CollegeFootballNews.com 20th Anniversary Ranking College Football Playoff & BCS Era 20 National Champions: No. 2, 2014 Ohio State
How do the 20 national champions in the College Football Playoff & BCS rank based on how good their seasons were?
CFN, College Football Playoff & BCS Era National Champions Ranking: No. 2, 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes
CollegeFootballNews.com is turning 20 this season, coincidentally starting in 1998 when the Bowl Championship Series era kicked off.
With the BCS, no matter how the teams got there, it was finally No. 1 vs. No. 2 for the national title – that wasn’t a given before – and eventually, it all morphed into the College Football Playoff starting in the 2014 season.
Based on the tried, true, tested and tweaked CFN Historical Season Ranking Formula (criteria breakdown at the bottom of all this), welcome to the ranking of all 20 national champions in the era.
This isn’t about who the most talented or the best national champions were since 1998 – that’s debatable. This is about who had the best and most impressive seasons – the more wins over great teams, the higher the score.
2014 Ohio State Season
And to think, the Ohio State dream of getting into the inaugural College Football Playoff appeared to be over in the first week of September of the 2014 season.
As good as the Buckeyes were in the first two seasons under Urban Meyer – starting out 24-0 – all of a sudden, it was a program in crisis.
OSU gagged away the 2013 Big Ten Championship and a spot in the BCS Championship with a loss to Michigan State, dropped a shootout loss to Clemson in the Orange Bowl, and then had problems against Navy to open up the 2014 season in a 34-17 win that was far, far closer than the final score.
And then came Virginia Tech. One 35-21 loss later to a mediocre Hokie team that ended up struggling just to go bowling – with RB Ezekiel Elliott running just eight times for 32 yards – and Meyer had lost three of his last four games before the Big Ten season kicked in.
The Buckeyes bounced back by taking care of Kent State and a great Cincinnati team by a combined score of 116-28, and hung 108 on Maryland and Rutgers, but it took a fight to get by a mediocre Penn State team 31-24.
QB J.T. Barrett ended up being just fine in place of an injured Braxton Miller, and Elliott was starting to find his groove, but the team was still grinding.
Even with the problems and concerns on defense, the offense rolled up 49 points in a revenge win at Michigan State, and survived a 31-24 battle at Minnesota and a 42-27 dogfight against Indiana. It wasn’t easy, but OSU kept on winning.
The College Football Playoff committee, though, was less than impressed, putting the Buckeyes 16th in the first round of the rankings, and not moving them up higher than sixth until December.
Even at 11-1 with a win over Michigan, the Buckeyes were on the outside of the CFP looking in. Alabama was No. 1, Oregon No. 2, a 10-1 TCU third and an unbeaten Florida State fourth. Making matters worse, would the committee care about Barrett being lost for the season to a broken leg?
To slip into the top four, OSU needed someone up top to slip.
That didn’t happen.
All of the top four teams rolled in their final games, so it was going to take something amazing for Meyer’s team to find its way in, especially after being down to its third string quarterback.
Cardale Jones and the Buckeyes needed to do something special against a terrific Wisconsin team led by Heisman-candidate RB Melvin Gordon. One 59-0 win later, and Ohio State had made its statement. The CFP committee noticed.
Even though TCU hammered Iowa State 55-3, the committee made the call that because Baylor won the Big 12 title in a tiebreaker – the Bears won 61-58 over the Horned Frogs earlier in the season – Ohio State was able to slip into the No. 4 spot in the final rankings.
It might have been a wee bit of a shaky ruling, but in the end, the committee got the right team into the tournament.
Highlighted by a 230-yard, two touchdown performance against a seemingly impenetrable defense, Ohio State got past Alabama 42-35 and into the first College Football Playoff.
But even though the Buckeyes rolled past the No. 1 team, it was supposedly Oregon’s national title to win.
Marcus Mariota and the Ducks were unstoppable in a blowout Rose Bowl win over Florida State, and now the high-octane offense was expected to be too much for anyone to deal with.
But Elliott continued his legendary late season run, coming up with his third straight 200-yard game – running for 246 yards and four scores – and Cardale Jones threw for 242 yards in a 42-20 win, and the school’s first national championship since 2002.
– Jones wasn’t the normal third string quarterback, with the size, arm, and talent to step in and help the Buckeyes roll when they needed a few steady performances. How did he do in place of Barrett in the Big Ten Championship, Sugar Bowl, and College Football Playoff National Championship? 46-of-75 for 742 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions.
– How good was Elliott when the team needed him the most? 220 yards and two scores against Wisconsin, 230 yards and two scores against Alabama, and 246 yards and four scores against the Ducks.
– The 672 points scored were the second-most among the 20 national champions. Only 2013 Florida State – 723 points – put up more. However, the 330 points allowed were the second most given up among the champions – only 2010 Auburn’s 337 were more.
Opponent Final Record in Parentheses
Aug. 30 Ohio State 34, Navy 17 (8-5) (in Baltimore)
Sept. 6 Virginia Tech 35 (7-6), Ohio State 21
Sept. 13 Ohio State 66, Kent State 0 (2-9)
Sept. 27 Ohio State 50, Cincinnati 28 (9-4)
Oct. 4 Ohio State 52, at Maryland 24 (7-6)
Oct. 18 Ohio State 56, Rutgers 17 (8-5)
Oct. 25 Ohio State 31, at Penn State 24 (7-6)
Nov. 1 Ohio State 55, Illinois 14 (6-7)
Nov. 8 Ohio State 49, Michigan State 37 (11-2)
Nov. 15 Ohio State 31, at Minnesota 24 (8-5)
Nov. 22 Ohio State 42, Indiana 27 (4-8)
Nov. 29 Ohio State 42, Michigan 28 (5-7)
Big Ten Championship
Dec. 6 Ohio State 59, Wisconsin 0 (11-3)
CFP Sugar Bowl
Jan. 1 Ohio State 42, Alabama 35 (12-2)
College Football Playoff National Championship
Jan. 12 Ohio State 42, Oregon 20
CFN Historical Season Rankings Breakdown
Wins: 14 (Navy, Kent State, Cincinnati, at Maryland, Rutgers, at Penn State, Illinois, Michigan State, at Minnesota, Indiana, Michigan, Big Ten Championship vs. Wisconsin, Sugar Bowl vs. Alabama, CFP National Championship vs. Oregon)
Losses: 1 (Virginia Tech)
Quality Wins: 10 (Navy, Cincinnati, at Maryland, Rutgers, at Penn State, Michigan State, at Minnesota, Big Ten Championship vs. Wisconsin, Sugar Bowl vs. Alabama, CFP National Championship vs. Oregon)
Elite Wins Score: 5.5 (Michigan State, Sugar Bowl vs. Alabama, CFP National Championship vs. Oregon)
Bad Wins: 1 (Kent State)
Elite Losses: 0
Point Differential: Ohio State 672, Opponents 330
Winning %: 0.929
TOTAL SCORE: 32.599
The Season Formula’s Components
If you win, everything else falls into place. Each win counts as 1.
If you lose, everything stinks. Each loss counts as -1.
3. Quality Wins
The number of wins over teams that finished with a winning record. Each Quality Win counts as 1.
4. Elite Wins
The number of wins over teams that finished with two losses or fewer. Each Elite Win counts as 1 with a road win over an Elite team getting an extra 0.5.
Also counting as 1 is a road win over a team that finished with three losses or fewer (but the extra 0.5 isn’t added). A win over a team that finishes with three losses in a bowl game also gets counts as 1.
5. Bad Loss
The number of losses to teams that finished with three wins or fewer, or a loss to an FCS (DI-AA) team. Each loss counts as minus-1. Take away an additional 0.5 for a Bad Loss at home.
6. Bad Win
The number of wins to teams that finished with three wins or fewer, or a win over a an FCS (D-IAA) team. Each win counts as -0.25
7. Elite Loss
The number of losses to teams that finished with two losses or fewer. Each loss counts as 0.25.
8. Point Differential
Points for minus points against divided by 100.
9. Winning Percentage
Created as a sort of tie-breaker, the winning % is added to the total score.
Photo courtesy of Ohio State University
CFN 20th Anniversary lists compiled by Rich Cirminiello, Pete Fiutak, Phil Harrison & Russ Mitchell