Ohio State Football: Are the Buckeyes Destined to Finish the Season Undefeated?
After Ohio State's come-from-behind victory over Purdue last Saturday, it's fair to ask this question:
Are the Buckeyes destined to finish the season with a perfect 12-0 record?
Some teams just have that feel to it; like they'll overcome any obstacle no matter how impossibly difficult it is to navigate.
Ohio State's 2002 team had a similar, much stronger aura.
In Jim Tressel's second year as head coach, the Buckeyes were coming off a 7-5 season capped by a 31-28 bowl loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks. That didn't stop Tressel from signing a decorated recruiting class, highlighted by the top-ranked high school running back in Maurice Clarett.
Ohio State entered the season ranked No. 13 in the country by the AP, one spot behind rival Michigan.
Quarterback Craig Krenzel's steady play combined with Clarett's big-play ability out of the backfield fueled the Buckeyes to a quick 3-0 start that included an 18-point victory over No. 7 Washington State.
Things got tougher from that point on, but Ohio State always rose to the challenge.
The Buckeyes needed nine fourth-quarter points to claim their fourth victory of the year over a Cincinnati team that lost seven games in 2002. That was followed by three relatively easy victories, but from that point on, every week was a battle for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State closed out the regular season with six straight wins, five of which were by an average of just five points. Included were two of the most dramatic come-from-behind victories over the last decade of Ohio State football. The Buckeyes of course ended that season with a national championship game victory over the heavily-favored Miami Hurricanes.
Obviously this year's team won't have a shot a national title if it goes undefeated, but can they finish the season with the same void in the loss column as the '02 team?
If this year's squad has one thing in common with its 2002 counterpart, it's an astounding resiliency.
It might feel less dramatic because Ohio State fans know that a win or a loss on any given Saturday won't keep the Buckeyes from the title game this year because of the postseason ban. That doesn't mean the games aren't comparable.
What's Ohio State's record at the end of the year?
Ohio State's Week 4 victory over Cincinnati in 2002 may have had more late-game drama than the Buckeyes' 35-28 victory over Cal this year, but the finish was just as close.
Ohio State's 17-16 victory over Michigan State in Week 5 would've fit in just fine with the tight defensive battles from the 2002 season. Not to mention last week's victory over Purdue, which may have been an even more improbable victory than the '02 contest.
This year's team has been in some tight games, but every time they've answered the bell. Do you think the Buckeyes are destined to finish the season 12-0? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, or continue the conversation with me on Twitter @davidreg412.
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