Ohio State junior running back J.K. Dobbins (2) gets tackled in the first half of the game against Penn State Nov. 23. Ohio State won 28-17. Credit: Cori Wade | Assistant Photo Editor

This season marks the 16th time Ohio State either started 11-0 or won a national title.

In none of those seasons did it finish in the top 3 for both scoring offense and scoring defense. Ohio State leads the nation in both thus far in 2019.

Even that doesn’t capture Ohio State’s undefeated run in 2019. At a program with eight national and 38 Big Ten titles, this team is on track to break the single-season school record in points per game and finish No. 2 in yards per play.

With one more sack, it will break the school team sack record of 47, and with 13 more tackles for loss, it will break that record, too.

Ohio State’s 28-17 victory Saturday against No. 8 Penn State was its first by fewer than 24 points in 2019. Head coach Ryan Day said he was pleased to see his team win its first relatively close contest.

“I’m proud to be their coach. I’m proud to be part of this thing. It’s a special group,” Day said. “And that’s what happens when you play in a game like this. It’s not pretty; it’s not always going to be that way. But if you keep swinging, that’s life.”

The Buckeyes have gotten off to eight other 11-0 starts in school history, with seven seasons ending with a national title that didn’t start with eleven victories. Out of those 15 total seasons, Ohio State beat Michigan 13 total times.

Compared with the other 15 Buckeye teams with either the same winning start or a championship finish, this Ohio State team outscores its opponents by the largest average margin, at 38.9 points per game.

What also stacks up favorably for this campaign is the balance of its offense. The 2019 Buckeyes average more than 240 yards in both passing and rushing this season, a claim none of the other 15 can make. They top the list in passing with 248.3, adding 282.7 yards per game on the ground.

Advanced analytics comply with the rudimentary ones. Ohio State’s 2019 SRS, a college football rating system that takes performance and schedule strength into account, is the highest of the 16 seasons at 27.24. 

Only two other seasons in Ohio State history surpassed that number, one being the 1973 campaign that saw the Buckeyes tie Michigan before winning the Rose Bowl to finish No. 2 in the polls. That season, their SRS was 29.66. An undefeated 1944 season, which didn’t capture a national title, is the highest in program history at 29.87.

More than the numbers, great players also make great teams. 

Three Ohio State players are currently in the Heisman Trophy conversation — junior running back J.K. Dobbins, sophomore quarterback Justin Fields and junior defensive end Chase Young.

The 1995 team had a similar three-headed monster with quarterback Bobby Hoying, who finished No. 10 in Heisman Trophy voting, with a school record in season passing yards; Heisman Trophy-winning running back Eddie George; and wide receiver Terry Glenn, who won the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s best at his position.

Then there was Ohio State’s version of the “Four Horsemen” backfield in 1975, with two-time Heisman Trophy-winning running back Archie Griffin; school rushing touchdown record-holder Pete Johnson; Cornelius Greene, one of Ohio State’s earliest dual-threat quarterbacks; and dynamic wingback Brian Baschnagel.

This would be the third time Ohio State has had three players finish in the top 10 for Heisman voting if it happened, with 1969 and 1973 being the first two.

A win against No. 13 Michigan Saturday would only help solidify this season’s position among the greatest.