Talent and titles
Record: 12-2 overall, 8-1 in Big Ten (first in East Division; conference champions)
Postseason: Fifth in final College Football Playoff rankings; received at-large bid to play Southern California in Cotton Bowl
Final poll ranking: Fifth
Aug. 31: No. 2 OSU 49, Indiana 21
Sept. 9: No. 5 Oklahoma 31, No. 2 OSU 16
Sept. 16: No. 8 OSU 38, Army 7
Sept. 23: No. 10 OSU 54, UNLV 21
Sept. 30: No. 11 OSU 56, Rutgers 0
Oct. 7: No. 9 OSU 62, Maryland 14
Oct. 14: No. 9 OSU 56, Nebraska 14
Oct. 28: No. 6 OSU 39, No. 2 Penn State 38
Nov. 4: Iowa 55, No. 3 OSU 24
Nov. 11: No. 11 OSU 48, No. 13 Michigan State 3
Nov. 18: No. 8 OSU 52, Illinois 14
Nov. 25: No. 8 OSU 31, Michigan 20
Dec. 2: No. 8 OSU 27, No. 3 Wisconsin 21
Dec. 29: No. 5 OSU 24, No. 8 USC 7
Season in brief
The skinny: Two ugly losses blighted an otherwise stellar season. Ohio State had an impressive mixture of experience (quarterback J.T. Barrett, center Billy Price, most of the defensive line) and youth (running back J.K. Dobbins) and outscored opponents by an average of 41-19. The Buckeyes rallied for dramatic victories over Penn State at home and Michigan on the road, and the season ended well with a throttling of Southern California. But the losses to Oklahoma and especially Iowa are what most fans will remember about the season.
High points: Ohio State’s victory over No. 2 Penn State ranks among the most thrilling in recent memory. The Buckeyes trailed 21-3 and 28-10 and were down 15 entering the fourth quarter. But Barrett rallied the Buckeyes with 19 points in the final 11 minutes, 5 seconds, prompting Meyer to describe it as “one of the best fourth quarters I’ve ever witnessed.” Barrett finished with a school-record 423 total offensive yards. The other highlight was the Michigan game. Barrett was injured before the game when someone on the sideline bumped his knee with a camera. Barrett played until his knee gave out in the second half with the Buckeyes trailing. But Dwayne Haskins Jr. rallied the Buckeyes, foreshadowing the record-setting year he would have in 2018.
Turning point: The Iowa game in many ways defined the season. Fresh off the Penn State win, the Buckeyes knew the Hawkeyes had a history of upsets of top teams at Kinnick Stadium. But the 55-24 loss seemingly came out of nowhere. Barrett was as bad against the Hawkeyes as he was brilliant against Penn State, and the defense was a no-show. Though the Buckeyes regrouped after the game and won a Big Ten title, the playoff committee couldn’t overlook that lopsided loss.
Low point: Aside from the Iowa debacle? The image of Baker Mayfield planting the Oklahoma flag on the O at the center of Ohio Stadium will burn in the minds of Buckeyes fans for a long time — at least those who aren’t also Cleveland Browns fans. The Iowa loss was the mortal wound, but only because the Oklahoma loss provided Ohio State little margin for error. This was Mayfield’s assertive opening statement in his march to the Heisman Trophy, and Ohio State’s offense sputtered most of the night against a suspect Sooners defense. The 15-point final margin was deceptive; Oklahoma dominated.
Quotable: “We played three top-five teams and won two of them. It’s just amazing how important the playoff is and how the whole world revolves around it. I hope we get a shot.” — Meyer after the Big Ten title game win over undefeated Wisconsin on his hopes, which were dashed the next day, of getting a playoff bid
— Bill Rabinowitz