This is 12-for-12: Ohio State’s Perfect Season. Originally, we put this together thinking there would not be an actual football season in 2020, but fortunately that is not the case. So now, this just functions as a fun look at throwback games each week as we prep for Oct. 24.
We have put together a full 12-game schedule for the Buckeyes using one game from each of the last 12 years. The docket is complete with three non-conference opponents, nine Big Ten showdowns, and will also include a three-game postseason with a Big Ten title game and College Football Playoff matchups. We tried to use the best games from each of the 12 years to fill the slots, but some had to be left out to avoid duplicate opponents in the regular season.
We will also be keeping a running total of the regular season’s stat leaders as if all of these games were occurring over one full season. There are many different players that have come through the program during this 12-year span, so only the top three guys in each category will be listed. In the end, we’ll have an interesting concoction of who led the Buckeyes over this 12-game Frankenstein season.
We are going to continue this series even with the announced start date for the actual Big Ten 2020 season, and will move to two Perfect Season pieces a week to try and fit the whole series in before the team’s opener against Nebraska. As we anxiously await the return of Ohio State football, we still have a bunch of games from seasons past to help pass the time.
Game seven on the schedule: Ohio State vs. Wisconsin (2011).
Tale of the Tape
It wasn’t exactly a year to remember for Ohio State in 2011. The Buckeyes were coached by Luke Fickell on an interim basis following the resignation of Jim Tressel in the wake of the Tattoo Gate scandal, and lost a large portion of their starting roster from the year prior including starting QB Terrelle Pryor. Needless to say, expectations were not exactly high in Columbus.
OSU began the season with Joe Bauserman at QB, but it wouldn’t be long before a freshman by the name of Braxton Miller took over the reins. Even with the electric young quarterback at the helm, it would not be enough to propel a maligned Ohio State group to success. The program suffered its first non-winning season since 1999, finishing with 6-7 record and a 3-5 mark in the Big Ten.
Wisconsin, on the other hand, had a pretty good year. Beginning the campaign at No. 12 in the AP Poll, they went on to finish the regular season 10-2. As co-champions of the Leaders Division with a head-to-head win over PSU, the Badgers went on to the Big Ten title game, where they defeated Michigan State to win the conference. It would earn them a spot in the Rose Bowl, where their luck would run out in a 45-38 loss to No. 6 Oregon.
The opening quarter of this one was certainly not the most exciting football you've ever seen. Both offenses struggled early on, as the two teams combined for six punts on the first seven drives. The one series that didn’t end in a punt, however, resulted in a touchdown for Wisconsin, with Russell Wilson finding Montee Ball out of the backfield for a 22-yard score.
Things continued to be ugly for both teams for the remainder of the first half, and after the lone score of the second quarter was a 39-yard field goal by Drew Basil, Ohio State entered the break trailing 7-3. The Buckeyes punted on four of their five drives in the first 30 minutes of play.
The second half was much more action-packed, and it started hot right out of the gate. On the very first play of the opening drive, Daniel Herron broke off a 57-yard run to set Ohio State up inside the red zone. Another long rush by Herron put the ball at the 1-yard line, and from there Braxton Miller would punch it in to give the Buckeyes a 10-7 lead.
The Silver Bullets forced a quick three-and-out on Wisconsins ensuing possession, but their defensive efforts on the drive would not stop there. From deep in Badgers territory, Corey Brown blocked the punt, and the ball was downed at the 1-yard line. It wouldn’t be long before Ohio State found the end zone, with Jordan Hall’s two-yard rushing TD extending the Buckeyes’ lead to 17-7 early in the third quarter.
Ohio State, still feeding off their new-found momentum, forced another three-and-out on the next Badgers drive, but their excitement would be short-lived. Hall muffed the ball on the punt return, and Wisconsin recovered the fumble just outside the red zone. Brett Bielma’s team would capitalize on the short field, and a walk-in TD by Ball cut the OSU lead to just three points.
The Buckeyes added to their lead a few drives later with another field goal from Basil, and after shutting down Wisco on fourth down on their ensuing possession, the home team was back in business. Ohio State picked up a few first downs on the ground, and then Miller broke loose. The athletic QB took it 44 yards to the house as Luke Fickell’s squad jumped out to a 26-14 lead with under five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
It may have appeared as though Ohio State was sitting on a comfortable lead, but this game was FAR from over. Wisconsin answered quickly, as a 40-yard run by Ball set up a 17-yard TD pass from Wilson to Jared Abbrederis, and just like that it was now 26-21 with under four minutes to go.
Ohio State was quickly forced into a three-and-out, and the momentum had clearly shifted. The Buckeyes were forced to punt back to the Badgers, and thats when things went from bad to worse. On the fourth play of the ensuing drive, Wilson hit Abbrederis for a 49-yard TD, and after converting the two-point conversion, OSU now stunningly trailed 29-26.
Ohio State got the ball back with under a minute remaining, needing some late-game magic from Braxton Miller and the gang to come away with a win. A good kick return by Hall set the offense up near midfield, and after picking up a first down, Miller decided to launch one deep for Devin Smith as the clock ticked down.
For the second consecutive week, Wisconsin was defeated on a Hail Mary as Smith hauled in the 40-yard bomb from Miller to go on top for good, 33-29. Wilson’s final attempt at a deep ball would fall incomplete, and Ohio State upset No. 15 Wisconsin in what became a crazy fourth quarter shootout.
LGHL Season Stat Leaders (OSU 7-0)
- Terrelle Pryor: 499 Yds / 3 TD / 1 INT (2 games)
- Dwayne Haskins: 405 Yds / 3 TD / 1 INT
- Braxton Miller: 322 Yds / 5 TD / 1 INT (3 games, 2 at QB)
- J.K. Dobbins: 380 Yds / 6.2 Avg / 1 TD (2 games)
- Daniel Herron: 268 Yds / 4.4 Avg / 1 TD (3 games)
- Terrelle Pryor: 185 Yds / 4.6 Avg / 1 TD (2 games)
- DeVier Posey: 12 Rec / 206 Yds / 1 TD (2 games)
- Johnnie Dixon: 7 Rec / 131 Yds / 0 TD (2 games)
- Terry McLaurin: 4 Rec / 118 Yds / 1 TD
- Chase Young: 3.0 (2 games)
- John Simon: 3.0 (3 games)
- Ryan Shazier: 2.0 (2 games)
- Chimdi Chekwa: 2 (2 games)
- Jeff Okudah: 2 (2 games)
- Six tied at one
The next game on the schedule will be the farthest back in time of any matchup in the Perfect Season, as Beanie Wells and Ohio State take on Mike Kafka and No. 24 Northwestern (2008) on Saturday.