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All things pigskin.

2. The 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes

Regardless of what happens in the future, this team will always be remembered as the winner of the first ever college playoff for major college football. But the road to that playoff berth was a rocky one, and the final destination was in doubt until the very end.

Ohio State began the 2014 season ranked #5 in the AP poll, but before the team ever saw the field that ranking was already in jeopardy. Just eleven days before the opening game, starting quarterback Braxton Miller (2012, 2013 Big Ten OPOY) was lost for the season with a shoulder injury. The Buckeye offense would now be in the inexperienced hands of redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett, who had never taken a snap at the college level. To make matters worse, Barrett would be operating behind an offensive line that was breaking in four new starters, none of whom had been a blue chip recruit.

The Buckeyes opened on the road against Navy, and they certainly didn't look like a top-ten squad. Trailing 7 to 6 early in the third quarter, Ohio State got its first touchdown of the year on a 61-yard fumble recovery by freshman linebacker Darron Lee; the offense wouldn't find the end zone for another nine minutes, when Barrett connected on an 80-yard pass to wide receiver Devin Smith. A pair of fourth quarter scores pushed the final score to 34-17. In the end, the more talented team won, but it was a struggle the entire way.

The offense's woes became much worse in week two against Virginia Tech. Facing the Hokies' "Bear" defense, the Buckeyes managed only 21 points and 327 yards. Barrett completed just 9 of 29 passes, was sacked seven times, and threw three interceptions. The defense wasn't much better, especially in the first half when it allowed the Hokies to score 21 points and convert 7 of 9 third downs. Despite the uninspiring effort, with 59 seconds left on the clock the Buckeyes had the ball at midfield with a chance to tie the game...
3. The 1968 Ohio State Buckeyes

In the eight-year span from 1954 to 1961, Woody Hayes won three national titles (1954, 1957, and 1961) and four Big Ten championships (1954, 1955, 1957, and 1961); and produced thirteen All Americans and a Heisman Trophy (Hopalong Cassady), a Maxwell Award (Bob Ferguson), and an Outland Trophy (Jim Parker).

But after those glory days, Hayes saw his program enter the doldrums. From 1962 to 1967, Ohio State had a record of 35-18-1 (.657 winning percentage), with no Big Ten championships, no major award winners, and only six All Americans. To many observers, it looked like Woody's career at Ohio State might be done.

And then came 1968. In a year that symbolized unrest in the world at large, Ohio State arose from the ashes to upend the college football world. The Buckeyes were young, and they would start as many as twelve untested sophomores, including Rex Kern at the all-important quarterback position. By the end of the season, these fine rookies would prove their worth and would become known as the "Super Sophs".

As in 1957 and 1961, the Buckeyes began their 1968 national championship run against a team from Texas. This time it was SMU instead of TCU. Unlike those earlier seasons, however, the Buckeyes won their opening contest by a comfortable 35-14 margin. After defeating the Oregon Ducks 21 to 6, Ohio State began its conference slate with a game against Purdue. The Boilermakers had won the Big Ten crown in 1967, and they were favored to repeat in 1968; at that early point in the season, Purdue also held the number one ranking in the AP poll. With All American tailback Leroy Keyes and quarterback Mike Phipps, the Boilermakers were a solid 13-point favorite, but the Buckeyes were not intimidated by the high-powered Purdue offense. A stifling Buckeye defense held Keyes to just 18 yards rushing, and Phipps to 10 of 28 passing for 106 yards and a "pick six", all while holding the...
4. The 1954 Ohio State Buckeyes

In the nine years between the 1944 perfect season and 1953, the Buckeyes had four head coaches who posted a combined record of 48-27-7 (for a mediocre winning percentage of .628) with just a single Big Ten co-championship in the 1949 season. Against arch rival Michigan the Buckeyes had performed much worse, with a record of 1-7-1 while being outscored by the Wolverines 149-49. And even those lousy numbers painted a brighter picture than reality: In their lone win (1952), the Buckeyes had scored 27 of those 49 points; in the other eight games, they averaged less than three points, failed to crack double digits, and had been held scoreless on three separate occasions.

During the Buckeyes' slide into mediocrity, Ohio State was becoming known as the graveyard of coaches. The fourth head coach in the post-Paul Brown era was a relatively young and unknown commodity who'd had brief tenures at Denison University and Miami of Ohio before accepting the Buckeyes' post. He was already on the hot seat after only three seasons, but an overall record of 16-9-2 will generally earn you a quick ticket out of Columbus. Fortunately for Buckeye fans, that coach got one more year, and he made the most of his final opportunity.

Wayne Woodrow "Woody" Hayes was hired in 1951 to be Ohio State's head football coach when Buckeye legend Wes Fesler (All American in 1928, 1929, and 1930) resigned after losing to Michigan in the infamous Snow Bowl. Hayes was not the school's first choice (the hiring committee initially offered the job to Missouri head coach Don Faurot), nor a very popular selection amongst the fans (who wanted Paul Brown to return to Columbus after his success with the Cleveland Browns). During his first three years on campus, Hayes did little to endear himself with either group, winning less than sixty percent of his games while suffering two shut-out losses to Michigan in three tries....
5. The 1973 Ohio State Buckeyes

In most seasons, having a 10-0-1 record would be good enough to win at least a partial national championship. But not in 1973, when six football powerhouses – Notre Dame, Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Penn State – all entered the bowl season undefeated, with the Fighting Irish and the Crimson Tide squaring off in the Sugar Bowl with the AP national championship on the line.

The 1973 Buckeyes simply rolled through their first nine games, outscoring their opponents by a total of 361 to 33, for an average score of 40 to 4. The defense pitched four shutouts and only once gave up double-digit points (Iowa scored 13 fourth-quarter points in a 55-13 rout). The offense cracked the 50-point barrier on three separate occasions. The closest contests were a pair of 24-point blowouts. Entering the final week of the regular season, this looked like it might be the best Ohio State team of all time, and the Buckeyes sat atop both major polls.

The only obstacle that remained in the way were the Michigan Wolverines, who were also undefeated and ranked #4 in the nation entering The Game. The Wolverines' numbers were almost as impressive as the Buckeyes', as they had dispatched their first ten opponents by a total of 320 points to 58 points, for an average score of 32 to 6. This Michigan team was their best since at least 1948, and maybe their best ever. Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler were about to wage their biggest battle in the Ten Year War. Something would have to give.

Or would it? An NCAA record 105,223 people filled the Big House in Ann Arbor to see this epic version of The Game. Ohio State had a good second quarter and took a 10-0 lead into the locker room at halftime. But Ohio State's offense did nothing in the second half (91 yards, 4 first downs, no points), and Michigan rallied to score ten fourth-quarter points. And fortunately for Ohio State, Michigan's place...
6. The 1944 Ohio State Buckeyes

The year 1944 was the height of World War Two, and the United States was fighting on three fronts - in Italy and France against the Germans, and in the Pacific against the Japanese. With patriotism running high (and the draft in full force and effect), many young men were leaving college campuses to join the war effort. For that reason, most college football teams that year were comprised solely of freshmen who were too young to enlist or be drafted, together with a few older players who were physically unable to serve in the military and were granted "4F" status. With 31 of its 44 players being freshmen, Ohio State was no exception.

In fact, the only colleges that were unaffected by the war effort were the military academies, whose students were obviously exempt from immediate military service because they were in school for the express purpose of receiving officer training. Led by future Heisman Trophy winners Felix "Doc" Blanchard (1945) and Glenn Davis (1946), and coached by the renowned Earl "Red" Blaik, the Army Black Knights were particularly strong in 1944, defeating their opponents by a combined score of 504 to 35 en route to a perfect 9-0-0 season and an AP national championship. But Army wasn't the only perfect team that year....

On April 12, 1944, Paul Brown left Ohio State to join the Navy, and interim coach Carroll Widdoes was left with a young team with little hope of competing for a Big Ten championship, much less a national title. However, the Buckeyes received some good news in August of that year when all-purpose back Les Horvath was granted an extra year of eligibility. Horvath, then a 24-year old student at Ohio State's School of Dentistry, had last played football for the 1942 national championship squad. In addition to Horvath, three other notable Buckeyes – linemen Bill Hackett (All American in 1944), Jack Dugger (All American in...
7. The 1942 Ohio State Buckeyes

The greatest football coach of all time was Paul Brown. Brown's record as a high school coach during the 1930's (primarily at his home town school, Massillon Washington) was 92-10-3 (.890 winning percentage), with seven state titles and four national championships. As the head coach of the Cleveland Browns from 1946 to 1962, Brown turned the fledgling franchise into the greatest power in professional football, with a record of 111-44-5 (.709 winning percentage), with seven titles (4 AAFC, 3 NFL). Brown even had a winning record with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Between high school and the pros, Paul Brown was briefly (1941-43) the head coach of Ohio State. Although he was on the job for only three seasons, Brown led the Buckeyes to their first national championship in 1942. The Ohio State offense was led by a pair of All Americans, fullback Gene Fekete (910 yards, 10 TDs) and halfback Paul Sarringhaus (618 yards rushing, 517 yards passing, 15 total TDs); future star Les Horvath (1944 Heisman Trophy winner) chipped in with 785 total yards and 6 touchdowns. The Buckeyes' line had three more All Americans: end Robert Shaw; tackle Charles Csuri; and guard Lindell Houston.

The season began well with a 59-0 rout of the Fort Knox Army Base service team. With World War Two in full swing, many young men were in the armed forces, and several military bases fielded football teams comprised of officers in training. The new Fort Knox squad was clearly unprepared for their opener, and the Buckeyes outgained them in total yards, 507 to minus-five, in a game that wasn't even as close as the blow-out score would suggest. In fact, Ohio State's second- and third-stringers scored 40 points in the second half of the game.

After the easy victory in the opener, Ohio State faced a surprisingly tough Indiana team that was led by quarterback Lou Saban, who like Paul...
8. The 1957 Ohio State Buckeyes

In 1957, a mediocre team from Texas Christian (5-4-1) once again cost Ohio State a perfect season and a chance for a consensus national championship. The Buckeyes began the season unranked, so expectations for that team were not very high. But after playing poorly in an 18-14 loss to the Horned Frogs in the opening game, it seemed that the 1957 season was going to be even worse than anticipated.

However, under the guidance of head coach Woody Hayes, the Buckeyes quickly righted the ship and ran off nine straight victories to close out their schedule. The highlights were road wins against Washington, #19 Wisconsin, and archrival Michigan, and a hard-fought home victory against #6 Iowa. The Buckeyes capped off their surprising season with a 10-7 triumph over #17 Oregon in the Rose Bowl, and they were named national champions in the coaches poll and by the FWAA.

In looking back on the 1957 season, it is difficult to see greatness in that Ohio State squad as there were no real stars on either side of the ball. The leading rushers were Don Clark (737 yards, 8 TDs) and Bob White (645 yards, 1 TD). Quarterback Frank Kremblas completed just 20 of 47 passes (42.6%) for 337 yards and 3 touchdowns. The lone All American was guard Aurealius Thomas, although Jim Houston would soon emerge as a star and become an All American in 1958 and 1959 and a first round selection in the 1960 NFL draft.

Several members of the 1957 Buckeyes are best remembered for their exploits after leaving The Horseshoe. Halfback Dick LeBeau had an undistinguished career at Ohio State (727 yards from scrimmage, 9 touchdowns), but he played 14 seasons in the NFL as a defensive back for the Detroit Lions, recording 62 interceptions and eventually becoming enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. After his playing days were over, LeBeau became one of the foremost defensive...
9. The 1961 Ohio State Buckeyes

For Buckeye fans, 1961 was the year of almost: Fullback Bob Ferguson almost won the Heisman Trophy (he finished a mere 53 points behind Syracuse running back Ernie Davis, the third closest ballot of all time), thereby almost becoming the first black player to win that award (Davis, who was also black, did earn that distinction). The Buckeyes almost went to the Rose Bowl, but an Ohio State faculty committee voted (28-25) to keep the team out of that "commercial venture" lest the school become an "athletic factory" where "the football tail is wagging the college dog." And the Buckeyes almost finished with a perfect record and almost won a consensus national championship.

The 1961 Buckeyes got off to a slow start, playing a hapless Texas Christian squad (3-5-2 final record) to a 7-7 draw in Columbus in the opening game. Behind the running of two-time All American fullback Bob Ferguson (1961 Maxwell Award winner), who led the Big Ten with 938 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns, and halfbacks Paul Warfield (540 yards, 6 TDs) and Matt Snell (258 yards, 1 TD), the team quickly rebounded from that early disappointment, beating their next seven opponents by an average score of 23 to 8. In the season finale, Ohio State blew out Michigan, 50-20, to win an undisputed Big Ten championship. This version of The Game was notable for the fact that Buckeye head coach Woody Hayes deliberately ran up the score against the overmatched Wolverines: with just five seconds left in the contest, Ohio State threw a 10-yard touchdown pass and followed that up with a two-point conversion to reach the half-century mark.

The Big Ten was tough in 1961, with Minnesota (8-2-0) finishing #6; Michigan State (7-2-0) finishing #8; and Purdue (6-3-0) finishing #12. However, due to the quirks of scheduling, the Buckeyes somehow managed to avoid each of those ranked...
T-10. The 1996 & 1998 Ohio State Buckeyes

2-10-1: That's about the only thing most Buckeye fans remember about the John Cooper Era, although the hardcore cynics are quick to point out that his teams were also 3-8 in bowl games. But lost amongst those dismal numbers is the undeniable fact that Coop lead Ohio State to a pair of second-place finishes in both major polls.

The 1996 Buckeyes had lost all their offensive superstars to the NFL – first round picks running back Eddie George (Heisman trophy), wide receiver Terry Glenn (Biletnikoff Award), and tight end Rickey Dudley had combined for 4,363 yards and 49 touchdowns in 1995, and third round selection quarterback Bobby Hoying set many single-season and career records (since broken). But the Buckeyes still had All-World left tackle Orlando Pace (1995-96 Lombardi; 1996 Outland) to anchor the offensive line and a Silver Bullet defense headed by All Americans defensive end Mike Vrabel (career sack leader) and cornerback Shawn Springs (1996 Big Ten defensive POY), and freshman phenom Andy Katzenmoyer (1997 All American and Butkus Award winner) at middle linebacker.

Ohio State rolled through their first ten games by an average score of 43-10. Then came Michigan. Even though the Buckeyes dominated the first half statistically (220 yards and 19:39 TOP to 62 yards and 10:21 TOP), they consistently got bogged down in the red zone and led only 9-0 as the teams entered the locker room. On the second play of the third quarter, Shawn Springs slipped in single coverage and Wolverine wide receiver Tai Streets took a short slant 69 yards for a touchdown. The Ohio State offense got completely stymied in the second half (84 yards, 10:29 TOP), while Michigan was able to kick a pair of field goals down the stretch to make the final score 13-9 in favor of the bad guys.

Even after the heartbreaking loss in The Game, #3...
This top ten list is late - absurdly so. As the 2015-16 season draws near, this may be the last list of its kind to get published. Like you though, I'm an Ohio State superfan and I know that we don't stop talking about this stuff just because it's old and everybody else has moved on. So here it is, a long overdue look at the top plays from last season:

10.) Joey Bosa & Darron Lee - forced fumble and return for TD vs. Navy

It was the season's first touchdown for the Buckeyes, and it came at a key moment. While they would get upset by Virginia Tech the next week, that wasn't nearly as big of a black eye as losing to Navy would have been. While we can scarcely imagine that possibility now, it was a very real one coming out of halftime of this game with the Buckeyes trailing 7-6. Joey Bosa, a leading player on the Buckeye defense, caused the miscue by penetrating into the backfield to force an early option pitch. Lee announced his arrival as a key player by completing the scoop and score. While the Buckeyes would relinquish the lead for a time before putting Navy away, this huge play gave them the momentum boost they needed to eventually get the win.

9.) Michael Thomas - 79-yard touchdown reception vs. M*ch*g*n State

The Buckeyes, having improved vastly over the course of the season but not having been tested by a top team yet, went to East Lansing to face the team the beat them in the previous season's B1G title game. Both teams traded haymakers thoughout the first half, but it seemed the momentum was mostly with the men in green. At one point late in the second quarter, Jeremy Langford appeared to have scored a touchdown to put MSU up two scores. The play was called back for holding, and MSU would subsequently miss a field goal attempt. On the very next play, Thomas would catch J.T. Barrett's pass on a slant, break a tackle, and...