A will was the way.

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Last updated: 11/25/2012 8:17 AM
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Football
For the Buckeyes, Where There Was a Way, There Was a Will
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Nobody ever said perfection had to be perfect, and that's probably a good thing for the 2012 Buckeyes.

It was a season of ups and downs, hills and valleys. In order to reach the mountaintop, you've got to make due with the terrain upon which you stand – even if it seems impassable, and the Buckeyes did just that this year.

Ohio State went 12-0 this season and won half of their games by a touchdown or less, including two in overtime. Even some of the "easier" games weren't all that easy. Remember OSU leading UAB by just six points with under six minutes to play in the fourth quarter before winning by 14?

Very little about this season came easily for this team, but never did they seem worried.

"This team just grinded," said cornerback Travis Howard.

"Our coach says that if you grind and grind, it will make the game easier for you. So we grinded in the offseason, during the summer workouts, everyone just made sure they grinded. So when these types of games came, it was just easy and slowed down for us. It was something that we worked on this whole year."

Grinding has not been a problem for this team, but a team can grind and still lose. Sometimes you're the millstone and sometimes you're the grain, and in either case you're still grinding.

A perfect season is more than just constant effort. There also has to be talent obviously, but there also has to be a team that knows how to deal with the inevitable adversity that it will face. For this team, adversity is like an old sweater – it's comfortable, but you don't want to live your entire life in it.

This Buckeye team faced an entire season of adversity last year, and things didn't get any easier for them once Urban Meyer took over. In fact, it only got more difficult.

"That first meeting where we met Coach Meyer, and then all of those 6 a.m. and 5 a.m. workouts and going through all of that toughness and grinding, we didn't really understand it too much when Coach Mick was putting us through it," safety Orhian Johnson explained.

"But honestly we saw it throughout each and every game, when stuff got tough we definitely relied on that kind of training we had. It got us tougher and it made us go out there and refuse to lose."

Being comfortable with the tough times is the easiest way to get through them. When the Buckeyes trailed Michigan at the half, they weren't worried. Who cares about a single point anyway?

Besides, this team already knew they weren't going to have an easy go of it on Saturday. It's just not in their nature. Struggles were going to happen.

But it's not the struggles that matter, it's how a team handles them. All season long the Buckeyes have have handled those problems impressively, if not improbably.

"I think it just speaks volumes to the resilience of this football team," said left tackle Jack Mewhort. "How we were able to fight and claw and scratch for everything we got, and we earned everything we got."

He's absolutely right. The Buckeyes weren't given anything this season, and that makes it a much tougher road, but generally that's also what makes a season memorable.

"Oh man, I know for me it makes it all the more special," said punter Ben Buchanan.

"It's one thing if you are a great team and you just steamroll every team, that's great. But when you're faced with a little bit of adversity, it's cool to see how your guys respond, and I think this team responded very well. It's just a pleasure to play with these guys. It was just a really special day today."

Saturday was indeed a special day. For just the sixth time in Ohio State football history, a Buckeye team finished the season unbeaten and untied. That's 123 years of history, and now they've got to make some room in the ledgers for an undefeated 2012 team that almost defies explanation.

At times, the offense, defense and special teams all looked like the worst Ohio State has had in years. And at other times, they looked like the best Ohio State has had in years. That's the nature of a brand new beast.

Nothing came easily, and nothing was taken lightly. This team made their opportunities where there didn't seem to be any, and capitalized on them when they needed to most.

Finding a way to win is what this team excelled at. Having the will to do it, however, is what this team perfected.

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