The Top 11 Buckeye Moments of 2011

By Jason Priestas on December 30, 2011 at 2:00p

Despite the raging success of Thad Matta and the men's basketball program, Ohio State is still a football school at heart. I don't need to tell you that 2011 was a rough year on the football front, but thanks to an athletic department that fields teams in everything from rowing to pistol, there were still plenty of good moments to go around.

We present to you our 4th-annual look at the top 11 Buckeye moments of the year.

11. Destroying Duke

Tonight, my butt hurts.

One of the perks of averaging 27 wins per year -- as Thad Matta has been able to do in Columbus -- is getting a better draw in the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge. This year, Matta's Buckeyes finally drew the Duke Blue Devils, the preeminent program in college basketball in the last 20 years.

With both teams ranked in the top five of polls -- the Buckeyes at 2nd and Duke at 4th -- the matchup at the Schottenstein Center was the highlight of the intra-conference slate, though the Buckeyes entered as 7.5-point favorites.

If only the game lived up to the advanced hype. The Buckeyes placed four in double figures led by 21 from Jared Sullinger and 20 from William Buford on the way to 85-63 stomping

The game was so lopsided, Coach K could only say the following: "Sometimes you get your butt kicked. I've had my butt kicked and we've kicked butt. Tonight, my butt is sore."

10. Eat Too, Brutus Gives Back

Greg Oden makes an appearance at Eat Too, Brutus

Granted, this isn't exactly a Buckeye moment in the purest sense, but indulge us for a second.

In 2010, we held the first Eat Too, Brutus, a tailgate to bring the site readers and writers together for some food, suds and fun prior to the Miami game. The turnout was better than anticipated and the game might have been even better as the Buckeyes handled the Hurricanes in the Shoe.

We already knew that we wanted to turn this event into an annual affair, but we decided to add some spice to it this year by raising money for the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research. After months of planning, things came together for the event, held prior to the Wisconsin game on Homecoming and through the generous contributions of our corporate partners and the awesome readers of this site, we were able to have a blast while raising nearly $6,000 for the charity.

If you were lucky enough to have attended, you know what I'm talking about. Chances are, you also got to meet Greg Oden and Mark Titus.

If you were unable to make it, don't fret. We'll be doing it again for the Nebraska game on October 6, 2012.

9. Jantel Lavender Makes History

Jantel Lavender captured four Big Ten Player of the Year Awards

When center Jantel Lavender concluded her Ohio State career in March, she departed as the most decorated hoopster in Lady Buckeye history.

Putting up double figures in every game of her collegiate career, she finished second all-time in the Big Ten in scoring and first in rebounds. She also collected 18 weekly Big Ten Player of the Week awards, good enough for another record.

Perhaps most impressive, she became the first athlete -- man or woman -- in a BCS conference to capture four league Player of the Year awards.

Currently balling for the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA, Lavender should be making one more stop in Columbus -- to have her jersey retired.

8. Men's Volleyball Captures a Title

Ohio State Men's Volleyball captured the program's first national championship in 2011

Ohio State men's volleyball has long enjoyed success on the court. Prior to last season, the program had earned 17 Final Four berths and even played in two championships, though losing both (most recently to UCLA in 2000).

That string of success, but not quite ultimate glory came to an end in 2011, however as the 3rd-seeded Buckeyes captured the program's first-ever national championship in a five-set victory over 4th-seeded UC Santa Barbara in State College, PA.

After suffering a defeat in the 2010 Final Four at the hands of eventual national champion Stanford, the squad, led by seniors Steve Kehoe, John Klanac and Kevin Heine resolved to finish things with a bang in 2011 and they did just that.

The Buckeyes dropped the first set 20-25, but responded to win three of the next four, 25-20, 25-19, 22-25 and 15-9.

And then, they celebrated.

7. Jared Sullinger Does Work

Jared Sullinger was everyone's freshman of the year in 2010-2011

Jared Sullinger was always going to be a Buckeye. His older brother, JJ, played three years in Columbus, the final two for Thad Matta, and Jared was a McDonald's All-American starring for the nation's #1 prep team, Northland, just minutes from Ohio State's campus.

When he finally did make things official by signing with the Buckeyes, he wasted little time getting to work.

The 6-9 forward started all 37 games for the Buckeyes, leading the team to a 34-3 record, a Big Ten regular season and tournament championship and the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament.

He led the team with 17.2 points and 10.1 rebounds per game, while shooting 53.6 percent for the field, while putting up 19 double-doubles along the way. Oh, he also scored 40 points in a December 2010 victory over IUPUI, good enough for an Ohio State freshman record.

As such, he was named Big Ten Player of the Week four times and Freshman of the Week so many times that it became a running joke that the award would soon be named after him. This led to him being named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and capturing the 2011 Wayman Tisdale Award from the U.S. Basketball Writers Association as the nation's top newcomer.

He'll be playing in the NBA soon enough, but while he's in Columbus, we're soaking up every minute of it.

6. David Lighty Rocks Cleveland

David Lighty gets a hug from pops after torching George Mason in the NCAA Tournament

One more than one occasion last year, the Buckeye basketball team looked absolutely invincible. One of those nights was on March 20th, when Ohio State took on George Mason in a second round NCAA Tournament game.

After falling behind 11-2 early, the Buckeyes absolutely caught fire, unleashing a hellish 50-15 run -- that's right, a 50-15 run -- over the final 16:23 of the first half to take a commanding 52-26 lead into the locker room.

Several players had great nights, but none had the night David Lighty did, playing in front of his friends and family in his hometown.

The senior glue guy finished 7/7 from downtown and 9/10 from the floor overall on the way to 25 points as the Buckeyes demolished George Mason 98-66, good enough for the most lopsided Tournament win in school history.

Afterward, an emotional Lighty hugged family members that had watched him play his final college game in Ohio. "Couldn't be any better," he said. "A perfect ending."

5. The Best Vacated Night of Your Life

Off the books, but still in our hearts.

Officially, the game never happened. But for the thousands of Buckeye fans at the Superdome and the millions more that watched the Sugar Bowl on television, we know what we saw.

And what we saw was a Buckeye team that started hot, racing out to a 28-7 lead over Arkansas (thanks in small part to buttered gloves on the hands of Razorback receivers), ultimately taking a 28-10 lead into the locker room at the half.

And then the Tresseling happened. Sensing a chance to pry the 0-9 SEC bowl game monkey from the team's back, the coach went conservative, attempting to run the clock out for most of the 2nd half. Typically, this strategy worked well for Tressel, but a rare Boom Herron fumble a safety when he was tackled in Ohio State's end zone, coupled with a hot Ryan Mallett, saw Arkansas storm back into the game, finally closing the gap to five points as the Buckeyes took over with 4:33 remaining in the game.

Attempting to kill the clock, the Buckeyes kept the ball on the ground picking up two first downs before the drive stalled at their own 36 with a little over a minute remaining in the game. On the ensuing punt, the Razorbacks brought the house and were able to block a Ben Buchanan punt, getting the ball back at the OSU 18 with 1:09 to play.

From pure ecstasy to outright despair in the matter of a few hours, Buckeye fans were now facing the prospect of moving to 0-10 against the SEC in bowl games and with as hot as Mallett had been playing in the 2nd half, little hope remained among the faithful. On first down, Mallett threw incomplete to tight end D.J. Williams. No worries -- still plenty of time and just 18 yards to go for the winner.

And then Solomon Thomas happened. After Mallett was pressured on 2nd down, he tried to throw underneath, but the much maligned member of the Tat 5 stepped in front of the intended receiver for his first career interception, ending the SEC bowl curse.

Sure, it may not really count in the books, but I'll not soon forget that absolute insanity that was the 2011 Sugar Bowl, nor the beautiful, mocking S-E-C chants that Buckeye fans serenaded their Arkansas brethren with throughout the game.

4. Diebler Goes Ham

10 triples? 10 triples.

By the time his senior season rolled around, Jon Diebler had become pretty much automatic from three point land.

On March 13, 2010, in a game during his junior season, he surpassed Jamar Butler for the Ohio State record for three point field goals made at Ohio State. A little over 11 months later, he would go on to break the Big Ten's three pointer mark when he banged in his 33rd career bomb against Purdue.

In short, the man made it rain. But the highlight of his bombs on parade came during a game against Penn State on March 1st, when the senior drained his first triple, missed his second and then caught fire by making nine-straight to finish 10/11 from downtown for 30 points, helping the Buckeyes capture the Big Ten regular season conference crown with a 82-61 romp in State College.

It was part of an impressive week for Diebs as he followed that performance with a 6-9 outing from downtown against Wisconsin in Columbus to go out 17-20 from three land in his final two regular season games as a Buckeye.

3. Homecoming Magic

Devin Smith, Homecoming Hero

October was a rough month for Buckeye football fans.

It started with an ugly loss to Michigan State at home that nearly saw the Buckeyes suffer their first home shutout in nearly 30 years before scoring late in the game.

The following week saw the team squander a 27-6 third quarter lead in Lincoln as the Cornhuskers stormed back for a 34-27 victory after Braxton Miller was knocked out of the game with an injury.

The team would go on to pick up a win over previously unbeaten Illinois in Champaign to stop the bleeding, but Ron Zook and all.

After a bye week, the Buckeyes welcomed Wisconsin to town and aside from last second loss to Michigan State on a Hail Mary, the Badgers had looked practically unbeatable up to that point with quarterback Russell Wilson slicing people through the air and running back Montee Ball destroying the survivors on the ground. As such, Wisconsin entered as seven point favorites for a rare homecoming treat -- a night game at the Shoe.

Sporting Pro Combat uniforms and feeding off the energy of the home crowd, the Buckeye defense came out and did its part, limiting the vaunted Badger running game to just 104 yards on the ground. Special teams showed up as well, with a Ryan Shazier punt block leading to a quick seven as part of a 14-point third quarter to give the Buckeyes a 17-14 lead heading into the final stanza.

Drew Basil would add a field goal early in the fourth to pad the lead and Braxton Miller followed six minutes later with a 44-yard touchdown run to put the Buckeyes up 26-14 with just a little over four minutes remaining in the game.

That's when Russell Wilson went to work. The quarterback found Jared Abbrederis on a 17-yard strike to close the gap to 26-21 and then, after forcing an Ohio State punt, Wilson took over again and found Abbrederis again, this time on 49-yard pass to put the Badgers up for the first time since the first half. Wilson would find Ball on a two-point conversion, giving the Badgers a 29-26 lead with a little over a minute to play.

With the fanbase expecting nothing at this point, Jordan Hall took the ensuing kickoff back 42 yards to put the Buckeye in business at their own 48. The offense would gain 12 more yards on the next three plays, putting themselves at the Wisconsin 40 with 20 seconds remaining.

Needing a touchdown, magic happened. And Columbus partied into the night.

2. Dealt With

Bo Ryan, dealt with.

After his Badgers handed Ohio State its first loss of the season in a 71-67 upset at the Kohl Center in mid-February, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan offered up a bit of advice to Buckeyes everywhere after he was told of a fan apparently spitting on Jared Sullinger on the court after the game.

His response, "Deal with it," soon became a rallying cry as towels were made in anticipating of exacting some revenge in Columbus a little less than a month later.

The home fans were not disappointed as the Buckeyes used two big first half runs to turn what had been a relatively close game into a blowout. The team would go on to shoot a blistering 68% from the field for the game, including an insane 93% from downtown (14/15) in a 93-65 laugher, that concluded a perfect season at home for Ohio State.

The win improved Ohio State to 29-2 on the year, locking up a top seed in the NCAA Tournament and providing a few hours of glorious Bo Ryan taunting. Dealt with, indeed.

1. Urban Comes Home

Urban Meyer, flexing for recruits

2011 was easily the worst Ohio State football season in over a decade.

A tattoo for autographs scandal exploded into a beloved head coach withholding information from the NCAA and ultimately to his ouster on May 30th.

As if that wasn't enough, the team's MVP saw his career end early in a hasty exit to the NFL via supplemental draft, five other players were suspended for portions of the season, and finally, handful of players received either new or further suspensions for getting paid for work they did not complete.

The team suffered on the field, going 6-6 and is in position to lose a 7th game in one season for the first time in over 100 years.

As if that wasn't enough, the NCAA returned its final verdict, which led to nine lost scholarships over three years, a postseason ban in 2012 and one more year of probation. It was as bad as everything was good from 2001-2010, and all delivered in a series of punches to the gut that played out over nearly the entire calendar year.

But somehow, the Buckeyes landed on their feet when they convinced one of the best coaches in college football to return home and help lead the program back to greatness. After weeks of rumors and speculations, dreams became a reality when Urban Meyer stepped up to a podium at a press conference in Columbus to announce that he had agreed to become the head coach of the Buckeyes.

So much stink, nearly evaporated in one move. And best of all, the Wolverines only got to celebrate the rare win over the Buckeyes for about 48 hours.

And now, once again, we look to the future.

HONORABLE MENTION: The men's hockey team earns a sweep in Ann Arbor; Braxton Miller signs on the dotted line; A.J. Hawk and Ryan Pickett earn rings; Evan Turner and Mike Conley come into their own during the NBA playoffs; Nick Swisher gets his own field; Dane Sanzenbacher turns heads as an undrafted free agent; Braxton Miller sets a record with an 81-yard scamper against the Hoosiers.


Comments Show All Comments

dbit's picture

I can't tell you how much I appreciate this article after the rehashing of those painful months of this year.


Maybe I'm biased for being in attendance, but I would rank the Sugar Bowl a bit higher.  Nothing better than chanting S-E-C or Suuuuuu-eeeyyy (or whatever it is they would say).

The Vest-er's picture

E2b3 is gonna be off the chizain...cause I will be there

Fundamentals are a crutch for the talentless.

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

I'd rank the Sugar Bowl at 2, and the Miller to Smith pass at the top spot.

Watching Pryor and the boys curbstomp an ESSS EEEEE CCCEEEEE defense in that first half was awesome.

As big as the hiring was of Urban, it still can't top what Miller did on that play. It's one of the most exciting plays in Buckeye history.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

Normal Buck's picture

I'm in agreement on this.

buckeyeEddie27's picture

yep, that was sooo huge.   i watch the replay on youtube at least twice a day. 

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

poop's picture

I would rank the first half of the Sugar Bowl at #2. The second half was so horrible, I have no problem with that part being vacated. Easily the most angry I've been after a win in my life. The SEC chants made me feel a lot better though.

Doc's picture

Braxton's pass to Smith was so sweet. Being in the stadium and watching the ball float for an eternity to Smith was one of my favorite stadium moments. Shoulda been #1 .

I'm hoping to be at ETB3 for Nebraska.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

Ramzy Nasrallah's picture

Already decided. It is.

Osu Lippert7's picture

It was the greatest feeling I've felt so far in my life. I couldn't stop smiling. It was about as close to a dream feeling as a Buckeye fan can get. Now, Only if Braxton could've did it against tsun.....

LadyBuck's picture

I agree. SEC fans can say that it "never happned" and we "cheated" (I mean, really? SEC? Do you really have room to talk?), but that was great.

As for the Wisconsin game at home, I was there with a friend. To say it was surreal to see Braxton make that pass is an understatement. Half the time, I still don't believe it happened. Part of what made it so amazing, was the fact that Wisconsin almost -almost- got two or three really good, deep passes for a last second touchdown. Including one last play after the regulation game clock expired. It was crazy. (Plus it was Halloween, so there were people dressed up at the game). That's a memory to share later on in life.

rampageripster's picture

for me #8 is #1... and it ain't close... I was a really dedicated volleyball supporter my four years and to woin a national champioship when everyone told me there was no way we could my senior year was just... incredible...

Oh, and that youtube video was just the start of an epic clebration... I'd tell stories, but the assistant AD gave us retty strict directions to keep our mouths shut :D

Cause I couldn't go for three

Bucks43201's picture

I'm still upset David Lighty is not on an NBA roster.

He's more than worthy.

"You win with people." - Woody Hayes

JakeBuckeye's picture

Well needless to say, our two new coordinators have not been impressive in their bowl games.

William's picture

Not worried at all. Everett Withers had beastly defenses at UNC, and Herman had great offenses at Rice. They can't help it that their players gave up on them like Withers, or that their players are nowhere near being equal in talent with their opposition, as is the case with Herman.

JakeBuckeye's picture

LOL at Rice being adaquet credentials for the Ohio State job. But I'm not worried on that side of the ball either, because that will be Urban's specialty. Plus, Herman is an upgrade from Bollman.

William's picture

So being a coach at Youngstown State is more adaquate than having coached at Rice? Last time I checked Rice at least is a FBS team, can't say the same for YSU.

Also his offenses at Rice ranked in the Top 10, consistently. When has an OSU offense ever done that?

JakeBuckeye's picture

Even though head coaching is a different story, its very easy to argue that Jim Tressel WAS NOT qualified for the Ohio State job. There's a reason he wasn't even close to our first choice. So your counter argument is an assumption on your part that I thought Tressel's credentials were adaquet for the Ohio State job. You know what assuming does, right? It makes an ass out of you and me. (And a different argument would be how much more prestigous a job is at Ohio State today than it was in 2001.)

William's picture

I don't need any lines from Heartbreak Ridge about making assumptions. My point is that so what if he coached at Rice? His offenses at Rice were far superior to anything OSU has put out in the past decade. Gus Malzahn was coaching high school football 5 years ago, look where he is now. Herman's offenses have put up great numbers before, and at Ohio State I think they will as well.

JakeBuckeye's picture

I don't need any lines from Heartbreak Ridge about making assumptions.

Oh gosh lighten up a little man. Your commentary on your favorite blog doesn't need to be so serious all the time.

His offenses at Rice were far superior to anything OSU has put out in the past decade.

Guess who just said this? Me! Did you forget the part where I said Herman was an upgrade? Sheesh man, I was never ripping Herman or saying that I didn't like him. I just made a crack about Rice. I don't know if you're having a bad day, I wasn't trying to argue.

Abe Froman's picture

I'm with you on this one.  I'll take Herman as an improvement anytime.  We may not get the best one out there, regardless of what is stated, but an improvement is welcomed!

Basking in the wake of mediocrity.....

BuckeyeChief's picture

Sorry, for me the int to end the Sugar Bowl was Number 1 and is in the top 15-20 in my life, easily. I was all for smoking a stoogie after the game, but I was too damn wore out after the game to do anything but sit there teary eyed, drained. Miller to Smith is high uo there as well.

"2014 National with it!!!"

Leanenaud's picture

While we're talking superlatives, I'd like to say Nelly's "The Champ" is the biggest piece of shit song in years. I hate crappy made for tv sports songs.

Poison nuts's picture

In all the years I've watched Ohio State football, which is since the mid seventies when I was 4 or 5 & growing up in Columbus, that touchdown (against Wisconsin) was the most elated/relieved I've felt. A kid on Christmas to say the least. It was right then that I felt that my team was eventually going to be just fine. Yes, the season slid downhill from there - but that moment seemed like a turning point away from the "scandal" and toward better days. Would have loved to have been there...

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

Jason Priestas's picture

That play was great, but would you put it above Holy Buckeye?

Poison nuts's picture

Hey Jason - good question...For me it's ahead of Holy Buckeye for a few reasons. I was so down about this year (for obvious reasons) and after the Nebraska come back, I really felt that the season or maybe the team was coming apart. Then they let Wisconsin back into the game and it felt hopeless. All of us Buckeye fans are pretty spoiled due to a truly great past decade. I know I am. Then all the sudden it seemed as though they were doomed. With that one TD, for me anyway, it felt like the beginning of a new era and there was a light at the end of the "scandal" tunnel. So yeah - it's ahead of Holy Buckeye and even the 03 NC in a way...well maybe not the NC...but way it's up there for sure!

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

JakeBuckeye's picture

I would agree with putting it above Holy Buckeye. Holy Buckeye was a part of an amazing season, but that Wisconsin game/Braxton throw made the entire 2011 season worth everything.

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

I have to agree with this list.  There were good times this year, even if the crown jewel of the athletic program had its worst season in over a decade.  I can't wait to read this same article next year.

"Men's Basketball makes Final Four/wins National Title"

"Urban renewal renews dominance over Michigan...550 yds and 7 TDs for Braxton Miller, 6 INTs for Denard Robinson in a 77-0 thumping by the Buckeyes" (LOL, exaggeration a bit after the dots)

"Buckeye football 12-0, thumbs nose to NCAA and paper champions of the B1G"

Men's Hockey #4 in the nation...Frozen Four?

Some other, less-known sport winning a National Championship


Class of 2010.

Osu Lippert7's picture

If this happens, Is there a better feeling we could get? 

BigRedBuckeye's picture

Good list but, no offense, Sully "doing work" isn't really a "moment".

And we'll drink to old Ohio, 'Til we wobble in our shoes! 

Jason Priestas's picture

I should have been clearer, but the moment I was referring to was when he captured the Wayman Tisdale Award as the nation's top frosh. To get there, I had to enumerate what he'd accomplished over the course of the season.

nickma71's picture

I would like to see the AD fired, and Jim Tressel asked to join a very short list of non band members to dot the "i" in script Ohio.

Abe Froman's picture

Top moments are often bad moments.  Afterall, good and bad define us and our spirit.  Maybe this list should be called Great Moments?


If anyone else has stated something similar, I apologize, but I just didn't feel like reading all 26 prior comments.

Basking in the wake of mediocrity.....

Jason Priestas's picture

I kind of see where you're coming from, but there's no way Tressel resigning/being forced out is ever a "top" moment in my world.

fadeproof's picture

Remember how the George Mason game started last year? I was in a lower level suite and within my wingspan was the George Mason fan section. So fun watching Lighty and the boys quickly drain their bravado and enthusiasm, and then destroy them. Was a great vibe in Cleve that night because everyone in the building knew it was a Lighty homecoming. Wish the season ended that night......