In 2006, Ohio State began as the pre-season number one team in the country, and rolled through their schedule. Their annual tilt with Michigan was a meeting of #1 vs. #2, and the Buckeyes won a classic, 42-39. After the game, it was suggested that it wasn't really #1 vs. #2, but more a 1 against 1A, and a re-match in the BCS Championship game would be the best matchup.
But Florida coach Urban Meyer would tell anyone who listened that Florida, winners of the SEC, should be the team to face Ohio State, not Michigan. Meyer's logic won out, Florida moved up to number 2, and they would meet Ohio State for the national championship.
And they completely dismantled a Buckeye squad that was thought to be unbeatable. Florida was faster, better disciplined, and were never really challenged by a team that had a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, a 1,000 yard rusher, and what was thought to be one of the better defenses in the country, the Silver Bullets. After the game, Florida players were dismissive of Ohio State, and said things like 'Ohio State would have finished fifth in the SEC'.
The beat down was so thorough, and so complete, people started asking 'is the Big Ten even that good?'
So began The Narrative.
The Narrative grew in 2007, as Michigan, who had been pantsed by USC in the Rose Bowl after their loss to Ohio State, lost to 1-AA Appalachian State. And The Narrative grew to a crescendo after Ohio State, in what many considered to be a rebuilding year, snuck into the BCS title game again, and lost, again. To the SEC. Again. In a pretty thorough and convincing manner.
Meyer and the Gators won the BCS title again in 2008, while Ohio State was getting pummeled by USC, and then lost a heartbreaking Fiesta Bowl to Texas. And with each defining loss for a Big Ten team, the SEC seemed to have a defining win.
And so The Narrative grew. And to be fair, the Big Ten contributed to The Narrative more than anyone. They were continually beat, and the low point came on New Year's Day in 2011, when the Big Ten went 0-5 in bowl games, while the SEC was winning it's fifth straight BCS championship.
Still, there were some bright spots. Iowa beat Georgia Teach in the 2009 Orange Bowl. Ohio State bounced back and beat a heavily favored Oregon in the 2010 Rose Bowl, and then seemed to partially hurt The Narrative by beating Arkansas in the 2011 Sugar Bowl.
Only Ohio State's impending tattoo scandal entered an Echo Chamber that would drown out any talk of The Narrative being derailed. The Buckeyes fell to 6-7 in 2011 under that cloud of scandal, and Wisconsin was in the process of losing their second of three straight Rose Bowls.
The Narrative was as strong as ever.
Then The Narrative started to change, ever so slightly. Urban Meyer came to Columbus and took over the Buckeyes in 2012, and proceeded to go undefeated. Conference realignment saw a shift in members of the Power 5 conferences, and a former middling Big 12 program, Missouri, won the SEC East two years in a row. How could the vaunted SEC let that happen? Well, The Narrative shifted. It wasn't the SEC, you see, it was in the SEC West where the power was.
Still...there was no signature win against the SEC for the B1G. Until a Big Ten team beat an SEC team in a BCS bowl, or the new College Football Playoff, and until multiple SEC teams took a bath on the national stage, The Narrative would not die. And this year, we hit Peak Narrative. As all the talk focused on the college football playoffs, the question wasn't whether or not an SEC team would get in, it was whether or not the SEC would have two...or even three teams in the inaugural Final Four.
And when Ohio State, the only team The Narrative would accept as halfway decent in the Big Ten, first lost their two time Big Ten MVP before the season, and then lost to Va Tech in September, The Narrative had dismissed the conference from the playoffs out of hand. But Ohio State regrouped, kept winning, and started their own narrative, one that would see them break the back of Wisconsin in the conference championship game and secure a spot in the playoffs.
And that spot was secured over two teams many, many people felt were more worthy of a spot, TCU and Baylor. How TCU was even in the conversation is beyond me, since they lost to Baylor head to head, but they were there, and they were mad when OSU was selected over them.
The Narrative said TCU and Baylor would give Alabama a much better game than the lowly Buckeyes, who were starting their third string QB. All the Crimson Tide had to do was show up, roll out a scroll of The Narrative at the 50 yard line, and Ohio State would head back North, tails between their legs, at a rate of speed much slower than the SEC. And the Big Ten as a whole, facing Baylor, Auburn, and the Tide, would help reinforce The Narrative for yet another year.
Yet, it didn't work out that way. Wisconsin beat Auburn in overtime on the legs and back of Melvin Gordon III, and Michigan State came from 20 points down in the fourth quarter to beat Baylor in a bowl game that was essentially a home game for the Bears.
And that ended The Narrative For Baylor being a playoff team. And it was ended by Michigan State, an elite national program. Yes, elite. I said it. Why? Because they have two losses this year...to Oregon, and Ohio State. Those teams are playing for the national title. Take a bow, Mark D.
When you add in bowl beat downs for Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and LSU, the top teams in the vaunted SEC West were 0-4. But The Narrative was still in tact, because Alabama was going to take Ohio State to the woodshed and restore order.
Urban Meyer, who started The Narrative in Arizona eight years ago, ended The Narrative in The Superdome last night. He had Ohio State as prepared to play a game as any Ohio State team I have seen play in my lifetime, next to the 2003 Fiesta Bowl against Miami. Ohio State hit harder, ran faster, and outplayed Alabama in every phase of the game except punting, ironically enough.
In 2005, The Narrative said you weren't supposed to give Charlie Weis a month to prepare or he'd shred you. Ohio State shredded Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. In 2014, The Narrative said you can't give Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart three weeks to prepare The Greatest Defense In The History Of Civilization, and then throw in a third string quarterback. It wouldn't be a fair fight.
And it wasn't a fair fight. The third string quarterback led an offense that hung 537 yards and 42 points on Kirby Smart, Alabama, the SEC, and The Narrative.
In January of 2007, Urban Meyer largely helped author The Narrative. Last night, Urban Meyer largely helped author The Narrative's obituary.