The new Ohio State

Kyle Riviere
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere.

After last Monday night, I've been forced to eat some serious crow. I was wrong about Ohio State, and I'm not too proud to admit it.

I doubted them all season. I thought they were overrated and merely a product of a cupcake schedule and weak Big Ten Conference.

I didn't think they deserved to be the fourth team in the playoffs. I didn't think they would beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, and I didn't think they would beat Oregon in the title game.

As it turns out, I was wrong about it all. I kept looking past one important part of their team, a crucial piece that I should have known would always give them a chance to win: head coach Urban Meyer.

Meyer was already hailed as one of the best coaches in the country but after pulling off what he did this year, his legacy has reached all-time great status.

He has now won three national titles with two different teams, in two different conferences and by this time, he is right there with Nick Saban in a hot debate as to who is the best coach in all of college football.

I would give Saban a slight edge because of his 4-3 advantage in championships, but Meyer is nipping at his heels.

He has drastically turned around every program he has inherited.

First, he transformed Bowling Green from a laughing stock into a team that was winning eight and nine games a year.

Next, he went to Utah, where he immediately led them to a 10-2 season. In 2004, the Utes went a perfect 12-0 and won the Fiesta Bowl.

From there, he went to a Florida team that was wallowing around in uncharted mediocrity until Meyer led them back to prominence.

The Gators went on to win two national titles--their first since 1996.

After leaving Florida to take a break from coaching, Meyer got the itch once again and went to Ohio State when they came calling.

At the time he was hired, the Buckeyes were coming off of a 6-7 year that saw plenty of turmoil.

Jim Tressel had been fired during the offseason due to his attempt to cover up NCAA violations. Heisman hopeful quarterback Terrelle Pryor left the school amidst all of the drama.

To make things worse, Ohio State was banned from bowl contention for one year.

Meyer came to Columbus despite the mess and three years later, he has totally rebuilt the program and to a certain extent, he has earned the Big Ten Conference much-needed redemption.

In his three years at Ohio State, the Buckeyes have only lost three games and now, they have their first national championship in 12 years.

This is not the Ohio State team we're used to seeing. We're used to a big, powerful team with some talented skill-position guys but as a whole, a team that lacked speed and elite athleticism.

That was evident when they played in back-to-back national title games in 2006 and 2007. They played two SEC teams in Florida and LSU and were outscored by a combined margin of 79-38.

Florida and LSU just had too much overall speed and athleticism for them. That's not the case with the Buckeyes of the present.

Thanks to Meyer, he has been able to recruit superior athletes that would have normally ended up at SEC schools. Now, they're finding their way to Columbus.

As a result, Ohio State's 2014 team was the most talented and speedy squad in the nation. They ran circles around Alabama, the SEC's best.

Oregon has always been known as the fastest, most athletic team in the country but last Monday night, the Buckeyes were just as fast and in many cases, they were even faster and more athletic.

And along with the talent and speed, Meyer has brought a physical, punishing nature to his offense. That combination won the SEC seven straight championships. Now, it has the Big Ten standing at the top of the mountain.

Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliot ran for 220 yards against mighty Alabama and then gutted Oregon for 246 yards and four touchdowns.

The array of athletes, the physical downhill attack, it was all too much to handle for the Ducks. The Buckeyes won by 22 and if not for four turnovers, they may have won by 42.

And what makes this all the more amazing for Ohio State, they were able to win this title with their third-string quarterback.

Heisman hopeful Braxton Miller suffered a season-ending shoulder injury before the season began. In came freshman T.J. Barrett.

Barrett actually played so well that he was thrown into the Heisman discussion, but he broke his ankle in the final regular season game against Michigan.

Third-stringer Cardale Jones came in and led the Buckeyes to a 59-0 win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game and followed it up with upset victories over Alabama and Oregon in the playoffs.

Things are just going to keep getting better for Ohio State. They'll get at least two of the talented QBs back along with Elliot and many other talented Buckeyes.

And as long as Meyer is running things, it doesn't matter whom Ohio State plays, they'll always have a chance.