The 2012 Ohio State Buckeyes made a number of timely, crucial, and spectacular plays in all three phases of the game to compile an undefeated 12-0 season. But several of those plays stand out more than others. Without further ado, I give you the top 11 plays of the 2012 Ohio State football season.
11. Devin Smith's One-Handed Touchdown Catch
This phenomenal catch on a three verticals route off of a QB counter trey action got the season started in style and marked Smith as a legitimate deep threat.
10. Braxton Miller's Touchdown Run Vs. Cal
Braxton Miller can render even the best designed defenses a nullity. Here, OSU runs a fake outside zone QB counter trey. Cal's defensive back is sitting in the hole, but Miller leaves him grasping for air. This and other early highlight runs put Miller in the Heisman conversation throughout the season.
9. Ryan Shazier Interception Return vs. Penn State
Shazier's pick-6 from quarter-quarter-half coverage provided OSU a lead it never relinquished in Happy Valley. Shazier's interception changed the complexion of the game, allowing OSU to take control in the second half.
8. Corey Brown's Punt Return vs. Wisconsin
Behind great blocking, Brown got immediately upfield for the touchdown. With an anemic offensive showing for much of the game, this return was critical to get the Buckeyes into overtime to secure the win.
7. Braxton Miller Touchdown Run Against Penn State
In a season of great Miller runs, this one was certainly not the longest, but it was perhaps the most spectacular.
6. Zach Boren Sack Against Michigan
Boren's automatic delayed blitz read led to this huge hit that set the tone and perhaps altered the course of the Michigan game.
5. Rod Smith Wheel Route
This was a perfectly executed wheel route off inverted veer action and showed Urban Meyer at his best—creating big-play opportunities by constraining the defense off his base spread run plays.
4. Braxton Miller Touchdown Run vs. Nebraska
This QB counter trey was set up pre-snap. By aligning trips to the left, OSU was able to pull the Nebraska deep safety to the left hash mark. As such, once Miller got in the open field there was no one left to stop him. Like so many other big Miller runs, this one opened the offensive flood gates for Ohio State.
3. Buckeye Defense Fourth Down Overtime Stop vs. Wisconsin
Here, the Buckeye defense learned from their fourth quarter mistake in allowing Wisconsin to get a last-second touchdown. Rather than sit back in cover 3 zone, OSU brought pressure, specifically an overload blitz with cover-0 behind. Christian Bryant made a nice play on the ball, sealing the Buckeyes' victory.
2. Kenny Guiton Two-Point Conversion Pass vs. Purdue
The Buckeyes' undefeated season would not have happened without a near-miraculous comeback versus Purdue. And this victory could not have happened without key contributions from reserves Kenny Guiton and Chris Fields. Guiton's heady play was exemplified by the game-tying two-point conversion. OSU ran a nicely designed tight end delayed throwback. Jeff Heuerman sold the block, and Guiton delivered an easily catchable ball for the score.
1. OSU Running 'Power' to Ice an Undefeated Season
The Buckeyes sealed their undefeated season against Michigan in the most appropriate way for this squad—running Carlos Hyde behind Jack Mewhort and Andrew Norwell on the left side of the Ohio State offensive line. This is where OSU repeatedly went when they needed tough yards, and the two-headed running monster of Miller and Carlos Hyde was the engine to Ohio State's success in 2012.