“Coming up with lots of wins always matters, but pulling off the massive victory over the top team in the big game can define a season... As you’ll notice, it’s really, really hard to get a win over a great team – that’s why they’re Elite Wins.”
- Pete Fiutak, CollegeFootballNews.com
In Fiutak’s article, he analyzes the number of “elite” wins that each team in the 11 FBS conferences have had over the past five years. He defines an elite win as “a victory over an FBS team that finished with two losses or fewer, or on the road or in a bowl game against a team that lost three games.”
He also adds an extra half of a win to a team’s total if they get a road win over a team that finished with two or fewer losses on the season.
Now that you understand Fiutak’s methodology, let’s get to the real reason that I’m bringing this up; Ohio State has the most elite wins over the past five years of any team in the country. The Buckeyes’ 12 elite W's are four more than Michigan State, the second in the Big Ten, and 12 more— count them, 12 more— than the Michigan Wolverines.
The only other teams with double-digit elite victories over the time period are Clemson (10) and Oklahoma (10), both of whom claimed one of their wins over the Buckeyes. So, OSU should get credit for at least an extra half win for contributing to those totals too!
Obviously, Alabama only having 8.5 elite wins doesn’t negate the domination that they’ve shown over college football during this five-year time period, but it does show that not only is Ohio State winning a lot— they have 61 total victories over those five years—, but they are also doing it against consistently good competition, both in a very deep Big Ten and in aggressive non-conference scheduling.
With 12 of the Buckeyes’ 61 wins from the past five years being of the elite variety (for 19.67 percent), that means that they average between two and three elite wins per year. So, looking at Ohio State’s 2018 schedule, you have to wonder where those wins could come from.
To me, it looks most likely that OSU’s best options this season would be to pull off the road victory in Happy Valley in late-September, beat the Spartans in East Lansing in November, and then see what happens in any potential postseason game(s).
Since these contests would all be on the road or in a bowl game, the Buckeyes would have the benefit of an elite win being counted against a team that finished with three losses, making it easier for their opponent to qualify.
Of course, there is a chance that TTUN could come into Columbus with one or no losses, allowing Ohio State to pick up an elite win at home, but despite Shea Patterson’s arrival in Ann Arbor, Harbaugh’s squad is going to have to prove that they deserve this consideration first.
“No one would label the 2002 Buckeyes dominant, despite five wins by 24 points or more and a defense that allowed only 64 points in the second half all season.”
- ESPN.com staff
By now, you’ve probably seen the ESPN article that attempts to rank all of the college football national champions from the past 20 years. If you haven’t, don’t worry about it, it’s garbage.
Ohio State has won two national titles during this two-decade period; the most recent, capping off the 2014 season, was judged by The Worldwide Leader’s expert panel as being the 14th best team on the list. I would gladly fight somebody about that ranking, but what really gets my goat is that Ohio State’s first national championship of the post-Woody Hayes era ranks 21st... out of 21.
Now, I will be the first to admit that the Jim Tressel style of football left a lot of be desired when it came to aesthetic appeal. Despite putting up a ton of wins, very rarely did I truly enjoy a game that he coached while rocking the scarlet and gray sweater vest. More often than not, it was nerve-racking to watch. Tressel’s teams often found ways to ignore their talent and make things more difficult than they needed to be.
That being typed, the panel’s determination basically seems to be that these Buckeyes weren’t flashy enough on offense. Adam Rittenberg finished the blurb on the team saying, “This was a team that simply knew how to win, style points be damned.”
So, let me get this straight, style points are more important than their five wins by 24 points or more. Style points are more important that allowing an average of 4.5 points per game in the second half all season. Style points are more important than the 27 NFL draft picks from that squad (not to mention even more unsigned free agents).
Look, I might be a little extra sensitive about this one, since this was my senior year at OSU, and I was in Sun Devil Stadium for the Fiesta Bowl, but it boggles my mind that 16 years later, this collection of historic winners is still not getting any respect from anyone outside of Buckeye Nation.
“Anyone following Ohio State football and basketball players on social media may have seen them tweeting out the hashtag “#SetTheExpectation” on Tuesday.”
- Tim Bielik, cleveland.com
If you follow Ohio State recruiting, you know that one of the reasons that continually gets mentioned when top-tier recruits commit to come to Columbus is Urban Meyer’s Real Life Wednesdays. And, recently, OSU basketball coach Chris Holtmann said that his staff was developing a similar program called Beyond Hoops.
This emphasis on more than just the athlete half of “student-athlete” has proven to be incredibly important to the individual programs, yes, but even more so to the players themselves.
That continued on Tuesday as Brenda Tracy came and spoke to the OSU football and both men’s and women’s basketball teams. Tracy describes herself as a gang rape survivor. Two of her four assailants were college football players at Oregon State, who were ultimately suspended a single game suspension for their actions.
Thank you @OhioStateHoops & @OhioStateFB for allowing me to share my story and my mission with you. Go be the 90%!!! #SetTheExpectation pic.twitter.com/m1zPU1Io5r— Brenda Tracy (@brendatracy24) July 24, 2018
Tracy now uses her experiences to talk to high school and college athletes about her “Set the Expectation” pledge. Her goal is to educate athletes “about consent and healthy relationships,” as well as to make sure that they understand that sexual assault, domestic violence, and other similar crimes are never acceptable, no matter your status in a community.
Tracy spoke to the teams the day after Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith was fired over concerns about domestic violence allegations from his ex-wife. So, while the impact of her first-person presentation obviously already fit well into the normal “Real Life” programming that the teams do, it likely hit even closer to home this week.
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