When the matchups for the first College Football Playoff were announced, #1 Alabama opened as a 10 point favorite over #4 Ohio State. While that’s not the biggest point spread ever seen in an important football game, the Buckeyes’ 42-35 victory over the Crimson Tide sure seemed like a massive upset.
Considering all the factors going into the game, it’s easy to see why Alabama was such a prohibitive favorite. The Tide have been the dominant dynasty of this era, they were the #1 seed, Ohio State was playing their 3rd string QB, and Nick Saban had a month to prepare to throw everything he had at Cardale Jones. And then you throw in the SEC’s dominance over college football and the Big Ten’s less-than-stellar reputation and all signs pointed to the Tide rolling.
Alas, Jones and the Bucks bucked the trend and played an equal role in dispatching the decade of SEC dominance than they did when they kicked it off in 2006 and 2007 by losing back-to-back national title games to Florida and LSU. In fact, New Year’s Day 2015 may have blown the doors off the conventional narratives that have encircled the sport for the past several years. It’s funny what a real playoff will do.
Perhaps because of those prevailing narratives, I guess you could say that nobody gave Ohio State had a chance in the Sugar Bowl. And that’s *almost* true, because incredibly, 42 out of 43 ESPN analysts who picked the game selected Alabama to win. 42 out of 43! Who even knew ESPN employed that many college football experts?!? To put that in perspective, 12 of the analysts picked Florida State to beat Oregon, and they got ran out of the building in the Rose Bowl. 24 of the analysts picked Alabama to win the National Championship, 18 picked Oregon and just one picked Florida State, and none picked the Buckeyes.
While the list doesn’t include many of ESPN’s regular TV analysts, there are the likes of Danny Kanell, Jesse Palmer, Brad Edwards, Brett McMurphy, Brock Huard, and Phil Steele represented. And yet, only one person employed by Bristol picked the Buckeyes – Austin Ward, who writes for ESPN’s Big Ten blog.
Ward tweeted this after the game, reveling in the moment…