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The best gifts Ohio State gave us in 2016

For Buckeye fans, it was a year chock full of presents.

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps the least controversial thing you could say about 2016 is that it was, in fact, a year. And with the year’s end—and possibly the world’s end—quickly approaching, it’s officially the 2016 holiday season.

Ohio State fans got a lot of great gifts in the last 12 months, and there’s no better time of year to review all those presents. Let’s dive in.

Feed Zeke forever and ever, amen

On the very first day of the year, Ezekiel Elliott treated Buckeye fans to an absolute spectacle in what would be his last game in the Scarlet and Gray. Zeke ran roughshod over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl (lol) to the tune of four touchdowns and 179 yards from scrimmage.

It was a fitting end to the college career of one of Ohio State’s best ever. It was also incredibly bittersweet: if Zeke had got half as many touches against Michigan State a few weeks earlier, the Buckeyes probably would’ve earned a playoff berth.

Regardless, it nicely foreshadowed an NFL debut that set the league on fire. Through 14 weeks, Elliott leads all players in rushing yards by a comfortable margin, and he’s found the end zone 12 times on the ground. He’s the putative favorite for Rookie of the Year, and even MVP doesn’t sound laughable at this point.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Joey Bosa also played his final game as a Buckeye on January 1, though his time on the field was considerably shorter than Zeke’s. Midway through the first quarter, Bosa was ejected for targeting, thanks to a hit on Irish QB Deshone Kizer in which Bosa led with the crown of his helmet.

Artist’s rendering of the Bosa hit.

Three months later, Bosa found himself the third-overall selection in the NFL Draft despite a final college season that didn’t quite match the dizzying heights he reached as a sophomore. When he held out from San Diego Chargers training camp this summer over a contract dispute, the internet got ready to ordain him as the league’s next high-profile bust.

That, uhhh, hasn’t happened. Bosa has adjusted to the speed and sophistication of the NFL with seeming ease, terrorizing opposing offensive lines all season despite all those missed practices and all the knocks on his technique. He has 5.5 sacks and a forced fumble on the year so far.

This take + this photo

Because Clay Travis schadenfreude is the gift that keeps on giving.

Curtis Samuel, if you need him

At the beginning of the 2014 season, Curtis Samuel was challenging Ezekiel Elliott for carries in the Buckeye backfield. Zeke ran away with the competition after a few games and never looked back, but all that potential inside Samuel had to go somewhere.

No. 4 eventually converted to H-back in the Ohio State offense, and you’d be hard-pressed to find many more versatile playmakers in college football than the gritty 2016 Curtis Samuel reboot. The Buckeye offense’s ups and downs this season seemed to directly correlate to the number of touches Samuel got in a given week; when he was getting fed regularly, they lit up the scoreboard, but when he wasn’t involved, the wheels pretty much fell off.

(Given this season’s trajectory, could it have been anyone else that delivered the final backbreaking blow against Michigan?)

NCAA Football: Michigan at Ohio State
ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The Game

Speaking of Michigan...this year’s iteration of The Game was better than just about any of us deserved (except maybe America’s Sweetheart, Orlando Pace, who happened to be in attendance.) There was so much on the line, and despite each team’s hiccups, it had felt like a playoff berth collision course pretty much all season.

For Buckeye fans, the game went from feeling like an unpleasant dentist appointment to feeling like being locked in a room with a literal wolverine who’s high on angel dust in a relatively short span of time. This one had everything: two missed field goals! Jabrill Peppers’ first career interception! Jim Harbaugh throwing equipment! J.T. Barrett first-half yips and late-game heroics! A spot that was most definitely good! And when Curtis Samuel bounced into the end zone, triumphant, his jubilation seemed like nothing compared to ours.

12 Gauge Twitter

Cardale Jones hasn’t gotten to show his stuff on the field for the Buffalo Bills this season, but that just means he’s had extra time for tweeting. As with all great art, words just get in the way, so I’ll leave these two extraordinary pieces without further comment:

Thank you for continuing to produce the best account on Twitter dot com.