On the last weekend in November, under snow flurries and gray skies, the Buckeyes completed the sixth perfect season in the school's history (previous: 1916, 1944, 1954, 1968, 2002). While the result meant a spotless record for the 2012 season, the game definitely was marred with blemishes.
If you were like me, you cringed a lot throughout the game. Penalties, turnovers and poor execution plagued the Buckeyes in Urban Meyer's first Michigan-Ohio State game, and one had to wonder if it some point the culmination of so many missed opportunities would come back to spoil the afternoon.
I mean let's be honest, there seemed to be plenty of frustrating moments. There was Philly Brown's muffed punt. There was the roughing the kicker penalty. There was Denard Robinson's 67 yard touchdown scamper. There was the sack and missed field goal after getting to Michigan's 4 yard line. There was Braxton's fumble deep inside Michigan's territory. That's just the tip of the iceberg too. It was a would have, could have kind of game, and teams just don't win those. At some point all those shortcomings are supposed to come back to haunt you.
Unbelievably they didn't.
Ironically, it fit this team perfectly. This 2012 squad has been flawed all season. Not in just one area of the game either, as at some point each facet of the game has let the Buckeyes down. There have been moments were the offense has stalled. The defense has given up an unbelievable amount of yards and has looked down right horrendous at times. And well, the special teams has made mistakes in about every way possible this season. Throw in the injuries, the penalty yards, the sacks, and the big plays, and you've got a very questionable product.
Yet, despite all the flaws, they stand perfect.
They've won six games by seven points or less, been in two overtimes and even fought back with the back-up quarterback in the game. There have been multiple games where it wasn't clear exactly how they got the win, including the last two, but when the dust settled this team was singing Carmen Ohio with smiles on their faces.
So how have they done it? Well, it been about one thing - heart.
Years from now when fans walk by the display commemorating the 2012 team's perfect season in the WHAC, I can almost guarantee that no one will talk about them as an offensive juggernaut or a defensive powerhouse. Actually, I can 100% guarantee no one will be talking about the latter. Instead, what they will be remembered for is their resiliency and heart. In the face of NCAA sanctions and coming off a 6-7 season, this year's squad gritted their teeth and won 12 straight times behind the resolve of a senior class and a head coach who refused to quit. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't flashy, but it was full of heart.
Saturday was the one more showing of that heart. In an ugly game that will greatly underwhelm the national media, the Buckeyes completed a feat that has become a rarity in the modern age of football - perfection. They are flawed and yet so perfect at the same time.
While now many will play the "what if" game and talk about Gene Smith's mistakes or how this team could fare in the national championship, I am just fine with this being the last performances for this team. In another perfectly flawed outing, the seniors, who have seen so many highs and lows, go out as winners knowing they brought back pride to the program. Urban Meyer ends the season claiming his first victory in the rivalry, and can smile knowing he fulfilled his promise "to make the great state of Ohio proud." Also, and most importantly, Buckeye Nation knows this team did things the right way, thanks to a great group of kids.
In the end, while there may not be a crystal football or even a B1G Championship to add to the accomplishments of this year's team, perfection has been achieved. Blemishes, weaknesses and all, it was a beautiful sight.