Record: 12-0 overall, 8-0 in Big Ten (first in Leaders Division)
Postseason: Ineligible because of NCAA sanctions
Final poll rankings: Third in AP, ineligible for coaches
Sept. 1: No. 18 OSU 56, Miami 10
Sept. 8: No. 14 OSU 31, Central Florida 16
Sept. 15: No. 12 OSU 35, California 28
Sept. 22: No. 16 OSU 29, UAB 15
Sept. 29: No. 14 OSU 17, No. 20 Michigan State 16
Oct. 6: No. 12 OSU 63, No. 21 Nebraska 38
Oct. 13: No. 8 OSU 52, Indiana 49
Oct. 20: No. 7 OSU 29, Purdue 22, OT
Oct. 27: No. 9 OSU 35, Penn State 23
Nov. 3: No. 6 OSU 52, Illinois 22
Nov. 17: No. 6 OSU 21, Wisconsin 14, OT
Nov. 24: No. 4 OSU 26, No. 20 Michigan 21
Season in brief
The skinny: Urban Meyer was hired as Ohio State’s 24th coach two days before the 2011 Michigan game, which the Buckeyes lost, and took over after a 24-17 loss to Florida in the Gator Bowl that closed out Luke Fickell’s lone season. Circumstances dictated that the 2012 season would be different. For one thing, the Buckeyes were coming off a 6-7 season, their first losing year since 1988. And for another, OSU had been banned from postseason play by the NCAA for violations committed during the tattoo scandal that cost Jim Tressel his job. So no matter what, 2012 was going to max out as a 12-game campaign. The Buckeyes ensured it would be a fun one, eventually.
High points: There were a few times when Ohio State flexed its muscles and played dominant games, including the opener against Miami University and a 63-point explosion fueled by sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller to pound Nebraska in the Cornhuskers’ first Big Ten game in Columbus. Most other games, however, were exercises in high-wire football — close shaves against lightly regarded opponents such as California and Indiana and overtime nail-biters against the likes of Purdue and Wisconsin. In addition to Nebraska, the Buckeyes played two other ranked teams, Michigan State and Michigan, and eked out clutch victories in each.
Turning point: Ohio State’s first four games under Meyer were something of a slog. The Buckeyes trailed Miami 3-0 after the first quarter of the opener, then looked unimpressive in wins over Central Florida, Cal and UAB. But the team held a key meeting before its first road game, Sept. 29 at Michigan State, and the Buckeyes found themselves as a unit in a 17-16 win. The final seven games weren’t always pretty, but Ohio State at least had an identity and a focus to fall back on.
Low point: They were never caught on the field, but the Buckeyes still felt the sting of not getting to see a special season to a typical conclusion. Denied an opportunity to play for a Big Ten championship or in a bowl game, OSU narrowed its goals to winning the conference’s Leaders Division title and gaining as high a ranking as possible in the final Associated Press poll (it finished third). The bright side was jewelry: The Buckeyes received Big Ten championship rings, not to mention gold pants.
Quotable: “You’re always taught as a young child to put ‘team’ before ‘me,’ but how many times does that actually happen? It’s rare, and there’s example after example of this team that did that. … This group just has incredible character, determination and genuine love for one another.” — Meyer, on Nov. 26, 2012, at his postseason news conference
— Ray Stein