100 Teams in 100 Days: Urban Meyer Returns and Leads Ohio State to Perfection in 2012

By Matt Gutridge on August 30, 2016 at 11:40 am
The 2012 Ohio State University football team.
Ohio State University Archives

Ohio State named Urban Meyer its 24th head coach on Nov. 28, 2011. Born in Toledo and raised in Ashtabula, Meyer returned to the great state of Ohio to resurrect a troubled Buckeyes' football program.

4 days and counting.

Heading into Ohio State's 100th season of Big Ten football, the team knew it was ineligible to win the Big Ten title and play in the postseason due to major NCAA infractions. Along with the ban, Ohio State faced scholarship reductions from 85 to 82 for the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons. The punishments were stiff, but Meyer found a way to motivate his team.

On the field, the coach had 17 returning starters and Braxton Miller representing the stud at quarterback Meyer desired. Johnathan Hankins and John Simon anchored the defensive line and Christian Bryant led the secondary. 

Meyer needed to replace four offensive and three defensive starters.  A big concern heading into the season was who would replace Mike Adams, Mike Brewster and even J.B. Shugarts on the offensive line.


The 2012 Buckeyes
Record 12–0
B1G Record 8–0, 1st
Coach Urban Meyer (1st year, 12–0)
Captains Zach Boren, Garrett Goebel,
Jordan Hall, Etienne Sabino,
John Simon

Games of Note

September 29th • #20 Michigan State • Spartan Stadium
“This was a war. This was two sledgehammers going at each other,” Meyer said. “I know the Big Ten has taken some heat. That was a great game. Great atmosphere, a bunch of great players on the field that are going to be playing at the next level, and that was good for college football and good for the Big Ten.”

That was how Meyer described his first Big Ten game as Ohio State's head coach. Injuries shook Miller up twice, but he returned to the field both times to finish the game. He ended up with 179 passing yards and 136 more yards on the ground. All of his yards were important, but none were as decisive as the 63-yard touchdown pass he completed to Devin Smith with 3:05 remaining in the third quarter.

Michigan State's Dan Conroy just kicked a field goal to give the Spartans their first lead of the game at 13-10. On the Buckeyes' ensuing drive, Miller had 1st-and-10 from his own 29 when he unleashed the bomb to Smith down the right sideline. The receiver caught the ball in stride and left Johnny Adams behind for the game-deciding score.

In the fourth quarter, Ohio State caught a break when a Miller fumble was ruled down. Michigan State's Kurtis Drummond recovered the fumble and was on his way to a big return, but the refs blew the play dead. Following the review, however, officials ruled it a fumble and MSU had the ball at its own 32. The whistle cost the Spartans many yards as Drummond had a lot of empty grass ahead of him.

Michigan State capitalized on the fumble with a field goal, but the Buckeyes held on for the win.

Ohio State limited star running back Le'Veon Bell to 45 yards on 17 carries and the Ohio State defense held the Spartans to 49 total rushing yards. 

Aside from the turnover, Miller served as the difference in the victory. 

"Braxton Miller is a very exciting player," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. "We knew that coming into the game. He took a lot of bad plays and made them good ones.

The 17-16 victory over the Spartans made Meyer the third Buckeye head coach to start his inaugural campaign 5–0. Carol Widoes (1944) and Earle Bruce (1979) were the first to accomplish the feat.

"A great team win," Meyer said. "We found out something about our team today, to go on the road in a hostile environment against a quality, quality football team and find a way to win."

This the game that John Simon introduced the team to championship water.

2012 Schedule
      12–0, 446–274

October 6th • #21 Nebraska • Ohio Stadium
The second half collapse in Lincoln in 2011 still left a bad taste in the mouth of the Buckeyes.

In front of an Ohio Stadium record crowd of 106,102, Ohio State rushed for 371 yards and six touchdowns to embarrass the 21st-ranked Cornhuskers.  

The Buckeyes scored by land, air, defense and special teams for a total of nine touchdowns.

Bradley Roby opened the scoring when he intercepted Taylor Martinez and returned it for a 41-yard pick-six. Jeff Heuerman caught an 18-yard pass from Miller in the second quarter and Rod Smith, Hyde and Miller combined for six rushing touchdowns. Corey Brown provided the special teams score with a 76-yard punt return near the end of the third quarter.

Nebraska scored 17 straight points, but the Buckeyes' 28 points in the second quarter gave the home team a 35-24 lead at halftime. Martinez pulled his squad to within four points when he connected with Ben Cotton for a 3-yard touchdown, but that would be the closest they would get the rest of the game.

Miller rushed for 186 yards and set an Ohio State record for running by a quarterback in the 63-38 victory. He had an impressive 72-yard touchdown run in which he weaved in and out of the Cornhuskers' defense. 

"When it's my chance to get the ball, I'm going to try to make something happen with it," Miller said.

Ohio State's 63 points were the most scored by the Buckeyes in a Big Ten game since beating Minnesota in 1983

"Our offensive line eventually took over that game," Meyer said. "We have two great runners right now. The quarterback is kind of ridiculous right now and Hyde is a solid back."

MIAMI, OH W5 5–0
UCF W1 1–0
UAB W1 1–0
INDIANA W18 69–12–5
PURDUE W1 39–14–2
ILLINOIS W5 65–30–4
WISCONSIN W2 55–17–5
MICHIGAN W1 45–58–6

October 20th • Purdue • Ohio Stadium
Pesky Purdue brought its voodoo ways into Ohio Stadium for this cloudy 51-degree noon kickoff.

On the first snap of the game, Caleb TerBush lobbed a pass to Akeem Shavers who slipped past Storm Klein and raced 83 yards to give the Boilermakers a 6-0 lead 17 seconds into the game. Garret Goebel blocked the point after and the play turned out to be a difference maker.

Later in the first quarter, Miller capped a 10-play, 67-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run. Ohio State led 7-6, but it only lasted 17 seconds because Thomas Meadows returned Drew Basil's kickoff 100 yards to put Purdue back on top.

The second quarter was scoreless thanks to C.J. Barnett's interception of TerBush in the end zone, and Paul Griggs missed a 52-yard field goal with 17 seconds left.

The teams exchanged touchdowns in the third quarter. Hyde rushed up the middle to give the Buckeyes a 14-13 lead, then TerBush threw a 31-yard touchdown pass on Purdue's next possession to regain the lead at 20-14.

Miller fumbled on the second play of Ohio State's next drive and Purdue had the ball on OSU's 37. The Buckeye defense didn't break and forced Griggs to attempt a 34-yard field goal. Hankins blocked the attempt and Roby recovered to keep the deficit at six.

With new hope, Ohio State had the ball on its own 24. Miller took the first snap and rushed down the right sideline for a 37 yard gain to the Boilermakers' 39-yard line. When Miller was tackled by Josh Johnson he banged his head on the turf and left the stadium via ambulance.

Meyer turned to Kenny Guiton at quarterback and he moved the ball six yards on three plays. Basil tried a 50-yard field goal, but it hit the left upright. With 14:12 remaining, the Buckeyes still trailed 20-14.

Purdue's went three-and-out and Cody Webster hit a 46-yard punt that was downed at the 1. Two plays later, Guiton rushed for six yards, but Heuerman was called for an illegal block in the end zone which led to a safety. 

Neither team scored over the next nine minutes and Ohio State had one last shot to tie the game.

With 47 seconds on the clock Guiton and the offense had the ball on the Ohio State 39. On first down the redshirt junior connected with Devin Smith for a 39-yard gain to the Purdue 22. On the second play, Smith hit Evan Spencer for an 8-yard gain and the wide receiver ran out with 28 seconds left. Following an incomplete pass, Hyde rushed for three yards and picked up the important first down at the 11. 

Guiton then spiked the ball and threw consecutive incomplete passes. However, Spencer was interfered with on the 3rd-and-10 pass and the ball was marked on the 2 with eight seconds left. Guiton found Chris Fields open on the left side of the end zone. The pass was low and to the right, but Fields made an incredible diving catch and prevented the ball from hitting the turf. Ohio State trailed 22-20 and needed the two-point conversion to send the game to overtime.

The game-tying play called for Guiton to roll right with a receiver racing to the right corner of the end zone. As the play flowed to the east side of the stadium, Heuerman ran a drag route to the left side of the field. Guiton stopped his run, turned and lobbed a pass to the wide-open tight end. The game headed to overtime.

Hyde gave Ohio State a 29-22 lead after he leaped in from a yard out on 3rd-and-goal. The Boilermakers needed a score to continue the game. TerBush threw incompletions on first and second down, then hit Gabe Holmes for a five-yard completion.

On 4th-and-5 with the game in the balance, TerBush took the snap from shotgun and was rushed. He scrambled around, headed right, then threw for the end zone. TerBush's pass for Crosby Wright was too deep and the Buckeyes kept their undefeated season alive.

"That's one of those things that will go down in the record books forever," Heuerman said. "There's no one more deserving than Kenny, too. I love the guy. It's incredible. I get chills thinking about it."

November 17th • Wisconsin • Camp Randall Stadium
The Buckeyes and Badgers faced off in a game touting the running abilities of both teams. Ohio State featured Miller and Hyde, while Wisconsin leaned on Montee Ball. The star running back stood two touchdowns away from breaking the NCAA rushing record for scores.

The Buckeyes took a 14-7 lead into halftime after Brown returned a 68-yard punt for a touchdown in the first quarter and Hyde ran in from 15 yards out early in the second. Ball scored for the Badgers in the second and tied Travis Prentice's record of 78 career touchdowns.

The third quarter was scoreless as both teams combined for three punts. At the start of the final period, Kyle French lined up for a 40-yard field goal. His kick had enough distance, but it missed to the left.

Following a Ben Buchanan 26-yard punt, Wisconsin had the ball at Ohio State's 46. On the first play of the drive, Ball rushed 25 yards to the 21-yard line. Three plays later, the Badgers had 4th-and-1 from the 12 and Curt Phillips rushed for the important yard and first down.

Ball rushed three straight times and set-up a 4th-and-1 at the OSU 2-yard line. Bret Bielema was determined to get Ball the record and fed him one more time. Ryan Shazier met him in the middle of the line and punched the ball out of his outstretched arms. Bryant grabbed the ball behind the line and appeared to be in a position to make a huge return, but he was pulled down by Trav Frederick at the 6-yard line.

"We knew that he needed two to break the record," Shazier said. "We were not going to allow him to break it on us."

Ohio State had a chance to run out the clock with a sustained drive, but failed to pick up a first down. Buchanan's punt went 34 yards and the Badgers had 1:33 to go 41 yards to tie the game.

Curt Phillips overcame an 11-yard sack on first down and converted a 4th-and-3 by hitting Jared Abbrederis with a 14-yard pass to the Ohio State 20. Four plays later Phillps connected with Jacob Pederson for a 5-yard touchdown with eight seconds remaining. For the second time in the 2012 season, Meyer's team headed to overtime.

Like the Purdue game, Ohio State was on offense to start the extra period. The team kept the ball on the ground and a mix of Hyde and Miller runs eventually ended with No. 34 scoring from two yards out.

Wisconsin needed a touchdown to continue the game. After three snaps, the Badgers had 4th-and-6 from the 21. Phillips looked for Pederson, but Bryant batted the ball down to end the game. 

"We have a saying, 'A team that refuses to be beat, won't be beat,' " Meyer said. "Somehow, someway."

November 24th • #20 Michigan • Ohio Stadium
The year prior, Ohio State entered The Game with a 6–5 record and Luke Fickell as its head coach. Meyer led the charge on this day and the Buckeyes played for the school's sixth undefeated and untied season. What a difference a year makes.

Meyer's first matchup against Michigan from CBS Sports:

Carlos Hyde ran for 146 yards and the fourth-ranked Buckeyes' defense shut out No. 20 Michigan in the second half to grab a bruising 26-21 win Saturday, completing an improbable 12-0 season for the Buckeyes.

Meyer got emotional as the final seconds ticked off, embracing his players on the floor of a raucous Ohio Stadium. Too emotional, he said later.


Drew Basil matched his season output with four field goals and the defense did the rest, forcing three turnovers in the second half.

It was played before 105,899, the largest crowd ever to witness "The Game" in Columbus.

A key play in the game came on Michigan's first possession of the second half. The Wolverines had a 21-20 lead and faced 4th-and-2 near midfield. Brady Hoke decided to go for it and ran Denard Robinson up the middle, Shazier sniffed it out and dropped quarterback for a two-yard loss.

The Buckeyes took advantage of the short field and Basil kicked a 28-yard field goal that gave Ohio State a 23-21 lead.

"At this point in time, Ohio State can go and play with anybody in America," Meyer said. "I wouldn't say that five weeks ago, but you've seen the growth, what we did today and the growth of our defense."

Surprisingly, the offensive-minded Meyer won his first game over Michigan by playing conservatively like a coach who called the plays two years earlier. 

Speaking of, the 2002 team was honored during the break between the first and second quarters. Jim Tressel was carried on the shoulders of several players as the walked out of the end zone.

2012 Recap

  • November 28, 2011, Urban Meyer is named Ohio State's 24th head coach.
  • Urban Meyer wins his debut game with a 56-10 victory over Miami (OH).
  • Braxton Miller becomes the first quarterback since 1978 to rush for three touchdowns as No. 14 Ohio State defeated UCF 31-16.  
  • Christian Bryant's first career interception preserved the Buckeyes' 35-28 win over Cal. Braxton Miller accumulated 324 yards of total offense and five touchdowns.
  • The 18th-ranked Buckeyes scored 21 points in the second quarter as they beat UAB 29-15. Jordan Hall had a game-high 105 yards rushing.
  • Urban Meyer's Big Ten debut was a dramatic 17-16 victory over Michigan State in East Lansing.
  • An Ohio Stadium record crowd of 106,102 witnessed Ohio State defeat No. 21 Nebraska 63-38. The offense racked-up 371 rushing yards and six touchdowns.
  • The Buckeyes defeated Indiana 52-49 in Bloomington. Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller eclipsed 100 rushing yards for the second straight game. Miller had 360 total yards.
  • Kenny Guiton stepped in for an injured Braxton Miller against Purdue. The backup quarterback was the catalyst in the 29-22 come from behind overtime victory
  • No. 9 Ohio State's defense held Penn State to 32 yards rushing and Miller ran for 134 yards and two touchdowns in the 35-23 victory. Miller also made this ridiculous play:
  • Carlos Hyde ran for 137 yards and three touchdowns as No. 6 Ohio State beat the Illini 52-22.
  • Ryan Shazier forced the crucial fourth quarter fumble and Christian Bryant recovered it in the 21-14 overtime victory over Wisconsin in Madison. 
  • Carlos Hyde gained 146 yards on the ground and a touchdown in Urban Meyer's first win over Michigan.
  • Johnathan Hankin and Bradley Roby were named to the All-American team.
  • Johnathan Hankins, John Simon and Reid Fragel were selected in the NFL Draft. 
  • Ohio State started the season ranked No. 18 but finished third.

Due to NCAA sanctions, Urban Meyer and the 2012 Buckeyes were not eligible to play in the postseason. The team responded with Ohio State's sixth undefeated and untied season. Braxton Miller was named the Big Ten's offensive player of the year and John Simon took home the honor as the conference's defensive player of the year.

Upon his arrival, Meyer said the program was broken. His diligence and motivation created a championship culture that became the foundation of his tenure.

On the bright side, the Buckeyes had their quarterback for the future and more importantly, Urban Meyer was back home.

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