The monster in Brady Hoke's recurring nightmare.
In part one of this two-part series, the Ohio State Buckeyes easily marched through their non-conference schedule before winning two closely contested battles with Michigan State and Nebraska. At 6-0, the Buckeyes have relied heavily on the steady playmaking ability of Braxton Miller and a ground-game that selflessly features Carlos Hyde and Jordan Hall.
Meanwhile, the Michigan Wolverines used a 20 point thrashing of Alabama in the season opener to propel them through the first five games of their schedule unscathed. Other notable happenings included Ben Roethlisberger suffering a five month paralysis thanks to John Simon, Brian Kelly turning purple and Sparty the Mascot becoming the victim of a vicious and hilarious dog attack.
Part two of Ohio State’s best case scenario for the 2012 football season is laid out after the jump.
The Buckeyes travel to Bloomington for a night game against the Hoosiers, and the Big Ten Network televises the closest thing to murder network restrictions allow as Ohio State dismantles Indiana 73-3. The Buckeyes score a touchdown on their first 10 possessions of the game despite running exactly two plays the entire second half (the zone-read and halfback dive). Ohio State kicks a field goal on first and goal with five and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter because seriously, Indiana ran out of blood to bleed about 20 minutes into the game.
Both Ohio State and Michigan enter the week ranked in the top five by the AP. Urban Meyer slays one of the Buckeyes’ biggest demons over the past decade -- Pur-freaking-due -- in an easy 31 point victory. Danny Hope mysteriously shows up to the postgame presser with a clean-shaven upper lip. His exact words, "After that game and that display, I’m not man enough for a mustache. I’ll have to earn it back on the field. It was most definitely not because my team held me down and shaved it off because they hate me. That would be ridiculous."
Later that day, the Wolverines beat Michigan State for the first time since Lloyd Carr. Denard Robinson solidifies himself as the top Heisman candidate with a dramatic 83 yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to give Michigan a 23-21 victory.
Ohio State travels to Happy Valley and destroys an overmatched Penn State team in front of a downtrodden fanbase. Urban Meyer eases up in the third quarter because he’s not soulless or Bret Bielema. Bill O’Brien hardly notices anything. The ketchup stain he got on the Tom Brady jersey he’s wearing won’t come out, and he has half his staff looking for Tide pen sticks to prevent the situation from really getting out of control.
Braxton Miller eclipses 1,000 yards rushing in a surprisingly competitive 34-27 win over the Illini. During the postgame handshake, Tim Beckman recruits Urban Meyer to be his offensive coordinator. Urban acts really interested and slips Beckman a piece of paper with an email address written down. That email address is email@example.com. Yeah, Bollman still uses AOL. It’s as dependable as run, run, pass.
Ohio State’s bye-week. No one is arrested.
Ohio State’s two remaining opponents -- Wisconsin and Michigan -- are both undefeated. The Badgers are ranked third in the country, two spots ahead of the Buckeyes and one spot behind the Wolverines. Ohio State wins the toss but defers, and just like 2010, the Badgers open the game with a kickoff returned for a touchdown. The home crowd goes nuts, but that doesn’t last long as Urban Meyer does his best 2007 National Championship Game impression. Sack after sack begin to pile up and Ohio State’s offense can do no wrong in a 41-14 blowout. After the game, television cameras catch Urban Meyer telling Braxton Miller, "It’s a great day to be a Buckeye."
The Wolverines enter the week ranked second in the country behind LSU, just one win away from reaching the Big Ten Title game undefeated. Earlier that week, Brady Hoke -- unaware that ESPN cameras were filming his practice for a special on Denard’s leading Heisman campaign -- guarantees a victory over the Buckeyes.
The atmosphere in the ‘Shoe is electric. A record 106,000+ pack the stadium and create a hornets nest of energy. The game doesn’t disappoint the home crowd as Denard is harassed all day. The Buckeyes struggle early on offense, but their defense is playing so well that a 9-0 halftime lead seems insurmountable. Denard throws his third interception to start the second half and Ohio State capitalized when Braxton Miller turns a busted play into a magical 68 yard dash into the endzone. The Ohio State quarterback somehow manages to celebrate with his teammates without pretend scooping anything into his mouth.
The game ends in brutal fashion for Hoke and the Wolverines. The Buckeyes score two more touchdowns and suffocate Michigan to finish the game, and their season, with a 30-0 victory. Denard’s performance -- 102 yards passing with four interceptions and -6 yards rushing on 12 attempts -- knocks him off the top of everyone’s Heisman list.
Those in attendance storm the field and no one is arrested. During Coach Meyer’s final press conference, he closes out questions, leans confidently into the microphone and says, "You thought that was fun? Just wait ‘till next year."