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How believing in Urban Meyer's plan won Ohio State the National Championship
By James Vogel
Even Urban Meyer didn't think this sight could become a reality after losing to Virginia Tech.
Photo by Jim Davidson

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The final whistle blew, Virginia Tech fans bellowed chants of A-C-C throughout Ohio Stadium and Urban Meyer followed his Ohio State team to the locker room with their heads down after a lackluster singing of Carmen Ohio.

The scoreboard read Virginia Tech 35, Ohio State 21. Under a dark Ohio sky, the college football world counted out Ohio State — and the Big Ten for that matter — from earning a bid into the inaugural College Football Playoff.

It was Sept. 6.

Just more than four months later, the Buckeyes beat down the Oregon Ducks and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota 42-20 to win the National Championship.

“To say we had this vision back in September or even August, no, not a chance,” Meyer said that night. “I thought this was a team that we could battle and battle and find a way to win a bunch of games and then a year later go make a run at it.”

With essentially a brand new offense line, a largely unproven defense and redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett taking over the reins at quarterback from the injured Braxton Miller 10 days before the season opener against Navy, it felt like Meyer knew what he was talking about when he said the Buckeyes were a year away. The bad loss to the Hokies emphasized this point further, but his players didn’t really care.

“I think here at Ohio State, we always believed it,” unanimous All-American defensive end Joey Bosa said while standing on the AT&T Stadium turf Jan. 12 as the confetti fell from the rafters. “From the first game, from summer training to winter training to grinding in the offseason, we don’t do it not to win. We do it to be champions.”

The loss to the Hokies was a tough pill to swallow for everyone inside the program.
Photo by Jim Davidson

It’s that attitude and belief that drove the Buckeyes to become champions three times over in the 2014 season, overcoming adversity in a number of ways. It all starting with losing Miller. Then all-conference performer Noah Spence was suspended for the season by the Big Ten. After that, the team had to deal with the emotions of a fallen teammate in Kosta Karageorge, a walk-on who was found dead in a dumpster a few days after Thanksgiving. What next but another injury, this time to Barrett, in the Michigan game.

It didn’t matter. The team kept winning because it believed it could, because it was trained to fight through tough situations in the summer in mat drills and whatever else mad-minded strength coach Mickey Marotti thought up.

“This team was built by adversity. That’s what made us stronger,” left tackle Taylor Decker said. “We went through a lot of trials throughout the season, losing guys, losing our teammate Kosta. People just said we couldn’t, and we went back to each other and we leaned on each and other and believed that we could. So we did.”

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