Did even the most rabid Ohio State fan think the Buckeyes would be where they are today when it was announced that Urban Meyer was coming to Columbus a couple years ago?
Almost two full seasons after taking over a program that finished 6-7 back in 2011, Meyer has Ohio State on the verge of its first appearance in the BCS title game since 2007.
The Buckeyes have won 24 games in a row under Meyer.
Ohio State’s offense is averaging 48 points per game and it topped the 40-point mark in conference play six times. The Buckeye defense has been better than many expected, allowing an average of just 20 points while finishing fifth in the nation in rushing yards allowed per game. Quarterback Braxton Miller has had an outstanding season, passing for 1,759 yards and 17 touchdowns and rushing for 891 yards and eight scores. If not for missing three early-season games, he would be the hands-down favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. And running back Carlos Hyde has been a beast, rushing for 1,290 yards and 14 touchdowns.
All No. 2 Ohio State (12-0) has to do now to put a capper on another perfect regular season is beat No. 10 Michigan State (11-1) in Indianapolis on Saturday in the Big Ten title game.
That won’t be easy.
The Spartans defense is downright nasty. It leads the FBS in total defense (237.7), pass efficiency defense (91.79) and rushing defense (64.75) and is third in scoring defense (11.8 ppg). All star corner Darqueze Dennard is a Thorpe Award finalist, while Max Bullough is one of the country’s finest linebackers. Miller and Co. will have their hands full trying to move the ball on this unit.
The Michigan State offense is, well, fairly bland. But sophomore quarterback Connor Cook has quietly put together a nice season with 2,119 passing yards, 17 touchdowns and just four interceptions. As usual, the Spartans can run the ball, too, with Jeremy Langford leading the way with 1,210 yards and 16 scores.
If Michigan State can rein in the dynamism of Miller and Hyde and win the field position battle, this could be a classic. The Spartans have a chance to spoil Ohio State’s national title dreams and send the winner of the SEC title game to Pasadena to face (most likely) No. 1 Florida State for the BCS title. Plus, it would clinch Michigan State’s first Big Ten title since 1987.
A win for Ohio State would continue an amazing run — 25 wins in a row — and give the Buckeyes a shot at their first national title since 2002. With Ohio State’s program starting to turn into a juggernaut under Meyer, it may be just a taste of what’s to come.