Ohio State isnt losing this game.— DJ Byrnes (@marion_ohio) January 2, 2015
Let's talk about DJ Byrnes a little bit. DJ has been with Eleven Warriors for a long time, and in that time I've never known the dude to ever pick against Ohio State. See, every week, when we try and figure out our predictions for the game, one of our beat writers asks everyone for what they think the score will be, and then we average it out. I usually abstain because for most games I don't have a great bead on whatever is about to go down.
DJ is made of tougher stuff than I am, and since I've know the dude, he has picked Ohio State to win and win big in almost every game that we've gotten predictions for. In fact, this site called a win for Ohio State by one point, and I've got to think that DJ's blowout prediction of something like 45-17 probably had a lot to do with that. He made that tweet when Ohio State was down by what pretty much any objective observer would call an insurmountable lead against one of the most deadly efficient teams in college football, and he made it because he had the faith that the Buckeyes would pull it out.
I didn't have that faith. I couldn't put a number to it, but I knew, KNEW that Ohio State was going to lose. And when Big Ten teams started playing well and soaking up all the karmic justice in the universe, I was positive that we were doomed.
Well, the moral of the story is that DJ is smart and I am dumb and you just gotta have faith. Third string QB, facing the number one team in the country, ridiculous SEC monkey on your back? Whatever, man. Gotta have faith. It'll all work out.
And it did!
You know what this is: pic.twitter.com/QdoyC00BfC— Tim Shoemaker (@TimShoemaker) January 2, 2015
I love the pageantry of college football, and no one does it better than Ohio State. The problem is, when that pregame pageantry fades away you're still left with a game to play, and Alabama represented a gigantic hill to climb for the Buckeyes that many did think was surmountable.
Simple mistake... Get over it. It happens— Maurice Clarett (@ReeseClarett13) January 2, 2015
We need touchdowns— Jake Stoneburner (@STONEYeleven) January 2, 2015
Need touchdowns!— Carlos Hyde (@elguapo) January 2, 2015
And the first quarter (and most of the first half) was a pretty good indicator of this. Turnovers, settling for field goals, and just general boneheadedness made all the work that Ohio State was doing on the stat sheet pretty much useless. The Buckeyes were racking up hundreds of yards, but were getting stymied in the red zone, and Alabama was doing nothing but capitalizing on Ohio State mistakes.
Ohio State: Two turnovers. Alabama: 14 points off turnovers.— Patrick Maks (@maksimuspatrick) January 2, 2015
Then the completely unexpected happened. "That" being a ridiculous pass to Mike Thomas from Evan Spencer.
Apparently Ohio State's entire roster is composed of people who could start at quarterback for half the teams in the country— Chris B. Brown (@smartfootball) January 2, 2015
CANT GUARD MIKE CANT GUARD MIKE CANT GUARD MIKE CANT GUARD MIKE CANT GUARD MIKE CANT GUARD MIKE CANT GUARD MIKE CANT GUARD MIKE CANT GUARD M— denny (@dennymayo) January 2, 2015
I believe that warrants a BOOM.
This is about the point where I talk about the offense and how great it was, but screw that. Let's focus on the defense; there'll be plenty of time to gush about Zeke and the rest of the offense in a second.
First of all, Darron Lee was the absolute truth. His Defensive MVP was completely earned (seven tackles, three for loss, and two sacks), and I think this season you've watched the stealth birth of the next great Buckeye linebacker. He and Curtis Grant were as solid as they could possibly be, and with Vonn Bell patrolling behind them, it's becoming very dangerous to throw anything short against these guys.
Darron Lee was a high school quarterback. Lol.— Tim Shoemaker (@TimShoemaker) January 2, 2015
And really, this game turned on how well the defense handled Amari Cooper. A year after getting absolutely torched by Sammy Watkins, for all intents and purposes Ohio State shut down Amari Cooper. Yes he had a few touchdowns, but aside from near-goal line situations, Cooper was a non-factor and a big part of why Alabama lost. Huge, huge props to Eli Apple and Doran Grant and the rest of the defense for executing a brilliant gameplan. Cooper was held to just 71 yards on nine catches, and Blake Sims was picked off three times, including a backbreaker pick six to Steve Miller.
Yes sir!!!!! Pick 6. #OH— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 2, 2015
Steve Miller was the name of my advisor in grad school, so I imagine that he enjoyed it as much as Ohio State Twitter did.
I'm so hyped right now!!!!!— Carlos Hyde (@elguapo) January 2, 2015
Okay, offense time. Cardale wasn't as sharp against Alabama as he was against Wisconsin, but he was as sharp as he could've possibly been expected to be. Yeah, the dude had an ugly interception that directly led to seven Crimson Tide points, but instead of curling up in a ball and freaking out, Cardale shook it off and played well for the rest of the game.
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh— DeVier Posey (@DPo8) January 2, 2015
Mano a mano there. All-America safety Landon Collins vs. 250 pounds of Cardale. Best man wins. Cardale won.— Jeff Svoboda (@JeffSvoboda) January 2, 2015
But the real catalyst was Ezekiel Elliott. His two huge runs kept Alabama honest, and opened up the rest of the game for the Buckeyes. His 230 yards on just 20 carries was easily the best performance against Alabama all year, and he's now north of 1600 yards for the season. He is not and probably will not get the credit that he deserves; college football in general likes to hype the living hell out of its running backs, and Zeke is a relatively quiet dude that won't seek the accolades of his peers. But make no mistake; he's one of the best in college football.
Ezekiel has gotten a lot better since game one. I wasn't a believer early on but after watching his body of work this season I tip my hat.— Maurice Clarett (@ReeseClarett13) January 2, 2015
But even with that amazing end result, things still got a little dicey towards the end with some weird clock management and scary moments.
u r b a n m e y e r i s o n d r u g s— SPENCER HALL (@edsbs) January 2, 2015
Urban throws the headset - https://t.co/R9vwEvycZo— Zac Jackson (@FSOhioZJackson) January 2, 2015
I hate the playcalling I love the playcalling I hate the playcalling I love the playcalling I hate the playcalling I love the playcalling— Ramzy Nasrallah (@ramzy) January 2, 2015
And then we got through it! We won! Go crazy everybody, yell a lot, shake your buddy, give hugs, kisses, whatever.
Yay— Evan Blankenship (@EBShipMusic) January 2, 2015
Can't spell SECond without the #SEC haaaaa— Beanie Wells (@BeanieWells26) January 2, 2015
My teammates will hate me tomorrow in the locker room— corey brown (@phillybrown10) January 2, 2015
RIP SEC.— Darron Lee (@DLeeMG8) January 2, 2015
With a third string QB!!! Hahaha— Dave Lighty (@OSULighty23) January 2, 2015
Bout to enjoy this win with my teammates and my girlfriend. Buckeyenation you better be out tonight— Mike (@mike63bennett) January 2, 2015
And get a sweet new hat and ball.
Got a new hat and a new ball! pic.twitter.com/IMfSnrCgdj— Tyvis Powell (@1Tyvis) January 2, 2015