By Matt McCoy
As we ring in 2013 this week, I reflected on the 2012 sports year for the Buckeyes and came up with my "Top Five Moments."
I should point out, that there are numerous Buckeye moments in the 'non-revenue' sports. I participated in one of them--swimming--back in the 1980's, so I know how much time, work and dedication those athletes and coaches put into their sports. This list is not meant to slight those sports or those athletes, but I'm limiting this list to the programs I cover on a day-to-day basis...football and men's basketball.
Your list may be different. For example, I considered Devin Smith's one-handed touchdown catch (below) but decided against it. If I picked a play of the year, this was it.
Instead of plays of the year, I chose moments. Those seconds that were memorable and brought out a variety of emotions. Four of my "moments" occured on the field of play, but number five for me came the day before "The Game."
Number Five: Urban Meyer's speech
With the Buckeyes at 11-0, hoping to complete a perfect season, one team stood in their way...Michigan. The day before "The Game," at 610 WTVN football analyst and former Buckeye coach Earle Bruce's "Beat Michigan Tailgate," Urban Meyer took to the mic and delivered a passionate speech about his seniors. At one point, Meyer became choked up and had to pause for nearly one minute, with Coach Bruce coming on stage for support.
An emotional Meyer finished off the speech with a line that went viral.
"I just want to make sure that we always remember this senior class. There's reasons why you do what you do. These kids love this school. They love each other and we can't forget that. Let's beat the (bleep) out of Michigan. Have a good night."
While it was away from the playing field, it was an unforgettable moment that captured Meyer's passion for his players, his love of Ohio State, and the intensity of the Buckeye/Wolverine rivalry.
To relive the Meyer speech, Click HERE:
Number Four: Braxton Miller's TD versus Penn State
We could make another list of jaw-dropping Braxton Miller moments, but for the sake of this list, I had to limit it to one. I chose the play that Earle Bruce called, "The best 6-inch run I've ever seen."
With Ohio State leading at Penn State 14-10 in the third quarter and facing a third and goal from inside the one, Miller juked and danced his way around three would be tacklers in the backfield and then dove between two more at the goal line to give Ohio State a 21-10 lead. The Buckeyes went on to win 35-23, improving to 9-0. There were longer runs from Miller in the 12-0 season, but none were more impressive than this one.
Number Three: Buckeyes advance to the Final Four
I love the NCAA tournament and making the Final Four is special. In fact, if the list were for "achievements" and not "moments," this would be number one. Ohio State's 77-70 win over Syracuse put Thad Matta's Buckeyes in the Final Four for the second time in his seven seasons with the Buckeyes. I was fortunate enough to be there and although it was nerve wracking, Ohio State played extremely well and pretty much controlled the game throughout. I would have this higher but there really wasn't a signature moment. It was just an efficient and impressive victory for Ohio State's now dominant basketball program. If you have two hours to kill, here's a copy of the game from YouTube.
Number Two: William Buford shoots down Michigan State to win Big Ten
Ohio State's William Buford ended his Buckeye career tied with Jerry Lucas for number three on the school's all-time scoring list. No two points were bigger than his buzzer-beater in the regular season finale at Michigan State. It not only gave OSU a 72-70 victory, but it also won a share of the Big Ten title.
What made the moment and the shot bigger was that it was Buford that made it. The 2011 season ended with number one Ohio State losing to Kentucky in the NCAA tournament. Buford missed a last second three pointer that could have won it and was just 2-16 from the floor that night. He had an up and down senior year but will always have this moment, when he nailed one of the biggest shots in Buckeye history.
Number One: Kenny Guiton to the rescue
Yes...a back-up quarterback has my number one moment. With the Buckeyes trailing Purdue 22-14 and Braxton Miller injured, it seemed as though Ohio State's undefeated season was coming to an end.
Enter Kenny Guiton, who engineered a 61 yard touchdown drive, with no timeouts, in only 44 seconds. His TD pass to Chris Fields with three seconds left made the score 22-20. Guiton then found Jeff Heuerman for the 2-point conversion to tie the game and then promptly drove the Buckeyes for what turned out to be the winning touchdown in a 29-22 overtime win. It was an improbable finish that prevented a major upset and helped propel the Buckeyes to a 12-0 season. Here's the final drive and the overtime. As long as there is Buckeye football, the 2012 Purdue win will forever be remembered as the Kenny Guiton game.