First there was the loss of 2-time Big Ten player of the year and Heisman hopeful, Braxton Miller. Then a loss to Virginia Tech in the second game of the season all but ended the Buckeyes chances at a shot at college football’s first playoff. THEN after winning 9 straight games, lose then starter and Heisman finalist J.T. Barrett for the season, all hope was lost. Or at least it should have been.
Enter Cardale Jones, third string quarterback for the Bucks. Every major moment this season built up to what was supposed to be a disappointment. Instead, against all odds, the Buckeyes, who jumped TCU and Baylor in the final polls of the season, dominated the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl.
In Jones’ second start of the season, against the #1 team in the country, played with the confidence, poise, and resiliency of the players he replaced. Jones completed 18-35 passes for 243 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Ezekiel Elliot stole the show though, rushing for 230 yards and two touchdowns, on an Alabama defense that hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher, the entire season.
Blake Sims was not as fortunate as his contemporary, as three costly interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, ultimately led to their demise. Alabama made it interesting, after a three and out by Ohio State with under two minutes to play, but an interception in the end zone after a Sims Hail Mary sealed the game.
Tonight, Ohio State has proven it not only belongs in these newly constructed playoffs, but deserve to have the “soft” narrative buried in the past. These aren’t Jim Tressel’s Buckeyes. They’re Urban Meyer’s.
Ohio State plays The University of Oregon January 12th in the National Championship.