Anytime an immense amount of hype is met with some serious results in a college football-crazed town like Columbus, the expectations naturally expand. This is exactly what Ohio native, Urban Meyer, did in his first season as the head coach of Ohio State.
The Buckeyes were following up a historically bad season in 2011 that all began with the dismissal of head coach Jim Tressel and his star QB Terrelle Pryor. Just a season earlier, the pair had defeated Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl (a victory that was later vacated by the NCAA) and was expected to compete for a national championship in 2011.
Of course, the turmoil that followed this bowl "victory" is well-documented and would change the entire face of the OSU program.
By the time the Luke Fickell-led Buckeyes had fallen to their arch rivals, Michigan, for the first time in several years, the rumor mill was already churning Urban Meyer's name at a ridiculous rate. Sure enough these rumors materialized into reality in the next few days and Buckeye Nation could hardly contain themselves.
Of course there were some speculators upon Meyer's hiring. However, the majority of these doubters were silenced when the new head coach and his staff managed to resurrect a subpar recruiting class into one of the best-assembled in the nation in just three months. This impressive showcase of recruiting prowess caught the fans' attention, and the hype surrounding this new-start program really began to build.
However, this was just the beginning.
Meyer and his staff immediately changed the culture of the football program that had just finished 6-7 the year before and molded the Buckeyes into a resilient and competitive unit. Heading into their first season under Urban Meyer, the players spoke confidently and raved about the coach’s tactics and objectives.
Obviously the new head coach did something right because his troops marched directly to a 12-0 record in 2012, Meyer's second undefeated season as a head coach and the first unscathed season at OSU since 2002.
Then the hype floodgates burst wide open.
Despite losing some key players in the defensive front seven, the Buckeyes return plenty of key starters including Heisman-candidate QB Braxton Miller. Combine this with two impeccable recruiting classes under Meyer's belt at OSU, and in return, you're number two in this year’s preseason poll.
Many analysts have cited Ohio State as a very possible national championship contender and a team that could potentially end the SEC's seven years of dominance; and why not?
Urban Meyer has dominated historically in his second season at previous programs. With more experience in the spread offense and a plethora of weapons to utilize, Miller looks primed to contend for a Heisman and lead one of the best offenses in the nation. Sure the defense has a few new faces across the front seven but some of those faces are Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington, two true sophomores with limitless potential. The Buckeyes were also fortunate enough to keep their coaching staff intact over the offseason, which can't be overlooked.
There are plenty of compelling arguments to make for OSU and their very possible chance of another undefeated season. So should Buckeye Nation start booking their tickets to Pasadena for the final national championship of the BCS era?
Not so fast.
Before you snag your non-refundable plane ticket to the west coast, observe the task placed before Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes.
The core of this team hasn't lost in over a year and carries the longest active winning streak in college football into the 2013 season. In order to win a national championship this season, Braxton Miller and company must extend their winning streak all the way to 26-0, which would cement these Buckeyes in college football history.
For starters, it would surpass the longest winning streak in Ohio State's history that stands at 22-0. This streak was set by "super sophomores," like Rex Kern, and stretched from 1967-1969. That Woody Hayes-led team dominated their era and even the legend himself called it the best team he ever coached.
Only five teams in the history of the Big Ten have won 25 consecutive games or more, the most recent team being the Nebraska Cornhuskers from 1994-1996. Is this Ohio State team truly one of the greatest units to ever play in their conference’s rich history?
In fact, only five teams in the past 25 years have won 26 or more consecutive games. These teams include dynasties like the Miami Hurricanes of the early 2000’s and the Cornhuskers of the mid 90’s. We’re talking about juggernaut teams that really dominated the sport during their time and unloaded their rosters into the NFL.
Are the 2013 Buckeyes capable of something that legendary?
It takes something special to finish a season undefeated, but it takes a type of team you’ll only see a handful of times in your life to reach 26-0. Sure the Buckeyes have every reason to believe they can run the table again. They have a manageable schedule with a Heisman trophy candidate at QB and one of the best coaches in college football at the helm.
However, in order to accomplish their goals and complete what they have personally labeled “The Chase," the Buckeyes must go on a tangent rarely seen in their sport. If Meyer and his Buckeyes can manage to reach their goal and defeat all in their path again, they will go down as not only the best team in program history, but one of the most dominant teams in the past 30 years.
Does this team have what it takes to establish themselves as one of the best in history?
“The Chase” has just begun. How will this team be remembered?
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