immediately, putting up big points on the scoreboard game after game. Coach Meyer made it clear to the Buckeye faithful that the days of low-scoring, slow-and-grinding “Tressel ball” were behind the program.

Following Meyer’s 12-0 debut season in Columbus, the Buckeyes couldn’t compete in postseason games due to a ban from the NCAA stemming from the 2010 tattoo scandal. Yet, Meyer had made his point to “the great state of Ohio.”

Following the 2013 season, which was similarly successful (although it ended in disappointment), the Buckeyes were one of the favorites going into 2014 to be one of the four teams in the first-ever college football playoff.

BREAKING NEWS: OHIO STATE QUARTERBACK BRAXTON MILLER IS OUT FOR SEASON. OH, NO! OHIO STATE WILL HAVE TO PUT IN ONE OF THEIR OTHER HIGHLY RANKED RECRUITS UNDER CENTER. EVERYONE THROW IN THE TOWEL.

I kid, but unlike many of my fan counterparts, I still had confidence in the Buckeyes coming into the 2014 season. If you replace a freakishly skilled athlete with another freakishly skilled athlete, things should be fine, right? Insert redshirt FRESHMAN J.T. Barrett. An opening weekend win against Navy (oooo, Navyyyy) and then a home opening loss to Virginia Tech. Plenty of my peers in Columbus that night called it a season.

Still, the Buckeyes plunged forward toward what Vegas called “a 1-40 chance to win the National Championship.” And as if someone flipped a switch, J.T. Barrett rallied the troops to not lose another game for the rest of the season, taking down the almighty Michigan State Spartans en route. Barrett had become a star in his own right, but his season ended with heartbreak. The quarterback fractured his ankle in the season finale against the Team Up North.

ENTER THIRD-STRING SOPHOMORE QUARTERBACK CARDALE JONES. Yes, the guy who tweeted, “i didn’t come to OSU to play school, i play football.” There’s no way Ohio State beats Wisconsin with a quarterback who has never played a full college football game in his life. Right? Right?

Jones came into the Big Ten Championship Game against the Wisconsin Badgers with swagger and threw for more than 250 yards and 3 touchdowns. Did I mention he was the third-string quarterback to start the year? The backup to the backup brought the Big Ten title home to Columbus.

And to top it all off, the Buckeyes squeaked past the TCU Horned Frogs to snag the 4-seed in the first-ever college football playoff. (Virginia Tech? Oh, we’re over that now.)

So, the Buckeye fandom finally had gotten what they wanted: a shot at taking down the big, bad SEC with a game against the #1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. Just as expected (sarcasm), Ohio State came out in the Superdome and beat the Crimson Tide in fashion, 42-35.

The Buckeyes advanced to take on Oregon in the National Championship game. Big game, National Championship, Ohio State always chokes; at least this OSU fan thought so (go ahead, call me Mark May). But yet again, the resilient Buckeyes came out and crushed the Oregon Ducks in Dallas. Even after surrendering the ball four times with careless turnovers, Ohio State took the game, 42-20.

As a silent doubter, I have to credit Urban Meyer for this season. Not one player outshined the rest; taking a third-string quarterback into the National Championship and winning is out of this world.

Coach Meyer had this team believing in themselves since the last seconds of the Virginia Tech loss. He sold them on the idea of belonging with the elite teams, and the players bought it. It might be a cliché sports movie philosophy, but the Ohio State Buckeyes’ belief that they belonged won them the title. It was a fantastic coaching job by Urban Meyer, and the great state of Ohio is very proud.

O-H.