Ohio State's 2012 season will be limited to just the 12 games in the regular season regardless of record due to the NCAA sanctions levied against the program.
Luckily, they have finally killed the negative momentum that had hampered the team since their (vacated) Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas, leading to Jim Tressel's forced resignation, Terrelle Pryor's departure, the worst season since the 19th century and the aforementioned postseason ban.
Urban Meyer and his new coaching staff combined with a consensus top-five recruiting class have got the Buckeyes back on track.
It's going to take at least a year for Ohio State to get back atop the Big Ten due to the postseason ban.
That doesn't mean that the Buckeyes can't have a good season in 2012, though.
The perfect example is the 2011 USC Trojans.
USC just got off of their two-year postseason ban from the Reggie Bush/O.J. Mayo scandals and are in a great position to play for a national championship this year because of what they did in 2011.
With virtually nothing to play for in 2011, the Trojans played exceptionally well, outside of their 43-20 blowout loss at Arizona State, to finish 10-2.
The highlight of the season came with a stunning road win at Oregon and a 50-0 home win over UCLA, who because of the Trojans' postseason ban, played the Ducks in the Pac-12 championship game.
USC returns much of that team once again, and they are in a position to be the first non-SEC team since Texas in the 2005 season to win the BCS National Championship.
When it comes to Ohio State, they have a chance to do something very similar with a team that is learning a new system on offense while hoping to regain their defensive edge.
They have three very tough road games against Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin this year, each of which presents different challenges.
The Spartans bring back several players from a very stout defense, Penn State has some new life as a program under new coach Bill O'Brien and Wisconsin's new O'Brien, QB Danny O'Brien—a Maryland transfer—could give them two years of what Russell Wilson did for the Badgers in 2011.
The new Buckeye offensive system will take some time to get rolling, but it should get much better as the season goes on, especially when OSU faces Penn State and Wisconsin.
OSU's skill on defense should be enough to get them started off on the right foot as the offense figures itself out.
If the offense gets it going and does so earlier rather than later, 10-2 or even 11-1 is certainly a possibility.
Though 12-0 seems unrealistic under almost any scenario at this point, it's still not impossible.
That's why they play the game. And with Meyer at the controls, he will make sure his guys are motivated to win each week and be ready for when they can contend in the Big Ten once again.
All Meyer has to do is, almost ironically, look to the coach he had many verbal disputes with, Lane Kiffin, and find a way for his team to have a similar degree of success.
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