Much has changed in college football since the end of the aughts.
Powerhouses of the previous decade –– Texas, USC, Florida and Miami (Florida) –– fell by the wayside in the national landscape, combining for one conference title after nabbing 16 in the 2000s.
Nick Saban and Alabama emerged to rule with an iron fist, donning the nation’s crown four times, while Dabo Swinney and Clemson cultivated a dynasty of their own, dueling with Alabama tit-for-tat in the latter half of the decade.
One relative constant, though, was Ohio State –– which had its most wins and highest win percentage in the 2010s.
The Buckeyes ended 2010 as a top 5 team, one loss out of a national championship berth, and that’s precisely where they ended 2019. That’s who they were at the end of the last decade –– six times a top 5 finisher –– and that’s who they are at the end of this one, with seven.
Their decade began with the end of a legendary career in former head coach Jim Tressel and will end with the start of a new one in Ryan Day, who could go up against Urban Meyer or Earle Bruce for the most successful first year in program history.
In fact, the numbers make a case that Ohio State, behind Alabama and Clemson, is the No. 3 college football program of the past 10 years.
Whether or not the 12 wins Ohio State vacated following Tattoo-Gate, which ended Tressel’s tenure, are taken into account, the Buckeyes have the second-highest win percentage among Power Five conference teams in the decade, at either .85 or .86.
Alabama is the only team that can claim one higher, winning 89 percent of its games in the period with a record of 124-15. The Crimson Tide is the only team with more total wins than Ohio State, which had 117 including the 12 vacated.
Clemson, which beat the Buckeyes in the postseason of the 2013, ’16 and ’19 seasons, also has 117 wins in the past 10 years, but took four more total losses.
The only other teams to win 100 or more games in the past decade are Oklahoma (109), LSU (102), Wisconsin (102) and Oregon (101).
Ohio State’s first and only national championship appearance and win of the decade was five years ago, but the Buckeyes are also the last team that wasn’t Alabama or Clemson to win a title. The other two teams to claim one this decade –– Auburn and Florida State –– went a combined 9-7 in their own conferences this season.
Four other teams have as many as or more conference titles than Ohio State, which took the Big Ten crown the past three years, as well as a shared title with Michigan State and Wisconsin in 2010.
Oregon also captured four: one in the Pac 10 and three more after the addition of two more teams to create the modern Pac 12 in 2011.
Alabama took five in the SEC. Clemson won six times in the ACC, and Oklahoma was atop the Big 12 heap seven times this decade –– the most of any Power Five conference team.
The Sooners have an edge over the Buckeyes in conference titles, as well as College Football Playoff appearances, with four to Ohio State’s three, and the teams split their two head-to-head matchups in 2016 and ’17.
However, with no playoff wins, no national titles and a lower win total and percentage, Oklahoma would be hard to argue ahead of Ohio State in their respective decade’s resume.
Outside of Clemson, Ohio State went 11-2 against the 100-plus win programs of the 2010s, eight of which were against Wisconsin.
In its lone matchups with Alabama and Oregon –– both in the 2014 College Football Playoff –– Ohio State came out with wins under Meyer, with dominating performances by former running back Ezekiel Elliott.
The end to this decade may not feel like a celebration for Ohio State football, however.
Falling to Clemson by a score on a last-minute interception during a game of controversial calls and uncharacteristic mistakes is a tough way to go out, given the team was maybe the most statistically dominant in Columbus in more than 10 years.
But the loss hasn’t jostled the Buckeyes’ position among college football’s great programs of the decade.