Thanks to NCAA sanctions, and publicly stated or not, Ohio State had three realistic goals for the 2012 season: a Big Ten Leaders division trophy, a win in The Game and an undefeated season.
Consider Mission No. 1 accomplished, with Nos. 2 and 3 within their reach next weekend.
A Carlos Hyde touchdown run in overtime coupled with a defensive stand on Wisconsin’s lone extra-session possession propelled the Buckeyes to a perfect 11-0 on the season. The 21-14 win also pushed No. 6 OSU to 7-0 in Big Ten play, giving them a two-game lead on Penn State — also ineligible for the postseason — with just one game left, meaning that the Buckeyes’ have officially claimed the outright Leaders division title.
Despite the NCAA sanctions stemming from the Jim Tressel era, the Big Ten confirmed earlier this year that, yes, the Buckeyes would be in line for the trophy if they won the division.
While a divisional trophy is nice, a season for the Buckeyes isn’t considered a success without a win against That School Up North. With Michigan on tap next weekend in one of the greatest rivalry games in all of sports, Ohio State can both cap off its first perfect season since 2002 and avenge their loss to the hated Wolverines last season in one fell swoop.
As for the Badgers, and even as UW dropped a second-straight heartbreaker to the Buckeyes, UW had already punched their ticket to Indianapolis for the Big Ten championship earlier this month.