Even though they closed out the year with an embarrassing 31-0 loss in the College Football Playoff, the Ohio State Buckeyes had a great season, and have a very bright future in front of them.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that Saturday night’s loss won’t sting for a while. It certainly will. After all, the Buckeye defense had its worst outing of the year, giving up 31 points and 470 yards of total offense. Likewise, the offense never got in any sort of rhythm, finishing with a season-low 215 yards and just nine first downs. As a result of these struggles on offense, Ohio State was shutout, which was the first time in Urban Meyer’s storied career that his team failed to get on the scoreboard.
That’s the type of outing that would make Lloyd Bridges say, “looks like I picked the wrong week to quit drinking!”
While it would be very easy to dismiss the 2016 campaign as a failure since the Buckeyes didn’t win the Big Ten or national championship, it’s important not to lose sight of what the team accomplished this season. Despite having one of the most inexperienced rosters in college football, Ohio State was still one of the four best teams in the country. The defense was one of the best units in the nation, ranking third in total defense, third in yards per play, fifth in passing defense, and sixth in interceptions. The offense also had a great year, ranking 20th in total offense and ninth in scoring offense. Thanks to this excellence on both sides of the ball, Ohio State beat three teams that finished in the top 10 in the final College Football Playoff rankings.
Does that body of work sound like a complete failure, as some Buckeye fans are suggesting?
I think not.
Regardless of how people feel about this season, it’s hard not to be excited about Ohio State’s chances next year. The Buckeyes only lose one senior starter from Saturday evening’s depth chart, which would make it one of the more experienced squads in the country next fall. Considering that this team was good enough to make the College Football Playoff this year, there’s no reason to think that it can’t do the same next year.
And, who knows, perhaps the Buckeyes can win the national championship next season. That’s what happened the last time Ohio State lost to Clemson in a bowl game.