December 31, 2012

Ohio State's best of 2012

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- As 2012's final minutes tick away, so does a year unlike any other in Ohio State athletics. Featuring a Final Four run by the men's basketball team and an undefeated season by the football team, you'd be hard pressed to find another calendar year that matched the highs for Buckeye fans that the last 12 months have provided.



While plenty of accolades, from All-American honors to conference player of the year awards, have already been handed, we at Buckeye Grove have decided to hand out some awards of our own in one last remembrance of 2012 in Ohio State history.



Play of the year: Devin Smith's one-handed touchdown catch

Given the mundaneness that the Buckeyes' first quarter under Urban Meyer provided on offense, it's hard to imagine a more exciting play to bring the first points of Ohio State's undefeated 2012 season. Also named Sportscenter's No. 1 college football play of the year, Smith's catch will go down as one of the best in school history.



It came in the second quarter of the Buckeyes' matchup with Miami (OH), where the RedHawks held a 3-0 advantage. As quarterback Braxton Miller lofted a ball that seemed to be on it's way out of bounds, Smith leaped into the air, snagged it with one hand, and brought it back to his body before falling down in the end zone. The play was worth just six points to Ohio State at the time, but it also marked the start of something special for the Buckeyes in 2012.



Moment of the year: William Buford's game-winning shot at Michigan State

After Michigan State took a nine-point halftime lead and led by as many as 15 points in the Buckeyes' regular season finale, Ohio State's shot at a third consecutive Big Ten championship appeared to be slipping away. But after an up-and-down senior season, Buford wouldn't let that happen.



The Buckeyes' lone senior in 2012 scored 25 points against the Spartans, but no two were more important than the jumper with one second remaining to give Ohio State a final 72-70 advantage. The shot created a three-way tie between the Buckeyes, Michigan State, and Michigan for the regular season Big Ten title, and permanently etched Buford's name in Ohio State lore.



Player of the year: quarterback Braxton Miller


Miller edged out All-American basketball player and NBA first round pick Jared Sullinger for this distinction, after a breakout season that saw the sophomore quarterback become a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender in his first season under Meyer.



The Big Ten's offensive player and quarterback of the year, Miller amassed a school record 3,310 yards of total offense, adding 28 touchdowns to his already impressive resume. The Huber Heights native heads into 2013 as a Heisman Trophy favorite and is a lock to make several preseason All-American teams.



Newcomer of the year: defensive end Adolphus Washington


As Meyer scrambled to bring in a loaded freshman class for his first season in Columbus, no player stood out on the field more than Washington.



Serving as one of the Buckeyes' top reserve defensive linemen, the Cincinnati native recorded nine tackles- three of which were sacks- and showed the versatility to play just about anywhere on the OSU defensive line. With all four starters from 2012 moving on, Washington figures to be a key cog in the Buckeyes' defense in 2013.



Game of the year: Football: Ohio State vs. Purdue


Considering it featured arguably Miller's worst performance in 2012 and a lowly opponent, this seems like an unlikely choice for the best game in Ohio State athletics in 2012. But this game's unlikeliness is what made it just so special.



With Miller in the hospital for the fourth quarter after suffering an upper body injury, it was up to his understudy, Kenny Guiton, to lead the Buckeyes to victory. And after his first three series' resulted in a missed field goal, a safety, and an interception, Guiton did just that, spearheading a 61-yard touchdown drive and subsequent two-point conversion to force an overtime that saw the Buckeyes keep their undefeated streak intact. Considering the unlikely scenario and even unlikelier hero that was born, OSU's win over the Boilermakers was one of its most memorable in 2012.








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