There is no way to explain what the 2011 football season felt like for the average Ohio State fan. For the first time since 1897, The Silver Bullets and Scarlet Assassins lost seven games in a season.
The Scarlet and Gray had not suffered a losing season since 1988.
From game one, everything felt different. The Buckeyes were playing in the shadows of a vacated 2010, without five of their top players, infused with unplayable emotion created by the loss of their master general.
Despite that fact, there were some memorable moments to last season.
Joe Bauserman threw heat seeking missiles
to his intended receivers. The team salvaged joining TTUN as the laughingstock of college football by holding on in the last minute to beat…Toledo.
In week four The Buckeyes didn’t score their first points until the fourth quarter against Michigan State…. with 10 seconds remaining on the clock. In a game where the Buckeyes had one drive last longer than four minutes, Baus Hog was able to find Evan Spencer late to make it 10-7 when it was too little, too late.
The following week, it was never too little nor too late for the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the biggest comeback in school history. After the best offensive half of the season for the Bucks, putting 27 points on the board , the Cornhuskers scored 28 unanswered points in the 34-27 victory.
Even wins were of the embarrassing variety.
Against the Illinois Fighting Zooks, Braxton Miller completed just one pass that happened to be a touchdown toss to Jake Stoneburner for 17 yards. The Buckeyes threw it a total of four times.
Let’s continue indulging the pain shall we?
After an amazing battle with Wisconsin, The Buckeyes rolled through the end of the season struggling to contain an Indiana offense that couldn’t get it done against North Texas. That was followed by losses to Purdue and Penn State.
And an inspiring effort against scUM — in a game that fans expect nothing but perfection.
Flashing back to all of these moments should make every single Buckeye coach, player, and fan cringe. That’s the exact reason why 2012 matters.
Earlier this week, my comrade Andrew Huber wrote a great piece on how the Buckeyes should take 2012 as a project to set up the future.
The Hubermeister hit some great points that probably have been ringing through the ears of anxious Bucknuts.
How long will it take to adjust to the spread? Can the Scarlet offensive line protect Braxton Miller? Who is going to step up as true play-makers in the offense?
All these questions and many more surround the program leading up to August, as we get closer to organized football. The only thing we know is that history tells us Urban Meyer wins big in his first season at the helm.
In his first year at Bowling Green, the Falcons went from 2-9 to 8-3. In 2003, The Utes went from 5-6 to 10-3. Florida went from a Zooker strong 7-5 to 9-3 in just one season.
And in the second year, it gets even better.
But that’s not the focus of the day, as Urban’s troops prepare for the upcoming season. There might be a lot of hope with little expectation in the fanbase. The NCAA has taken away any title hopes for the first year of the Urban Meyer Era. The Big Ten championship is out of question.
Yet, no matter what their record ends up being, the Buckeyes have a national championship of their own to play for at the end of next season – Saturday November 24th vs. Michigan at Ohio Stadium.
In fact, Meyer has never lost to his major rival in his first season under the helm. Yet another thing to love about Ohio State’s head man.
Since November 28th of last year, the nightmare of 2011 has been behind us. As we continue to look forward to the upcoming season (is it here yet??!?!?!) it’s refreshing to know that there is a true direction to this program.
Players that get into trouble are going to be punished. New talent will continue to blossom into football players. Veteran leaders will continue to grow into better teammates and human beings.
The opening kickoff to a new beginning in Ohio State football history is less than two months away.
The return to prominence begins right from the opening whistle.