2012: 12-0 (8-0, Leaders Division Champions)
Trying to figure out Ohio State's 2013 destiny is a little like picking lottery numbers. There wasn't anyone picking the Buckeyes to go undefeated last season, but 12-0 is exactly where they ended up.
But in order for the Buckeyes to repeat the accomplishment, and this time add a possible conference and national title run to the mix, they'll have to ignore the history of previous undefeated programs. Since 2000, 14 teams have put together undefeated seasons. Four of those programs have done it more than once (Ohio State being one, Boise State, Utah and Auburn being the others), and none of those did it in back-to-back seasons.
The last program to go undefeated in two consecutive seasons was Nebraska (1994 and 1995), and you have to go back to 1970 and 1971 to find the next back-to-back perfect seasons (Toledo was undefeated from 1969 to 1971). Ohio State only has six perfect seasons to its credit over the years, so yet another undefeated season in 2013 would be pretty amazing from a statistical point of view.
We also have to consider that Ohio State, while returning nine offensive starters from a year ago, is returning those starters from a team that was pretty bad offensively. Ohio State ranked 46th in total offense in 2012, thanks in large part to a terrible passing game (105th nationally). Braxton Miller, the standout quarterback for the Buckeyes, will give it one more shot in 2012, but Big Ten defenses are beginning to catch on to the fact that stopping Miller means stopping the Buckeyes. Not that many have been successful at stopping Miller thus far.
Ohio State will also need to step up defensively in 2013. The Buckeyes were sixth in the conference last season in total defense, which almost cost them their perfect record several times. Never a group to let facts get in the way of a good story, Ohio State fans will point to a 12-0 record in 2012 as "proof" that their team was dominant in the conference. But with extremely narrow victories over less-than-stellar opposition (California, Michigan State, Indiana and Purdue), you don't need to search high and low to understand why the AP never gave Ohio State serious consideration for their national championship over once-beaten Alabama.
Will Ohio State be a favorite for the Big Ten title in 2013? With the perfect season of 2012 needing validation and a massive chip on the shoulder of all those in Columbus needing to prove something, most defiantly. Will the Buckeyes actually win the conference championship in 2013? Stay tuned.
Worst Case: 9-3
Best Case: 11-1
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