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The best gifts Ohio State got us this year

From Alabama to Zeke, the Buckeyes gave us plenty to unwrap in 2015.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Legendary Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes once said that "without winners, there wouldn't even be any civilization." 2015, then, was above all else the year that the Buckeyes kept the very fabric of society intact. In sport after sport, season after season, teams donning the Scarlet and Gray brought home trophies and accolades. One of our union's flattest states gave birth to a new millennium's City on a Hill: Columbus, Ohio, the home of champions.

There were an awful lot of gifts to unwrap for Buckeye fans in 2015. In the holiday spirit, let's tear open the packaging one last time.

Cardale Jones' thumbs

The rise of King Cardale was one of 2015's best stories in any sport, much less at Ohio State. The putative third-stringer who became a champion in our hour of need was more than just a football player, he was a force, leading the Buckeyes to a title against all odds. But perhaps even more impressive than Jones' dismantling of Wisconsin, Alabama, and Oregon in succession was a victory in which he nearly tripled his opponent's score.

Cardale's trip to the hospital to visit sick kids just days before the national championship game, besides being a truer affirmation of his character than any pearl-clutching about his attitude would give him credit for, showed the world that a), he's ruthlessly competitive no matter what the arena, and b), he can be so disarmingly likable that kids love him even when he's wrecking them in video games. His road at Ohio State may be over, but there was no one with more memorable Buckeye moments in 2015 than Cardale Jones.

Ezekiel Elliott's abs

Look, we're all well-aware that the NCAA is basically a putrid cabal with little interest in morals, an organization that, were it not for the NFL, would be the most inept in American football. In what was easily their biggest misstep in 2015, they robbed us of something akin to a national monument, or at least a national treasure.

Blame the playcalling all you want, blame Urban Meyer, blame Tim Beck. But it's hard not to see the real culprit behind Zeke's numbers dropping between 2014 and 2015: the added drag of wearing a full jersey. Elliott was still one of the best running backs in college football this year, but his Heisman hopes and his dreams of a repeat championship were both crushed. The NCAA's morally indefensible ban on his crop top is clearly to blame.

Women's Rowing's hardware

Buckeye football may lose its "defending national champs" crown in a few short weeks, but there's one title that no one else can snatch until at least the spring, and possibly never: Women's Rowing National Champions. The Buckeyes have become one of the most dominant forces in the sport in the last few years, winning an incredible (and unprecedented) three straight titles.

Teams from both coasts have fallen before the Buckeyes during their three-year rampage. Neither Stanford, nor Brown, nor Washington, nor California could withstand what Ohio State -- that landlocked team -- brought to the water in 2015 (and 2014, and 2013...). Particularly satisfying were the victories over the Ivies, schools for whom rowing is in the (blue) blood, who claim a much longer tradition of putting oars to water than the Buckeyes can.

We might all end up working for nerds someday, but it feels good to stick it to them while we can.

All 141 lbs. of Logan Stieber

If you're the kind of person who people try to stay away from at parties, you might say that Logan Stieber is the women's rowing of the wrestling world. Stieber was among the best college wrestlers in America during his tenure at Ohio State, winning individual national championships all four years that he was in Columbus.

In 2015, Stieber doubled down, winning an individual title and helping the Buckeyes win the team national championship, the school's first. He was a transcendent athlete at Ohio State who now holds aspirations of Olympic gold, so that he can do to the world what he first did to the likes of Iowa and Oklahoma.

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