Urban Meyer says he didn't think Alabama was beatable in 2014, the year Ohio State won the national championship
Urban Meyer was on the sidelines for one of the greatest three-game stretches in the history of Ohio State football. In 2014, the Buckeyes rode and incredible postseason run to claim a national championship, winning the first title of the College Football Playoff era.
Ohio State blanked Wisconsin 59-0 in the B1G Championship Game, capping a 12-1 season, a perfect B1G record and earning a bid in the first ever College Football Playoff, nudging out Baylor and TCU for the final spot. The challenge Meyer and the Buckeyes faced was a showdown with top-seeded Alabama in the Sugar Bowl with a trip to the national title game on the line.
The head coach thought Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide were untouchable that year.
“Getting ready for the game, I didn’t think they were beatable to be honest with you,” Meyer said on FOX College Football’s Ring Chronicles. “I thought we were really good but I was really concerned about our quarterback situation.”
That season, J.T. Barrett sustained a season-ending injury in the regular season finale against Michigan. That put backup Cardale Jones in the spotlight. He had no trouble with the Badgers in Indianapolis, but Alabama was a different story.
“Now we’re going to open the playbook up. Because all of the restrictions we had on before, we took them off,” Meyer said. “Wisconsin was relatively simple but Nick Saban’s defense is not simple. They’re very complicated. They had a big-time running back and Amari Cooper was a Heisman candidate receiver. What I really thought, my heart opened up when I saw about an hour before we got on the bus, Wisconsin beat Auburn. I think that changed the whole mentality of our team.
“That’s when I called a quick team meeting. Everyone’s nervous, you’re playing the mighty Alabama. Everyone’s been telling us in the B1G, you can’t run with the SEC. We’ve heard that narrative over and over. So just by process of thought, not only can we play with Alabama, we can win this game. I got on the bus thinking we were going to beat Alabama.”
Meyer’s thought came to fruition.
Ohio State defeated Alabama 42-35 in the Sugar Bowl, earning a spot to compete for the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. The Buckeyes would face Oregon and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.
But Oregon was no match for Ohio State, as the Buckeyes defeated the Ducks 42-20 to claim a title in just Meyer’s third season with the program.