Record: 14-1 overall, 8-0 in Big Ten (first in East Division; conference champion)
Postseason: Fourth in final College Football Playoff rankings; won inaugural College Football Playoff
Final poll ranking: First
Aug. 30: No. 5 OSU 34, Navy 17
Sept. 6: Virginia Tech 35, No. 8 OSU 21
Sept. 13: No. 22 OSU 66, Kent State 0
Sept. 27: No. 22 OSU 50, Cincinnati 28
Oct. 4: No. 20 OSU 52, Maryland 24
Oct. 18: No. 13 OSU 56, Rutgers 17
Oct. 25: No. 13 OSU 31, Penn State 24 (2 OT)
Nov. 1: No. 13 OSU 55, Illinois 14
Nov. 8: No. 13 OSU 49, No. 7 Michigan State 37
Nov. 15: No. 8 OSU 31, Minnesota 24
Nov. 22: No. 7 OSU 42, Indiana 27
Nov. 29: No. 7 OSU 42, Michigan 28
Dec. 6: No. 6 OSU 59, No. 11 Wisconsin 0
Jan. 1: No. 4 OSU 42, No. 1 Alabama 35
Jan. 12: No. 4 OSU 42, No. 3 Oregon 20
Season in brief
The skinny: The season ranks among the most unlikely and thrilling at Ohio State, yet it seemed doomed at several points. Star quarterback Braxton Miller reinjured his throwing shoulder in training camp, forcing Urban Meyer to turn to redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett. The Buckeyes were written off after losing to unranked Virginia Tech in week 2. Ohio State regrouped, only to lose Barrett to a broken ankle against Michigan. But the Buckeyes rallied around Cardale Jones and summoned a stunning postseason run. First, the underdog Buckeyes crushed Wisconsin to catapult into the College Football Playoff. Then Ohio State toppled Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and overpowered Oregon in suburban Dallas to win the national title, Meyer’s third as a coach.
High points: Who can pick? The victory in East Lansing against favored Michigan State established the Buckeyes as a legitimate playoff contender. But the postseason run is what this team will be remembered for. No one could foresee Ohio State’s complete annihilation of a solid Wisconsin team, a result that was needed to convince the playoff committee that OSU deserved a spot. The Buckeyes then showed their mettle by rallying from a 21-6 deficit against Alabama, which simply doesn’t surrender such leads under Nick Saban. In the title game, OSU recovered from a shaky start to dominate Oregon.
Turning point: The victory in Happy Valley against Penn State was the first eye-opener. Aided by a white-out crowd, the Nittany Lions came back from a 17-0 halftime deficit to send the game to overtime. Barrett had injured his knee late in the first half and clearly was in discomfort. But when Penn State scored a touchdown on its first overtime possession, Barrett showed his toughness by leading the Buckeyes to back-to-back touchdowns. The defense then stuffed Penn State for the victory, keeping the dreams of a postseason run alive.
Low point: The Virginia Tech loss was a humbling and ultimately important lesson. The Buckeyes were unprepared for Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s “bear” defense, which crowded the line of scrimmage and forced Ohio State to pass. With Barrett starting only his second game, receivers making several miscues and the offensive line faltering late, the game was a disaster. But it also forced the Buckeyes to grow up quickly, knowing they had no margin for error.
Quotable: “I love these players. This team wasn’t supposed to do this, but they fought through adversity, they got stronger and stronger. … I don’t want to get overdramatic, but it’s as improved a football team — and I’ve watched football for a long time — from game 1 to game 15. I’ve never seen anything like it.” — Meyer, on Jan. 12, 2015, after Ohio State’s victory over Oregon
— Bill Rabinowitz