Before 2012 gets too far in the rearview mirror, it’s time to take a look back at some of the best games Ohio State played in 2012.
Now, what qualifies as a best game? It’s a subjective definition, but a game can be great because of both drama and importance, the rankings were done with both factors in mind.
In addition, for our definition of game, we’re not taking into account any individual performances that were larger parts of a team setting, so things like Logan Stieber’s national championship-winning wrestling match are ineligible. We’re also looking at single-day events, so events like the men’s swimming and diving team’s win at the Buckeye Invitational this December over a loaded field aren’t part of the debate, either.
The football team appears three times in the top 10, and two men’s basketball games are in there as well, while some lesser-known sports also had shining moments in 2012 as well.
With 36 varsity sports, there are bound to be a lot of good games that don’t make the top 10 list. With that in mind, here’s a few that stand out in chronological order.
--Men’s basketball wins 58-52 at Wisconsin on Feb. 4. The Buckeyes posted their first in Madison since 2000 behind 24 points and 10 rebounds from Jared Sullinger.
--Women’s hockey beats No. 9 Minnesota Duluth, 4-3, as Laura McIntosh sets the school points record Feb. 4: McIntosh had a goal in two assists to set the OSU mark and Natalie Spooner added a hat trick.
--Men’s basketball wins 87-84 vs. Purdue on Feb. 7: A high-scoring contest ends with OSU ahead thanks to 29 points from William Buford and three others in double figures.
--Men’s hockey wins, 4-3, at No. 18 Western Michigan on Feb. 11: Alex Carlson scores twice in the last 5:24 to overturn a 3-2 deficit for the Buckeyes.
--Women’s gymnastics beats No. 20 Denver at home on Feb. 18: The Buckeyes set a program record with a team score of 197.625 behind a career-high all-around total of 39.600 by Colleen Dean.
--Men’s basketball wins 75-73 at Northwestern on Feb. 29. The Wildcats stage a furious rally to tie the score late, but Jared Sullinger scores the winning points with 3.1 seconds left.
--Softball posts a 4-3 walkoff win vs. Indiana on March 24: Alicia Herron homers and then scores the winning run in extra innings on Evelyn Carrillo’s double.
--Men’s volleyball sweeps No. 6 Lewis, 3-0, in St. John Arena on March 31. Shawn Sangrey leads OSU in scoring as the Buckeyes stay on track for a sixth straight conference title.
--Baseball wins, 1-0, at Michigan State on March 31: Jaron Long throws a five-hitter and David Corna hits an RBI single in the ninth for the victory.
--Baseball uses a squeeze to beat Minnesota, 2-1, on April 6: Tim Wetzel’s bunt scores Greg Solomon in the eighth as OSU makes a strong outing by Long stand up in Bill Davis Stadium.
--Men’s tennis beats Purdue, 6-1, on April 18 to clinch a record-setting title: Ty Tucker’s Buckeyes become the first program to ever win seven Big Ten titles in a row with the win, OSU’s 90th straight in league play.
--Men’s soccer comes back to beat Davidson, 3-2, in overtime Sept. 2: Down 2-0 with 11 minutes left, OSU sends it to overtime on a screamer by Alex Bujenovic before Kenny Cunningham nets the winner.
--Football defeats Cal, 35-28, on Sept. 15: Ohio State comes back to beat the Golden Bears on Braxton Miller’s late 72-yard hookup with Devin Smith.
--Football defeats Michigan State, 17-16, on Sept. 29: The Buckeyes come together to earn a hard-fought Big Ten win as the offensive line closes things out on the ground.
--Football defeats Nebraska, 63-38, on Oct. 6: OSU moves to 6-0 and the Meyer era truly arrives as the Buckeyes pile up 371 rushing yards on the Huskers
The Top Ten
10. Women’s hockey beats No. 6 North Dakota, 5-3, on Oct. 12: The Buckeyes swept No. 7 Minnesota Duluth on the road one weekend prior to move to 4-0, and a win in the series opener against North Dakota would give the No. 10 Buckeyes the best start in school history. Seemingly sensing it, the Buckeyes came out hot at the OSU Ice Rink, taking a 4-0 lead behind two goals by Paige Semenza and tallies by Julia McKinnon and Tina Hollowell. But North Dakota fought back in the third, getting three goals, including a high-level slap shot by U.S. Olympian Jocelyne Lamoreaux. UND fought for a tying goal, but Semenza finished off the hat trick with an empty-net goal. The 5-0 start was the best ever for the Buckeyes, and Chelsea Knapp made 32 saves in the win.
9. Women’s soccer beats No. 17 Michigan, 3-1, on Oct. 18: Records are made to be broken, and Cameron proved that with two goals in the rivalry win in Jesse Owens Memorial stadium. The tallies were her 13th and 14th on the season, allowing her to break the school single-season record of 13 previously held by Lisa Collison and Lara Dickenmann. Michigan scored early, but Cameron tied it with a breakaway goal in the 27th minute. Samantha Lewis gave OSU the lead with a driving header off a corner kick in the 32nd minute, and Cameron put the cherry on top of the win in the 65th minute. The Buckeyes, who would go on to win the Big Ten tournament title, saw their seniors move to 4-0 against Michigan in their careers. Cameron would go on to set the school career goals record as well.
8. Baseball beats Penn State, 12-5, on May 23 in the Big Ten tournament: Ohio State looked to be in major trouble at Columbus’ downtown Huntington Park in the first round of the tournament when it trailed 5-1 after five innings. But the Buckeyes got two runs in the sixth then blew the game open in the last two innings. Ohio State took a 6-5 lead in the eighth when David Corna singled home Josh Dezse before a two-run fielder’s choice off the bat of Patrick Porter with the bases loaded. Brad Hallberg scored and Mike Carroll touched home with the lead run when a throw to first to try to complete a double play was wide of the bag. Ohio State then added six runs in the ninth to take away any chance at a Penn State comeback. Corna and Porter each had four RBI in the game, while Brett McKinney threw 4.2 scoreless innings of relief.
7. Football beats Wisconsin, 21-14, on Nov. 17: One of two overtime football games on the list moved the Buckeyes to 11-0. Camp Randall Stadium is always a tough place to play, and Ohio State found that out. Despite taking an early 14-0 lead on a Corey Brown punt return TD and a Carlos Hyde scoring run, the sixth-ranked Buckeyes’ offense sputtered from there. Wisconsin slowly came back, and nearly tied the score late but Montee Ball was stoned on a fourth-and-1 at the goal line. But Curt Phillips, making his first start, hit Jacob Pedersen for the tying score with eight seconds left. Overtime belonged to Ohio State, though, as Hyde rumbled in from 2 yards out, and Christian Bryant had coverage on fourth down as Phillips’ pass to Pedersen fell incompete. Ohio State clinched the Big Ten Leaders Division outright with the victory.
6. Women’s volleyball beats No. 4 Nebraska, 3-1, on Oct. 26: The No. 20 Buckeyes earned their first win vs. Huskers in more than two decades in convincing fashion. Ohio State opened a quick 5-1 lead in the first set on the way to a 25-21 win. The Buckeyes and Huskers then went down to the wire in set two, but a late OSU rally gave the Buckeyes a 2-0 lead thanks to a 26-24 victory. Nebraska won the third set, but a kill by Kaitlyn Leary finished off a 25-23 OSU win in the fourth set to clinch the match. Mari Hole finished with 20 kills while Leary had 14.
5. Men’s basketball beats top-seeded Syracuse, 77-70, on March 24 to reach the Final Four: The second-seeded Buckeyes got contributions from all facets of the game to beat the Orange and move on to the second Final Four of the Thad Matta era. Jared Sullinger had first-half foul trouble but Amir Williams spelled him well, and Sully finished the game with 19 points and seven rebounds. Deshaun Thomas added 14 points and nine rebounds, while Lenzelle Smith Jr. had 18 points and William Buford had 13. Syracuse trailed by just one at the under-8 media timeout, but Sullinger scored OSU’s next five points to restore the advantage and the Buckeyes held on thanks to solid foul shooting in the end.
“We will see you in New Orleans,” Matta said afterward, inciting a roar that was soon joined by the school pep band’s rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
“I’ve been a head coach now for 12 years, and the one thing I’ve always tried to do was enjoy the special moments,” Matta later added. “We don’t even know who we’re playing yet (in the Final Four in New Orleans). I think taking the time to celebrate is something that they deserve.”
4. The football team beats Michigan, 26-21, on Nov. 24: It wasn’t the most classic version of The Game of all time, but the 109th renewal of the rivalry had plenty of drama. The teams traded big plays during a wild first half, with the 20th-ranked visitors going to the Ohio Stadium locker room up 21-20 after a late Denard Robinson touchdown run. But the Buckeye defense was dominant in the second half, keeping Michigan off the board and forcing three turnovers plus a turnover on downs. Drew Basil made two second-half field goals to provide the winning points, and a late C.J. Barnett interception allowed the Buckeyes to run out the clock. Hyde finished with 146 yards rushing and a touchdown, and after the game, fans swarmed the field after the sixth undefeated, untied campaign in OSU history was completed.
“That’s exactly why I came to this school – to play in games like that, to play our rival in a big game in the ’Shoe with a perfect season,” Hyde said. “That’s exactly why I came here – to go out on top like that.”
“It’s a perfect season,” Miller said. “You can’t ask for anything better. Going out 12-0, especially for the seniors that can’t go to a bowl game … I know they’re grateful.”
3. Men’s basketball beats No. 5 Michigan State, 72-70, on March 4 to clinch a share of the Big Ten championship: Ohio State needed a win to finish tied with the Spartans and Michigan to finish atop the league, but things didn’t look good early. Spurred on by a rabid Breslin Center crowd, Michigan State led by as many as 15 points at one point in the first half. But the No. 10 Buckeyes chipped away, getting to within nine at halftime and taking the lead with 9:53 to play. From there, the teams went back and forth, with Evan Ravenel chipping in seven points with Sullinger on the bench in foul trouble. Finally, Ohio State got the ball back with the game tied at 70, and Buford won the game with a fade-away jump shot from just inside the three-point arc to finish off a dominant 25-point performance.
“I’ve been waiting for this,” Buford said afterward. “I am so happy that is the final moment I’ll have in my final regular-season game. We have a lot to accomplish still and we understand that, but it feels great to come through for my team – especially like this.”
“I think we’ve grown,” said Matta, who led the Buckeyes to their fifth Big Ten crowns in eight seasons. “I like the fact that when they get knocked down, they’ve shown they get back up. You’re always looking for cohesiveness through the hard times, but it’s hard. It hasn’t been perfect. But to end this way, I’m very happy for them.”
2. Wrestling beats No. 2 Iowa, 21-9, on Jan. 20: The victory in St. John Arena was just the Buckeyes’ third ever vs. the Hawkeyes and their first since 1966. No. 7 Ohio State won seven of the 10 bouts, including five in a row to build a 15-6 lead they would not relinquish. Logan Stieber took the mat at 133 and used three nearfall points in the second period to spark a 7-0 victory against No. 2 Tony Ramos. His brother, Hunter, was just as good at 141, taking down No. 3 Martell Marion by a 4-2 decision on the strength of an early takedown. Cam Tessari, Josh Demas, Derek Garcia, Nick Heflin and Andrew Campolattano also earned wins.
“This feels amazing and awesome,” Hunter Stieber said. “We wrestled extremely well. Backups stepped up and everyone wrestled well. Everything came together, all the work from this week, all the work from this year. This is a wonderful feeling.”
“When I left my previous position, we came here for this,” head coach Tom Ryan said. “This one is called the sleeping giant. I know the guys on the other side of the mat. Those men were teammates. I know how they react when they get punched in the nose – they do not fall down, they punch back. The nice thing is the battle is on. Ohio State is officially in a fist fight. I am very proud of this group of guys.”
1. Football beats Purdue, 29-22, on Oct. 20: At 7-0 and facing a Purdue team that had been blown out in consecutive weeks, the Buckeyes might have thought the Boilermakers were an easy win, but that wasn’t the case on an overcast day in Ohio Stadium. The Boilers scored on a long pass and a kickoff return to take an early lead, then controlled the Ohio State offense throughout the day. Then, late in the third quarter, Miller was slammed to the turf after a 37-yard run, and the quarterback did not get up and had to leave the field on the cart. Kenny Guiton came in, but the Buckeyes trailed 22-14 with 47 seconds left and 61 yards to go.
From there, the Buckeyes staged perhaps the most memorable comeback in stadium history. Guiton started the drive with a 39-yard pass to Smith, then hit Evan Spencer for 8 yards to the 14. After an incomplete pass, Hyde ran up the middle for a first down at the 11-yard line with 15 seconds to go. Guiton spiked the ball then fired incomplete to Spencer, but his third-down pass into the end zone to Spencer resulted in pass interference to give OSU a first down at the 2 with eight seconds left. On the next play, Guiton took the snap, looked left and threw a low pass that Chris Fields dove and snagged just inside the goal line. The Buckeyes still needed a two-point conversion to win, and Guiton perfectly executed a throwback pass to tight end Jeff Heuerman to tie the score.
After all that, overtime was academic. Hyde plunged in from 1 yard out, perhaps falling on his own fumble in the end zone, and the Buckeyes made Purdue go four-and-out to clinch the win. Afterward, Meyer and the players jammed in front of the band after one of the most electric wins you’ll ever see.
“It’s an emotional win,” defensive end Nathan Williams said. “Anytime you get an emotional win like that, you wear it on your sleeve. We’ve got the best damn band in the land that supports us through all adversity, and they started playing and we started dancing.”
“Since January, we’ve been training harder than anybody in the country for situations like this,” offensive lineman Jack Mewhort said. “When the other team gets tired, that’s when we start to turn it on. The past eight, nine months, they reminded us every day when the time comes, you’re going to have to out-physical them and keep going and keep pushing and we would be prepared for that. They were exactly right. It shows today just the way guys were persisting and making plays.”