December 25, 2012

12-OH: Buckeyes beat Michigan

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Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham

Having just wrapped up a perfect season unlike any other in program history, it's hard not to look back at the last 12 months of Ohio State football and not only marvel at the unlikeliness of what the Buckeyes accomplished in 2012, but also how far they've come since their 6-7 mark in 2011. With that in mind, I'll spend 12 days examining and reflecting on the 12 most important moments that helped create and stand out from just the sixth unbeaten and untied season in Ohio State history.

Yesterday, we reflected on John Simon's record setting performance against Wisconsin Today, we'll move back to Columbus, for the finale of this series and the Buckeyes' season.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State's finale against Michigan wasn't pretty, but in a way, it was perfect.

Just like the Buckeyes' 2012 season.

As had become almost customary for the Ohio State throughout the season, when one hole was plugged, another one opened. But the Buckeyes always found a way.

It started in the first half, when it was the OSU offense that got off to a quick start, scoring on the game's opening drive and adding 17 more points before intermission. The Buckeyes' defense, however, couldn't keep up, allowing 21 first half points to the Wolverines, including a 67-yard touchdown run to quarterback/running back Denard Robinson.

"Those are plays we need to overcome like we did in the second half," OSU safety Christian Bryant said.Those are plays we need to overcome like we did in the second half."

And the Buckeyes did just that.

Robinson never got loose again, losing two yards on just four carries in the second half. Michigan failed to add to its point total post-intermission, as the Buckeyes forced three Wolverines turnovers.

Perhaps more importantly, the OSU offense remained clicking on all cylinders. True to the identity that they found midway through the season, the Buckeyes ran the ball down their opponent's throat, with running back Carlos Hyde gaining 146 yards and a touchdown, with quarterback Braxton Miller adding 57 more yards to OSU's rushing total.

"I was being patient and trusting my read," Hyde said. "When I found that read I had to make sure to explode through the opening."

The Buckeyes' second half performance was not only good enough to regain a lead over Michigan, but to run out the clock on the Wolverines for the final four minutes of the game. As the clock ticked down with Hyde mocking Robinson's "feed me more" taunt from Michigan's win in 2011, fans began to inch towards the field, ready to rush it as soon as history was made. And when the all zeroes finally showed themselves on the Ohio Stadium scoreboard, both happened simultaneously.

Fans poured onto the field, celebrating what was just the sixth untied and unbeaten season in Ohio State's history. Urban Meyer couldn't meet Michigan head man Brady Hoke at midfield for the traditional handshake, as fans congratulated the first-year Buckeyes' head coach on a remarkable debut season in Columbus.

After the game, Meyer dedicated the win and the season to his senior class, which was given the opportunity to leave the program without punishment when he took it over just a year prior. One senior in particular who stuck out was John Simon, who was unable to play on his senior day due to a bursa sac that he suffered during his record setting performance against Wisconsin a week earlier.

"That was a classic rivalry game. But most important thank you goes to our senior class. Most selfless group I've ever been around," Meyer said. "Then John Simon, our heart and soul of who we are as the 2012 football team, it's John Simon."

The reason the seniors could've left without punishment is the same reason why the perfect season ended right there. Due to infractions committed by members of the Buckeyes' 2010 team and former head coach Jim Tressel- who was ironically honored between the first and second quarters of the Buckeyes' battle with Michigan- this year's squad was hit with a postseason ban that would keep it out of the Big Ten Championship Game and potentially the National Title Game as well.

Still, that didn't stop Meyer from stating this his first Ohio State team deserves to be mentioned among the nation's best.

"This team could play and compete with any team in the United States of America," Meyer said. "We're 12-0. I'm going to see to it when you walk into that Woody Hayes facility this team will never be forgotten, because they deserve that.


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