2007: No. 10 Ohio State 33, Washington 14 – Facing its first road test of the season, Ohio State passed with flying colors at Husky Stadium.
Washington, who entered the game with wins at Syracuse and vs. Boise State to start the year, led 7-3 at halftime before the Buckeyes took command. Ohio State scored 24 unanswered points to silence the purple-draped crowd.
“I thought our guys did a good job,” OSU head coach Jim Tressel said in the Sept. 22, 2007, edition of Buckeye Sports Bulletin. “That first half, some things didn’t exactly go the way we wanted. Our defense played tremendous. Offensively, we had chances. … I really liked the way that the kids approached the halftime. There wasn’t panic, there wasn’t fear, there wasn’t anything other than talking about what we’ve got to do to get better. You could see there was a resolve that we wanted to get better.”
The offense fared well against the Huskies following the halftime break. Junior quarterback Todd Boeckman completed 7 of 10 second-half passes after a slow start. He tossed two touchdown passes. The rushing attack was even better, compiling 263 yards. Sophomore Beanie Wells and freshman Brandon Saine combined for 218 yards and a pair of scores. Wells had 135 yards on 24 carries, while Saine added 83 on nine carries.
In all, Ohio State recorded 481 yards of total offense. Conversely, the Buckeyes held Washington to 346 yards – the lion’s share coming from quarterback Jake Locker. He threw for 153 yards and rushed for 102 more. Even so, Ohio State pressured Locker into throwing three interceptions – two by linebacker James Laurinaitis.
“I think all of that shows we’re on the right track,” OSU senior co-captain Kirk Barton said. “We ran the ball like we’ve been wanting to. Todd settled down in the second half and made some great throws, and our defense played lights-out again.
“Don’t get me wrong – we still made mistakes. We had way too many penalties (10 for 80 yards) and missed assignments, but we’re improving. That’s what the coaches have said all along that they want to see – take a step each week – and we believe that’s what we’re doing.”
Brian Robiskie gave Ohio State the lead for good early in the third quarter by hauling in a 68-yard touchdown pass from Boeckman with 9:36 left in the quarter. Minutes later, following a UW turnover, Wells extended the lead to 17-7 with a 14-yard scoring run.
Brian Hartline and Saine added TD scores in the fourth quarter. After Ryan Pretorius made it 20-7 with a 23-yard field goal with 14:05 remaining, Hartline scored on a 36-yard TD strike from Boeckman. Washington answered with a 2-yard TD run by Pierce Rankin, but Saine closed the scoring with a 37-yard scamper to the end zone on the final play of the game.
Defensively, Laurinaitis, Malcolm Jenkins and Anderson Russell each recorded eight tackles. Jenkins added an interception to go with Laurinaitis’ pair.
1990: No. 17 Ohio State 31, Boston College 10 – A lopsided win for the Buckeyes was overshadowed by talk of a potential quarterback controversy after OSU head coach John Cooper replaced starter Greg Frey with backup Kent Graham. The pair nearly split the offensive snaps 50-50. Even so, Cooper tried to quell the talk.
“I never said anything about a quarterback controversy,” Cooper said in the Sept. 29, 1990, edition of BSB. “There’s no controversy. You guys aren’t going to get me involved in that. We just need a lot of help, that’s all. We’re going to play a lot of players, including quarterbacks. Right now, our starter is Greg Frey, but we don’t play again for two weeks.”
Frey gave Ohio State a 7-3 lead thanks to a first-quarter touchdown pass to senior flanker Bobby Olive. Still, the Buckeyes were struggling offensively. A third-and-4 call with four minutes left in the first half led to Frey being pulled. He missed a Boston College blitz and threw an ill-advised pass that was nearly intercepted.
“He was just making mental errors,” quarterbacks coach Ron Hudson said. “Then, when he missed a slight adjustment on that third-down play, he ended up having to scramble and threw the ball up for grabs.
“Greg did a couple of other things earlier in the ball game mentally that disturbed us a little. The plan was to play Kent anyway, so we sent him into the game when we got the ball back.”
Frey was admittedly unhappy.
“I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t,” he said. “But that’s the decision of the coaches. It was tough to take. I didn’t want to come out of there. But I’ve got to deal with it.”
Graham led a scoring drive before halftime, capped by a 52-yard field goal by Tim Williams that gave Ohio State a 10-3 halftime lead. Graham then led his first touchdown drive in the third quarter, throwing a 21-yard touchdown pass to Olive – giving OSU a 10-point advantage.
Things did not go as swimmingly for Graham after that. He threw two fourth-quarter interceptions, including one that Boston College returned for a touchdown to cut the lead to 17-10. Frey then returned to the game and iced the contest by directing touchdown drives on OSU’s next two offensive possessions. Raymont Harris ended both of those drives with TD runs of 9 and 35 yards.
“Greg came back in the second half and did a good job, putting us in the end zone a couple of times,” OSU offensive coordinator Jim Colletto said.
Frey completed 7 of 12 passes for 84 yards. Graham finished with 40 passing yards on 4-of-10 passing. Robert Smith led the rushing attack with 102 yards on 17 carries. Defensively, Steve Tovar led the Buckeyes with 13 tackles and a fumble recovery.
1984: No. 9 Ohio State 44, Washington State 0 – Pepper Johnson remembered a conversation he had with Ohio State head coach Earle Bruce after leading the Buckeyes to a blowout win against the visiting Cougars.
The talk, held during the previous spring, led to a favor Bruce asked of Johnson.
“He told me that he was going to put everything on my shoulders,” Johnson recalled in the Sept. 22, 1984, edition of BSB. “and asked if I could handle it. I told him, ‘Yeah. I like pressure on me.’ I felt that if there was anybody he wanted to put the pressure on, it should be me because the inside linebacker should be the leader.”
Johnson led Ohio State with 11 tackles in the win against WSU and made two key plays in the victory – both of which ended scoring threats for the Cougars. The first came on a fumble recovered in the end zone and the second was an interception he grabbed in the red zone. The fumble recovery came when WSU’s John Marshall caught a pass and headed toward the goal line before Terry White and Sonny Gordon jarred the ball loose at the 1-yard line. Johnson then scooped up the loose ball in the end zone.
“That was my man. (White and Gordon) saved me,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t man-to-man coverage, but I wasn’t supposed to let him inside. When he took the first two steps, I didn’t want to get burned; so I took off. As soon as I looked up, another man (Marshall) came in and – boom – blew by me.”
Johnson stayed with the play, however, and was in the right place at the right time.
“The ball was out there, and I just reached out to grab it and pull it in again,” Johnson said.
The second key play was much like the first with Johnson taking advantage of an opportune situation. With Johnson dropping back into coverage, Washington State quarterback Mark Rypien threw a pass right to Johnson, who hauled in the pass for the key turnover.
“This was the best victory I have had since I’ve been here, shutting out a team like Washington State,” Johnson said. “Everyone has been talking about how young we are, but I have a lot of confidence in the young guys. I know everyone will have a lot of confidence in themselves with a victory like this.”
Ohio State’s offense also had a good day. The Buckeyes finished with 434 yards of total offense, led by running back Keith Byars. He finished with 145 rushing yards on 26 carries and added 47 more yards on six receptions. Quarterback duo Jim Karsatos (7 of 12 for 69 yards) and Mike Tomczak (5 of 7 for 55 yards) both had solid performances.
1979: No. 15 Ohio State 21, Minnesota 17 – The Golden Gophers surprised the visiting Buckeyes by coming out with a double-winged T offense, almost pulling off an upset. Minnesota dominated the stat sheet, posting 505 yards of total offense compared to 295 for OSU. The Gophers led 14-0 before the Buckeyes rallied. Art Schlichter led the rally by compiling 238 of his team’s offensive yardage. He also scored the game’s last touchdown, putting OSU ahead for good with a 32-yard scramble in the fourth quarter.
1973: No. 3 Ohio State 56, Minnesota 7 – In the first game of Woody Hayes’ 23 season at Ohio State, the Buckeyes routed visiting Minnesota. Ohio State outgained the Golden Gophers 457-199, including a 55-yard passing touchdown from Greg Hare to Bill Ezzo.
1894: Akron 12, Ohio State 6 – In the first of two games played at the 1894 Ohio State Fair, the Buckeyes fell to the visiting Zips. The games were held at the fair thanks to the Ohio State Board of Agriculture, who arranged for them to be played in order to introduce football to those people visiting the fair. The games brought the game to those who had yet to see it, but it was not a successful venture on the field for the Buckeyes. Ohio State lost again two days later, dropping a 6-0 final against Wittenberg.