Favorite Stat of the Year: Offensive totals in yards and touchdowns. Ohio State’s offense was historic in many ways this season. The running game had 2,398 yards on the ground with 23 rushing touchdowns. A solid year for any team running the football, with Weber and Dobbins having over 900 yards each. The record shattering came from the passing game. Haskins and Martell combined for 5,100 yards and 51 touchdown passes, a total I just don’t ever see being surpassed in my lifetime. The Buckeye offense had 7,498 yards and 74 touchdowns in a season that will be one of the more immortal in Ohio State history.
The Brooklyn Dagger Award: Back-to-back B1G Championships and a scoring record in The Game. Nothing says dominance of an era by going out winning back-to-back conference championships in the toughest conference in the country. When the B1G added a conference championship game in 2011 and co-championships went the way of the dodo, it became clear that Jim Tressel’s record of six straight conference crowns may not ever be seriously threatened and even consecutive titles would be tough to get. Urban Meyer however made a career of doing the impossible, going undefeated his first year back home, winning the first undisputed national title with a back up quarterback, back-to-back B1G championships, and seven straight in the greatest rivalry in all of sport. Now that is daggering the competition.
Dwayne Haskins Jr. (Favorite Player of the Year) Award: Dwayne Haskins Jr. One just can say enough about what this young man did at Ohio State in his only year as a starter. 13-1, Rose Bowl, B1G, and B1G East champions. Undefeated in the division and posting the highest point total for Ohio State in the history of The Game. Five games of over 400 yards passing with a sixth that was only four yards short. He owns six of the top seven of passing yardage in a game records for an Ohio State quarterback. He owns the single season Ohio State record of 4,831 passing yards. And in a single season and a game and a couple of snaps he’s tenth in all time passing yards. Haskins is fifth in all time passing touchdowns at Ohio State, tied with his hero Troy Smith at 54, with 50 of Haskins coming in the 2018 season. He threw at least five touchdown passes in a game on five occasions. Tying the school record of six total held by himself, J.T. Barrett, and Kenny Guiton. He holds the first five and the seventh records for total yards in a game with his most being 499 against Northwestern in Indianapolis. His 4,939 total yards for this season is another record he’s seized in his iron fist. His 54 total touchdowns are another single season Ohio State record and they put him at seventh overall for the Buckeyes with 58. His 50 touchdowns to eight interceptions are a greater than a five to one touchdown to interception ratio. Add this to his 70 percent completion percentage and you see that Dwayne Haskins is sound in every phase of the game. He won the Chic Harley Award, the Silver Football, B1G Player of the Year, first team all-B1G and should have been an all-American. He deserves to have a tree in Buckeye Grove, he deserves to have his name and number up in the ring next to Archie, Troy, Eddie and the others. He’s the best Buckeye I’ve ever seen, he’s the greatest of all time.
Ryan Shazier-Devin Smith Awards: Chris Olave and Brendon White. Chase Young was a close second to White for the defense, the difference is that we kind of knew Young was going to be good this year. White, like Olave came out of nowhere. Olave had 12 catches for 197 yards and three touchdowns and a blocked punt. His touchdowns and blocked punt came against that team up north and in the battle for the B1G against NU. Talk about coming up big at the right place and the right time. Well, Brendon White sang that song himself. White burst onto the scene and had a huge game against Nebraska, seized a safety spot, held on to it and never looked back. He had a big interception against that team up north and played lights out in the Rose Bowl making big stops against the Huskies. White finished the season with 46 tackles, four tackles for a loss, one interception, a pass break up, and an interception on a two-point conversion. Like Devin Smith and Ryan Shazier in 2011, Chris Olave and Brendon White are going to be mega stars at Ohio State after good initial campaigns. We’ll be seeing and hearing a lot from numbers 17 and 25 for the next two to three years. It’s great to be a Buckeye!
Dane Sanzenbacher Awards: Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin. Parris Campbell has the speed, K.J. Hill has the hands, Victor the size, Mack the route running, but Dixon and McLaurin quietly do it all, just like old Dane Sanzenbacher. The captains finished third (McLaurin) and fourth (Dixon) in receiving on this year’s team. McLaurin had 35 catches for 701 yards and 11 touchdowns. Johnnie D had 42 catches for 669 yards and 8 touchdowns. Dwayne Haskins had quite the stable of great players to throw to and all of them took advantage. McLaurin finished his career with 74 catches for 1,244 yards and 19 touchdowns. Dixon finished his career with 67 catches for 1,146 yards and 16 touchdowns. These two walked tall with quiet strength. Dixon came up huge in the epic 2017 comeback against Penn State and McLaurin was clutch in back-to-back B1G Championship games in his hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana. These guys were critical players in an amazing five year run of Ohio State football. They will always be loved and never forgotten by anyone who loves the Buckeyes.
Taylor Decker Award: Parris Campbell. His story may be as sweet as Taylor Decker’s. As everyone knows, Decker went from pariah who couldn’t stop Khalil Mack to national champion and all-American and first round draft pick and starting left tackle for an NFL franchise. Parris Campbell started out as super-fast guy who had all the talent in the world but just had trouble hauling in the football. When given the choice between going pro, and coming back and improving his game, he returned to Ohio State for a fifth year, and what did he do? He broke the Ohio State single season record for receptions with 90. He became the fifth Ohio State player to have over 1,000 yards in season, joining Michael Jenkins, Cris Carter, Terry Glenn, and David Boston for 1,062 yards and 12 touchdowns. Parris Campbell was an amazing story and hero of the 2018 Ohio State season. His performance against that team up north, six catches 192 yards and two touchdowns was one for the ages, especially his 78-yard touchdown catch and run that left the whole state of Michigan eating his dust. And one very important thing is this, our 21 is a lot better than their 21.
Fedora Award: Michael Jordan. It’s not easy to change positions, and then when you do your two immediate predecessors were voted the best player at that position and are now starting for NFL teams. Jordan did it, and while there were highs and lows, he did it well enough to get a tree in Buckeye Grove. If he had come back, he may have had the 2019 season on his plaque as well as 2018 and if he hadn’t moved back to guard, he could have had a Rimington Trophy all his own. He has had an amazing career at Ohio State, starting every game he was here for, and filled some of the biggest shoes with his own stellar performance and career.
Sweater Vest Award: We though J.T., Cardale, and Braxton were Cerberus? Well Drue Chrisman, Sean Nuernberger, and Blake Haubeil would like a word. In all seriousness, these guys did everything you would have wanted them to do. Nuernberger finished his college career with a record in perfect extra point attempts, and Haubeil did as well on the season. Together they were 13 of 18 on field goals as well. Drue Chrisman was a monster in the punting game. He had 61 punts for 2,652 yards averaging a whopping 43.2 yards per punt, with 29 of them being downed inside the 20-yard line. Jim Tressel’s legacy of insanely good special teams lives on, marches on, and thrives.
Archie Award: Urban Meyer. Despite having mud and false accusations flung on his character, he stood tall. Despite being asked every week about these horrible things as well as his future, he never griped and never flinched. Outside of one bad night in October, Urban Meyer did as good a coaching job this season as he has any in his long, illustrious career. Family, health, and football all had very rough patches for him this season, and he overcame it with flying scarlet and gray colors and handled it with as great of character as any Ohio State coach ever did.
Horned Rimmed Glasses Award: Not only did he never whine about the difficulties of this season; Urban Meyer just went out and did the thing that would get the most praise from Woody Hayes; he dominated that team up north. Most Buckeyes say Woody Hayes is the greatest coach in Buckeye history, and that Urban, Tress, and Paul Brown each have a good argument for places two through four. If we asked Woody Hayes who he thought the best coach in Buckeye history was, he’d say Urban Meyer. He’d say Urban for the simple reason of being undefeated against that team up north. National championships, conference championships, and undefeated seasons took a back seat to beating that team for Woody, and it did for Urban as well. That team never, no nay, never, not once, got the best of Urban Meyer!
Bad Coaching Moment of the Year: The Purdue game. The worst part about that game is that every Buckeye saw it coming after Iowa the season before. It was after some rougher than usual games, dangerously close to a bye week or big game, it was another night game, on the road, in the wild B1G west. Oh, and during the week a question about the best defensive player in college football was answered in a heart-breaking way. The team would be going at it without him, and it all added up. Add it to Purdue playing the best game they’ve played since Drew Brees was there, and the West Lafayette laid egg was what we got.
Good Coaching Moment of the Year: THE Game. After beating a Maryland team that would go 5-7 by one point on the road a week before, and with a defense that was as scattered as a buckshot pattern that had given up 51 to Maryland, no one was sure how the defense would do against that team that had won ten straight games. They also had the toughest defense that Dwayne Haskins would see, the number one defense in the country. They were still the number one defense in the country after Urban Meyer and his men hung 62 points on em. That’s one that no one will ever forget, and though another B1G Championship and a Rose Bowl Championship followed, that was the defining win of the season. One that will leave Urban Meyer with an immortal, immutable, undefeated legacy.
Glass Half Empty: The powers at be conspired to keep Ohio State from getting a chance to prove themselves. As I’ve said Ohio State was as objectively good as Oklahoma and Notre Dame. No one can convince me otherwise, just as no one can convince me that Dwayne Haskins couldn’t have bombed Alabama’s defense just as well as Trevor Lawrence did. And Clemson’s defense didn’t look invincible this season either. Critics talked about Ohio State’s defense and rightly so, but it was a lot better than Oklahoma’s and in big games just as good as Alabama’s. The real reason they kept the Buckeyes out was because the media mob wanted to paint Urban Meyer as some sort of criminal, and they threw that crap against the wall until it stuck a little in some people’s eyes and it cost the Buckeyes a just chance to play for it all. The college football playoff being so tied in with ESPN, they neither were in a hurry to have the champion of the one conference who doesn’t have the majority of their T.V. money in the ESPN coffers to be in their playoff. How the post-season played out was just proof of the Bucks being screwed over as bad or worse than the New Orleans Saints.
Glass Half Full: This team and its true fans know that they are as good as any other team to take the field this season. Despite their head coach being wrongfully suspended for fall camp and the first three games of the season, breaking in a new quarterback, losing their best defensive player, the best defensive player in the country at that early for the season, having turmoil with the staff on the defensive side of the ball, an awful loss mid-season, and more questions than answers going into the final week of the season, this team proved in the end that they are as good as any of their peers. 13 wins in 14 tries. The best passing game and best offense in the country. Most dominant team in the toughest conference and toughest division in college football, three victories in a row over teams with at least nine wins, defeating the PAC-12 Champions in their own backyard in the most prestigious of all bowl games, shattered records, and I could go on and on. Put this team on the field with anyone in college football and they’ve proven they either are better or would be better. Meyer’s last season was like his first, Ohio State most likely being the best team, but without a chance to prove it. But we know, we know how good they are, and as long as we and they know it, then no one else matters.
2014 Moment: Parris Campbell’s pop pass reception for a touchdown against that team up north. No season is complete without a Buckeye making those guys in the horrible colored jerseys and hats eat the dust off his cleats. When Parris Campbell activated his elite Akron speed, he provided just that moment of the 2018 season. It wasn’t the last scoring of The Game, but everyone in the Shoe felt Campbell and themselves and Ohio leaving the wolverines to choke on the dust once more. It added a third place to the tie for the loudest I’ve ever heard Ohio Stadium. In 2016 when that team’s coach got a penalty for throwing his playbook on the field, when Curtis Samuel daggered them, and when Parris Campbell when to Mach 11 were the loudest that place has ever been, and it was glorious.
2002 Moment: Dre’Mont Jones pick six against TCU. A pick six after Ohio State lost their star defensive player for the year and after the team had just been gashed was surprising. What was more surprising though was that it was a defensive tackle wearing the number 86 who found the ball in his hands, made a move, and scored. This broke TCU’s will in the game (and maybe broke them for the year) and the Buckeyes were able to win once again, deep in the heart of Texas.
1968 Moment: Throttling that team up north by scoring 50 or more? Check. Winning the B1G outright? Check. Beating a tough, well-coached opponent in the Rose Bowl? Check. Proving they’re at least as good as any team on a college football field in their respective seasons? Check. Having legendary players who will always be remembered? Check. 2018 was no less than the fourth best season Ohio State has had since Archie Griffin concluded his career in scarlet and gray. Only the undefeated seasons of 2002 and 2012 and the undisputed season of 2014 can top it. The college football playoff committee’s fumble. The smear campaigns. Urban’s last ride. The legend of Dwayne Haskins. The end of the Bosa Era. The second streak of seven. The Rose Bowl. Back-to-back B1G Champions. 50 passing touchdowns. 62 in the Shoe. Those are enough memories to last me a lifetime. They’re part of the immortal history, lore, and legends of The Ohio State Buckeyes. The Ohio State Buckeyes are champions, they’re family, they’re home, they are us.