Ohio State TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl Game Notes
Freshman quarterback Braxton Miller was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

Dec. 22, 2011

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Ohio State (6-6) vs. Florida (6-6)
Monday, Jan. 2, 2012
1 p.m. ET
EverBank Field (77,000) - Jacksonville, Fla.

The Broadcasts
Television: ESPN2 will televise the game with Mike Patrick (play-by-play) and Ed Cunningham (analyst) in the booth and Jeannine Edwards on the sidelines.

Radio: WBNS (FM 97.1 The Fan) is the flagship station for the 73-station Ohio State radio network. The Luke Fickell pregame show airs 30 minutes prior to kickoff. Paul Keels will call the play-by-play with former Buckeye Jim Lachey in the booth and Marty Bannister on the sidelines. The game can also be heard on SiriusXM satellite radio channel 91.

First and 10

  • Ohio State is making its first appearance in the Gator Bowl since 1978 when No. 20 Ohio State lost to No. 6 Clemson, 17-15, in Woody Hayes' final game as head coach of the Buckeyes.
  • This will be Ohio State's first bowl game in the State of Florida since the 2002 Outback Bowl.
  • This is Ohio State's 11th consecutive bowl appearance. The last time Ohio State did not go to a bowl was after the 1999 season.
  • The school record for consecutive seasons going to a bowl game is 15 (1972-86). The current streak will end after this year.
  • Ohio State is meeting Florida for just the second time in the series -- the first being the 2007 BCS National Championship game in Glendale.
  • Freshman quarterback Braxton Miller was named Big Ten freshman of the year.
  • Ohio State has had seven freshmen make starts while 14 have played in at least one game.
  • All-American center Mike Brewster has made 48 consecutive starts for the Buckeyes.
  • Dan Herron was voted by his teammates following the regular season as the team MVP.
  • Three different Buckeyes (Herron, Miller and Carlos Hyde) rushed for at least 100 yards in the win over Indiana Nov. 5.
  • Buckeyes In Bowls
    Ohio State has a 19-22 record in bowl games, dating back to the 1921 Rose Bowl, where the Buckeyes were defeated 28-0 by California. The Buckeyes have appeared in 11 different bowl games during their storied history.

    The Buckeyes are 5-3 in eight BCS game appearances. Ohio State holds a 15-19 record in bowl games played on New Year's Day or later.

    Buckeyes In This Bowl
    The ending of the last Gator Bowl the Buckeyes played in is well documented. Regarding that episode, coach Luke Fickell said during a Gator Bowl interview session that "We'd like to put a completely different spin on Ohio State's Gator Bowl history" [this year].

    Braxton Miller Named Big Ten Freshman of the Year
    Freshman quarterback Braxton Miller, from Huber Heights, Ohio, was named the Big Ten Conference's Thompson-Randle El Freshman of the Year.

    Miller, who became Ohio State's starting quarterback in the fourth game of the season, threw for 997 yards this season with 11 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He completed 50 percent of his attempts (67 of 134), and he capped his season with a 14-for-25 effort for 235 yards with two touchdowns - all season highs - in the regular season finale against Michigan.

    Dangerous as a runner, Miller led the Buckeyes with 695 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry. Included was a school-record (by a quarterback) 81-yard touchdown run vs. Indiana.

    Miller rushed for more than 100 yards a team-best three times with 105 yards against Indiana and Penn State, respectively, and 100 vs. Michigan. He accounted for 13 rushing and passing touchdowns in the last five games of the season, including all seven of his rushing scores and six of his 11 passing touchdowns.

    Miller was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice. The first time was after the dramatic win over Wisconsin when he completed a 40-yard touchdown pass to Devin Smith with 40 seconds to play and rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns.

    More on Miller:

  • In the regular season finale he earned the Big Ten's top frosh award again after his 335 yards of total offense vs. Michigan.
  • His late-game heroics also included leading the Buckeyes to a game-tying touchdown with 55 seconds left to play against Purdue. On fourth-and-13 he found Jordan Hall in the end zone for the dramatic score.
  • He led the Buckeyes on a five-play, 80-yard touchdown drive midway through the fourth quarter to help the Buckeyes close to 37-34 against Michigan.
  • Ohio State's Big Ten Freshmen of the Year:
    1990 - Robert Smith, RB
    1992 - Kory Stringer, OT
    1994 - Orlando Pace, OT
    1996 - Andy Katzenmoyer, LB
    2002 - Maurice Clarett, RB
    2008 - Terrelle Pryor, QB
    2011 - Braxton Miller, QB

    John Simon Named Third Team All-America
    John Simon was named a third-team Associated Press All-American.

    Simon, a first-team all-Big Ten Conference selection by the conference head coaches, leads the Buckeyes with seven quarterback sacks and 15 tackles for loss (for minus-58 yards), figures that rank tied for second and sixth, respectively, in the Big Ten.

    The Youngstown, Ohio, native (Cardinal Mooney) and 2010 honorable mention all-Big Ten selection recorded 50 tackles this season for the Buckeyes to rank sixth on the team. He also broke up three passes while starting all 12 contests. He was named Big Ten player of the week after a nine-tackle (and four TFL) game against Illinois.

    Simon, who was a semifinalist this year for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, enters the 2012 TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl with 27 career TFLs and 11.5 career sacks.

    Simon Headlines All-Big Ten Buckeyes
    John Simon was named to the 2011 All-Big Ten First Team by the coaches.

    Senior center Michael Brewster, senior linebacker Andrew Sweat and junior safety C.J. Barnett earned second team All-Big Ten honors by the coaches while Simon and senior offensive tackle Mike Adams garnered second team laurels from the media.

    In addition, Johnathan Hankins, Dan Herron, Jack Mewhort and Jake Stoneburner earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors from the coaches while Barnett, Brewster, Hankins, Mewhort, Tyler Moeller, Andrew Norwell, Stoneburner and Sweat were named honorable mention All-Big Ten by the media.

    Buckeye Award Winners

  • Chris Maxwell, who will graduate this winter with a degree in mechanical engineering, was named the John Galbreath Award winner for academic success.
  • Talented freshman Ryan Shazier, who played in all 12 games, started twice and totaled 47 tackles, was named the recipient of the Agonis Club Rick Meyer Award for his outstanding play in the Penn State game (15 tackles).
  • Braxton Miller was the recipient of the First-Year Offensive Player Award.
  • The First-Year Defensive Player Award was presented to Bradley Roby, the only freshman to start all 12 games and who tied for the team lead in interceptions (three) and PBUs (eight).
  • Nate Ebner earned the Ike Kelly Award for his outstanding play on special teams (10 tackles).
  • The Randy Gradishar Award, presented to the team's outstanding linebacker, went to senior Andrew Sweat. A second-team all-Big Ten Conference honoree, Sweat totaled 68 tackles in 10 games plus had three pass break-ups, a forced fumble and an interception.
  • Johnathan Hankins was named the Jack Stephenson Award winner as the team's outstanding defensive lineman. "Big Hank" ranks third on the team with 64 tackles and is second with 11.0 TFLs and 3.0 quarterback sacks.
  • The Arnie Chonko Award, presented to the team's outstanding defensive back, was awarded to sophomore C.J. Barnett, a second-team all-Big Ten selection who leads the team with 69 tackles and has two interceptions among his eight pass break-ups.
  • Sophomore Corey Brown, who tied for the team lead with 14 receptions and ranked second with 205 receiving yards, earned the Paul Warfield Award as the team's outstanding receiver.
  • Punishing blocker and talented junior Zach Boren was presented with the Rex Kern Award as the team's outstanding offensive back.
  • A pair of talented senior leaders on the offensive line - Mike Adams and Michael Brewster - were each named the recipient of the Jim Parker Award as the team's outstanding offensive linemen. Both players were named second-team all-Big Ten.
  • Returning to the field to play in all 12 games this season after two season-ending injuries, senior "star" Tyler Moeller was presented with the Jim Marshall Warrior Award. Moeller, already an Ohio State graduate (consumer affairs), has a full resume of on-field achievements: 90 career tackles, 9.5 TFLs, four forced fumbles, three PBUs and a quarterback sack.
  • Simon was named the Bill Willis Award winner as the team's outstanding defensive player.
  • Miller received the Archie Griffin Award as the team's outstanding offensive player.
  • The Bo Rein Award, voted on by the players and given to the most inspirational player on the team, went to Ebner.
  • And the team's Most Valuable Player award, also voted on by the players, was presented to Dan Herron.
  • Shazier Named Big Ten Freshman of the Week - Nov. 21
    In his first career start, true freshman linebacker Ryan Shazier earned himself Big Ten freshman of the week honors with his 15-tackle performance against Penn State. Filling in for the injured Andrew Sweat, Shazier recorded seven solo tackles and had a large role in Ohio State's goal line stand in the third quarter.

    Miller Hits 100 Again
    Braxton Miller topped 100 yards rushing for the third time in four games vs. Michigan, rushing for 100 yards on 16 carries and one TD while also adding a career-high 235 yards through the air. Against Penn State the week prior, he tied his personal best with 105 yards off 18 carries. He leads the Buckeye rushers with 695 yards on the season.

    Boom Climbs into Top 10 in Rushing
    Dan "Boom" Herron had his streak of 100-yard rushing games this season end at three at Purdue. In his six games this season, Herron averaged 98.8 yards per game (4.9 ypc). Herron moved into Ohio State's all-time Top 10 rushers with 2,787 yards. He needs 159 to pass Antonio Pittman (2,945 yards) for ninth.

    "O" Yes!
    Orhian Johnson recorded his third interception of the season and the fourth of his career vs. Penn State. He is now tied with Travis Howard for the most among Buckeye defenders.

    Active Career Leaders - Interceptions

    CBTravis HowardJr.4
    SFOrhian JohnsonJr.4
    CBBradley RobyFr.3
    LBAndrew SweatSr.3
    SFC.J. BarnettSo.2
    LBStorm KleinJr.2

    Shugarts Start Streak Snapped
    J.B. Shugarts had started 24 consecutive games at right tackle before missing the Purdue game with a leg issue. Antonio Underwood started in Shugarts' place and Corey Linsley also spent considerable time at the position. Ohio State had started the same offensive line crew of LT Mike Adams, LG Andrew Norwell, C Mike Brewster, RG Jack Mewhort and LG Shugarts four consecutive games - since Adams' return - and had averaged 267.0 rushing yards per game in that stretch.

    Seven Frosh Have Now Started
    Ohio State had seven different freshmen start a game this season. RS frosh Bradley Roby led all with 12 starts at CB. He is followed by QB Braxton Miller (9), WR Verlon Reed (five before season-ending knee surgery), DE J.T. Moore (three), Ryan Shazier (2), T.Y. Williams and Antonio Underwood.

    A Mountain of Youth
    All those freshmen starters only begin to tell the story of the number of young Buckeyes seeing playing time in 2011. Fourteen true freshmen have played in at least one game (10th-most nationally) and seven red-shirt freshmen have played for a mountain of youth totaling 21 freshmen (19th nationally) who have played this season.

    True Frosh on the Field:
    Michael Bennett, Brian Bobek, Jeremy Cash, Curtis Grant, Doran Grant, Joel Hale, Jeff Heuerman, Braxton Miller, Steve Miller, Ryan Shazier, Devin Smith, Evan Spencer, DerJuan Gambrell and Antonio Underwood.

    Redshirt Frosh on the Field:
    David Durham, Chad Hagan, J.T. Moore, Verlon Reed, Bradley Roby, Rod Smith and T.Y.Williams.

    15-Year Best 346-Yards Rushing
    Dan Herron (141), Braxton Miller (105) and Carlos Hyde (105) each ran for 100 yards against Indiana and the end result was a 15-year best 346-yard rushing game by the Buckeyes. The last time an Ohio State team rushed for more was Nov. 9, 1996 at Illinois when Pepe Pearson, no doubt running behind Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award winner Orlando Pace all day, led a 348-yard team effort with 165 rushing yards.

    Miller Big Ten Freshman of the Week Oct. 31
    A huge game vs. Wisconsin - three TDs accounted for including a game-winning TD pass with 20 seconds to play - earned Braxton Miller the Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Week honor Oct. 31. Ohio State defeated No. 15 Wisconsin, 33-29. Miller scored the first two touchdowns of his career before capping the game with his most important TD pass to date. He coasted in from the 1 yard line in the third quarter for his first collegiate score to give Ohio State a 10-7 lead. Then he burst off the left edge for a 44-yard sprint in the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 26-14. And then after Wisconsin scored two touchdowns inside of the final four minutes to take a 29-26 lead, Miller threw his sixth touchdown pass of the season, a 40-yarder to fellow freshman Devin Smith with 20 seconds to play to give Ohio State the come-from-behind victory. For the game, Miller rushed for a career high 99 yards and passed for 89 on 7 for 12 passing for a career high total offense day of 188 yards.

    Simon Named Big Ten Defensive POW Oct. 17
    John Simon's aggressive, relentless pursuit of all things Blue and Orange Oct. 15 in Champaign, Ill., earned the junior defensive tackle from Youngstown, Ohio, with the Defensive Player of the Week Award from the Big Ten Conference. The Big Ten award, the first by a Buckeye this season, was one of numerous awards for Simon last week. On a national scale, Simon was named the Lott IMPACT Player of the Week and the College Football Performance Award's National Defensive Lineman of the Week. Simon spearheaded an Ohio State defense with a career-high eight tackles, including a career-high four tackles-for-loss, in the team's 17-7 road win over 16th-ranked and previously unbeaten Illinois. Simon's TFLs included two quarterback sacks and totaled 16 yards in losses.

    Stoneburner Second in Career TDs
    Jake Stoneburner is tied for second place among Ohio State tight ends with nine career touchdown receptions. The junior caught his fifth touchdown this season - a 32-yard screen pass from Braxton Miller with blocking assistance from Mike Brewster and Mike Adams - in the first quarter against Nebraska and his sixth with a 17-yarder from Miller at Illinois. His seventh was a 7-yarder from Miller vs. Penn State.

    Tight End Touchdowns
    10 - John Lumpkin (1996-98)
    9 - Jake Stoneburner (2009-present)
    9 - John Frank (1980-83)
    9 - Rickey Dudley (1994-95)
    9 - Charles Bryant (1959-61)
    9 - Darnell Sanders (1999-01)
    8 - Jan White (1968-70)
    8 - Robert Grimes (1950-52)

    Brewster Reaches 48 Straight
    All-American center Mike Brewster has started 48 consecutive games. The senior from Orlando, Fla. made his first start in Game 4 of the 2008 season vs. Troy and started the final 10 games of the season. He started all 13 games in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

    Red Zone Efficiency
    Officially, Ohio State has scored 32 of 36 times (88.9 percent) this season inside the 20 with 23 touchdowns and nine field goals. The only four times the Buckeyes have failed to score came on a fumble and on three end-of-game possessions against Akron, Colorado and Indiana while running out the clock. So if you take out those three instances, Ohio State is really 32 of 33 (97.0 percent).

    Since Rod Smith's fumble in the first quarter against Akron, Ohio State has scored on 30 consecutive red zone possessions if you don't count the three possessions in which the Buckeyes took a knee to run out the clock.

    Buchanan a Wuerffel Award Finalist
    Junior punter Ben Buchanan, a strategic communications major from Westerville, Ohio, was a finalist for the Wuerffel Trophy, which is presented by the All Sports Association of Fort Walton Beach, Fla. The award is presented to the college football player who best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.

    Simon a Lott IMPACT Trophy Semifinalist
    John Simon was among eight semifinalists for the annual Lott IMPACT Trophy, which was announced by the Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation.

    The Silver Bullet Defense
    The Buckeyes have a long-standing tradition of producing the best defenses in the Big Ten and the nation year in, year out. Here are some bullets that put into perspective the Silver Bullets dominance:

  • Ohio State has featured a Top 20 scoring defense in each of the last nine seasons, including a top 6 in each of the last six.
  • YearPPG AllowedFBS Rank

  • Since the beginning of the 2007 season, the Ohio State defense has allowed only 11 100-yard rushers. That mark is third best among FBS schools.

    Fewest 100-yd rushers allowed (FBS Teams Since 2007)

    2.Boston College9
    3.Ohio State11
    Brigham Young11

  • Ohio State has allowed just one 100-yard rusher in the past 29 games at Ohio Stadium.

  • Since the 2005 season, Ohio State has finished either first or second in scoring defense among Big Ten teams all six years. The Buckeyes were first in 2010, 2007 and 2005 and second in 2009, 2008 and 2006.

  • Ohio State has held 68 opponents to 21 points or fewer since the start of the 2005 season, the most among FBS teams with TCU.

  • Ohio State has allowed fewer than 10 points 31 times since the start of the 2006 season.

  • Ohio State has allowed an average of 13.6 points over the last six full seasons. That is the best scoring defense among FBS teams in this span. TCU is second at 14.2 points per game.

    Coach Luke Fickell

  • Coach Luke Fickell has been backed by nine assistant coaches who have 184 years combined working as college assistant coaches or staff assistants in their careers.

  • Fickell went 2-4 against ranked teams this season (AP and Coaches poll).

  • Fickell was among four first-year head coaches in the Big Ten. The last time the Big Ten featured four first-year coaches: 1997. Illinois (Ron Turner), Indiana (Cam Cameron), Minnesota (Glen Mason) and Purdue (Joe Tiller) were hired that season.

  • Fickell picked up his first win over a ranked opponent with the 17-7 win at No. 16/15 Illinois Oct. 15 in Champaign. He won is second with the thrilling 33-29 win over No. 15 Wisconsin Oct. 29.

    Team/Miscellaneous Notes

  • After the loss to Miami in week 3 the Buckeyes fell out of the AP Top 25 for the first time since Nov. 20, 2004 -- nearly 7 years and ending the nation's longest current streak of appearances in the Top 25 (103 straight weeks).

  • Tight end Jake Stoneburner set a modern day Ohio State record for tight ends by catching three touchdown passes vs. Akron Sept. 3, from 28, 11 and 2 yards out with Bauserman throwing all three. Stoneburner, who came into the game with two career touchdowns, finished with four catches for 50 yards. The Ohio State record for career touchdowns by a tight end: 10 by John Lumpkin from 1996-98. Stoneburner has nine entering the Michigan game.

  • Senior All-America center Mike Brewster is regarded by some as one of the best centers in college football. He is a four-year starter with 48 career starts. In 2010 he was the only junior to rank among finalists for the Rimington Trophy, was a first team all-Big Ten selection and a FWAA and Phil Steele first team All-American. This season Brewster was named to the preseason Playboy All-America team, the Rimington and Outland Trophy watch lists and was voted one of 12 "players to watch" by a Big Ten media panel.

  • Ohio State is tied with Oklahoma with eight BCS bowl appearances. USC is third with seven.

  • Ohio State is 1-2 in national title games since the inception of the BCS in 1998. The three national title game appearances match Florida State for the second-most all-time. Only Oklahoma has more with four.

  • Ohio State is 5-3 in BCS bowls, tied for second with Florida (5-1) for the most BCS Bowl wins all-time. USC is first at 6-1.

  • Ohio State has not finished with a losing record since finishing 4-6-1 in 1988 (John Cooper's first season leading the Buckeyes). Ohio State's run of 21 straight seasons without a losing record is the third-longest among active FBS teams. Florida State has gone 34 straight seasons since finishing 5-6 in 1976 and Florida has gone 31 seasons since going 0-10-1 in 1979. Virginia Tech and Texas Tech have the fourth-longest runs at 18 seasons each.

  • In Ohio State's eight BCS bowl appearances, they have only been the Big Ten's automatic BCS bowl qualifier four times (2002, 2006, 2007, 2009). They have received an at-large berth three times (1998, 2003, 2008) and were an automatic participant by the `3-4 rule' in 2005.

  • Ohio State has won the Fiesta Bowl three times, the Sugar Bowl once and the Rose Bowl once in the BCS era. The Buckeyes join Oklahoma (Orange, Rose and Fiesta), Florida (Orange, Sugar and BCS title game) and Miami (Sugar, Rose and Orange) as the only teams to win three different BCS bowls.

  • Ohio State is among three different programs to have appeared in at least four different BCS bowls, joining Oklahoma and Miami. The Buckeyes only need to play in the Orange Bowl to join Oklahoma as the only program to appear in five different BCS bowls. While Miami has won the BCS title (2001 season), they have not played in a bowl game specifically called the BCS title game.

  • Ohio State has appeared in a bowl game in 16 of the last 18 seasons. Fifteen (including the Gator Bowl) of those bowl appearances have taken place in January (2004 Alamo Bowl). Ohio State has appeared in a January bowl in six of the past seven seasons.

  • Ohio State (19) is tied with Michigan (19) for the most bowl wins all-time by a Big Ten team. Nebraska is 24-23 in bowl games, but has not represented the Big Ten in the postseason.

  • Ohio State has won 34 Big Ten titles. Only Michigan has more with 42.

  • Ohio State has 825 wins all-time, the sixth-most among FBS teams.

    Notre Dame853
    Penn State826
    Ohio State825

  • Ohio State has featured 14 NFL Draft first-round picks since 2004. That is the most by any college team in this span.

  • Ohio State has had 70 consecutive crowds of more than 100,000 at Ohio Stadium.

  • Ohio State has not lost a home opener in 34 years - Sept. 16, 1978 to be exact when No. 6 Ohio State suffered a 19-0 loss to No. 5 Penn State in Woody Hayes' final season.

    Not Since 1922-24
    Ohio State ranks second among all NCAA Div. I programs with 85 consecutive seasons since last posting back-to-back losing records. The Buckeyes have not been under .500 for two or more consecutive seasons since 1922-24, which trails only Tennessee; the Vols have not had back-to-back losing seasons since 1909-11, a span of 98 consecutive seasons.

    2011 Game Captains
    Akron: Mike Brewster, John Simon, J.B. Shugarts
    Toledo: Joe Bauserman, Nate Ebner, Andrew Sweat
    Miami: Brewster and Tyler Moeller
    Colorado: Zach Boren, Simon
    Michigan State: Ebner, Jordan Hall, Nate Oliver
    Nebraska: Brewster, Sweat, Moeller
    Illinois: Brewster, Sweat, Stoneburner
    Wisconsin: Brewster, Sweat, Simon, Dan Herron
    Indiana: Mike Adams, Sweat, Moeller, Boren
    Purdue: Brewster, Herron, Moeller, Simon
    Penn State: Brewster, Herron, Moeller, Sweat
    Michigan: Brewster, Herron, Sweat, Moeller

    Nine Buckeyes Have Degrees
    Nine members of the football team have their degrees from The Ohio State University:
    Joe Bauserman - fisheries and wildlife
    Evan Blankenship - communication
    Mike Brewster - strategic communications
    Dan Herron - African-American studies
    Tony Jackson - marketing
    Don Matheney - computer science
    Tyler Moeller - consumer affairs
    Chris Roark - marketing
    Donnie Evege - communications
    Dan Bain - English

    Urban Meyer Named Head Coach
    Sometime during the morning of November 28, 2011, Ohio native Urban Meyer returned home. It was at that time when the 47-year-old Meyer, born in Toledo, raised in Ashtabula and with degrees from the University of Cincinnati and The Ohio State University, signed a six-year agreement to become the 24th head coach in the storied history of Ohio State football.

    The only candidate interviewed by a five-member search committee of senior Ohio State leaders, headed by President E. Gordon Gee and Director of Athletics Gene Smith, Meyer returns to collegiate coaching after sitting out the past year to devote time to his family - wife Shelley, college-age daughters Nicole and Gisele and 13-year-old son Nathan - and to work as an analyst for ESPN.

    It's easy to see why he was the No. 1 choice of the search committee. Through 10 full seasons as a head coach, Meyer has the tenth-best winning percentage in major college football history with a winning rate of .814 (104-23). He will leap all the way to No. 2 among current major college coaches with that percentage, trailing only the percentage owned by Boise State's Chris Peterson.

    Building His Staff
    Meyer is still assembling his coaching staff, which as of press time included four coaches from the 2011 coaching staff - Luke Fickell, Mike Vrabel and Taver Johnson from the defensive side of the ball and Stan Drayton from the offense. Meyer has also hired Tom Herman (Iowa State) as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, Everett Withers (North Carolina) as co-defensive coordinator/assistant head coach, and Zach Smith (Temple) as wide receivers coach.