With all the talk of the best teams in the country, whether it be Alabama, Oregon or Notre Dame, one team seems to be left out of the conversation on a regular basis. Ohio State has quietly become the best team in college football and no one seems to care.
It’s easy to see why no one talks about this 11-0 team– they are ineligible for postseason play. Urban Meyer is in his first season as the Buckeyes head coach and has taken this team from mediocrity at 6-7 in 2011 to an 11-0 start to the 2012 season.
He has taken quarterback Braxton Miller from mediocre to elite in just a year’s time.
There is no doubt that Urban Meyer is one of the premier coaches in the country and he has taken this team to an entirely new level.
It was just a year ago when Luke Fickell took over as the interim head coach for the recently-resigned Jim Tressel amid scandal in Columbus where Terrelle Pryor and other players traded their Big Ten Championship rings for tattoos. Tressel knew about this and covered it up, causing a scandal of epic proportions.
It seemed like it would be years before the Buckeyes would become relevant again. Fickell took over and coached the Buckeyes to 6-7 and a bowl game loss to Florida. Meyer was hired just prior to the bowl game and was granted the option to recruit while Fickell coached the team in the bowl.
Many people cried about the unfairness of Ohio State having two coaching staffs while every other team had one and was just worried about winning a bowl, putting recruiting to the wayside until January.
Nevertheless, the new 2012 Urban Meyer version of the Buckeyes has proven to be the best team in the land. Miller may have been more of a Heisman candidate if Ohio State was able to play for a national title like their record indicates.
Many would argue that Notre Dame is the better undefeated team, but Ohio State has done more with the talent they have been given. Yes, the Big Ten is experiencing an off-year, but the teams in the conference are not an easy victory by any means– except maybe Illinois.
Notre Dame has played just three away games this season and the Buckeyes have played four. Although both will end the season with four road games, Notre Dame’s biggest game comes this weekend at USC. That game could decide whether the Fighting Irish go to the BCS National Championship or drop out of the title race.
They have both beaten two ranked teams on the road– Michigan State being the common opponent– and while the Fighting Irish features one of the best defenses in the country, Ohio State features one of the best offenses.
It’s obviously a stretch to say that the Buckeyes could beat the Fighting Irish, but it would be one of the great games of the year. Both teams have had many close games this season. Both have had two overtime games. Both have proved to be the best teams in the country, but in my opinion, the Buckeyes have proved more.
Although the Fighting Irish are 11-0 right now, facing a crucial game against USC, they still have the motivation and determination to reach the national title game. If Notre Dame was not bowl eligible this year, do you think they would be undefeated still? Would they still maintain the motivation to remain unbeaten game after game with no reward at the end of the season?
It’s the fact that the Buckeyes have been playing every game like the national title is in the cards for them this season that makes me believe they can’t be beaten. If this team can remain unbeaten with no end reward, it makes me wonder what kind of motivation they would have if they were bowl eligible.
Would the Buckeyes be playing for a national title if it were any other season? Probably. Could they compete with the Alabamas, Oregons and Notre Dames of the country? Yes, they have a tradition of greatness where national championships were expected every season.
Urban Meyer is bringing this team back to that greatness. I don’t know many teams that can play with such passion knowing that they will be going home after November and not playing again for a year. Knowing that they have to watch teams that they have proved to be better than playing for bowl trophies and national titles.
Is Ohio State the best team in the country? They might be. Does any other team have the drive that this team has to be great? No, that is something that has impressed me about the Buckeyes and that’s was makes them the best team in the country.