Buckeyes Finally End Miserable Season

By Ramzy Nasrallah on January 2, 2012 at 6:01p
SEC SPEED OMG LOL (Photo: Getty)Speed had nothing to do with it: The less-bad team won.
0 10 0 7 17
7 7 7 3 24

Anytime you give up a kickoff return for a score, you aren't likely to win. The same goes for allowing a punt to be blocked for a touchdown.

Ohio State allowed both of those to happen today, dropping the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl to its university namesake 24-17 and concluding the 2011 season with its fourth consecutive loss. 

The Buckeyes applied an appropriate capstone to this underwhelming season, deploying the same curiously ineffective play calling on offense and inconsistent execution on all three sides of the ball that contributed to a seven-loss season on what had been thought to be a title contender prior to the series of scandals that defined its 2011 season.

Prior to the 2011 season, Ohio State had two four-game losing streaks in its history: In 1943 after much of its roster left school to go fight in World War II, and in Ohio Stadium's inaugural season of 1922.

The only other time Ohio State has lost four straight was in 1922, the year Ohio Stadium opened.


  Cmp/Att Pct Yds TD Int Rat
Miller 18/23 78.3 165 2 0 167.2
Brantley (UF) 12/16 75 129 1 1 150.9


  Att Yds Avg Lng TD Fum
Herron 12 77 6.4 13 0 1
Hall 4 24 6 7 0 0
Miller 15 19 1.3 18 0 0
Hyde 5 17 3.4 5 0 0
Posey 1 -6 -6 -6 0 0


  Rec Yds Avg Lng TD Fum
Smith 2 49 24.5 38 0 0
Posey 5 40 8.0 12 1 1
Heuerman 1 25 25.0 0 0 0
Fields 1 13 13.0 0 0 0
Hall 3 12 4.0 11 1 0
Herron 4 10 2.5 12 0 0
Boren 1 8 8.0 0 0 0
Hyde 1 8 8.0 0 0 0

The Buckeyes were aware of those statistics, and of its 1-9* record in bowl games against SEC teams, but even from the opening kickoff a win did not seem to be in the cards for Ohio State.

That kickoff appeared to hit the goal line and bounced out of bounds inside the one-yard line, giving Florida its first scrimmage at the 40. That drive fizzled when on third down Florida QB Jeff Brantley was hit in the act of passing for what appeared to be an incompletion.

A booth review curiously determined that incompletion was a recovered fumble, even though it didn't appear that Ohio State recovered the ball as several whistles blew the play dead. Regardless, the Buckeyes took over where the Gators might have attempted a 42-yard field goal.

A late hit at the end of a nice Braxton Miller option run combined with two productive Boom Herron rushes flipped the field and put the Buckeyes on the Florida 37. Offensive coordinator Jim Bollman then abruptly decided to abandon the effective rushing game in favor for some pocket passing - Miller's very well-known weakness - resulting in a couple of sacks.

A third down QB draw that the Florida defense correctly diagnosed prior to the snap turned a scoring drive into a punt that sailed into the end zone.

This first drive was emblematic of the Ohio State offense all afternoon: It was obvious they could move the ball on Florida; they just continued to find ways to not advance drives.

On Florida's second drive the Gators converted a third down after Brantley escaped John Simon for what looked like a sack. A few plays later following a long Chris Rainey run, Simon absolutely crushed Brantley along with his left tackle, sending both of them off the field briefly to recover.

However, Florida ended up scoring on its third 3rd down conversion of the drive, a 17-yard touchdown pass to Deonte Thompson. It looked like Thompson might have dropped the pass and OSU safety Christian Bryant was begging for a replay, but it wasn't definitive enough and PAT came prior to Luke Fickell's request for a replay challenge.

Ohio State got the ball and Herron fumbled on the first play from scrimmage. Florida took over at the Buckeye 27-yard line, but two plays later Simon continued his monster quarter and recovered a Brantley fumble at the 28.

Ohio State then completed one of two sustained drives on the day; an eight-play 73-yard touchdown drive that included a throwback screen to TE Jeff Heuerman and culminated with a five-yard slant TD pass to DeVier Posey. It was Posey's third straight bowl game with a TD reception, counting his score in last year's vacated Sugar Bowl.

Florida's Andre Dubose then ran back the subsequent kickoff untouched for a TD down the left sideline in what appeared to be a jog. It almost seemed as though Ohio State had set up kickoff coverage to the opposite side of the field that Drew Basil kicked the ball to.

#54 has never personally met a QB, but he still hates them all (photo: Getty)Simon made pocket passing very uncomfortable for Florida.

Down 14-7, Ohio State started its next drive with a delay-of-game penalty. Carlos Hyde erased that penalty yardage, but the Buckeyes moved backwards on the following two plays.

On 3rd and 12 Bollman dialed up a slowly-developing play-action pass that ended with Miller "escaping" back into a collapsing pocket and taking the sack, forcing the punt on 4th and long.

Florida did nothing with its next possession, and punctuated it with a 22-yard shank punt that gave the Buckeyes the ball back at midfield.

There had been talk of wrinkles and gadget plays during the bowl preparations, and after the Heuerman screen on the touchdown drive the second sign of this was an end-around to Posey which lost six yards. A nice screen pass to Herron gave the Buckeyes a third a short that Jordan Hall converted.

Miller then missed a wide-open Posey in the corner of the end zone, and then took another bad sack on third down. Drew Basil nailed the field goal and cut the Florida lead to 14-10.

Ohio State's third kickoff was a dribbler that was returned by Dubose again, this time to the 44 (making the opening kickoff that went out of bounds and was placed at the 40 the Buckeyes' best one of the half).

Florida took a delay of game and eventually took a knee to take the ball into the locker room up 14-10 at the half.

The second half began with Dave up the middle for a loss that was bailed out by a 15-yard facemask penalty on Omar Hunter.

After a screen pass to Zach Boren, a holding penalty on Mike Brewster put the Buckeyes in 2nd and long. Short passes to Hall and Posey gave the Buckeyes a 3rd and ten. Bollman again went back to the slowly-developing play-action pass that once again resulted in a Miller sack.

In what seemed like deja vu from the end of last year's Sugar Bowl*, Ben Buchanan took his time getting the punt off on fourth down and the result was a block deep in Ohio State territory. While Arkansas only fell on that blocked punt, this time Florida picked it up and ran it in for a TD giving the Gators their second special teams score of the game.

Ohio State got the ball back and continued with its grab-bag approach to offense, leading to another dangerously slow Buchanan punt that was nearly blocked again. The Gators took the ball and surprised the Buckeyes with some change-of-pace, bringing in the more-athletic Trey Burton at QB to run a couple of option plays out to the 36.

Brantley came back in and threw an errant pass that was tipped and intercepted by Tyler Moeller. Three plays later, Posey fumbled away the ball after gaining what would have been a first down. The Gators took the ball right back and quickly drove down the field, eventually settling for a field goal from inside the Ohio State one-yard line on the second play of the 4th quarter.

The Buckeyes were unable to convert again, and Florida's following possession was a clock-killing ten-play, six-minute drive that accomplished what it was intended to - keep the ball away from Ohio State. Florida then punted to the Buckeye 13.

Ohio State would score another touchdown two drives later, compliments of Hall on a very impressive run after the catch following a screen pass from Miller from 11 yards out. With under a minute left to play, the Buckeyes attempted an on-side kick but it was recovered by the Gators who ran out the clock for the victory.

Unlike Ohio State's last meeting with Florida - that 41-14 slaughter in the 2006 BCS Title Game - this wasn't a contest where there was an obvious disparity in speed, talent and execution. Florida did not play well, as was the case for most of its own disappointing 6-6 season.

But the Gators did not allow two very easy special teams touchdowns, and Ohio State did. The Buckeyes even outrushed, outpassed and had fewer penalties than the Gators, but were undone by special teams and third downs, where they were only 2/10 on the day with several of those attempts ending in sacks.

It marks Ohio State's final bowl appearance until, at the earliest, the conclusion of the 2013 season. The Gator Bowl loss also closes the door on one of the most forgettable and disappointing chapters in Buckeye football history.

On the bright side, Ohio State now enters the Urban Meyer era, which should bring wholesale changes into how personnel and playcalling are used. It is that bright future, and not the still-fresh past that Buckeye fans can finally focus on with the conclusion of the 2011 season.



The Vest-er's picture

Glad it's over. See y'all at the spring game

Fundamentals are a crutch for the talentless.

Blake's picture

Honest Q, is there any sort of accountability the coaching staff had in place for penalties? The amount of false starts from Shugarts became so comical throughout his career that it almost seemed like he wasn't having his feet held to the fire in any manner. I know that's difficult to suggest, but what else can you say after four years of that? Clearly he wasn't concerned about potential consequences.

Whosisbrew's picture

Ah well, this one stung briefly, but I'm already feeling the optimism. Losing is never enjoyable, but this game was still quite meaningless, and especially meaningless when we consider what awaits.

PS, A Florida fan tried to convince me that this Gator Bowl loss would have huge implications for Urban Meyer's ability to recruit in Florida. Teehee.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

This one was too bad for me to just forget immediately.  The only positive that I can take from this game is the fact that the season is finally over and the massive majority of coaches are also gone.  My impression of Fickel has been tarnished a bit due to the absolutely horrid end of the season but he did not ask to be put in that position and did what he could given the cards he had.  I hope he can get back on track next year.

Jim Bollman - please don't taint the stadium and offices with your stench any further - we will ship your possessions to you - regular mail and handle with aggressive kicks and tosses.  You had a chance to go out with a bang but you chose to vomit that out in your last game... we should have known.

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

southbymidwest's picture

Welp, I also am looking forward to the Spring game. I would imagine that there will be a tad more "hair on fire" playing going on in that game, even if it is just a intrasquad scrimmage. I also do believe that Urban will separate those who really want to play from those who want to play. Was going to say men from boys, but with the whole PSU ugliness going on, that just didn't sound right. Should be interesting. Hope to make it to C'bus to vist the OSU daughter, and catch the spring game, along with the men's lacrosse game before it. Still, GO BUCKS!

Ian_InsideTheShoe's picture

Anytime you give up a kickoff return for a score, you aren't likely to win. The same goes for allowing a punt to be blocked for a touchdown.

Oh, the irony. 

Buckeyejason's picture

What do we expect talent wise next season?

O-line will most likely be worse, with no depth.

Wide receivers will be pretty green again for the most part, they'll really have to get use to having the ball thrown to them more in the off season.

Hall and Hyde are good backs..neither an elite talent though..will Hyde work in Meyers/Harmon's offense?

Braxton needs to make vast improvements in being a "QB"

Sabino and Klien will still probably be starters next season..not a good thing.

Secondary just isn't very good covering or making plays..Howard is god awful!


toledobuckeyefanjim's picture

Meyer has his work cut out for him. First things first, shred Bollman's playbook. After coming up with a great game plan against Michigan, he goes back to his dull, conservative play-calling for the bowl game. That playbook of his better be history tomorrow morning. I'd like to see more of Toledo's high-powered offense next year in Columbus. Agree with a lot you said, Jason. The OL needs to lift a lot of weights and get stronger and quicker. They collectively are C-minus quality at best for next year. Lots of backs come back but none of them are superstars, barely 3-stars and OK at best. Miller needs a lot of work in the spring and summer. Perhaps the new OC and QB coach can make him improve his footwork, overall smarts, throwing, etc. The D-line is OK but needs to be stronger. LBs are questionable, except for Shazier. The secondary couldn't cover any of us posters on this web site. It is flat out awful. I've never seen so many wide receivers getting open in the past five games as I've seen in my life. That all said, be grateful for a soft nonconference schedule in September. But a Big Ten record with 3 losses should be expected, unless Urban can work miracles with this very overrated group of players. Put aside those thoughts for a NC team for at least two years, more likely three or four.

BuckeyeChris's picture

I totally agree. I think I got all caught up in the Urbanmania and started to believe that we would be a 9 or 10 win team next year. Playcalling aside, yesterday offered a friendly reminder, "psssst... we're not very good."  

What I am going to look for next year is what I didn't see much of this year: Improvement, week-to-week. 


Seabass1974's picture

The coaching will be better and that makes a huge difference.

The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender. - Woody Hayes

Michael's picture

The loss of Paul Haynes to Arkansas was pretty apparent in this game as he was in charge of (or had a large role) in Special Teams.

Hartman is reporting that Vrabel "helped" with the kickoff coverage in the absence of Haynes, but if I were Vrabel, I would deny any and all involvement in the special teams showing.

Denny's picture

Special teams advice? 'Wear Affliction shirts and watch your opponent cower in fear.'


Carolina Buckeye's picture

Is there any truth to the only players staying on the field for Carmen Ohio were Ryan Shazier and Nate Williams?

Michael's picture


Most of the rest of the Buckeyes ran into the locker room or stopped on the ramp into the locker room as the song was played.

LABuckeye's picture

This disgusts me. At Urban's first team meeting I hope heads roll over this.

miller2234's picture

Completely agree.  While it may seem minor to some, it is just the latest example of how this team and program as a whole has lacked leadership and discipline all year.

We have fallen a long ways from just one year ago.  We will be back but it is time to find out who wants to work hard and put the buckeyes back on the map nationally and not just want to walk around and say they put on the scarlet and gray.

I think in some ways we are a victim of our own past successes.  our players look and act like they are entitled to something because they play for TOSU instead of having respect for our school and holding their head high win or lose (see Jordan Hall taunting the crowd in the endzone after the final TD - what are you celebrating?) hand the ball to the referree and go to the sideline.  Yes we all had a rough year (administration/team/coaches/fans) but no way should we forget who we are and forget the things that have gotten us to this point - which was the block O of life. No respect for the school or coaches from this team and it's time it stops.  


southbymidwest's picture

Well said, Miller 2234. Gotta (I hope!) think Urban will squash that kind of mentality like a bug.

ThirdLegLouie's picture

This is as big of an indictment against Luke Fickell as anything he did (or should I say, didn't do) as a coach on the field all year. There is no excuse for this. Luke is constantly spitting the "This is Ohio State.." rhetoric, but the actions of his team today show how little his words have actually meant to them.  Tressell, for all of his shortcomings on and off the field, at least instilled the importance of tradition in the players and they all knew the words to Carmen.. smh


Much love and respect to Nathan Williams, though.

If you ain't a Silver Bullet, you're a target

Whosisbrew's picture

This pisses me off much more than actually losing the game, to be honest. It's an embarrassment. 

buckeyenut10's picture

The video says nothing about Shazier...

That being said, words can't describe how proud I am of Nate Williams for this, and how disgusted at the rest of the team for leaving I am (and the strange combination actually brought me to tears). I can't even put into words what I'm feeling. These players represent way more than their collective NFL draft stock and I don't think they realize this. You represent a long tradition of players, coaches, bandsmen, fans, staff, and alumni that cared way more about this universiy than they ever did. You're not entitled to B1G championships and 10 win season just because you're at Ohio State. While I had been laughing at all the people who said "Urban Meyer will yell at them tomorrow blah blah" originally, after seeing this I hope he does. That being said, I think we should write to Mr. Williams, explaining how thankful we as fans are that we have players like him on our team.

miller2234's picture

Completely agree.  Not to mention showing respect for the fans who have stood by this team through the worst season in Ohio State football.  And especially the ones who paid their hard earned money to go watch them lay down in a bowl game.  

Cannot put into words how much it says about the attitudes and players in that locker room.  What have we turned into - a team that can't handle a loss.  That loses it's pride along with the games?  This university is much bigger than one piece and it's time they realize that again. For lack of a better analogy - there are too many turds in the punch bowl.  


original buckeye's picture

Count me as one who's ready to see Fickell go. I know he was put in a tough spot, blah, blah...but that doesn't excuse his deer in the headlights approach to coaching and his fielding a team that was horribly undisciplined and frankly didn't care. There was enough talent on that team to win at least 8 or 9 games, yet this coaching staff leads OSU to a 6-7 record. That's unacceptable and it falls on the staff's shoulders. Try as he might, Luke proved he's years away from having what it takes to lead a football team.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

One of the best things Fickel brings to the table is his recruiting skills - apparently he is a killer at getting talent to come to OSU and Urban recognizes that he could use him this coming year.  Had he fired Fickel, the negative PR would have probably been quite excessive. 

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Keith's picture

I believe that's Bellamy in the pic sacking Brantley.  Simon is all tatted up on his left arm.

I'm not sure how much losing Haynes hurt coverage units.  They were poor last year, too when Haynes with still with us.

Whosisbrew's picture

Bret Bielema is so good at losing Rose Bowls.

BuckeyeJim's picture

Nate is really needed as captain next year. A true Buckeye.

Braxton needs to be more vocal on offense and take charge. I was dissapointed with his play today. His stats are not indicative of his game.

Tonga Buckeye's picture

6-7?  Oh, well.  I'm pumped for next season.



"go not where the path may lead, rather go where there is no path and leave a trail"

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

Another winnable game, and another game where our Buckeyes found a way to make the key mistakes and execution failures to lose.  Story of this entire season.  Thank goodness it's over.  Ass needs to be kicked around here starting tomorrow.  

Class of 2010.

Poison nuts's picture

Posted this on the vent thread - gonna post it here too.

Just got home after a 6 hour drive from the game or I would have been on here asap. I sat directly behind the team (ours) right right up front at about the 30 yard line and here are my notes:

  1. Florida's only offensive td was not a td. You may already know that. Fickell tried to challenge, called a TO 5-10 seconds before the point after play and was ignored. He ran out onto the field screaming for a TO. The back judge saw him and ignored him. I saw it - it sucked.
  2. There were plenty of tOSU fans at this game and on the whole - we blew as a crowd. I don't give a shit that it wasn't a good bowl game to have to go to - scream and cheer as though it's a NC game goddammit!
  3. The O Line really played horrendous football today. For those saying Braxton played poorly, cut him a bit of slack..he was given very very little help today.
  4. Our guys were not coached up at all. Maybe thats because some people are headed out the door, but I watched that sideline closely and there was never much life there from the coaching staff.
  5. 5. Special teams Ssssuuuuuuuccccckkkkkkeeeedddd!!! But you already know that.

Theres no point in mentioning the play calling...everyone saw it. Players not sticking around for Carmen? Wow - WTF. I hope and expect things to change & change quickly...but hey, my team lost, they had a really rough year & I'm still breathing so things aren't too bad.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

ghalephoto's picture

You are dead wrong on so many points it makes me think your joking.

The crowd, that sucked? Was this the same fans that started the USA chant for the US Marines inductions?  They did that while the Gator fans sat on their hands.  They did our OH-IO to the end.  Supported the band like it was a NC game. 

You can rip on the coaches, they get paid to do better, but to rip on the crowd?  We didn't play this game 45 min's from our campus.  Considering where this game was played and our record, Buckeye Nation rocked. 

Your last pathetic statement is meaningless as the rest of your rant.  You sound like the kind of guy that really should be very happy...you got to see Junior...right?  That help?

miller2234's picture

hopefully this is inserted tomorrow.



poguemahone's picture

That game was like a four hour fart noise. On to 2012.

BuckeyeChris's picture

One final thought on JT...

Deep down. In your heart of hearts, do you admit to yourself that he may have been an "average" coach, with outstanding/superior on-the-field talent week in and week out? 

My point is, put JT and Bollman at Purdue for a few seasons. Under develop those 2-3 star OL recruits and run DAVE every other play.  They'd lose 7-8 games a season. 

As look back and am honest with myself, I think JT benefited greatly from walking into living rooms with an "O" on his chest and not, say, a "P." 

Just a thought... 

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Then you really must not think much of Earl Bruce and John Cooper, respectively. Bruce and Cooper also walked into living rooms with an "O" on their chests. Here's how the three coaches compare:

JT: 94-22 overall; 7 BTCs; 8 BCS bowls (5-3 record); 9-1 v. Michigan.

Cooper: 111-43-4 overall; 4 BTCs; 3 "BCS" bowls; 2-10-1 v. Michigan.

Bruce: 81-26-1 overall; 4 BTCs; 3 "BCS" bowls; 5-4 v. Michigan.

acBuckeye's picture

Actually Run Fido.... go ahead and count those 12 vacated "wins." That gives JT 106 W's.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

As much as I want to kick JT in the short and curlies for covering up minor violations that eventually lead to the tsunami wave of shit that flooded OSU - I will never agree with your statement that JT was an average coach.  The Vest, as aggravating as his play calling was at times, was a fantastic coach that brought OSU back to a national title contender in just about every year he coached.  Not to mention kicking the shit out of Ann Arbor Community College every year.  Say what you want about the way he flamed out last year, but that does not erase the greatness he achieved with our program.

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

btalbert25's picture

Buckeyechris, I agree with you to a point.  I think Tressel was a good coach, but maybe not the legend he'll be remembered for.  People loved him because he destroyed Michigan, was pretty good in bowls, and won a championship.  They also loved his modesty and things he convinced the players to do off the field.  He knew what it was to be a Buckeye and that endeared him to the fanbase. 

I do think he coached Ohio State at a time where many coaches could've succeeded here, and maybe even exceeded the accomplishments of Tressel. The Big 10 has been down in general.  He had Michigan's number and they were quite honestly the only real threat for most of his tenure in this conference.  I've been saying quietly, it's hard to believe Ohio State had sanctions, lost their coach and star QB but may actually come out of this mess with a better coach and brighter future.  I believe that.  Urban is a better coach than Tresel. With a coach like Urban, Saban, and probably a few others I honestly think Ohio State probably has 3 titles, possibly more.

I liked Tressel a lot, I still think he's one hell of a person, but I do believe in a different decade he may not have been as successful as Cooper or Bruce for that matter.  I also believe that during his decade of dominance there were other coaches out there who would've made Ohio State even more dominant. 

buckeyenut10's picture

I'm sorry, but I completely disagree. Look at how well he developed a lot of 3/4 star talent into absolute beasts. Look at how well he prepared for big games. Look at how well our team did on the field AND in the class room. The man won a freaking national championship in his SECOND YEAR. Those things don't come with luck. They come with great coaching.

acBuckeye's picture

I love JT and always will, and he did many great things in his time here. But you said he prepared well for big games...... most times he did. Florida and LSU were much more prepared and better-coached. USC in '08 and '09 was as well, although the '08 game was against the best team in the country that year in my mind. Florida and Oklahoma were very good, but USC was the most talented team. I still can't wrap my mind around how they lost to Oregon State (lulz!) the week after bombing us.

Todd-Not Boeckmann's picture

To paraphrase Jim Tressel:


Nothing good ever comes from playing football in Jacksonville, Florida.  For the good of the school, and humanity in general, tOSU should never play in the Gator Bowl again.

On the wall guarding the North Coast from all Weasel invasions.

superbuck's picture

One thing everybody here is not realizing.  You saw the speed of the gators . All of those players were recruited by Urban Meyer . Quit belly-aching and be so so happy that we have him as our head coach. There will be major changes and we will be a major contender against the SEC. Be proud Buckeyes be very PROUD. The days of up the gut every play are over.