Another weird regular season has ended for Ohio State under Urban Meyer, in which they finish with the best overall record among Big Ten teams, but don’t get to play for the conference title. In 2016 this trend hasn’t changed
Since taking the Ohio State job, Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes have the best record in college football: 61-5 (including 40-3 against Big Ten teams). Nick Saban and Alabama are 62-6 since 2012, the second best record in the nation in that timeframe. But Alabama have two national championships and three conference titles to show for their wins. Ohio State have one conference championship game and one national title. There’s always one conference game that seems to keep his team out of the Big Ten title game, even if they’re actually the best team in the conference.
The story begins in 2012, when Ohio State hire Meyer, knowing that they can’t play in a postseason game due to sanctions. The Buckeyes go 12-0, including 8-0 in the Big Ten, which lands them a #3 AP ranking, but they’re left out as Wisconsin and Nebraska play for the Big Ten title. The team behind Ohio State that season in the Leaders division (the Big Ten has been realigned since) Penn State couldn’t make the title game either due to sanctions.
In 2013 the sanctions are lifted, and Ohio State once again sweep the regular season and the Big Ten to finish with a perfect 12-0 record. But in the Big Ten championship game they’re stunned by Michigan State, and the deflated Buckeyes also lost to Clemson in the Orange Bowl, finishing the season 12-2, Meyer’s only two-loss season with Ohio State, so far.
In 2014, a week 2 loss at home to Virginia Tech seemed to doom the Buckeyes to another season without any silverware. However, despite playing with a backup quarterback, Ohio State don’t stop winning to win their division and go 8-0 in the Big Ten. So despite Braxton Miller out for the season and J.T. Barrett picking up the slack, the Buckeyes grow stronger as the season went along, including a win over Michigan State. Barrett goes down with an injury too, but Cardale Jones steps in and Ohio State march on for three massive wins: Wisconsin in the title game (infamous 59-0), Alabama in the CFP semifinal and Oregon to win the national title.
In 2015, it’s once again Michigan State who stand in the way of Meyer and the Buckeyes, who looked like a look to make the playoffs. The 11-1 Ohio State lost by 3 points at home, but it was enough to leave them out of the Big Ten championship game. They took out their frustration on Michigan, followed by thumping Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.
So now, 2016, and it’s once again that one, annoying loss, this time to Penn State. Ohio State are the only team in the Big Ten with just one loss, but their conference record is identical to that of the Nittany Lions, who get in the conference title game thanks to the head to head. The Buckeyes seem to still be in the college football playoff picture, but are likely to be left out for that one annoying loss once again. Playing in a big bowl game and beating Michigan is nice consolation, nothing more.
And we finish with Michigan, because one of the things which will help Meyer be remembered as an Ohio State legend is his record against the Wolverines. Ohio State are 5-0 against their biggest rivals, including 2-0 since Jim Harbaugh took the job in Ann Arbor. A new 10-year war or something else, the Buckeyes might be the best team in college football for the last five years, only they don’t have the titles to show it.