How the Buckeyes Beat the Odds

Ohio State

On Monday night, Jan. 12, The Ohio State University won its eighth college football national championship with a resounding 22-point victory over the Oregon Ducks. But what makes the victory – and Ohio State’s season – even more impressive is how the team rebounded from obstacles stacked against them to go on one of the most impressive three-game stretches in college football history and beat the odds – literally.

In August, the team lost its starting quarterback to injury for the season. Their odds as one of the favorites to win the title dropped to 50-1.In September, the Buckeyes were bounced, at home, by a very mediocre Virginia Tech 35-21. Ohio State’s title hopes seemed to take a death blow after that loss and their title odds plummeted to 100-1. In late November they lost their backup quarterback to a leg injury. Then this happened:

  • Starting their third-string quarterback in the Big 10 championship game, they were 4-point underdogs to Wisconsin. They proceed to beat the Badgers 59-0. (Read that again.)
  • Going into the first College Football Playoff (which many said they should not have been selected), they were a 9-point underdog against Alabama. They beat the SEC Champions 42-35.
  • Making it into the national championship game, Ohio State was a 7-point underdog to Oregon. They beat the Pac-12 Champions by multiples of 11 (42-20). They now open the 2015 season as the favorite to repeat next year.

So what can the casual fan and the common company learn about what propelled the Buckeyes through this adversity? These 3 things:

  • Numbers Can Predict Outcomes; They Cannot Measure Pride: Given the betting odds against the team all season it would be easy to fold. However, the team believed in their individual abilities and the collective team. Thus, while the odds may not have been in their favor, their determination to persevere was immeasurable.
  • Focusing on the Past Blurs Your Vision of the Present: Two lost quarterbacks and a bad loss at home would be enough for most teams to not only dwell on, but to knock them completely off track. But the Buckeyes kept looking forward, kept their faith in the “next man up,” and accomplished each task at hand, which was simply winning the next game.
  • Internal Belief Supersedes External Opinions: Many questioned why the Buckeyes were even in the playoffs when other contenders had seemingly stronger arguments. (Read more on how the first selection could have gone smoother.) Despite the doubters, Ohio State did the only thing that could silence the critics: produce undisputable results in decisive fashion.
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