Ohio State completed a feat that only one other team in the country has a chance to do—finish the regular season undefeated. If they play their cards right in the beginning of 2013, the Buckeyes have a real chance to do the same thing all over again.
Unfortunately, the undefeated mark won't result in any kind of postseason accolade. Ohio State is still facing NCAA sanctions for violations under the Jim Tressel era, stemming from the Terrell Pryor incidents.
Still, only Notre Dame has a chance to finish with a zero on the right side of the win-loss column. Urban Meyer successfully changed the culture of the program in just under a season as head coach, cementing his status as a collegiate legend in the head coaching ranks.
With QB Braxton Miller at the helm, this team has a real chance to finish the season undefeated yet again when 2013 rolls around. They aren't losing much talent on either side of the ball, including returning nine starters from the offense to surround Miller with talent.
Miller took major strides under Meyer's leadership, as did the rest of the receiving corp and the offense itself. Ohio State was able to run the ball against good run defenses because of Miller's athleticism and Carlos Hyde's pure power.
Corey Brown and Devin Smith are big playmakers that are both returning on the outside, and could rival any duo in the country not named Woods and Lee.
The Big Ten has already announced the schedule for the 2013 season. It includes much of the same as Ohio State knocked off in 2012, including a weak non-conference schedule where a road game at California figures to be the only real obstacle.
Ohio State assistant coach Kerry Coombs is excited about the impending matchup, posting this status about Meyer's reign at the top being just the beginning of the thorn in the side of the rest of the Big Ten.
Urban Meyer's perfect first season at Ohio State should worry rest of Big Ten sports.yahoo.com/news/ncaaf--ur…— Kerry Coombs (@OsuCoachCoombs) November 26, 2012
Not only is Meyer just getting comfortable, his team is now officially battle tested.
Ohio State played only three games where it was able to defeat an opponent by more than 15 points. One of those games was against Miami Ohio, the other two were against Nebraska (Big Ten championship bound) and Illinois.
They managed to stave off late comebacks from every team that mounted one this season, including overtime games against Purdue and Wisconsin. The Buckeyes showed resolve beyond their years, including have backup QB Kenny Guyton coming in and leading the team to victory when Miller got hurt.
Obviously, Ohio State can't rely on 2012 to give it success in 2013, but the groundwork is there. The practice habits are also there, and a QB that will have many award nominations and potential wins will be back under center for at least one more season.
Additionally, the schedule is still soft, the skill players are a year older and more mature and the amount of close games this team has played will make them favorites in every game they play in 2013.
Meyer has laid the groundwork for something special going forward. It starts with 2013, and although it's still very early to be talking about life after something that hasn't happened yet, the completion of the national championship game will officially erase the NCAA sanctions for good.
When that happens, the real fun begins.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team.