Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, December 23, 2015

As the defending national champion, Ohio State entered 2015 with a big target on its back. Adding to the pressure was a unanimous preseason No. 1 ranking. The Buckeyes were the hunted.

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How would they respond in Urban Meyer?s fourth season in Columbus? Pretty well. OSU ripped off win after win en route to starting 10-0 vs. a schedule that was less than impressive before finishing with the 1-2 punch of Michigan State and Michigan. A tough home loss to the Spartans derailed title plans.

Still, it was a successful season despite an offense that battled inconsistency as the staff insisted on juggling quarterbacks Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett. As a result, the attack struggled to gain a rhythm. The defense, however, excelled all season with All-American end Joey Bosa, safety Vonn Bell and linebackers Raekwon McMillan and Joshua Perry leading the way.

The Buckeyes had their sights set on a return to the playoffs but had to settle for a trip to the Fiesta Bowl. Not bad-but not satisfying for this program. After the season, OSU saw co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash accept the Rutgers job. Meyer filled Ash's spot by hiring ex-Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano as DC. Nice.

Record: 11-1 overall; 7-1 Big Ten/2nd East

Bowl: Fiesta vs. Notre Dame

High point: The wins piled up quickly for Ohio State, which jetted to a 10-0 start vs. a schedule that lacked much heft or pizzazz. The most impressive win of the season came in the finale, with the Buckeyes hammering No. 10 Michigan, 42-13, in Ann Arbor. Ohio State ran for 369 yards against a defense that entered the game fourth in the FBS against the run (100.2 ypg). Ezekiel Elliott was unstoppable, running for 214 yards and two TDs to spoil Jim Harbaugh?s first crack at the Buckeyes.

Low point: The Buckeyes stood 10-0 and No. 3 in the College Football Poll with No. 9 Michigan State coming to Columbus. And the Spartans were without QB Connor Cook, who was hurt. How could the unbeaten and surging Buckeyes lose at home to a team without its star QB? Well, it happened, as the Spartans booted a game-winning 41-yard field goal as time expired to steal a 17-14 win and end OSU?s 23-game winning streak. Inexplicable play-calling was at the root of Ohio State?s ills, as Ezekiel Elliott carried just 12 times for 33 yards-and ripped his coaches in the postgame aftermath for his lack of use. He had a point. That ended Elliott?s string of 15 100-yard rushing games in a row. And the loss also took the Buckeyes out of control of their own destiny in the Big Ten East.

Offensive MVP: RB Ezekiel Elliott. He fell short of the Heisman, but Elliott still had a standout season in earning the Silver Football as Big Ten MVP. The junior finished with 1,672 yards rushing (139.3 ypg) with 19 TDs. The Fiesta Bowl will be his final game in Scarlet and Gray.

Defensive MVP: E Joey Bosa. The junior didn?t dominate as many felt he would. Still, Bosa had a good season in ranking fourth in the Big Ten in TFLs with 16 while also notching 5.1 sacks. He earned Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year honors.


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