The 2012 Ohio State Buckeyes football team represented The Ohio State University in the 2012 NCAA Division I FBS football season. It was the Buckeye's 123rd season overall, the 100th as a member of the Big Ten Conference and the second as a members of the Big Ten Leaders Division. The team was led by head coach Urban Meyer in his return to coaching after retiring from Florida in 2010 due to health concerns. The Buckeyes played their home games at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The Buckeyes finished the season undefeated with 12 wins (12–0 overall, 8–0 in the Big Ten), Big Ten Leaders Division champions and ranked third in the AP Poll. Due to findings of an investigation conducted by the NCAA during the previous season, Ohio State was ineligible for both the Big Ten Championship Game and an appearance in a bowl game for the 2012 season.
Following their first losing season since 1988, the Buckeyes hired Urban Meyer, who won two national championships with the Florida Gators, as the head coach in November 2011. Meyer and his staff brought in a top five recruiting class while returning 20 starters and starting quarterback Braxton Miller for Spring and Fall camp. Ohio State entered the season ranked in the middle of the Big Ten, with many expecting a transition season for Meyer and the players. The Buckeyes opened the season with blowout victories against Miami (Ohio) and UCF. Ohio State would defeat Michigan State 17–16 and Nebraska 63–38, games they lost in 2011, to move to 6–0 on the season. The Buckeyes would hold in overtime games against Purdue and Wisconsin later in the season, winning eleven straight. The Buckeyes capped off their undefeated season with a 26–21 victory over arch rival Michigan, denying the Wolverines a share of the Legends Division title.
At the end of the season, several players were recognized with postseason awards for individual accomplishments. Braxton Miller was named the Big Ten offensive player of the year, while John Simon was named the Big Ten defensive player of the year. Also, three players were named to the AP All-American Team, including Johnathan Hankins, Bradley Roby and John Simon.
Following the revelation of NCAA infractions in late 2010, Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel resigned as head coach of the Buckeyes on May 31, 2011 after ten seasons in Columbus. Ohio State starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor left the program as well before the 2011 season to enter the NFL Supplemental Draft, where he was selected by the Oakland Raiders. Other players involved in the infractions that were suspended included DeVier Posey, Mike Adams, Dan Herron and Solomon Thomas, who were all originally suspended for the first five games of the season. Ohio State appointed Luke Fickell, a longtime position coach at the university, to serve at the interim head coach on March 30, 2011 who originally would replace Tressel who was suspended as well for five games, but was eventually given the title for the entire season due to Tressel's resignation.
Ohio State opened the season on September 3, 2011 with a 42–0 victory over the Akron Zips. Ohio State lost their first game against the Miami Hurricanes and entered conference play with a 3–1 record. Ohio State lost their first two conference games against the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the Michigan State Spartans. Ohio State won their homecoming matchup against the Wisconsin Badgers and eventually achieved a 3–2 conference record. The Buckeyes, however, would end up losing their last three conference games, including one against the Michigan Wolverines, who they had not lost to since the 2003 season. Ohio State ended the season with a 6–6 record and a 3–5 record with the Big Ten conference. The Buckeyes did not win at least a share of the conference title for the first time since 2004 and did not reach a Bowl Championship Series bowl for the first time since 2004 as well. Ohio State went on to play against the Florida Gators in the Gator Bowl, which they would lose 24–17 and resulted in the Buckeyes first losing season since 1988. Urban Meyer was hired as the head coach of the university on November 28, 2011.
Ohio State opened their spring practice on March 29 for the first time under the direction of Urban Meyer. At the opening of practice John Simon, Johnathan Hankins, Garrett Goebel and Adam Bellamy started on the defensive line with Travis Howard and Bradley Roby starting at cornerback. Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett were the starting safeties on opening day. The running back position rotated between Jordan Hall, Carlos Hyde, Rod Smith and Bri'onte Dunn with Braxton Miller starting at quarterback.
The annual spring game for the Ohio State Buckeyes was held on April 21 at Ohio Stadium on a rainy afternoon in Columbus, Ohio. Urban Meyer began the afternoon with a 1-on-1 circle drill held at midfield before the start of the game. At the conclusion of drill the Buckeyes took the field and split into two teams, a Scarlet and Gray team. Starting quarterback Braxton Miller started for the Scarlet team with backup Kenny Guiton starting for the Gray team. The first touchdown came from the Scarlet team in the first quarter with a run yard touchdown run from Carlos Hyde. Starting kicker Drew Basil kicked a 41-yard field goal at the beginning of the second quarter to extend the Scarlet lead to 10–0. The Gray team got on the board with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Guiton, but a second field goal from Basil would allow the Scarlet to enter the locker room at halftime with a 13–7 lead over the Gray. During the third quarter the Gray team would take a 14–13 lead over the Scarlet team on a four-yard touchdown run from Guiton. However, under Miller, the Scarlet team would drive down and score a touchdown on a Rod Smith run, giving them a 20–13 lead and eventually the victory.
During the game, quarterback Braxton Miller completed 24 of 31 passes for 258 yards with wide receiver Michael Thomas catching 12 passes for a total of 131 yards during the game. The game gave fans a glimpse of Meyer's new spread offense that the Buckeyes will adopt during the season. Linebacker Ryan Shazier led the team with eight tackles. Running back Jordan Hall did not play during the game due to health and precautionary reasons and starting lineman John Simon did not play for a long period during the game.
Nine separate Ohio State players were on the preseason award watch list in twelve different award categories. These included Johnathan Hankins and John Simon for the Bednarik Award; Corey Brown for the Biletnikoff Award; Etienne Sabino for the Butkus Award; Drew Basil for the Lou Groza Award; Jake Stoneburner for the Rotary Lombardi Award; and Braxton Miller for the Maxwell Award. Prior to fall camp, both Stoneburner and Jack Mewhort were suspended from the team indefinitely following their arrests, while senior linebacker Storm Klein was dismissed from the team for his arrest. Klein was later reinstated by head coach Urban Meyer, while still serving a two-game suspension. Ohio State opened their fall camp on August 3 with all players reporting.
Urban Meyer accepted the head coaching job at Ohio State in November 2011 after coaching at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida, where he won two national championships. Meyer retained only three coaches from the previous years staff, including former interim head coach Luke Fickell and defensive line coach Mike Vrabel. Meyer brought in Tom Herman and Ed Warinner to replace Jim Bollman as offensive coordinator, while Everett Withers and Fickell replaced Jim Heacock as defensive coordinator. Meyer also brought over strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti from his staff at Florida.
Following the 2011 season, four Ohio State players were selected in the 2012 NFL Draft. Mike Adams was selected in the second round, DeVier Posey in the third, with Daniel Herron and Nate Ebner selected in the sixth. Other key players to depart due to graduation included Joe Bauserman, Michael Brewster and J.B. Shugarts on offense and Dionte Allen, Tyler Moeller, Andrew Sweat, and Solomon Thomas on defense. Transfers out before the 2012 season included Jamaal Berry who transferred to Murray State, Jeremy Cash who transferred to Duke, Jordan Whiting who transferred to Louisville and Kenny Hayes who transferred to Michigan State. DerJuan Gambrell and Dominic Clarke were both released from the scholarships in January following a violation of team rules.
Ohio State has 20 returning starts from the 2011 season, including nine on offense and defense, as well as two on special teams. Quarterback Braxton Miller started in eight games during the 2011 season and will return to lead the Buckeyes in 2012.
Starters and backups.
Ohio State's 2012 recruiting class was ranked third by Scout, fourth by Rivals and sixth by ESPN. Prior to Urban Meyer being named the head coach of the team 13 player were committed to the Buckeyes, with an additional 12 signing after Meyer's hiring. On National Signing Day, 25 players total were signed to the class. The Ohio State class included five players from the ESPN 150: defensive ends Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington and Se'Von Pittman, offensive guard Joey O'Connor and defensive tackle Tommy Schutt.
The Big Ten Conference released the schedules for the 2011 and 2012 season on September 1, 2010, which were revised after the addition of Nebraska to the conference. As during the 2011 season, the Big Ten continued their scheduling alignment for the 2012 season. As a result, Ohio State played all five Leaders Division opponents: Illinois, Indiana, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin. Ohio State also faced three Legends Division opponents: Michigan State, Nebraska and Michigan, the permanent cross-division opponent. Ohio State played four non-conference games: Miami (Ohio) of the Mid-American Conference, UCF and UAB of Conference USA, and California of the Pac-12 Conference. Ohio State had their only bye week between their games against Illinois and Wisconsin. Ohio State was ineligible to advance beyond their twelve regular season games and unable to participate in the Big Ten Championship Game or any bowl games.
Beyond weekly television coverage, all games during the 2012 season were broadcast on the Ohio State Football Radio Network. Paul Keels headed the crew with play-by-play, Jim Lachey with color commentary, Marty Bannister as sideline and locker room reporter and Skip Mosic serving as the pre-game and halftime show host.Sources:
Entering the 2012 season, the Buckeyes were ranked No. 18 in the AP Preseason Poll, while they were ineligible for the Coaches' Poll, due to NCAA sanctions. After Ohio State's 56–10 win over Miami (Ohio), they moved to No. 14 in the AP Poll. After the Buckeyes' 63–38 win over Nebraska, who was ranked No. 21, Ohio State moved into the top ten of the AP Poll at No. 8. The first BCS Standings of the season came out on October 14, however, like the Coaches' Poll, the Buckeyes were ineligible for either the BCS Standings or Harris Poll. The Buckeyes' 29–22 overtime victory over Purdue would drop Ohio State from No. 7 to No. 9. Entering their final game with Michigan, the Buckeyes were ranked No. 4 in the AP Poll, with the 26–21 victory moving them to No. 3 the final poll of the regular season. Though they were not eligible, many projected that Ohio State would have been ranked No. 3 in the final BCS standings, behind Alabama and Notre Dame at the end of the regular season. Ohio State was still eligible for the AP National Championship, which is separate from the BCS National Championship Game. Though Notre Dame's loss in the National Championship Game left Ohio State as the only undefeated team in the Division I Football Subdivision, they were behind the national champion Alabama Crimson Tide and the Oregon Ducks. Ohio State finished the 2012 season ranked No. 3 in the final AP Poll.Sources:
After the victory over Michigan, Ohio State fans celebrated the perfect season with a ceremony at St. John Arena on December 7. Thousands attended the rally, which featured the Ohio State University Marching Band, as well as comments from Gordon Gee, Urban Meyer and many of the seniors. Former Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith presented the team with the Big Ten Leaders Division Championship trophy.
After their victory of Michigan in the final regular season game, Ohio State's final team statistics were released. On the defensive side of the ball, Ohio State ranked 31st in scoring defense (22.83 points per game), 34th in total defense (359.58 yards per game), fourteenth in rushing defense (116.08 yards per game) and 76th in pass defense (243.50 yards per game). In conference, Ohio State ranked second in rushing defense and eleventh in passing defense. Ohio State ranked second in the nation in total defense during the month of November. On the offensive side of the ball, Ohio State ranked 21st in scoring offense (37.17 points per game), 47th in total offense (423.75 yards per game), tenth in rushing offense (242.25 yards per game) and 101st in passing offense (181.50 yards per game). In conference, Ohio State ranked second in rushing offense and eighth in passing offense.
In the weeks following the conclusion of the regular season, multiple Ohio State players were honored for their on-field performances with a variety of awards and recognition. The Big Ten recognized several players for their individual performances with various awards. Quarterback Braxton Miller, guard Andrew Norwell, defensive lineman John Simon, linebacker Ryan Shazier, and cornerbacks Bradley Roby and Travis Howard were all named to the Media All-Big Ten First Team. Running back Carlos Hyde, tackle Jack Mewhort and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins were all naed to the Media All-Big Ten Second Team. Defensive backs C.J. Barnett, Corey Brown and Christian Bryant, offensive linemen Reid Fragel and Corey Linsley, and linebacker Etienne Sabino were all named Media All-Big Ten Honorable Mention. Three players were named to the Coaches' All-Big Ten First Team including Hankins, John Simon and Bradley Roby. Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde, wide receiver Corey Brown, Ryan Shazier and Christian Bryant were named to the Coaches' All-Big Ten Second Team. Braxton Miller won the Big Ten Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year award, with John Simon winning the Big Ten Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year award.
In addition to the conference awards, several players were also named to various All-American Teams. Johnathan Hankins and Bradley Roby were named to the AP All-American Second Team, while John Simon was named to the AP All-American Third Team. Hankins was named to the All-American First Team by Scout.com, while Bradley Roby was named to the All-American First Team by ESPN. Many Ohio State players were also award finalists, including Braxton Miller, who was a finalist for the Manning Award and John Simon, who was a finalist for the Bowden Award. The coaching staff was also recognized for their achievements with head coach Urban Meyer being a finalist for the Football Writers Association of America coach of the year, Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award and Bear Bryant coach of the year. Buckeye offensive line coach E Warinner was also recognized by FootballScoop as the offensive line coach of the year. Several Buckeye players were invited to the many postseason All-Star games. Reid Fragel and John Simon were the two Buckeyes invited to the 2013 Senior Bowl, with Fragel pulling out and Simon playing for the North Team. Nathan Williams and Travis Howard were the only Buckeyes that participated in the 2013 East–West Shrine Game, while safety Orhian Johnson represented Ohio State in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
Ten players from Ohio State were entered into the NFL Draft, nine seniors and one underclassmen. On defense, Johnathan Hankins, John Simon, Etienne Sabino, Travis Howard, Nathan Williams, Orhian Johnson and Garrett Goebel all entered. Hankins, the only junior from Ohio State in the draft, was projected to be drafted in the first round. Simon was projected to be selected in the third round, with Sabino and Howard projected to go around the fifth round. On offense, Reid Fragel, Jake Stoneburner and Zach Boren were all entered. Stoneburner and Boren were both expected to be selected late in the sixth or seventh round. In February 2013, seven Ohio State players were invited to the NFL Combine, including Jonathan Hankins, Nate Williams, Etienne Sabino, Zach Boren, Reid Fragel, Jake Stoneburner and John Simon.
Overall, three Buckeyes were selected during the draft. Hankins was selected in the second round by the New York Giants, Simon was selected in the fourth round by the Baltimore Ravens and Fragel was selected in the seventh round by the Cincinnati Bengals.