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 nine on the schedule: Ohio State vs. Michigan State (2014)
Tale of Tape
The 2014 season is one that Ohio State fans remember quite fondly. Things looked incredibly bleak in the beginning. A preseason injury to Braxton Miller would force him to sit out the entire year, and it looked even worse when the team lost its home opener at the hands of an unranked Virginia Tech team. It appeared to many like a lost year for the local team in Columbus.
That would not be the case. The Buckeyes would go on to run the table, defeating Wisconsin 59-0 in the Big Ten Championship with third-string QB Cardale Jones following an injury to J.T. Barrett in the team’s win over Michigan in the regular season finale. They earned the No. 4 spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff, where they would take down No. 1 seed Alabama and then No. 2 seed Oregon to secure the National Championship.
Coming off a year in which they defeated Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game — the year before conference re-alignment — and took down Stanford in the Rose Bowl, Michigan State entered the 2014 campaign with high hopes. Overall, it was a good season for the Spartans, whose only losses en route to an 11-2 campaign came against No. 3 Oregon and, of course, the Buckeyes. They finished the year with a 42-41 come-from-behind win against Baylor in the Cotton Bowl.
Ohio State got the ball first, and was able to work it all the way down to Michigan State’s 30-yard line, but the drive would stall out and the Sean Nuernberger field goal attempt came up just short. The Spartans offense started out hot, and a 44-yard pitch and catch from Connor Cook to Keith Mumphery set up another Cook-to-Mumphery connection — this time for a 15-yard touchdown and an early 7-0 lead for the home team.
The Buckeyes were quick to answer. Long runs of 19 and 47 yards by Ezekiel Elliott set up a first-and-goal opportunity, and from there J.T. Barrett ran it in himself to tie things up at 7-7 midway through the first quarter.
Ohio State forced a three-and-out on the ensuing MSU possession, but things did not go quite as planned. The ball hit off an OSU player in traffic on the punt, and the Spartans would recover. On the very next play, Jeremy Langford took it 33 yards to the house as Michigan State went back on top, 14-7.
The two teams would each punt on their next offensive possession, and it was the Buckeyes who would strike next. Barrett hit Devin Smith on a 43-yard pass to open up the second quarter, and after a wildcat run by Jalin Marshall had Ohio State down inside near the goal line, it was once again Barrett to finish things off on a 1-yard keeper for a TD on fourth down to tie the game up at 14-14.
The Buckeye defense was having a really tough time keeping the Spartans off the scoreboard. A long 14-play, 66-yard drive that lasted nearly eight minutes of game clock resulted in another seven points for Mark Dantonio’s squad, and they reclaimed the lead at 21-14 with under five minutes left in the half.
Another special teams gaff by Ohio State — this time a fumble on the kick return by Dontre Wilson — set up Michigan State with a chance to take a two-score lead, but luckily for Urban Meyer’s team the resulting field goal attempt missed wide left. The Buckeyes took no time to capitalize on the miss, as the first play on their ensuing drive resulted in a massive 79-yard TD by Michael Thomas to once again tie the game.
OSU was not done yet putting up points before halftime. Following a good defensive stop by the Silver Bullets, Ohio State set up shop at their own 36-yard line. With less than a minute remaining until the break, Barrett found a wide open Devin Smith 44 yards downfield for a go-ahead touchdown — the first Buckeyes lead of the day as they headed into halftime up 28-21.
The offensive shootout continued into the second half. Michigan State managed a field goal on the opening possession of the third quarter to cut the OSU lead to 28-24, but the Buckeyes’ offense was feeling good now. A 13-play, 67-yard drive culminated in a 1-yard rushing score by Elliott, and Ohio State now held its largest lead of the game at 35-24.
The Spartans were beginning to feel the pressure. Working the ball into Ohio State territory, they knew they couldn’t afford to kick another field goal, but a failed conversion on fourth down gave the ball right back to the Buckeyes. Barrett and Zeke were now carving up the MSU defense, and it took only six plays to add another touchdown to the board — a 7-yard pass from Barrett to Dontre Wilson to extend the lead to 42-24 early in the fourth quarter.
Michigan State wasn’t ready to just lay down and die, however. Their next offensive series was one of their best of the day, and it ended with a touchdown on a 16-yard grab by Josiah Price to cut the OSU lead to 42-31 with still over nine minutes remaining.
Unfortunately for fans of the green and white, there was no stopping the Ohio State offense at this point. It took only four plays for the Buckeyes to hit pay dirt once again, aided mightily by a 55-yard run by Barrett and capped by a 17-yard TD run by Elliott to put the game out of reach, now 49-31 Buckeyes late in the fourth quarter.
Michigan State would add one more touchdown before the final whistle, but it was too little too late. No. 14 Ohio State went into East Lansing and defeated the No. 8 Spartans 49-37 in a win that provided some legitimacy and momentum towards a national title run.
The 2014 Buckeyes would go on to win the first ever College Football Playoff National Championship.
LGHL Season Stat Leaders (OSU 9-0)
- Terrelle Pryor: 696 Yds / 6 TD / 1 INT (3 games)
- Dwayne Haskins: 405 Yds / 3 TD / 1 INT
- J.T. Barrett: 326 Yds / 4 TD / 0 INT (2 games)
- J.K. Dobbins: 380 Yds / 6.2 Avg / 1 TD (2 games)
- Ezekiel Elliott: 313 Yds / 8.0 Avg / 3 TD (3 games)
- Daniel Herron: 306 Yds / 4.6 Avg / 2 TD (4 games)
- DeVier Posey: 12 Rec / 206 Yds / 1 TD (2 games)
- Devin Smith: 10 Rec / 187 Yds / 4 TD (3 games)
- Michael Thomas: 5 Rec / 137 Yds / 2 TD (2 games)
- Chase Young (2), John Simon (3): 3.0
- Michael Bennett (2), Ryan Shazier (2), Nathan Williams (3): 2.0
- Tyquan Lewis: 1.5
- Chimdi Chekwa: 2 (3 games)
- Jeff Okudah: 2 (2 games)
- Seven tied at one
We’ve only got three games left in the 12-for-12 regular season, and next up on the docket is a matchup that saw Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde put on a show against Illinois in 2012.