Photo Credit: CBS Sports
As the Buckeyes prepare themselves for a New Year’s Day matchup against the University of Washington in the Rose Bowl Coach Urban Meyer finds himself in an unusual situation, one in which he can see the end. Effective January 2nd Meyer will ride off into the sunset and hand over the keys to offensive coordinator Ryan Day to lead arguably one of the most promising football programs in the nation. While Buckeye fans should be encouraged with the direction the program the work of Meyer should not be overlooked or underappreciated. In his seven seasons at the helm, he solidified his status as one of the greatest coaches of all time after winning the 2014 National Championship against Oregon. Along with a National Championship, Meyer has led the Buckeyes to an 82-9 record to go along with a 54-4 record against Big Ten opponents. To add to his achievements he guided Ohio State to three Big Ten titles as well as wins in the Sugar, Fiesta and Cotton Bowls. Perhaps Meyer’s greatest achievement is the talent he sent to the next level. Overall he developed 12 first round picks and 47 picks overall. While the list of accolades and statistics for Meyer are nice, these moments are some fans will never forget. Here are my top five moments under Urban Meyer.
5. 2012 Perfect Season
After perhaps the worst season in Ohio State history while going 6-7 with a loss to Michigan and Florida to end the year, the 2011 team created a cloudy future for the program moving forward. Later that offseason, after retaining then interim head coach Luke Fickell to be the defensive coordinator, Ohio State named Urban Meyer as their next head coach on November 28th. While Meyer didn’t have a full season to his mark on the recruiting trail he managed to sign the fourth-ranked class according to Rivals. Along with his strong freshman class, Meyers fit with sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller seemed to be something special. The two lead the Buckeyes to an undefeated 12-0 season with a 26-21 victory over Michigan to cap off the season. Although the Buckeyes were unable to play for a national title due to a bowl ban, Meyer seemed to have turned the program in the direction it needed to go and seemingly put the 6-7 season of 2011 far away in our memories. The 2012 season was about more than just going undefeated, it was for Urban to tell the country the Buckeyes were back and ready to compete on a national level.
4. 2017 Comeback Win Against Penn State
Heading into a top ten showdown of number six ranked Ohio State and the second-ranked Penn State many were expecting a classic showdown of two of college football’s best programs. But after Penn State raced out to a 21-3 lead early into the 2nd quarter those hopes and Ohio State’s season seemed to be in jeopardy. Things seemed to change in the third quarter when senior quarterback JT Barrett played perhaps the best football in his Ohio State career. He led the Buckeyes on a 41-yard drive capped off by a 38-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Johnnie Dixon to cut the Penn State lead to eight with 11 minutes to play. After the Buckeyes defense would allow a field goal by Penn State, Barrett led the offense to touchdowns on its final two drives, throwing touchdowns to Dixon and senior tight end Marcu Baugh to complete the historic comeback.
3. Beating Michigan… Every Time
As an Ohio State fan, when Thanksgiving rolled around one thing I could always count on under Meyer’s tenure was a victory over Michigan. In his seven meetings with The Team Up North, he was 7-0 with an average margin of victory of 12 points. Whether it be Brady Hoke or Jim Harbaugh, it really didn’t matter, Meyer had the advantage every time. The most memorable victory Meyer was able to capture against Michigan has to be the 2016 double overtime game. The highly anticipated game featured the top two teams in the country and played a big role in deciding who would ultimately make the college football playoffs. The Buckeyes ended up edging out Michigan after a questionable spot late in the game that would lead to running back Curtis Samuel pouncing into the end zone to secure the victory in double overtime. Beating Michigan is always something special, it gives fans a way to consider the season a success no matter what had happened in previous months. I am so glad Meyer never allowed for Michigan players and fans to experience what it feels like.
2. 2014 National Championship
Ohio State’s magical 2014 postseason run was rewarded with a title as 3rd string quarterback and fan favorite Cardale Jones were able to beat Oregon and reigning Heisman winner Marcus Mariota 42-20. After coming off an emotional win in the Sugar Bowl against number one seeded Alabama nobody knew how Ohio State would play against an ultra spread offense in Oregon or if Cardale could continue his historic run as quarterback for Ohio State. While the game was close in the first half, the Buckeyes were able to pull away in the second half outscoring the Ducks 21-10. Although Jones was able to pass for 242 yards, the real star of the game was sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott. Zeke carried the ball 36 times that game turning it into 246 yards while adding four touchdowns all by himself, single-handedly outscoring the explosive Oregon offense. The win gave Meyer his third national championship and put his name in the discussion for the greatest coaches of all time. The win also justified the hiring of Meyer. It gave the program the backbone and structure to build upon this success and further that in the future. The 2014 National Championship was more than just a victory for Ohio State.
1. Beating Bama
As mentioned earlier, the postseason run of 2014 was something that has never been seen before. With the third-string quarterback, Cardale Jones leading the Buckeyes to a Big Ten title after a 59-0 win against Wisconsin, Meyer and the Buckeyes were able to sneak their way into the first-ever College Football Playoff. Their reward? They got to play the biggest and baddest team in all of college football over the past half decade in Nick Saban and Alabama. Fans and analysts alike could all see the cute underdog story coming to an end as this Alabama teamed seemed unstoppable with Amari Cooper, Derrick Henry and Landon Collins leading their team. When the game was actually played the Buckeyes left their doubters in shock. The Buckeyes played a hard-fought game led by sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott who ran for an astounding 230 yards and two touchdowns against one of the best defenses in the country. The game was close until Elliott broke off his signature highlight as he ran 85 yards for a touchdown to increase Ohio State’s lead to 14 with three minutes to play. The Buckeyes win was monumental to the Big Ten as Meyer and the Buckeyes were able to finally dethrone the SEC, the conference who had been dominating college football for the past decade.