“That was a special moment for me, for the team, for Buckeyes Nation, just everybody who’s been around with us. I really didn’t know what to think, what to do when I got in the end zone but to just spread my arms and know that I was happy that we got the win.”
Curtis Samuel’s game-winning touchdown celebration is the iconic moment from SB Nation’s 2016 college football Game of the Year. The previous play saw a replay review on whether quarterback J.T. Barrett had gained enough for a first down to keep Ohio State alive against their rival. The officials ruled the spot was good and on the next play Samuel was able to slice through the Michigan defense to earn the victory, and solidify their spot in the College Football Playoff.
As Samuel coasted into the end zone, the junior didn’t have a celebration planned, so the H-back just spread his arms as he waited for his teammates to mob him. Looking back on the celebration, Samuel knows there are many options to celebrate the thrilling victory over Ohio State’s rival, but at the time, but at the time there was so many things running through his head so he kept it simple. While Samuel is hoping for two more wins this season to help Ohio State win their second national title in three years, he also has a gift that is a little easier to obtain for Christmas. Samuel is hoping to get a poster-sized copy of his celebration at the moment he crossed the goal line.
“Everyone is gonna start to compare 2014 to us now. That’s tough, they’re completely different guys. But that work ethic, that nasty attitude is something we’re going to continue to work on.”
There have been plenty of people out there trying to compare this Ohio State team to the 2014 team that won the national title. Those two squads couldn’t be more different. The obvious reason why those teams are different is because the Buckeyes had to win their final three games of the season with Cardale Jones, who was the third-string quarterback before Braxton Miller was injured prior to the season. Another reason the teams are different is because the offensive line this year hasn’t quite taken over quite like the 2014 offensive line did during the run to the playoffs.
The 2014 offensive line became the focal point of the offense in the final three games of the year, as they paved the way for running back Ezekiel Elliott to run for 200 yards in each of Ohio State’s wins over Wisconsin, Alabama, and Oregon. This year’s offensive line isn’t heading into the 2016 College Football Playoff on much of a high note after allowing eight sacks against Michigan. Now Ohio State’s offensive line will have to try and slow down a Clemson defense that is second in the country with 46 sacks so far this year. With 117 combined starts heading into the 2016 College Football Playoff, this year’s offensive line is a little more experienced than the 2014 offensive line, who had just 80 combined starts heading into the playoff. Luckily the coaching staff and offensive line have more than three weeks to formulate a plan on how to keep the Tigers out of the backfield.
“As prolific as Ohio State has been with the power-spread offense and as stout as the Silver Bullets have been defensively, Johnston’s impact for a team heading back to the College Football Playoff shouldn’t be ignored. And Thursday night, the Aussie might get a trophy to prove it.”
No coach wants to use their punter, but it certainly helps when they have a punter like Cameron Johnston to lean on. While Johnston is more concerned with Ohio State winning the College Football Playoff, the senior is one of three finalists for the Ray Guy Award, which will be awarded at the Home Depot College Football Awards tonight. Along with Johnston, Texas punter Michael Dickson and Utah punter Mitch Wishnowsky will by vying for the award given annually to the nation’s best punter.
The former Australian Rules Football player is averaging 46.2 yards per punt this year, and has made it a habit of pinning opponents inside their own 20-yard line. Johnston showed his worth earlier this year early in the game against Oklahoma, when his 68-yard punt flipped the field, and after a Oklahoma three-and-out, allowed Ohio State to jump out to a lead they would never give up. While this is only an award for the current season, some of Johnston’s past work could help his case against a couple of sophomores. The senior has led the Big Ten in each of his four seasons in net punting, and Ohio State being ranked second in the country also can’t hurt his case. Hopefully Johnston won’t be called into action too much in the College Football Playoff, but if he is there is no doubt he’ll make a huge impact as he closes out his college career.
“Lately just been doing conditioning and things like that until we found out our opponent. The plan is already set in stone. We already have a clear idea of how things are going to go. [We] just got to put the work together now.”
With three of the four teams in this year’s College Football Playoff having already participated in the tournament over the past two years, Ohio State won’t have a leg up on the competition, but being a part of the CFP in the past will certainly help. Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has already stated that the Buckeyes will prepare for this year’s CFP exactly like they did in 2014.
What helped Ohio State claim the title in 2014 is how well they balanced rest, conditioning, and contact practice in the weeks leading up to their semifinal matchup with Alabama. It also helped that Meyer and his coaching staff didn’t do any advance scouting of their potential opponent in the championship game, deeming it wasn’t a good use of resources. Ohio State players on the 2014 felt they were physically prepared and not overexerted heading into the playoff, preferring to try and stay healthy and work on fundamentals. What could help the Buckeyes in this year’s playoff is the fact that they have played just 12 games, while the other three teams had to play in a conference championship game. Being a little fresher could end up being the difference in this year’
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