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 drop 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 12 on the schedule: Ohio State vs. Michigan (2016).
Tale of the Tape
The 2016 campaign was an odd one for Ohio State, but it started with an early bang as the Buckeyes went on the road and secured a huge 45-24 victory over Oklahoma in Norman. The good times would not last all that long, as Urban Meyer’s team suffered a crushing loss to Penn State later on in the year on a blocked field goal. With the head-to-head advantage over OSU, the Nittany Lions represented the East in the B1G title game, but it was Ohio State who was questionably chosen for the College Football Playoff — where they were subsequently blown out by Clemson.
Michigan seemed to be on a tear through a good portion of their 2016 schedule, but like so many other high-quality Big Ten teams have found out the hard way, everything can change with a quick trip to Kinnick Stadium. A 14-13 loss to Iowa knocked the Wolverines off kilter, and after escaping with a 20-10 win over Indiana in Ann Arbor, Jim Harbaugh and his guys traveled to Columbus to take on a hungry Ohio State team in a matchup between the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in the country. Michigan would wind up finishing their season at the Orange Bowl, where they suffered a 33-32 loss to Florida State.
It was not exactly an offensive clinic to kick things off in the 113th edition of The Game. After forcing Michigan to punt on their first offensive series, Ohio State was able to put together a solid drive to get the ball all the way down to the edge of the red zone. It would stall out from there, and the Buckeyes were forced to attempt what should've been a gimme 37-yard field goal...
The miss kept the game tied at zero, and it would remain that way until Michigan managed to get a field goal early in the second quarter. Ohio State punted on four straight drives, and with four minutes to go until halftime, they still did not have any points on the board. That is when Malik Hooker made his presence felt.
The pick-six gave Ohio State its first lead of the game, but it would not last long. Michigan QB Wilton Speight began to put it together on the ensuing possession, and an 11-play, 55-yard drive was capped off by a Khalid Hill 1-yard TD run as the Wolverines took a 10-7 lead into halftime.
The second half did not begin much better than the first half for Ohio State, as J.T. Barrett was picked off by Jabrill Peppers on the first drive of the third quarter. Luckily for the Buckeyes, they would wind up getting the ball back and avoiding further damage after Speight fumbled on the goal line.
However, the offense was still not clicking for Urban Meyer’s team, and a miscommunication on what appeared to be a fake punt resulted in a turnover on downs. The short field set up another quick TD for Hill, and just like that the Wolverines now led 17-7 midway through the third quarter.
It would be another punt for Ohio State as the offensive execution continued its poor afternoon, but they would be bailed out once again by their defense. Jerome Baker picked off Speight deep in Michigan territory, and a few plays later Mike Weber punched it in to cut the Wolverines’ lead to 17-14.
The Buckeyes had a big opportunity to tie that game a few drives later, but once again missed an easy field goal attempt — this one from 21 yards out! Getting the ball back with a little over five minutes remaining in the game, Barrett was able to lead the team all the way down the field. For the third time, Ohio State had to turn to its field goal kicker Tyler Durbin. With one second left on the clock, Durbin drilled the 23-yard attempt to send the game to overtime.
Ohio State got the ball first to begin overtime, and for the first time all day the offense appeared to come easy. After Curtis Samuel picked up 18 yards on the first play of the series, Barrett finished it off with a 7-yard TD run to put the Bucks up 24-17.
It was a little bit harder for the Wolverines, but the end result was the same. After picking up at quick first down, two short runs and an incomplete pass had Michigan sitting at the 5-yard line with 4th-and-goal and the game on the line. Somehow, someway Speight found Amara Darboh in the back of the end zone to keep things going as UM tied it up at 24-24, sending it to a second OT period.
TTUN could not quite put together a similar drive in the second overtime, and instead had to settle for a field goal as the pressure was put on Ohio State’s offense.
On 3rd-and-9, a pass to Samuel gained only eight yards, and so the Buckeyes were faced with a critical 4th-and-1. Barrett inched forward on the keeper, and came down just past the line for a first down. It was a very clear and obvious call, and nobody on either side ever disputed that the spot of the ball was, in fact, good.
One play later, this happened:
Curtis Samuel walked it off for Ohio State, and the Buckeyes came away victorious in the first ever iteration of The Game to go to overtime. Jim Harbaugh was super happy in the postgame press conference, and was not at all mad about the spot of the ball on the aforementioned fourth down play. Everyone lived happily ever after.
FINAL LGHL Season Stat Leaders (OSU 12-0)
- J.T. Barrett: 778 Yds / 8 TD / 1 INT (4 games)
- Terrelle Pryor: 696 Yds / 6 TD / 1 INT (3 games)
- Braxton Miller: 548 Yds / 7 TD / 1 INT (4 games, 3 at QB)
- J.K. Dobbins: 468 Yds / 6.3 Avg / 1 TD (3 games)
- J.T. Barrett: 346 Yds / 5.6 Avg / 3 TD (4 games)
- Ezekiel Elliott: 313 Yds / 8.0 Avg / 3 TD (3 games)
- DeVier Posey: 12 Rec / 206 Yds / 1 TD (2 games)
- K.J. Hill: 24 Rec / 199 Yds / 2 TD (4 games)
- Devin Smith: 11 Rec / 196 Yds / 4 TD (4 games)
- John Simon: 4.0 (4 games)
- Chase Young: 3.0 (2 games)
- Four tied at 2.0
- Chimdi Chekwa: 2 (3 games)
- Jeff Okudah: 2 (2 games)
- 10 tied at one
Although the regular season has come to a close, that does not mean the Perfect Season series is over just yet! The Buckeyes went 12-0, which means they still have a Big Ten Championship game and a College Football Playoff appearance ahead...