Cavalcade of stars

Staff Writer
Buckeye Xtra
Meyer leads the Buckeyes into Ohio Stadium to play Northern Illinois on Sept. 19, 2015. [Dispatch file photo]

Record: 12-1 overall, 7-1 in Big Ten (tied for first in East Division)

Postseason: Seventh in final College Football Playoff rankings; received at-large bid to play Notre Dame in Fiesta Bowl

Final poll ranking: Fourth


Sept. 7: No. 1 OSU 42, Virginia Tech 24

Sept. 12: No. 1 OSU 38, Hawaii 0

Sept. 19: No. 1 OSU 20, Northern Illinois 13

Sept. 26: No. 1 OSU 38, Western Michigan 12

Oct. 3: No. 1 OSU 34, Indiana 27

Oct. 10: No. 1 OSU 49, Maryland 28

Oct. 17: No. 1 OSU 38, Penn State 10

Oct. 24: No. 1 OSU 49, Rutgers 7

Nov. 7: No. 3 OSU 28, Minnesota 14

Nov. 14: No. 3 OSU 28, Illinois 3

Nov. 21: No. 9 Michigan State 17, No. 3 OSU 14

Nov. 28: No. 8 OSU 42, No. 10 Michigan 13

Jan. 1: No. 7 OSU 44, No. 8 Notre Dame 28

Season in brief

Skinny: The Buckeyes had the makings to be Meyer’s finest team, and they spent the first eight weeks ranked No. 1. Stars abounded. There were two capable quarterbacks in J.T. Barrett and 2014 playoff hero Cardale Jones. Running back Ezekiel Elliott had finished 2014 with an unprecedented romp. Tackle Taylor Decker anchored the line and Michael Thomas the receiver corps. Braxton Miller was at hybrid back. Joey Bosa headed a stellar defense that included eventual fellow first-round NFL draft picks Darron Lee and Eli Apple that improved as the season progressed. But there were rumblings, first over who should be the starting QB. Jones gained the initial nod but, as the offense underperformed, gave way to Barrett in midseason. Poll voters sensed something wasn’t right, dropping the Buckeyes No. 3 during the off week in late October. Then along came Michigan State again to flip the apple cart.

High points: Ohio State played a rare road opener, and on a Monday night, at Virginia Tech, pulling away from the Hokies in the second half. Miller’s spinning TD dash was the highlight of the game and, as it turned out, his season. Elliott, who had the second-best rushing season at Ohio State the year before (1,878 yards), turned in the third-best (1,821), and scored four TDs in the Fiesta Bowl. The win over Michigan pushed Meyer to 4-0 in the rivalry, matching Francis Schmidt’s previous best start for an OSU coach in the series.

Low point: The perplexing, toothless-on-offense loss to Michigan State at Ohio Stadium ranks among the low-rung moments in program history. A storm swept over the stadium before kickoff and seemed to blow away the Buckeyes’ plans. Elliott had only 12 carries and the passing game fizzled as the Buckeyes mustered just 132 total yards, to that point the lowest-ever output for a Meyer-coached team. Michigan State had spoiled unbeaten OSU seasons previously, including in 1974, ’98 and 2013. This one knocked the Buckeyes out of a chance to defend their national title.

Turning point: It came too late to make a difference for the playoff push, but when Meyer moved offensive coordinator Ed Warinner to the press box the next week at Michigan, the offense perked up as he took over play-calling duties from co-coordinator Tim Beck. The result was one of the more lopsided OSU wins in the history of The Game. The Buckeyes steamrolled the Wolverines in the second half to welcome first-year Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh back to the rivalry.

Quotable: “I was not content. I call a lot of plays anyways. So the finger will be pointed right here. And I have to do better. We didn’t — it was very conservative.” — Meyer after the loss to Michigan State

— Tim May


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