2005: No. 9 Ohio State 27, San Diego State 6: A disappointed but not deflated Ohio State squad bounced back from a disheartening 25-22 loss to Texas seven days earlier with a sometimes-sloppy win against the visiting Aztecs.
The week leading up to the game was filled with questions as to how the Buckeyes would respond after losing to Vince Young and the Longhorn. Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel attempted to take the focus off the past by naming Troy Smith has his No. 1 quarterback after having Smith split time with Justin Zwick against Texas.
Tressel described his squad as disappointed after the Texas game when he was asked during the luncheon if his team was deflated. That was a sentiment shared by senior co-captain Rob Sims.
“I agree fully with Coach Tressel saying that this team is not deflated,” Sims said in the Sept. 24, 2005, edition of Buckeye Sports Bulletin. “Guys were down, guys are going to be down, but we’ve got a game to play. … With a loss you’ve got to pick it up and go. We lost to a good team, a top-five team that could be the best team in the nation, but there’s nothing to be deflated about.”
While the team might not have been deflated, the Buckeyes did come out flat against SDSU. Ohio State was a four-touchdown favorite but held a narrow 14-6 lead at halftime. The Buckeyes even trailed early on when they gave up an 80-yard touchdown pass from Kevin O’Connell to Brett Swain on a simple flare pass on the first play from scrimmage.
“It definitely got our attention,” OSU cornerback Ashton Youboty said of the SDSU score.
The Ohio State defense rebounded after the touchdown. The Buckeyes did not allow another point, forcing 11 punts on SDSU’s final 13 drives. The other two ended in a fumble and when the first half came to a close.
“I thought, after the first play of the game, our defense was in total control,” Tressel said. “I think the mark of a good team is how you respond, and there was no doubt our defense responded by just shutting them down.”
Meanwhile, the OSU offense started slow before pulling away. Smith, making his first start since serving a two-game NCAA suspension, completed 14 of 26 passes for 149 yards and rushed the ball 14 times for 87 more with two touchdowns. The rushing attack also found traction as the game progressed. In addition to Smith’s rushing totals, sophomore Antonio Pittman carried the ball 18 times for 58 yards and freshman Maurice Wells added 32 on nine carries.
Ohio State’s points came on a 14-yard TD run by Smith in the first quarter, another Smith score on a 1-yard run in the second quarter, a Josh Huston third-quarter field goal from 25 yards out and a fourth-quarter, 1-yard TD run by Brandon Schnittker.
1994: No. 23 Ohio State 27, Pitt 3: The final score was something to be happy about, but there were no smiles in the OSU locker room after the Buckeyes dispatched visiting Pitt.
Ohio State piled up 512 yards of total offense, boasting a balanced attack with 295 yards on the ground and 217 more through the air. The Buckeyes scored in every quarter and silenced a Pitt offense that came into the game averaging 485.5 yards per contest, including nearly 300 on the ground.
But it was the five turnovers – four fumbles and one interception – and nine penalties that made the Buckeyes surly following the game.
“We can’t keep on doing ourselves this way,” OSU tailback Eddie George said in the Sept. 24, 1994, edition of BSB. “Nobody knows more than me the price you pay when you don’t hang onto the football. We have to do better than we’ve been doing. It’s as simple as that.”
Added quarterback Bobby Hoying: “Maybe we won today and maybe we won by 24 points, but we made way too many mistakes. You can’t blame it on anything because it’s the second week in a row that we’ve done it. Last week (against Washington) it was sunny and on turf and this week it was rainy on grass. We can’t use that as an excuse anymore. All of us, and I put myself right at the top of the list, just have to play better.”
Despite those comments, the offense had its best performance in years. The Buckeyes posted their highest offensive yardage total since gaining 551 yards against Minnesota in 1990. George set a career-best for the second week in a row with 126 yards and a touchdown, and Hoying completed 14 of 21 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns.
Even the defense got in on the action. Ohio State forced two turnovers, sacked Pitt quarterback Sean Fitzgerald five times and held the Panthers to 103 net yards rushing.
Still, the miscues dominated the postgame storylines. Through two games, Ohio State had committed eight turnovers. Six had come by fumbles. The Buckeyes lost 10 fumbles during the entire 1993 season.
“That is something we just can’t do,” said freshman tailback Pepe Pearson, who had two of the fumbles. “The coaches told me that I have all the talent and desire to play here. But I can’t if I can’t hold onto the football.”
Ohio State led 14-3 at halftime thanks to a 5-yard touchdown run by George in the first quarter and a second-quarter touchdown pass from Hoying to Buster Tillman that went 12 yards. Josh Jackson added two second-half field goals on kicks of 27 and 20 yards, and Chris Sanders scored the game’s final touchdown on a 43-yard TD reception from Hoying.
Defensively, the Buckeyes were led by Lorenzo Styles, who had nine tackles. Tim Patillo recovered a fumble and interception a pass, while Matt Fickes and Mike Vrabel both netted two sacks.
1988: Pitt 42, No. 18 Ohio State 10: The first road game of the John Cooper era also resulted in Coop’s first loss. The Panthers crushed the visiting Buckeyes in a game in which OSU committed seven penalties and committed five turnovers.
“They kicked us up one side and down the other,” Cooper said in the Sept. 24, 1988, edition of BSB. “Everything they tried worked and everything we tried didn’t work. It was pretty simple really. They wanted it more than we did.”
Cooper not only suffered his first loss but also found his first instance of an OSU fan voicing a negative opinion about his performance as head coach. As Cooper was talking to reporters on the way back to the locker room, several fans yelled down to the former University of Arizona coach.
“Go back to Arizona!,” one yelled.
“Bring back Earle!,” another screamed.
Yet another added: “Maybe now you’ll do some (expletive deleted) coaching instead of so many (expletive deleted) TV commercials.”
Cooper remained unfazed during the incident, giving credit to Pitt.
“They had a much better football team than us,” he said. “They out-tackled us, they out-blocked us, they out-executed us and they out-coached us. They were just a far superior football team tonight.”
Pitt was led by sophomore quarterback Darnell Dickerson and junior tailback Adam Walker. Dickerson completed 7 of 13 passes for 85 yards and did even more damage on the ground, rushing for 88 yards on 11 carries while running the option. Walker sliced and diced the OSU defense to the tune of 182 yards on 27 carries with three touchdowns.
“It really wasn’t anything that confused us,” OSU’s Jim Peel said. “They used the option real well but we expected that. Of course, even though we knew they were going to run it, we didn’t do a very good job of stopping it.”
Ohio State’s offense had as much trouble as its defense. Quarterback Greg Frey was constantly under pressure and finished with 142 yards on 8-of-29 passing. The running game fared no better. Sophomore tailback Carlos Snow led the attack with a mere 33 yards. Senior Vince Workman added 23, and both Snow and Workman lost fumbles.
Snow did provide the lone highlight of the afternoon when he returned kick 100 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. OSU’s other score came on a 26-yard field goal by Pat O’Morrow in the first quarter.
1983: No. 6 Ohio State 24, No. 2 Oklahoma 14: Ohio State head coach Earle Bruce could not hide his excitement after his Buckeyes knocked off the host Sooners.
“(That was) by far the best team game – both offensively and defensively – that we’ve played since I’ve been here,” the fifth-year head coach said in the Sept. 24, 1983, edition of BSB.
Quarterback Mike Tomczak and tight end John Frank got Ohio State going early, connecting for two touchdowns in the game’s first 22 minutes. Frank hauled in a 16-yard scoring reception on OSU’s first drive. He added a 15-yard TD catch early in the second quarter.
Frank finished with seven receptions for 108 yards.
Ohio State added another touchdown in the second half to extend its lead to 21-7 on a 2-yard scoring run by Roman Bates. Oklahoma cut into the lead with a 22-yard touchdown pass from Danny Bradley to wingback Derrick Shepard on a fourth-down play late in the third quarter.
The Buckeyes closed the scoring with a 22-yard field goal by Rich Spangler with 6:44 remaining.
1977: No. 6 Ohio State 38, Minnesota 7: Playing in 85-degree heat, the Buckeyes began Big Ten play and moved to 2-0 on the season with a rout of the visiting Golden Gophers.
Ohio State had little trouble handling Minnesota, outgaining the Gophers 518-138. Five different players scored touchdowns for the Buckeyes, and kicker Vlade Janakievski added a field goal.
Ron Springs led the offensive attack with 147 yards on 27 carries. Senior Ray Griffin, usually a safety, moved to the offensive backfield for the first time since his freshman season and added 58 yards on 14 carries.
Minnesota’s lone score came on a 100-yard kickoff return by Bobby Weber.
Next on the schedule for Woody Hayes’ squad was a matchup against No. 3 Oklahoma in Columbus.