Ranking the Best Ohio State Teams Over the Last Decade
Well, we're getting off to a really easy start! 2011 was by far the worst season for the Buckeyes in the last decade, and it shouldn't even be a discussion.
In the aftermath of Tattoogate and the subsequent departure of Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor, interim head coach Luke Fickell was put in an impossible situation, and there wasn't much he could do with it.
With an unpolished and inexperienced Braxton Miller being thrust into the starting role as a true freshman, the Buckeyes stumbled through an up and down season, losing their last four games to finish an abysmal (by Ohio State standards) 6-7.
9. 2004 (8-4, 4-4)
In a year of a really strange QB platoon with Troy Smith and Justin Zwick, the Buckeyes only finished at an 8-4 clip despite not playing a single team that finished ranked in the Top 25.
While the talent was there, there was a lot of inexperience across the board, especially on defense. This led to Ohio State suffering several really bad losses in Big Ten play, including a 33-7 beatdown at the hands of Iowa.
While 8-4 would be a successful season for many programs, it doesn't meet the lofty expectations that come with putting on the Scarlet and Gray.
However, for 8-4 to be the second worst season for a program over the span of a decade, that says a lot about how successful of a program the Buckeyes have been.
8. 2010 (12-1, 7-1)
Now we're getting to the tough portion of this list. From here on out, every Buckeye season has ended in double-digit wins, so bear with me while I attempt to split hairs here.
2010 was a great season for the Buckeyes. Terrelle Pryor finally started to live up to all the hype that he came into Columbus with, and led by Thaddeus Gibson and Kurt Coleman, they fielded one of the best defenses in the country.
Jim Tressel and company were only a couple bad breaks against Wisconsin away from going undefeated and playing for a national championship yet again.
So why is this team all the way down at No. 8? Tattoos, that's why.
I don't need to rehash those painful memories, but all 12 wins from his season, including the Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas, were vacated as a part of the school's self-imposed sanctions stemming from Tattoogate.
We can't pretend like this team didn't exist and didn't have a great season while it counted. But with so many great Buckeye teams over the last decade to evaluate, unfortunately it has to be taken into account that none of their wins are in the history books.
7. 2008 (10-3, 7-1)
I'm only on number seven and this is already getting impossible. God help me.
With a freshman quarterback in Terrelle Pryor and almost no experience in the front seven, the Buckeyes actually had a very successful season given the circumstances.
Their only three losses were all against Top-5 teams (USC, Penn State, Texas), the latter of which came in a thrilling Fiesta Bowl at the end of the season.
Despite finishing strong with blowout wins against Michigan State and Michigan, I still remember them having all kinds of problems with the likes of Ohio, Troy, and Minnesota at the beginning of the season.
They got it done, but it wasn't always pretty, and I personally was a bit fonder of the other teams ahead of the 2008 squad.
6. 2012 (12-0, 8-0)
"But Luke, they went undefeated! How on earth can they be outside the Top 5?"
Well, I did in fact watch them play football two years ago, and contrary to what some might think based off of record alone, Urban Meyer's first team was not as good as his second.
They surprised a lot of people finishing with a 12-0 record, and it was exciting to see Braxton Miller develop in his sophomore season, as well as Carlos Hyde emerge as the lead back for the Buckeyes.
However, many of the defensive issues that came to light at the end of 2013 had haunted them from the beginning of the Meyer era in 2012. And although it was good, the offense wasn't quite as explosive as it was this past season.
Had they gotten the opportunity, I certainly believe the Buckeyes would have gotten exposed even worse against elite competition than they were against Michigan State and Clemson this past year, and that is why I have them ranked lower.
5. 2009 (11-2, 7-1)
Fun fact: The 2009 Ohio State Buckeyes were the first team to ever defeat five 10-win teams in the same season. That's as surprising to me as it is to you.
Terrelle Pryor took a big step in his development in 2009, ending in defeating Oregon in the Rose Bowl and earning the game's MVP honors. With a great defense led by James Laurinaitis, Marcus Freeman, and Malcolm Jenkins, the Buckeyes spent the entire season inside the AP Top 20.
Still, there's nothing about this team that really stood out or resonates with me. They were good all the way around, but not good enough in any one particular facet of the game to be a really exciting or memorable team.
4. 2013 (12-2, 8-0)
The 2013 season was much maligned, and for good reason, but overall I don't think it was as bad as people think.
Despite a generally terrible defense for most of the season, the fact is that this offense was one of the more prolific in Ohio State history. And for three games, that was done with starting quarterback Braxton Miller on the sidelines.
They were exciting to watch to say the least, and the QB/RB combination of Miller and Hyde will go down in Ohio State history as one of the best ever.
Still, it's tough to rank this team as low as four, because they had the potential to be at the top of this list. Unfortunately, all of our worst fears came to fruition the last two games of the season, and the defense's inability to prevent the big play ended up costing the Buckeyes a shot at history.
3. 2007 (11-2, 7-1)
The 2007 Ohio State Buckeyes were the latter of the back-to-back national championship losers, with theirs coming to LSU by a score of 38-24.
This team is memorable to me, however, for being Todd Boeckman's team. Until the day I die, I will never understand how a team with Boeckman at quarterback made it to the national championship.
Defense was a big part, with Vernon Gholston, Cameron Hayward, and James Laurinaitis anchoring one of the best front sevens in the entire country.
Regardless, Boeckman was so brutal at times during the 2007 season, the fact that they made it as far as they did still blows my mind to this day.
2. 2005 (10-2, 7-1)
I was only nine when the Buckeyes beat Miami (Fla.) in the national title game back in 2002, and although I remember the "pass interference" drama like it was yesterday, I don't recall enough to really have any connection with that team.
That is why I can safely say the 2005 Buckeyes are the personal favorite of my lifetime. Just look at the list of players on this team.
Troy Smith; Santonio Holmes; Ted Ginn Jr.; Antonio Pittman; Anthony Gonzalez; Nick Mangold; A.J. Hawk; Bobby Carpenter; Donte Whitner; Ashton Youboty; Anthony Schlegel. So much talent on this 2005 squad.
They lost nail-biters to Texas and Penn State early in the season. After that, they played better than anybody in the country as far as I'm concerned. They could have beaten either team in the epic Texas-USC matchup in the 2005 national championship, and I will be taking that to my grave.
1. 2006 (12-1, 8-0)
As much as I wanted to, I can't put the 2005 team above the national champion runner-ups in 2006.
Troy Smith was the best player in the country that year, and it wasn't even close (as evidenced by his landslide Heisman victory). James Laurinaitis emerged as one of the premiere defensive players in the country, earning his first of three All-American honors.
Save for the all-time thriller against No. 2 Michigan and the dud they almost lost against Illinois, and they dominated every single opponent they faced in all three facets.
Obviously it ended in disappointment with the no-show in the title game against the then-Urban Meyer-led Florida Gators, but there's no denying that the 2006 Buckeyes are the best team to take the field inside Ohio Stadium in the last decade.