On a day when the 2002 National Championship team was honored, the 2012 Buckeyes became just the sixth squad in school history to go undefeated, and the most recent since 2002.
The 2002 players carried Jim Tressel off the field, and the tens of thousands of Buckeye fans who rushed the playing surface of Ohio Stadium were ready to do the same thing to current head coach Urban Meyer.
Ohio State relied on its best defensive performance of the season, holding the Wolverines to just 60 yards in the second half, earning a 26-21 victory, capping off a 12-0 season. Only the 2002 and 2006 teams had ever reached that milestone previously.
Michigan was 7-0 when leading at halftime this season, coming into the game, but couldn’t make the 21-20 advantage stand up.
Denard Robinson was a thorn in the Buckeyes side in the first half, running for 124 yards and a touchdown, on a 67-yard scamper. Robinson now has the second most rushing yards in his career of any FBS quarterback, trailing only former West Virginia quarterback Pat White. His touchdown was also the 91st total score of his career, passing Chad Henne on Michigan’s all-time list.
However, he was bottled up in the second half, netting negative two yards, and losing a fumble.
Unable to throw due to a hand injury, Devin Gardner took most of the snaps at quarterback, and completed 11 of 20 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown. 115 of those yards came on two pass plays, through, including a 75-yard score that was the Wolverines’ first.
Gardner threw a late interception, the 18th of the year by Michigan, late in the fourth quarter. The Buckeyes were able to run out the clock, thanks to a couple of Carlos Hyde first down runs.
The turnover battle was huge for the Buckeyes, which forced four, while only losing two. However, the game was close because Ohio State could only convert those four miscues into a single field goal.
Buckeye kicker Drew Basil was only 4 of 6 on field goal tries coming into this game, yet he was 4 of 5 today, and those points were the difference.
OSU also had some difference makers on offense. Braxton Miller was on target most of the day, completing 14 of 18 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown.
He added 57 on the ground, and his 246 yards of total offense allowed the sophomore to break Bobby Hoying’s 1995 single season record (Terrelle Pryor’s 2010 total was vacated, which would have still been the mark). Miller finished the year with 3,310 total yards.
Corey Brown hauled in 8 of those, gaining 95 yards and the score. The yardage mark was a personal best for the junior.
Devin Smith caught two passes for 63 yards, including a 52-yard reception on the opening drive, leading to a touchdown.
Carlos Hyde was the steadying influence on offense, though. He carried 26 times for 146 yards and a score.
On defense, Zach Boren made 9 tackles, two of which were for loss, including a sack on a blitz. He got support from Ryan Shazier (5 tackles, 2.5 TFL, sack) and Bradley Roby (8 tackles). True freshman Adolphus Washington, helping to fill in for the injured senior captain John Simon on the defensive line, had a sack and forced fumble on Michigan’s opening drive. Shazier and Michael Bennett also registered sacks.
The Buckeyes out-gained the Maize and Blue 396 to 279.
While the 2012 season is over, there’s a slight chance that Ohio State could still be voted number one in the AP Poll. The Buckeyes would need help, like losses from Notre Dame, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Oregon for that to even be a possibility.