Why Did They Deserve This?

By Jeff Beck on December 26, 2014 at 10:10 am

They deserve this.

At least that’s what the national media thought. Ranked fifth in the AP preseason poll, the Ohio State Buckeyes were undoubtedly in the conversation for the national title.

At the time who could say otherwise? Returning with a shiny new shoulder would be the two-time B1G Player of the Year; primed and ready for a senior season doused in Heisman Trophy jet fuel.

Then someone lit a match.

never got off the ground
A takeoff that never got off the ground.

With one (no contact) short pass the Buckeyes' title aspirations went up in flames. Screw winning a national championship…how would they beat Navy? After all, the next man up was more boy than man; playing his last meaningful ball in high school…two years ago.

Why did they deserve this?

But all was not lost. That boy showed flashes of manhood with an admirable showing against the Midshipmen. The performance shed a little light on a previously dark unknown, the fanbase found their footing and with a deep breath everyone prepared to move forward toward the Hokies. Calm. Confident.

Then all hell broke lose.

Bud Foster released his hounds on a young and inexperienced offensive line, and an even younger and more inexperienced signal caller. In front of the then largest crowd assembled at Ohio Stadium, the Buckeyes looked lost. Two interceptions, seven sacks and 35 points later the collective head fell into the collective hands. Worst fears were realized: just two games into the season…The Chase was over.

Why did they deserve this?

Then, days before an unmerciful anger purge against Kent State, the Buckeyes learned they would take the field without their previously suspended All-B1G defensive end. Just like that, the conference’s second best sack machine was shelved indefinitely.

Shelved indefinitely.

Why did they deserve this?

Things went as planned against Kent State (here’s your check and your loss), and all eyes turned to Tommy Tuberville’s not-so-surprising explosive Cincinnati offense. NOTHING the Buckeye scoring attack showed against Va. Tech gave any indication they’d be able to compete in a shootout, but 45 first downs, 330 pass yards, 380 rush yards and 50 points later it looked as though the Buckeyes pulled apart the couch cushions and found a shiny coin marked “offense” next to a few Skittles.

Understandably there were still questions. The onslaught was against a lesser foe. How would they fare in conference play? The wait wasn’t long to find out.

Down goes Maryland (the offense is starting to look solid…the defense is holding up against a big time receiver)

Down goes Rutgers (J.T. Barrett threw for over 250 again and accounted for 5 touchdowns…I think we might have a quarterback)

Down goes Penn State (close call but the defense held when it needed to…I wonder if this will be a turning point emotionally for the team?)

Down goes Illinois (nothing to see here…on to the de-facto B1G championship game)

Remember that boy? Against Michigan State he dove head first into the “Ima Man” end of the pool. 386 yards, 5 touchdowns and a win against the reigning conference champion (at their house) elevated him from the B1G’s best kept secret to the national feel good story.

Ima man.

Against all odds, Ohio State hadn’t just found a new quarterback…it seemed they’d discovered the next face of the franchise. Wins against Minnesota and Indiana solidified an unbelievable campaign in which the Texas second stringer was named the B1G freshman of the week 7 times (a conference record), the conference’s offensive player of the week 3 times, a Davey O’Brien semifinalist and a candidate for the Heisman trophy.

The Buckeyes were certainly riding a wave of euphoria heading into Michigan week, then Kosta went missing, then Barrett went down, then Kosta was gone.

Excitement turned to somber reflection. Hugs of good fortune turned to hugs of consolation. Playing for team turned to playing for a teammate who would never walk through the locker room again.

Why did they deserve this?

The Buckeyes took the field in Indianapolis angry. Pissed they lost Braxton, pissed they lost a game, pissed they lost Spence, pissed they lost Barrett and furious they lost No. 53.

Playing for it all
Why do they deserve this?

The Badgers wore the uniform on the opposite end of the field, but it’s hard to argue the result would have been different against any uniform in college football that day. The intensity on the field was palpable. Too much was taken from the 2014 Buckeyes and the time had come for them to take something back. They did exactly that.

A 59-0 drubbing of the No. 2 ranked defense in the country (with a quarterback making his first start) was the last game the selection committee viewed before retiring to their chamber to make history. Hours later, it was confirmed the most dominating Buckeye victory in recent memory was good enough for No. 4.

Why did they deserve this?

Because they earned this.

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