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The Big Ten in Review: Ohio State


Previously: Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern, Nebraska, and Purdue.

General Synopsis:

Urban Meyer made his return to coaching after a one year hiatus/retirement of sorts, and he certainly did not disappoint Ohio State fans. Meyer's debut season as the Buckeyes' new head coach was spotless as he went 12-0, becoming the first coach at Ohio State to win 12 games in his first season.

Though the Buckeyes had some struggles within games, and the games themselves were probably closer than many fans would have liked, all that mattered was the Win-Loss ratio, and the Buckeyes won all their games.

This led to some people believing that Ohio State should have played in the BCS National Championship against Notre Dame, if not for Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith's decision a year ago to put the bowl ban on 2012 instead of 2011.

Expectations Coming In:

Moderate to high. The biggest question facing the Buckeyes was not if but when Meyer's offense would click. In 2011 under Luke Fickell and Jim Bollman the offense was stagnant at best, and it hardly made use of quarterback Braxton Miller's talents. With Meyer, OSU fans knew that they'd get a quarterback-centric offense.

Your more patient Buckeye fans expected anywhere from 7-5 to 9-3, with probably more of them leaning towards the 9-3 prediction, given what they hoped would be a really good defense led by John Simon to compliment Meyer's offense until the latter got up to speed.

Although no one really predicted a 12-0 run, a win over Michigan was a must, especially since it was played at home and because it was the last game the seniors could play.

Best Moment of 2012:

This one's easy: the win over Michigan to cap a perfect 12-0 undefeated season. Like most of their games, the Buckeyes' bout against the Wolverines was close and hard fought, but even your most delusional Buckeyes could not have dreamt up a better start for Urban Meyer's rebounding career at Ohio State.

Worst Moment of 2012:

Um... what worst moment? Kind of hard to find a low point when a team doesn't lose a single game. I suppose the knowledge that Gene Smith foolishly put more emphasis on the prospect that Ohio State play in a bowl game in 2011 than in 2012, a decision which single-handedly kept the Buckeyes out of the BCS National Championship, perhaps is the most likely tipping point. However, Smith was also a part of the team that brought Urban Meyer to Columbus (although to be honest if Meyer was ready to come back to coaching any AD could have done it), so Smith has been forgiven by the Buckeye faithful.

Expectations Going Forward:

Welcome back to coaching, Urban Meyer!

You started at Ohio State by going an almost-unprecedented 12-0 for your first year in an era when going 12-0 in one's first year is next to impossible, setting up Olympus-high expectations for your second year and every year after that.

When Meyer was first hired, I scoffed (yes, I admit it) at the notion that he would survive more than three years in Columbus. He would either work himself to death or would be run out of town for not winning a national championship by year three, in a time when it seemed like a few other Big Ten teams were on the rise (Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan State) and Ohio State seemed on the decline.

Well, I may only be half right. Meyer's recruiting classes--though most of them got the bump because of last minute steals--should keep his Buckeyes in the annual national championship conversation, and if he's anything like Jim Tressel, the expectations by OSU fans are that he'll beat Michigan every year to get there.

The question then becomes: can Meyer's health remain intact? Despite Meyer's confidence that it will, there's reason to think it won't. Meyer was so competitive at Florida that he overworked himself into retirement twice, and the expectations in Gainsville, while as high as anywhere in the SEC, are no where near as high as in Columbus.

Couple that with a 12-0 debut, and pretty much every Buckeye fan will be expecting him to sustain the winning streak until he finishes 2013 at 25-0, especially now that Ohio State can compete in the post-season. Most coaches like a situation where they can compete at a high level and not be run out of town if they don't. Most coaches don't set expectations ridiculously high by going undefeated in year one.

If he loses a single game in 2013, the reactions will be horrific. If he loses to Michigan, God help him. I would not want to be Urban Meyer this year. But then again, that's his problem.