The game swung in Ohio State's favor on the last play of the first half. The Spartans were ahead 17-7 and were easily in field goal territory inside the OSU 20-yard line. Michigan State was out of timeouts with the clock running down, however, and rushed their field goal team onto the field in the final seconds instead of spiking the ball to stop the clock on third down.
"We would have spiked the ball so our offense had time," Michigan State quarterback Drew Stanton said in the Oct. 22, 2005, edition of Buckeye Sports Bulletin. "I even tried to get us toward the center because I knew we would try for that. But I heard someone yelling, ‘Field goal, field goal,' and it was a huge miscommunication. No one knew what was going on."
Ohio State calmly got into field-goal block formation – made up of the first-team defense conveniently enough – as the Spartans scrambled. Once the ball was snapped, MSU had only 10 players on the field, and that allowed both Nate Salley and Ashton Youboty to come off the left end unblocked. Salley blocked MSU kicker John Goss' kick and Youboty was right there to scoop it up and return it 72 yards untouched for a score. Michigan State was called for an illegal substitution on the play, but naturally Ohio State declined the penalty.
"I was kind of licking my chops," Salley said. "I was excited to see that (the wing) wasn't coming. I was like, ‘Please just don't come, don't come.' And we took advantage of it."
Added OSU head coach Jim Tressel: "When we saw that happening, I was just praying they could get the snap off in time."
The most memorable moment of the day happened on the television broadcast after the score. ABC sideline reporter Jack Arute asked Smith about the play as the teams went back to the locker room.
The ensuing meltdown has been preserved on YouTube, but if you can't watch, Smith was infuriated by what he considered to be a screw-up my his coaching staff.
"The players are playing their tails off and the coaches are screwing it up," Smith told Arute.
Instead of taking a 20-7 lead into halftime, Smith's club went into the break with a three-point lead. This despite MSU outgaining Ohio State by nearly 100 yards in the half and getting three OSU turnovers compared to none for the Spartans.
Youboty's return was even more impressive because he was injured several plays before his big moment when he took a shot to the hip from Stanton. He stayed on the field and ignored the pain.
"If you haven't had a hip pointer, it's very painful," OSU junior safety Donte Whitner said. "It feels like you can't even move your leg, and every time you do move your leg, it feels like somebody is stabbing you with a knife. So he gutted it out up the sideline, and I was there with him to make sure nobody caught him."
The Buckeyes took the lead on their first offensive possession in the second half. Ohio State took its 21-17 advantage on a 57-yard touchdown connection between junior quarterback Troy Smith and classmate Ted Ginn Jr. Michigan State answered with a 6-yard touchdown run by Jason Teague, setting up Youboty to play the hero again.
Youboty blocked another Goss field goal attempt, this one a 37-yard try, and that allowed the Ohio State offense to drive 80 yards in five plays. Smith ended the march by throwing a 46-yard touchdown strike to Santonio Holmes, giving Ohio State a 28-24 lead with 4:56 left.
Michigan State's final rally attempt ended when the OSU defense forced a three-and-out deep in MSU territory. The Buckeyes added a final score as time wound down on a 1-yard Smith run that closed the scoring.
Smith completed 10 of 15 passes for 249 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Holmes caught five passes for 150 yards, and Antonio Pittman carried the ball 18 times for 101 yards.
Defensively, Ohio State (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) was led by linebacker A.J. Hawk, who recorded 19 stops. Fellow LB Bobby Carpenter had 11 tackles, including four sacks.
1994: Ohio State 23, Michigan State 7: Junior tailback Eddie George rushed for a then-career best 219 yards – including a key third-quarter touchdown run – as the Buckeyes (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) beat MSU in East Lansing.
Coupled with the 206 yards he rushed for two weeks earlier against Northwestern, George became the first running back in Ohio State's long history to have a pair of 200-plus rushing days in a single season. He also tied two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin for the most 200-yard performances in an OSU career with two.
"It's a great honor," George said in the Oct. 22, 1994, edition of BSB. "but things like that are for the end of the season and the end of a career. I'm just happy that what I did today and the way I performed helped us in whatever way it could."
George's big third-quarter score also made history. The 76-yard run was the longest from scrimmage by an OSU player since Tim Spencer went 82 yards on a play against Duke in 1981. Spencer was there to see George's big day. He was George's running backs coach.
"I don't think I'll say anything (about breaking the record)," George said with a smile. "He might make me run an extra gasser or something. But seriously, Coach Spencer is one of the big reasons why I am having any kind of success right now. He has been a good teacher and a good friend, showing me and telling me what to look for and what to expect."
George's long run was important because it gave Ohio State the lead for good. Michigan State led 7-3 at halftime after OSU could only manage a 33-yard Josh Jackson field goal in the second quarter. The Buckeyes pulled away after George's score thanks to a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns on a 10-yard Bobby Hoying run and a 35-yard interception return by Greg Bellisari.
Hoying completed 9 of 19 passes for 99 yards with an interception and no TDs. Chris Sanders caught four of those passes for 30 yards. Defensively, Marlon Kerner and Lorenzo Styles each had 10 tackles. Mike Vrabel added two sacks.
1988: Purdue 31, Ohio State 26: Sophomore tailback Carlos Snow rushed for 128 yards but he wanted to take the blame after the Boilermakers beat host Ohio State.
Snow added a 58-yard touchdown run in the first quarter to his final statistics, but it was his lost fumble on a kickoff return midway through the third quarter that left Snow low after the game. Purdue took the momentum from the turnover and knocked off the Buckeyes.
"I thought it was the turning point in the game," Snow said in the Oct. 22, 1988, edition of BSB. "I wish (the Purdue player) would have hit me in the chest, but he hit his helmet right on the ball and popped it loose.
"The whole return was messed up. (Fellow return man) Marc (Hicks) and I thought each other had the ball and I was really confused. Then, I went up into the wedge and it broke up. That's when the guy hit me."
The Boilermakers took the lead for good after Snow's fumble. Purdue quarterback Brian Fox put PU ahead 21-17 with a 3-yard TD run.
Fox turned in an impressive performance. The 17-year-old freshman completed 19 of 27 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns. PU fullback Ernie Schramayr caught 13 passes for 106 yards and two scores. He came into the game with five receptions in his entire career.
Despite Snow's assessment, Ohio State (2-4, 0-3 Big Ten) had already lost the momentum before his fumble. The Buckeyes looked to be in control early in the game, building a 20-7 lead and outgaining the Boilermakers 186-18 at one point before allowing Purdue back into the game.
"We just didn't put them away," OSU head coach John Cooper said. "We let them live a little bit and you just can't do that. We moved the ball but had to settle for some field goals instead of hammering it in for touchdowns."
OSU quarterback Greg Frey completed 10 of 21 passes for 193 yards. Unfortunately for Frey, he threw two interceptions and had no touchdowns. The Buckeye defense was led by Jim Peel, who recorded a game-high 12 tackles. Ohio State had no interceptions or sacks, however.
1983: No. 19 Illinois 17, No. 6 Ohio State 13: The first big play of Jim Karsatos' Ohio State career ended in disaster. The freshman quarterback was stopped short on a fourth-and-4 play at the inside red zone in the fourth quarter, allowing Illinois to march down the field, score the game-winning touchdown and drop visiting OSU to 4-2 (2-2 Big Ten).
The play came with 1:47 left and Ohio State nursing a 13-10 lead. Instead of attempting a field goal, Ohio State head coach Earle Bruce took Karsatos' suggestion to try to pick up the first down. Karsatos wanted to run a play-action fake to tailback Keith Byars, then run a naked bootleg left.
"We were running the off-tackle play, the power play," Karsatos said in the Oct. 22, 1983, edition of BSB. "Every time I'd come out without the ball, nobody would look at me. That time I thought we'd run the play and I thought I'd keep it. I guess I didn't get it into the running back's stomach enough."
Illinois was not fooled on the play. Karsatos, not the fastest quarterback in Ohio State history, made it two yards before linebacker Vince Osby tackled him.
Thirty-seven seconds later, Illinois was in the end zone celebrating its go-ahead score. Illinois quarterback Jack Trudeau led an 83-yard march, capped by a 21-yard touchdown run by fullback Thomas Rooks.
"I would have liked to have one play over, like everyone else," Bruce said. "The quarterback felt they didn't check him out when he handed off the ball last time we ran that play and he thought he could beat the defensive end to the first (down). I questioned that, but I went along."
Karsatos had another play he could have run, a quick turn-in pass play to tight end John Frank, and Karsatos had thoughts of switching plays at the line. Unfortunately for the OSU quarterback, the crowd noise at Memorial Stadium made that impossible.
Karsatos was the third Ohio State QB to play in the game. Starter Mike Tomczak left the game in the first quarter after suffering a concussion. No. 1 backup Brent Offenbecher led the next three series but could not move the offense. That gave Karsatos the chance to play. He completed 3 of 9 passes for 78 yards and an interception. Ohio State's offense was led by Byars, who rushed for 168 yards on 29 carries. He also scored OSU's lone touchdown on a 35-yard run in the third quarter. Paul Allen sandwiched Byars' score with field goals of 32 and 43 yards in the second and third quarters, respectively.
Rowland Tatum led OSU's defense with eight tackles, including one for a loss. Kelvin Bell and Kevin Richardson nabbed interceptions.
1977: No. 5 Ohio State 27, Iowa 6: Despite four lost fumbles and three interceptions, the Buckeyes beat the host Hawkeyes. The Buckeyes (5-1, 3-0 Big Ten) dominated on offense even with the miscues, outgaining Iowa 464-220. Ohio State was boosted by the return of Jeff Logan, who rushed 10 times for 64 yards. Quarterback Rod Gerald threw for 91 yards and rushed for 100 more on 13 carries.
1966: No. 1 Michigan State 11, Ohio State 8: Wet weather almost helped the Buckeyes pull off a major upset. Both teams combined to fumble the ball 10 times. Ohio State (1-3, 0-2 Big Ten) led 2-0 at halftime after recording a safety when MSU punter Dick Kenney had a snap sail over his head and through the back of the end zone.
The Spartans responded with a 27-yard field goal by Kenney in the third quarter, but OSU retook the lead on the first play of the fourth quarter on a 47-yard touchdown pass from Bill Long to end Bill Anders. Michigan State avoided the loss, however, when fullback Bob Apisa scored a 1-yard touchdown on a fourth-down run in the closing minutes.
1960: Purdue 24, No. 3 Ohio State 21: The Boilermakers rode fullback Willie Jones to an upset victory in West Lafayette. Jones scored all three of his team's touchdowns on runs of 2, 3 and 26 yards, respectively. The senior had never scored a collegiate touchdown before the game. Ohio State head coach Woody Hayes was incensed after watching his Buckeyes fall to 3-1 (1-1 Big Ten). His postgame meeting with reporters lasted only 45 seconds.
1955: No. 11 Duke 20, No. 14 Ohio State 14: The Blue Devils scored the final 20 points of the game to roar back to upset the Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State built its lead on a 44-yard touchdown run by Jim Roseboro on an end sweep and a 38-yard punt return for a score by Hopalong Cassady. Duke was aided by six OSU turnovers, and the Buckeyes (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten) did not cross the 50-yard line in the second half.
1949: No. 5 Minnesota 27, No. 11 Ohio State 0: The Buckeyes (2-1-1, 1-1 Big Ten) managed only 48 rushing yards in a loss to the Golden Gophers. All-Americans Leo Nomellini and Clayton Tonnemaker led Minnesota's offense at tackle and center, respectively. They opened holes for halfbacks Dick Gregory and Billy Bye. Gregory rushed for 131 yards, and Bye added 83.
1938: Ohio State 0, Northwestern 0: Offense was absent in Evanston as the game ended in a scoreless tie. Ohio State had the best scoring chance of the afternoon. A 59-yard run by halfback Jim Strausbaugh had OSU's offense in scoring territory, but the Buckeyes (1-1-1, 1-0-1) had the drive end at the Northwestern 12 on a lost fumble.
1932: Michigan 14, Ohio State 0: Michigan's Harry Newsman led the Wolverines by scoring all of his team's points. The quarterback scored both touchdowns and kicked two extra points. Ohio State (1-1-1, 0-1-1 Big Ten) moved the ball against U-M but was stopped five times inside the U-M 10-yard line.
1927: Northwestern 19, Ohio State 13: The Wildcats handed OSU its first loss in three games with a win at Ohio Stadium. The two teams had not met since a game at Ohio Field in 1917. Next up for the Buckeyes (2-1, 1-1 Big Ten) was the first game to be played at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.
1921: Ohio State 27, Minnesota 0: The Buckeyes bounced back from a loss to Oberlin – their last against an in-state foe – with a 27-0 rout of favored Minnesota. OSU head coach John Wilce responded to the loss to the Congregationalists by drilling his team until sundown in the days leading up to the Minnesota game. It worked, as OSU (2-1, 1-0 Big Ten) began conference play with an impressive victory.
1910: Ohio State 6, Western Reserve 0: Ohio State recorded its third shutout in a row. The Buckeyes (4-0) had outscored their opponents 105-5 heading into its Oct. 22 game against rival Michigan.
1904: Michigan 31, Ohio State 6: The loss to the Wolverines was seen as a moral victory at the time. Both teams entered the game unbeaten and had yet to give up points. Ohio State became the first team to score against Michigan and even led 6-5 after a Frank Longman fumble recovery for a touchdown and an extra point by Ralph Hoyer. It was the first points OSU ever scored against Michigan.
The Wolverines knocked off Ohio State (4-1) behind three touchdowns by halfback Willie Heston. The Ohio State touchdown was the most noteworthy aspect of the game according to the Detroit News, which ran the following headline in the next day's paper: "OHIO SCORED ON MICHIGAN." Fielding Yost's U-M squad responded the following week by beating West Virginia 130-0 in Ann Arbor.
1898: Ohio State 34, Denison 0: Ohio State improved to 2-1 with a shutout victory against the Big Red. It was the Buckeyes last win until the season finale on Nov. 24 vs. Ohio Wesleyan.
1892: Oberlin 40, Ohio State 4: The Buckeyes opened the season with a loss to the Yeomen, a team led by John W. Heisman. Yes, that's the same man who later became the one of football's greatest innovators and the namesake of the Heisman Trophy.