It's safe to say that the 2011 campaign was not a success by the majority of Buckeye fans' standards.
After a tumultuous offseason that saw the program's legendary head coach and star quarterback depart, while also leaving the team without some star players for the first handful of games and beyond, Luke Fickell's squad stumbled to a 6-7 record on the year, including the first loss to Michigan since 2003 and an ugly defeat in the Gator Bowl to a mediocre Florida team.
There were some bright spots throughout the season, including the win against Wisconsin in the lone home night game and the emergence of Braxton Miller as a budding star in the conference, but overall the feeling left when 2011 was all wrapped up was that the Buckeyes could have performed better.
Nobody was expecting to run the table last year, but looking at OSU's seven losses, six of them came by seven points or less, with the lone outlier being the abysmal 24-6 loss in Miami. Even if Ohio State took three of those six close losses against Michigan State, Nebraska, Purdue, Penn State, Michigan, and Florida, the team would have ended up with a respectable 9-4 mark on the campaign, which would have been considered a huge success given the circumstances.
The good news for Buckeye fans is that things didn't go that way last year, but Urban Meyer and his staff have come to town and brought the Ohio State football program up from the bottom and are marching back towards the top of the sport's elite status.
Even better news is that the team gets to redeem their failures from last year, as they look to take down the Spartans, Cornhuskers, Boilermakers, Nittany Lions, and Wolverines with revenge on their minds for last season's uncharacteristic performances.
Last year's game against the Spartans took place in Ohio Stadium and was an ugly one across the board. From the pouring rain falling from the sky, to both team's putting out inept offenses, this was not a fun game to watch for either fan base.
MSU's defense took the cake last year, shutting out the Buckeyes for the first 59:50 of the game, before Joe Bauserman hit Evan Spencer with a 33-yard touchdown pass with :10 remaining on the clock to leave the final score at 10-7. The Spartans' unit held OSU to just 178 total yards on the day, including a mere 35 on the ground.
The good news for Ohio State is that this time around they actually will have an offensive game plan when the two teams square off on September 29 in East Lansing. The bad news is that Michigan State's defense doesn't lose much from last year's roster, and the unit looks to once again be one of the best, if not the top dog, in the conference.
The contest will be the first road game for the Buckeyes in 2012, and while Spartan fans aren't known to give their team a big home-field advantage, the stadium will certainly be rocking as the Buckeyes will likely be entering at 4-0.
While this is a challenging game for Ohio State, it's certainly a winnable one. The new Buckeye offense should be greatly improved, and the defense, which forced three turnovers in last year's game, should be better as well.
Don't forget that Mark Dantonio's team is also breaking in a new quarterback and lost some key playmakers at wide receiver, another big time factor playing into Urban Meyer's favor.
Everything was working for Ohio State in a night game at Nebraska's Memorial Stadium back on October 8 of last year.
Freshman QB Braxton Miller was showing the entire nation what he was capable of during the primetime broadcast on ABC, completing 5/8 passes for 95 yards and a score, while also running 10 times for 90 yards to give the Buckeyes a 27-6 lead into the third quarter.
It was in that third quarter where things changed, as Miller went down with a sprained ankle, putting the team in a state of panic and forcing them to move away from the innovative offensive game plan they had executed so flawlessly for the first 35 minutes or so of the game.
Of course, as things went, the Cornhuskers marched back to score 28 unanswered points behind the legs of Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead to deliver a 34-27 win, leaving OSU with their second straight loss in a game that certainly should have left them victorious.
This year is Ohio State's turn to host Nebraska in a night game, a contest that will take place at 8 PM ET in the Horseshoe on October 6. Martinez and Burkhead are back for the Big Red, but this time Ohio State has an experienced coach on the headset and the young talent on the roster is more developed and prepared for the primetime game that will once again air on the ABC/ESPN family of networks.
With the game being at home, the Bucks should be favored, especially knowing how the crowd gets for these big time night match-ups. Consider the fact that it's also the date of 11W's Eat Too, Brutus event (2-0 record after Miami in 2010 and Wisconsin in 2011) and the recipe for a win is already written.
Ohio State had their fair share of battles with Purdue during the Tressel era, but none of the losses they suffered match what happened in the 2011 game.
The Buckeyes got off to a terrible start in West Lafayette, trailing 17-7 at halftime, but this always seemed like the type of game where OSU would eventually wake up and edge out the Boilermakers.
It certainly seemed to be the case, as OSU cut the lead to 17-14 at the end of the third quarter and had the ball with a chance to win the game down 20-14 in the fourth period.
In heroic fashion, Braxton Miller marched his team down the field and finished off a 5:20 drive with a 4th-and-3 touchdown pass to Jordan Hall on a broken play to have a near "Holy Buckeye" moment. It was a near special moment because the PAT attempt to give the Buckeyes the lead, and likely a win, was blocked, setting up what would become a 26-23 Purdue victory in overtime.
Just like in 2010 when the Bucks smoked the Boilermakers 49-0 in Columbus after falling on the road in 2009, expect the 2012 squad to play angry against Danny Hope's team. Purdue has a pretty solid squad this year and won't be such an easy pushover, but with the game being in Ohio Stadium and the superior talent on the Buckeye roster being prepared properly, it is hard to see OSU falling to this team two years in a row.
The 2011 Penn State-Ohio State game was a memorable one, because if you told fans of either team the year before that neither Jim Tressel nor Joe Paterno would be on the sidelines for the contest, they would have said you had absolutely lost your mind.
Turns out that was the case as the match-up in Columbus featured OSU first year head coach, Luke Fickell, and Penn State interim head coach, Tom Bradley, in what was his first game handling those duties following Paterno's dismissal as head coach due to the Sandusky scandal.
Catch up on everything you need to know ahead of the season kickoff.
Ohio State kept the negative momentum going from the Purdue game, falling into a 10-0 hole early, but battled back to make it a 20-14 game at halftime.
The Buckeye defense did its job in the second half, shutting out the Nittany Lions, but unfortunately was not able to put any points on the board in the remaining two quarters, leaving 20-14 as the final mark for the game in PSU's favor.
This year, the Buckeyes are on the rise, but it is Penn State who is on the downs, after a four year bowl ban, scholarship reductions, probation, and a fine has hit the university following the Freeh Report on the Sandusky scandal.
The 2012 tilt is set up for a 6 PM kick-off in Beaver Stadium and will be the Penn State "White Out" game for this season, but it is hard to imagine a depleted Nittany Lion squad resembling the stellar Big Ten program they have been over the last decade.
Ohio State was able to pick off Wisconsin last year in a similar game when they were down, so the Bucks shouldn't sleep on PSU, but OSU fans have to feel better about this game today than they did a few months back.
Ah, "The Game". The granddaddy of them all when it comes to the regular season for Ohio State, especially considering the program has a postseason ban this year.
Last year the Buckeyes went into Ann Arbor with a seven-game winning streak in the rivalry, but having been losers of two straight and holding a pedestrian 6-5 record. Nonetheless, this was the Michigan game and all past blunders were history, with the focus being on redeeming the season with a victory against "the school up north".
Like during the Tressel years, Luke Fickell brought out all the stops for the team's biggest rivalry game, and it helped by giving the team a strong early start en route to a 24-23 lead at the half.
The second half continued to be a battle, but the team's youth and inexperience came out, resulting in missed multiple opportunities to take the contest which ended in a 40-34 loss.
Despite the outcome, there were some positives to take away from the game, including Braxton Miller's 235 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air to go along with his 100 yards rushing and score on the ground.
The Buckeyes are hoping that the young quarterback's performance on the road in last year's game can be built upon in this year's version of the rivalry, as the teams come back to Columbus in what should set up to be an epic first match-up between Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer.
You can bet that no matter what happens in the first 11 games, Meyer is going to want this one more than anything, and with it serving as the team's "national championship" this year, you can bet the Buckeye effort will be 110%.
Michigan has some great weapons, led by senior QB Denard Robinson, but the Buckeyes appear to be on the cusp of returning to greatness. A loss against UM would certainly sting in Meyer's first year at the helm, but a victory would set the stage for what many expect to be a legitimate run at the 2013 national title.