Ohio State pulled off a second "upset" in the College Football Playoff on Monday, defeating Oregon to win the 2015 national championship. The Buckeyes did so in dominating fashion, and they’ll have a good chance to repeat next season.
While the Seattle Seahawks are attempting to execute a rarity and win consecutive Super Bowls, winning back-to-back titles has proven to be much easier in college football. Alabama won the BCS National Championship Game in 2012 and 2013, while USC was named No.1 in the final AP Polls of the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Ohio State’s title is their first since the 2002 season, but they played in the 2007 and 2008 BCS National Championship Game.
The Buckeyes will be returning most of their top players for next season. Running back Ezekiel Elliott, who ran for 696 yards in the team’s last three games, will be back as a junior. Linebacker Darron Lee and defensive end Joey Bosa are also set to return, as only seven Ohio State starters will graduate.
Perhaps most importantly, the Buckeyes will have a top quarterback under center. J.T. Barrett, who finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting, has announced his intention to return for his redshirt sophomore season. There have been rumors that Braxton Miller will transfer because of the logjam at quarterback, but even if he goes elsewhere, Cardale Jones is likely to come back. Even though the signal caller who helped Ohio State win their final three games hasn’t decided if he’ll enter the 2015 draft, he’s admitted he’s not ready to play in the NFL.
Las Vegas odds makers have given Ohio State the best chance of any team to win the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship. Bovada.lv ranks them first with 5/1 odds, ahead of TCU (15/2), Alabama (10/1) and Oregon (14/1).
Ohio State’s toughest competition could come from the two teams that they beat out for the final two playoff spots. Baylor and TCU should both be good enough to compete for a postseason berth, after finishing the regular season ranked No.5 and No.6 in the College Football Playoff Rankings.
The Buckeyes are the overwhelming favorites to win the Big Ten Championship, considering Michigan State has the second-best national title odds in the conference at 16/1. Wisconsin could take a step back after losing to Ohio State in the Big Ten title game, and with star running back Melvin Gordon skipping his senior season to enter the draft. Michigan will likely bounce back after a rough 2014, as new head coach Jim Harbaugh takes over for Brady Hoke. But the Wolverines are not expected to be top contenders.
With Urban Meyer at the helm, Ohio State is all but guaranteed to be one of the national championship favorites. Meyer has won at least 12 games in all three seasons in Columbus. He won two titles as Florida’s head coach from 2005-2010, and the Gators finished No.3 in the 2009 season’s final rankings.