Why the 2015 Season is Playing Out Perfectly for the Buckeyes

Despite entering the 2015 season with the highest of expectations, the Ohio State football team has, by all accounts, struggled through the first five weeks of the season. Despite compiling a perfect 5-0 record and extending their nation-leading win streak to 18 games – and their road game win streak to 15 games, the top-ranked Buckeyes have heard nothing but grumbles from their fan base. But Ohio State fans need to realize one thing: even though the offense isn’t tallying 1,000-yard/60-point outings each week, this Buckeye football team is exactly where we should want it to be.

For the sake comparison, I’d like you to bring two very memorable seasons to the forefront of your mind – the 2002 season and the 2006 season. Those two Ohio State football teams entered their respective seasons with drastically different expectations, and the style of their week-by-week outcomes had just as much contrast – other than the one main constant, winning.

Ohio State entered the 2002 reason ranked No. 13 in the AP Poll, following a loss in the Outback Bowl the previous year – Jim Tressel’s first year at the helm. Throughout the season, and en route to completing its undefeated national championship season, OSU won seven games by seven points or less, including two overtime wins. Every week seemed like a heart attack-inducing grind offensively, but the Buckeyes got the win every time it stepped onto the field. Fans’ hope skyrocketed as the season progressed, but expectations kept us grounded – all the way until the team defeated the big, bad Miami Hurricanes in the Fiesta Bowl.

Fast-forward to 2006, when the Buckeyes came into the season as the No. 1 ranked squad and perceived national championship favorites. That team had too much speed and talent throughout its lineup, the pundits said. With Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith dazzling fans each week – paired with the deep wide receiver corps of Ted Ginn, Jr., Anthony Gonzalez, Roy Hall, Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline, and Antonio Pittman and Beanie Wells at running back – the offense just couldn’t be stopped. Outside of one-score wins against Illinois and second-ranked Michigan, the Buckeyes steamrolled their opponents throughout the season – as “steamrolled” as possible in the Tressel offense – as they advanced to the national championship game against the Florida Gators.

The correlation I want to make is that the 2015 Ohio State football team – the first team ever to be unanimously voted as the preseason No. 1 team – entered the season with the expectations of the 2006 team, but through its first five games, has performed at a level comparable to the 2002 team. While it has been frustrating for fans who have expected offensive fireworks on a weekly basis, Buckeye Nation should actually find some level of comfort in the team’s struggles.

Unlike the 2006 team that was able to coast through the majority of the season and read its press clippings as the anointed “champion-to-be”, the 2015 Buckeyes are starting to be doubted, blasted, mocked and disrespected. Those things equate to the extra hunger and motivate that propel teams with chips on their shoulders to greater things, whereas the lack of those traits often lead to the sudden demise of a much-lauded and much-favored team.

No matter what any Ohio State fan says – if the 2015 Buckeyes continue to plug away and record one ugly win after another en route to a 15-0 record and a repeat national title, all of us will enjoy the ride.

Comments

  1. Great point, Brad. Urban is a master “chip-on-the-shoulder, no-one-believes-in-us” motivator.

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