Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, after his team completed its 12-0 campaign with a 26-21 win over Michigan (just the 12th undefeated season for an FBS school in the last 10 years), said he felt his Buckeyes “could play and compete with any team in the United States of America as of now.”
He has reinforced his feelings publicly a number of times in the past month, even while admitting that his team had some holes during the year.
“But we filled those holes, especially on defense,” Meyer has said. “We became a really good team and, I felt, at the end of the season we could play with any team in the country.”
Statistics, particularly defensive, support Meyer’s belief.
Ohio State’s defense, led by Big Ten defensive player of the year John Simon, tackle Johnathan Hankins, selfless FB-turned-LB Zach Boren and super talented sophomores Ryan Shazier and Bradley Roby, improved dramatically the final third of the season and, in particular, the last month of the season. In November (stats derived at www.cfbstats.com)…
- Ohio State ranked second nationally in total defense, allowing just 269.7 yards per game;
- Ohio State ranked sixth nationally in passing defense, allowing just 140.3 yards per game;
- Ohio State ranked in a tie-for-second nationally in fewest plays allowed over 10 yards with 26; and
- Ohio State ranked 19th nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 19.0 points per game.
While the team also had impressive seasonal stats of 116.1 rushing yards per game allowed (14th nationally) and a nation’s-best 88 passes defended (7.33 per game), the November numbers came against some quality opponents:
- Ohio State went on the road and defeated Big Ten champion Wisconsin, 21-14, in overtime. The Badgers rolled to a Big Ten championship game win over Nebraska and then gave Stanford, the Pac-12 champion, a run before losing by only six in the Rose Bowl.
- And without Simon, Ohio State defeated Michigan by not allowing any second half points and surrendering only 60 second-half yards. Michigan then fell to 11-win South Carolina when the Gamecocks scored the winning touchdown with 11 seconds left to play.
- Ohio State’s other November win was over Illinois, 52-22; a game the defense allowed just one touchdown.
Offense was rarely a concern for the 2012 Buckeyes, who led the Big Ten in scoring at 37.1 ppg and ranked 10th nationally in rushing at 242.2 ypg. The unit was led by Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Braxton Miller, who was fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting, 970-yard rusher (with 16 rushing touchdowns in only 10 games) Carlos Hyde, 60-reception WR Corey Brown and a junior-dominated offensive line that improved each week.
A really good offense all season; a top-flight defense late in the season; 12 consecutive wins, including road wins at Michigan State and Penn State; no losses. Way to go, Bucks, in 2012!