Ohio State Football: 10 Surprising Statistics About the 2012 Buckeyes
After slogging through the early part of its schedule, the 12th-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes are 5-0 to start the 2012 season under new head coach Urban Meyer and are coming off a tough road win over Michigan State last Saturday.
The early wins didn't gain the Buckeyes many style points, but victories are all that matter in the 2012 season—since Ohio State was saddled with a postseason bowl ban by the misdeeds of the Jim Tressel regime.
So while the first five game provided vital confidence for the young Buckeyes, the statistics compiled in those games give fans an interesting look at potential strengths and weaknesses that could come into play down the road.
What follows are 10 surprising statistics concerning the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Braxton Miller's Completion Percentage
After last year's disappointing defeat to Michigan, where Braxton Miller missed wide-open receivers late in the game that would have given Ohio State a victory over the rival Wolverines, the young quarterback has made great strides in his passing prowess in 2012.
The sophomore has completed 62.8 percent of his passes so far this year, hitting on 76 of his 121 attempts. This figure is nearly nine percent higher than last year's 54.1 percent mark and comes during a year that has seen Miller throw the ball much more than in his freshman campaign.
Miller has averaged 24 passing attempts per game over the first five games in 2012, after throwing it less than 13 times a contest a year ago.
Second Quarter Domination
Ohio State is earning its victories in the second quarter in 2012, outscoring its opponents 59-13 in the 15 minutes before halftime.
The offense fires on all cylinders in the second quarter, putting up their best numbers of the year, both passing and running the football.
In Braxton Miller's 38 second quarter passing attempts he has thrown just seven incompletions and has thrown for more touchdowns, more 15-yard and 25-yard completions and more first downs than in any other quarter.
The same can be said for the ground game, as OSU has more rushing attempts, yards, touchdowns, first downs and gains of more than 10 yards than in any other stanza.
Yellow Flags Flying at Ohio Stadium
The 2012 Buckeyes are a young team learning a new system under Coach Meyer, but despite the early successes, the team is drawing penalties at its highest rate in more than a decade.
This year's team has been flagged for 7.4 penalties per game, costing it 65 yards per outing—a rate that is second only to Indiana's 7.5 for the most flags in the Big Ten this year.
The current penalty rate is the highest for an Ohio State team since the 2000 season.
Red Zone Touchdown Rate Soars
Urban Meyer's offensive philosophy is in sharp contrast to the just-get-something-on-the-board doctrine Ohio State fans saw under Jim Tressel over the last decade, as the new head coach has preached finishing drives in the end zone.
The 2012 Buckeyes have scored touchdowns on 15 of their 19 trips inside the opponent's 20-yard line this year, for an impressive conversion rate of 78.95 percent.
The percentage of touchdowns scored on visits inside the red zone this year is 14 percent higher than any Buckeye team over the last six years.
Teams Moving the Chains Through the Air
The much-maligned Ohio State passing defense is second in the conference in interceptions and has performed admirably with the game on the line, but teams are moving the ball through the air against the young secondary and linebackers at an alarming pace.
Teams have made at least 10 first downs through the air in each of the first five games of the year against Ohio State. Going back to 2007, no Ohio State team has given up 10 passing first downs in five consecutive games.
Having said that, the Buckeye pass defense has been huge in the fourth quarter of games.
The Silver Bullets have allowed a 50.8 percent completion percentage in the fourth quarter—as opposed to a 60.9 mark overall. Ohio State is yet to allow a fourth quarter scoring pass and has four of its seven interceptions in the final quarter.
Spreading the Sacks Around
Through the first five games, 11 Buckeye defenders have registered at least one quarterback sack, but only Etienne Sabino has more than one.
The number of Buckeyes that have bagged quarterback sacks through five games equals the number for the entire season in 2010 and 2011.
Corey Brown Leading the Big Ten
Junior wideout Corey Brown is currently tied with Penn State's Allen Robinson for the Big Ten lead in receptions with 32. Brown has gained 317 yards and has a scoring catch on those 32 grabs.
If he can maintain his standing, Brown would be the first Buckeye to lead the conference in receptions since David Boston paced the Big Ten with 85 catches in 1998.
Brown has been a key in keeping offensive drives alive for the Buckeyes, as 16 of his 32 catches have been good for first downs—including five-of-eight on third down.
John Simon's Struggles
John Simon was lauded throughout training camp as the one defender that Urban Meyer could count on to lead the way in 2012, and the preseason pundits featured Simon prominently in many of their all-conference polls.
But the senior defensive tackle from Youngstown has had a rough start to the year on the stat sheets, even when compared to his own teammates.
Simon is fourth among Buckeye defensive linemen in tackles per game (3.4) and has just one sack and 2.5 tackles for loss in five games.
Zach Boren Gets the Ball
In his first three seasons as the starting fullback for the Ohio State Buckeyes, Zach Boren carried the ball just one time.
In three years.
But with Urban Meyer wanting to give defenses something to focus on besides Braxton Miller, the senior, from nearby Pickerington, has toted the ball 11 times for 33 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Interestingly, none of those carries have come on third or fourth down, although four of the 11 rushes have come in the red zone—where Boren has scored both of his touchdowns.
Winning Without the Football
Ohio State has built a 5-0 mark in the early part of the season but has done it in a style that belies the old three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust tradition that Buckeye fans grew up with.
The Buckeyes have actually held the ball more than 90 seconds less than their opponents this year (30:47 to 29:12), marking the first time since 2004 that an Ohio State team has trailed its foes in time of possession.
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