November 30, 2012

Ohio State's perfect season, by the numbers

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Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- As one might expect from an unprecedented undefeated season that won't end in a national championship or even a bowl game, the statistics from Ohio State's perfect run in 2012 were just as bizarre as the season that helped create them. With that in mind, here's a look at some of the more surprising, interesting, and downright shocking numbers that the Buckeyes compiled over the course of the past three months.


That's how many tackles Ryan Shazier recorded, becoming the first OSU defensive player to top the century mark since James Laurinaitis did it in 2006. The first-team All-Big Ten selection was the Buckeyes' leading tackler by 44 tackles, with Christian Bryant ranking second on the team with 71.


Despite only playing in 10 games after missing two with an MCL sprain, Carlos Hyde nearly became the Buckeyes' second rusher to top the 1,000 yard mark, when he averaged 97 yards per game in his junior season. The Florida native ultimately came up 30 yards short of becoming just the second Urban Meyer-coached player to ever rush for 1,000 yards, after quarterback Braxton Miller became the first with his 1,271 yards this year.


A year after he was one of three OSU players to lead the team in receptions with 14, wide receiver Corey Brown more than quadrupled that number in 2012, leading the Buckeyes with 60 receptions this season. The junior wideout nearly matched his reception total from a year ago in a single game, hauling in 12 catches in OSU's 17-16 win over Michigan State on Sept. 29.


That's how many yards Devin Smith trailed Brown for the team lead, despite catching half as many balls in 2012. The sophomore wide receiver proved to be the Buckeyes' most reliable deep threat this season, posting a team-high average of 20.6 yards per reception, and catching game-winning passes in OSU's wins over California and Michigan State.


The least amount of yards that Miller rushed for in his record-breaking season came in a game where he missed the entire fourth quarter due to an upper body injury. Now Ohio State's single season leader in total offense, the sophomore quarterback topped the 100-yard rushing mark in half of the Buckeyes' games, en route to being named the Big Ten's offensive player of the year.


That's the average margin of victory that the Buckeyes enjoyed in their 12 games, a number that is skewed by OSU's season-opening 56-10 blowout win over Miami (OH). By comparison, the Buckeyes' 2002 National Championship team won its 14 contests by an average of 16.21 points per game, and like this year's squad, two of its wins came in overtime.


While the Ohio State passing offense ranked 10 spots higher nationally than the No. 115 ranking it earned in 2011, three less Buckeyes caught balls in 2012, with 13 Buckeyes recording receptions. Miller still managed to spread the wealth, however, with seven wide receivers, two tight ends, and four running backs all tallying catches this season.


Kicker Drew Basil entered Ohio State's finale with Michigan with just six field goal tries on the season, but his 4-of-5 performance against the Wolverines double his make total, and nearly did the same for his attempts. It wasn't often that Meyer called on his kicker to make the difference, but the junior from Chillicothe was solid when he needed to be, making 56 of his 57 extra point attempts.


With only two of them coming in mop up duty, OSU backup quarterback Kenny Guiton appeared in a career-high nine games for the Buckeyes this season, often spelling Miller when he had run out of breath, suffering cramps, or just plain dinged up. Dubbed "Coach Kenny" by the OSU coaching staff, the fourth-year junior performed admirably, capping off a touchdown drive in the one-point win over Michigan State, and leading a come-from-behind overtime victory against Purdue on Oct. 20.


After recording just one sack in the Buckeyes' first five games, defensive end went on to lead the Big Ten in that category, adding eight more sacks to his season total in conference play. The Big Ten's 2012 Defensive Player of the Year recorded six sacks in the final three games of his college career, including a school record four-sack performance against Wisconsin on Nov. 17.


That's how many games Zach Boren played at fullback to start the season, and it's also how many he played at linebacker to finish the year. Despite playing just half of the season on defense, the senior captain ranked sixth on the team in tackles with 50, 3.5 of which came on a loss, and one of which was a sack in the Buckeyes' 26-21 win over Michigan.


For just the sixth time in program history, not a single team beat or tied the Buckeyes, marking a season that was unlike any other the 123 years of Ohio State football. Due to a bowl ban that came as a result of violations committed by members of the 2010 team and former head coach Jim Tressel, the Buckeyes won't play for a national title this season, but it will remain one that will stick out in the minds of Ohio State fans everywhere.


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