Monday, Ohio State won their 8th National Championship in school history, beating Oregon by a dominant score of 42-20. Despite many glaring facts, the Buckeyes were the underdogs. The Ducks were 7-point favorites to be specific. After such a commanding performance in the title game, the question lingers: should OSU have been underdogs in the 1st place?
All signs point to no.
Urban Meyer has a positive track record in the college football world. Monday he became the 2nd head coach in CFB history to win a National Championship with two different teams. The only other coach to reach that milestone: Nick Saban. Not too shabby. Yes he isn't actually on the field so it's hard to give him all the credit but it definitely means something that he was able to mold three separate teams and 2 different programs into winners.
One of the most surprising stats I heard was that in all three of his championship seasons, Meyer's team defeated a Heisman winner. In 2006, the Gators defeated Ohio State and Troy Smith. In 2008, they edged Sam Bradford and the Sooners. In his most recent campaign, he beat Marcus Mariota, a player many people had a hard time rooting against. Obviously a team is more than just their star player, but it's no easy feat to beat the best player in college football.
So pretty simple here: Ohio State may not have been underdogs due to their Championship-proven head coach.
Ohio State also had depth. Braxton Miller got injured in August, before the season even started. Backup QB J.T. Barrett fractured his ankle at the end of November, but led the Buckeyes to an 11-1 record and led the nation with 42 touchdowns before his injury. Cardale Jones proved in the 3 remaining games that he was a starting-caliber QB at other schools. It may not have been clear when Miller went down that they had this quality of depth, but it became evident very quickly. Their younger players stepped up to the plate.
Two words: Ezekiel Elliot. The running back came into his own against Wisconsin, rushing for 200 yards and helping Cardale Jones get a win in his 1st start. His success continued in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama, where he rushed for another 200 yards. What did he do in the National Championship game? He single-handedly defeated Oregon, rushing for 246 and 4 touchdowns. The Ducks would only score 2 touchdowns in the entire game. Was his success unprecedented? With his production trending upward, and his comfortability with Jones at the helm, it was just a matter of time that he broke out and became a superstar.
They also overcame tragedy. In 2013, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series just mere months after the bombing at the Boston Marathon. The Buckeyes won the National Championship this year after one of their players took his own life. This is total speculation on my part but it seems that when teams are forced to come together due to a tragedy, it can catapult them into big things, including championships.
Why were the Buckeyes overlooked? Marcus Mariota makes a strong case for that. Was I surprised that they ended up winning in such dominant fashion? No. That was a bet I was willing to take.