The transition and sanctions against Ohio State were supposed to doom the 2012 season - at least that was the narrative until Urban Meyer was picked to take over for Luke Fickell (who remains on staff) in November of 2011. At that point all expectations went out the window and the guessing games began.
Just how good could OSU be? Would Meyer be able to turn around the culture of the program? What about how his offensive philosophy would fit with the personnel on hand in Columbus? Those were just the tip of the iceberg as Meyer took over a team that went 5-7 in Fickell's interim season at the helm in 2011.
No doubt, 2012 was a raving success if you look at the record, as OSU went a perfect 12-0 and won the Leaders division championship. That's all OSU could win though as they were shut out of the postseason as the final year of their sanctions came up. While this team may have been perfect it wasn't always pretty and that brings us to looking at what 2012 tells us about 2013 and what went right, wrong, and in between for the Buckeyes.
DUH?!?! 12-0 ---- PERFECTION as a team. What could be better than that, right? No matter what was thrown at the 2012 Buckeyes Meyer and Miller formed a hell of a combination and at times just willed this team to win football games they had no business winning (especially against MSU, Indiana, and Purdue). They proved it big time in what was easily the best game of the entire Big Ten season last year at Wisconsin - winning despite allowing UW every chance to score in the 2nd half, yet finding a way to poke the ball away from Montee Ball (1st fumble in his entire collegiate career) and stopping a huge 4th down play that was initially open to keep OT alive for the Badgers.
Of course being able to score nearly 40 points a game (37.2ppg to be exact) doesn't hurt the cause either and was perhaps the brightest spot on a team that had struggled at times to put up points under the old regime.
If anything, 2012 proved heart and determination can go a long, LONG way towards winning you a title and had it not been for their sanctions we would've seen Ohio State vs. Notre Dame for the national title and DAMMMMNN wouldn't that have been interesting?
Having to rely on one player to win you football games can only get you so far - sure Braxton Miller won five games on his own last season and the lack of much else help around him didn't kill the teams hopes for an undefeated season, but it can't sustain itself long term.
The fact that OSU struggled to beat the likes of Cal, UAB, Michigan State, Indiana, and Purdue last season should give OSU fans some pause that not all is totally right in Columbus just yet. In fact in those games OSU's average margin of victory was just 6.4 points per game.
As bad as that all was, the ugliest part of 2012 was a pass defense that statistically looked like crap - yet it has two of the supposed best defensive backs in the Big Ten on it in Bradley Roby and Christian Bryant. The pass defense finished 11th in the Big Ten last year, giving up 243.5 yards a game through the air. It makes you wonder what was going on in the front seven as well, that stat makes no sense given the NFL draft picks up front too. Safe to say the numbers go to prove that unless you are only as good as the sum of your parts and not just as good as the parts you have.
What 2012 tells us about 2013:
There are two huge lessons 2012 tells us. 1) Without Braxton Miller this team is SCREWED. He literally carried this team on his back for the vast majority of 2012 and that can't happen again or the magic is bound to run out. After all, you can only tempt fate for so long before it burns you. 2) Offense can win you championships in college football, especially if it's an Urban Meyer offense. Seriously, OSU's defense was awful at times and it was the reason our No. 1 lesson even had to happen. If they can continue to improve defensively (despite the losses from 2012) this team is going to be dangerous in 2013 as well - if they haven't improved in a measurable way then it could be a not so fun season in Columbus.