Glory Years: Ranking the 10 Greatest Seasons by a Quarterback in Ohio State History

By Jake Anderson on April 5, 2020 at 7:15 am
Glory Years: Dwayne Haskins

Welcome to Glory Years, where we rank the top individual seasons in Ohio State football history.

The evolution of the forward pass has been the best thing for football since the use of helmets. Today, the game is more exciting and high-scoring as ever as teams race to find the next great signal-caller for their program. 

This trend, of course, has come to Columbus. With Urban Meyer and Ryan Day at the helm, the Buckeyes have produced some of the greatest quarterback seasons in program history in the past eight years. The three-season span of J.T. Barrett, Dwayne Haskins, and Justin Fields has virtually rewritten the Ohio State passing record book, the final goodbye to the run-heavy days of years past.

Despite the new trends, which have greatly increased both production and efficiency, some players from the older generations still hold their own in the record books. Because of this, we wanted to see how quarterbacks from different eras with different styles stacked up and have come up with a ranking system that takes it all into account. 


Similarly to the past few weeks, we will be using a nonparametric ranking system to determine the greatest quarterbacking season in Ohio State history. This time, we're using eight variables to rank all quarterbacks with at least 50 pass attempts in a season since 1957. 


Ranking the best individual seasons in Ohio State football history.

  • Total Yards
  • Total Touchdowns
  • Yards per Attempt
  • Passer Rating
  • Completion Percentage
  • Interception Percentage
  • Percentage of Team's Total Yards
  • Percentage of Team's Total Touchdowns

Because of this new offensive explosion, it is difficult to compare the statistics of the old days, where passing was much less common, to the modern era, resulting in a skew towards the more recent, more productive quarterbacks of the 21st Century. 

Each variable is weighted equally, helping us compare players that stay in the pocket (Dwyane Haskins) and those that like to dance around (Braxton Miller). Altogether, the ranks were averaged out to find a composite ranking. The following outputs were determined to be the ten greatest quarterbacking seasons in Ohio State history.

10. Braxton Miller, 2012

One of the most exciting signal-callers in Buckeye history, Braxton Miller began Urban Meyer's first season at Ohio State with a bang. The Huber-Heights native electrified Columbus his sophomore year, rushing for a program-best 1,271 yards as a quarterback. He totaled 3,310 yards in 2012 while accounting for over 65% of his team's total yardage, the second-best mark in Ohio State history. 

Miller holds three of the top-eight rushing seasons by a quarterback in program history, including the top two. He won the Big Ten's Most Valuable Player award in 2012 and 2013. 

9. Bobby Hoying, 1995

As a senior, Bobb Hoying played on one of the greatest Ohio State teams ever. With Terry Glenn out wide and Eddie George in the backfield, the Buckeyes' offense was deadly. Hoying helped Glenn have the greatest season by a wide receiver in program history, throwing for over 9.5 yards per pass attempt (second in school history) with a passer rating of 163.4 (fifth in school history). 

Hoying ended his career with the most career completed passes in Ohio State history (498 completions), beating Art Schlichter's mark by one completion, and passing touchdowns (57 TDs). 

8. Joe Germaine, 1998

The top signal-caller of the 20th Century, Joe Germanine's 1998 season was record-breaking. The senior quarterback, with legendary receiver David Boston as his running mate, threw for 3,330 yards in 1998, the second-best mark in Ohio State history, and was intercepted on less than 2% of his throws, the fourth-best mark in school history. 

Germaine was named the Big Ten's Most Valuable Player after an 11-1 season that concluded with a No. 2 ranking in the AP Poll. He was selected to Ohio State's All-Century Team in 2000 and has the fourth-most passing yards in Buckeye history. 

7. Terrelle Pryor, 2010

After arriving onto campus as the highest-rated player to commit to the Buckeyes in the modern recruiting era, Terrelle Pryor put it all together in 2010. The junior standout contributed over 60% of his team's total yards (fourth in program history) while completing over 65% of his passes (fifth in program history). 

Pryor finished his career with two Big Ten Championships and was Denard Robinson's runner-up to the conference's Most Valuable Player award in 2010. He has the third-most career passing touchdowns in Ohio State history. 

6. J.T. Barrett, 2014

After Braxton Miller's injury, J.T. Barrett beat out Cardale Jones for the starting job in his redshirt freshman season. Barrett's 2014 campaign saw him reach the top-seven in five of our categories, including passer rating (169.8, third), total yards (3,772 yards, third) and yards per attempt (9.03 YPA, sixth). 

The redshirt-freshman finished fifth in Heisman voting that year and was a Third-Team All-American. Barrett ended the 2014 season on the bench, however, as an ankle injury forced third-stringer Cardale Jones into action. The rest is history. 

5. Troy Smith, 2006

Ohio State's most recent Heisman Trophy winner, Troy Smith's 2006 campaign was one of the most dominating seasons in Buckeye history. Smith had the fourth-most accurate season in Ohio State history with a completion percentage of 65.3% and achieved a passer rating of 161.9, the fourth-best mark of all-time. 

The senior accumulated a 12-1 record, including an undefeated regular season against four ranked opponents, and a berth to the BCS National Championship game. Smith was also a unanimous All-American and earned 91.6% of the first-place votes for the Heisman trophy, the second-highest total in the award's history. 

4. J.T. Barrett, 2017

A fitting end to likely the greatest quarterbacking career in Ohio State history, J.T. Barrett's redshirt senior year was better than ever. He accounted for the second-most total yards (3,851 yards) and the third-most passing touchdowns (35 TDs) in program history. 

Barrett finished his career with his second Big Ten Championship and a Cotton Bowl Offensive MVP award. He is Ohio State's career leader in nearly every major passing statistic, including yards (9,434), touchdowns (104), and completions (769). 

3. Troy Smith, 2005

Before he was a Heisman Trophy winner, Troy Smith compiled one of the most efficient quarterback seasons Ohio State had ever seen. With Santonio Holmes as his top target, Smith achieved an incredibly efficient year, staying in the top-11 in seven of our eight categories. Most notably, the junior signal-caller averaged 9.63 yards per attempt and an interception on just 1.69% of his passes, the best and third-best marks in program history. 

Smith and the Buckeyes finished the season at No. 4 with their only losses coming to co-conference champions Penn State and the eventual National Championship-winning Texas Longhorns. Smith would go on to have one of the most seasons in Buckeye history his senior year. 

2. Justin Fields, 2019

Despite coming to Columbus just last year, Justin Fields has already made history in Columbus. The Georgia transfer produced one of the two greatest quarterbacking seasons in program history last year, leading all Buckeye quarterbacks in passer rating (181.4) and interception percentage (0.85%). Additionally, Fields is second in passing touchdowns (41 TDs) and third in completion percentage (67.2%), yards per attempt (9.25 YPA), and passing yards (3,273 yards).  

Chart: Justin Fields is Ohio State's Single-Season Passer Rating Leader

Fields was named the Big Ten's Offensive Player of the Year and finished third in the Heisman race this past season. The junior quarterback ended the 2019 season on a sour note but is an early favorite for the 2020 Heisman Trophy and a second College Football Playoff appearance. 

1. Dwayne Haskins, 2018

This should surprise absolutely no one. Haskins' 2018 season was simply the greatest quarterback display Columbus has ever seen. While he may not have the elite running ability like some of the athletes on this list do, his ability in the pocket more than makes up for it. Haskins is Ohio State's single-season leader in passing yards (4,831 yards), total yards (4,939 yards), passing touchdowns (50 TDs), completion percentage (70.0%), and individual percentage of team's total yards (65.9%).  

Chart: Haskins accounted for over 65% of his team's yards in 2018, the best single-season mark in program history

Additionally, he ranks in the top-five in every other category listed above, including second in passer rating (174.1) and interception percentage (1.50%). Haskins ended his year as the Big Ten's Player of the Year, Big Ten Champion, and a Heisman finalist. He was also the Rose Bowl Offensive MVP and ended his career with a 12-1 record as a starter. 

  Player Season TOT YDs TOT TDs YPA PR CMP% INT% % TTY % TTTD Score
1 Dwayne Haskins 2018 4,939 54 9.06 174.1 69.98% 1.50% 65.86% 72.78% 1.750
2 Justin Fields 2019 3,757 51 9.25 181.4 67.23% 0.85% 50.60% 58.76% 4.625
3 Troy Smith 2005 2,893 27 9.63 162.7 62.87% 1.69% 57.07% 66.18% 6.375
4 J.T. Barrett 2017 3,851 47 8.23 160.1 64.70% 2.43% 54.34% 64.56% 7.500
5 Troy Smith 2006 2,746 31 8.17 161.9 65.72% 1.93% 54.94% 55.46% 9.250
6 J.T. Barrett 2014 3,772 45 9.03 169.8 64.65% 3.18% 49.15% 54.55% 9.500
7 Terrelle Pryor 2010 3,526 31 8.58 157.9 65.02% 3.41% 60.46% 54.20% 10.125
8 Joe Germaine 1998 3,247 25 8.67 150.6 59.90% 1.82% 54.38% 52.08% 11.375
9 Bobby Hoying 1995 3,290 31 9.59 163.4 61.88% 3.52% 52.87% 50.74% 12.250
10 Braxton Miller 2012 3,310 28 8.03 140.5 58.27% 2.36% 65.09% 51.85% 14.188
11 J.T. Barrett 2016 3,400 33 6.74 135.3 61.48% 1.85% 56.97% 56.41% 15.125
12 Braxton Miller 2013 3,162 36 8.21 158.1 63.53% 2.75% 44.12% 43.58% 15.125
13 Todd Boeckman 2007 2,678 25 7.96 148.9 63.88% 4.68% 52.32% 53.42% 18.125
14 Jim Karsatos 1985 2,350 21 8.00 144.6 61.25% 2.77% 52.19% 52.47% 18.438
15 Art Schlichter 1979 2,246 23 9.08 145.9 52.50% 3.00% 45.80% 53.24% 19.818
16 Terrelle Pryor 2009 2,873 25 7.10 128.9 56.61% 3.73% 59.89% 64.10% 21.125
17 Terrelle Pryor 2008 1,942 18 7.95 146.5 60.60% 2.42% 43.59% 47.75% 21.688
18 Craig Krenzel 2002 2,359 15 8.47 140.9 59.44% 2.81% 46.23% 33.48% 23.688
19 Art Schlichter 1980 2,255 22 8.54 139.7 53.98% 3.98% 44.08% 44.72% 24.813
20 Braxton Miller 2011 1,874 20 7.38 138.4 54.14% 2.55% 45.30% 53.05% 25.000

LEGEND: YPA Yards per Attempt, PR Passer Rating, CMP% Completion Percentage, INT% Interception Percentage, % TTY Percentage of Total Yards, % TTTD Percentage of Team's Total Touchdowns

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