Ohio State’s magical season came to a conclusion on Monday night with an upset win over Oregon to capture college football’s ultimate crown. Had you told anyone outside of Columbus that the team that lost 35-21 to Virginia Tech on September 6 would win the national championship three-and-a-half months later with a third-string quarterback then they would have declared you as certifiably crazy.
Cardale Jones isn’t just your average third-string quarterback though. The 6-5/250 sophomore has a cannon for an arm and is prone to bulldoze his way through nose guards. Jones completed 16-of-23 passes on Monday night for 242 yards and a score against the Ducks on college football’s biggest stage.
This story wasn’t just about the Buckeyes pulling off the improbable, it was about Jones pulling off the impossible. The first three starts of his career were the Big Ten championship game, the Sugar Bowl, and the College Football Playoff final. To put it in a different perspective, he lined up against Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, Alabama’s Amari Cooper, and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. That’s all three Heisman finalists, and all three times this third-string quarterback walked off the field a winner. At this point of his career he’s averaging one ring per win.
Yet even with all that he has going for him as the second biggest star in the state of Ohio, next to LeBron, Cardale Jones has perspective that seems unparalleled.
“It’s even better than I thought,” Jones said of winning the championship. “It’s an unreal feeling.”
Unreal is what Ohio State fans are thinking about the turnaround their team has pulled off since that Virginia Tech loss. Unreal is what Oregon fans are thinking after their Heisman Trophy quarterback was beaten by a third-teamer. Unreal is what Cardale Jones does…and he’s really good at it.
Perhaps his success has come as a result of knowing that his biggest asset are the guys that strap up their helmets next to him.
“Even though I made some stupid turnovers,” I knew I didn’t have to do too much and just have faith in my teammates and faith in our defense.”
Perhaps the only thing bigger in Columbus, Ohio than Cardale Jones is the team that he plays for and it’s unreal that against all odds, he was the one that helped raise the trophy in Dallas.
*Section Photo credit to David J. Phillip, Associated Press; Featured Photo (above) credit to Matthew Emmons, USA Today Sports