Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel emptied his bench after racing out to a 35-0 halftime lead, playing third- and fourth-string players along with several walk-ons. Nine different Buckeyes logged at least one carry from scrimmage, 10 caught at least one pass and 26 were credited with at least one tackle.
"We had an opportunity to get a lot of guys some playing time, which was a good thing," Tressel said in the Oct. 20, 2007, edition of BSB. "And we'll be able to learn a lot from some video. But we know full well that what's really critical begins next Saturday."
Tressel was of course referring to the resumption of Big Ten play. The Buckeyes were to face Michigan State on homecoming on Oct. 20. Ohio State (7-0) would enter the game as one of only two conference teams with unblemished marks in league play. OSU and Michigan were both 3-0.
Ohio State's starters left the game after the first half, but the Buckeyes did get some solid performances. Starting quarterback Todd Boeckman turned in an efficient 13-for-16 performance in the passing department for 184 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He gave way to backup Robby Schoenhoft in the second half, and the sophomore connected on 7 of his 9 attempts for 79 yards. Schoenhoft also tallied the first rushing touchdown of his OSU career.
Sophomore receiver Brian Hartline had his biggest day in a scarlet and gray uniform. He grabbed three receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown and also returned a punt 90 yards for another score. The play broke the record for longest punt return in school history.
In addition, freshman tailback Brandon Saine took advantage of some increased opportunities in the blowout. He led the Buckeyes in rushing with 69 yards on nine carries and also led the team with a career-high five pass receptions for 76 yards.
Because the game was out of hand early, Tressel decided to rest his one-two tailback tandem of Chris and Maurice Wells. Chris, who has been bothered all season by an ankle injury, got only four carries for 17 yards while Maurice took the rest of the day off after just five carries for 4 yards plus one reception for 15 yards.
But the pair still proved their value despite the decreased workload. Chris ran for a 7-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, and Maurice's lone reception was good for a score.
Their rest allowed for some valuable playing time for walk-ons K.C. Christian, Marcus Williams and Joe Gantz, who combined for 51 yards on 13 carries. Christian led the trio with 30 yards on just four totes.
Kent State couldn't muster much offense at all, gaining only 223 total yards to 401 for the Buckeyes. The Flashes were led by sophomore tailback Eugene Jarvis, who had 84 yards on 16 carries. However, Jarvis entered the game as the country's fourth-leading rusher with an average of 141.8 yards per contest.
Three KSU quarterbacks combined to complete only 6 of 15 pass attempts for 62 yards and one interception, a pick that was returned 70 yards for a touchdown by Ohio State cornerback Donald Washington. The Buckeyes also registered five sacks – two by defensive end Vernon Gholston and one each by linebacker Brian Rolle, defensive end Robert Rose and Washington.
Rolle also led the Ohio State defense in tackles with seven. Outside linebacker Marcus Freeman added six while defensive tackle Doug Worthington, safety Kurt Coleman, cornerback Malcolm Jenkins and backup middle linebacker Austin Spitler each had five.
"They are big, they are fast and they are really strong," said Kent State head coach Doug Martin. "No one is going to come in here and score 30 points on Ohio State. This is one of the best defenses I have ever seen."
2001: Wisconsin 20, No. 21 Ohio State 17 – A week's difference was a huge thing for both the Buckeyes and the Badgers, who went in opposite directions in UW's comeback victory.
Ohio State entered the game after an impressive 38-20 win against Northwestern in a primetime game at Ohio Stadium. Wisconsin, on the other hand, came to Columbus reeling after a stunning 63-32 loss to Indiana – at Camp Randall Stadium, no less.
Neither of those results mattered a week later when Wisconsin rallied from a 17-0 deficit to knock off the Buckeyes (3-2, 2-1).
"It was disappointing, obviously, losing a ball game in our stadium, which we feel horrible about," OSU first-year head coach Jim Tressel said in the Oct. 20, 2001, edition of BSB. "But also having a chance to have the lead and then lose the ball game, I think , make it feel even worse. But the facts are what they ar.
"We made enough errors to allow a good, hard-fighting, tough Wisconsin team to stay in there and do what they do. You have to give them credit for playing the entire ball game."
Two years ago, Wisconsin trailed 17-0 before emerging with a 42-17 victory at Ohio Stadium. This time, however, the Badgers capitalized on an OSU special teams mistake and used that momentum to earn a win. Ohio State was forced to punt late in the second quarter, but a bad snap by long snapper Mike Jacobs gave UW the ball at the OSU 23-yard-line with 53 seconds left in the first half. Wisconsin quickly took advantage when UW's Anthony Davis rushed around right end for a 23-yard score with 46 seconds remaining.
"The touchdown we got just before the half, they made a mistake and we were able to capitalize on it," UW head coach Barry Alvarez said. "That gave us a little bit of momentum going into the half."
The momentum carried. As Wisconsin found traction offensively, Ohio State was led to 64 yards and five first downs in the second half. Nick Davis caught a 42-yard TD pass from Brooks Bollinger in the third quarter, and the Badgers earned the victory with a pair of field goals by Mark Neuser in the fourth quarter – the final coming with 2:10 remaining.
"I couldn't be more proud of a group of coaches and players after the week we had last week, just the gut-wrenching feel you have after playing like that," UW head coach Barry Alvarez said.
The final OSU offensive numbers weren't pretty. Jonathan Wells led the rushing attack with 66 yards on 24 carries, and quarterback Steve Bellsari completed 10 of 21 yards for 132 yards and an interception. Chris Vance was Bellsari's top target, catching four passes for 67 yards.
On defense, Mike Doss and Courtland Bullard both recorded seven tackles. Donnie Nickey recorded a sack, and Darrion Scott intercepted a pass.
1990: Ohio State 27, No. 22 Indiana 27 – Ohio State head coach John Cooper went conservative in the final minutes and the Buckeyes left Bloomington with a disappointing tie. Indiana rallied from a 27-17 deficit to tie the game with 1:09 remaining, and after a bad start to the ensuing drive, OSU did not take chances and took the tie.
The Buckeyes (2-2-1, 0-1-1) started their final drive at their own 20-yard line, but started the march poorly with an incompletion when junior flanker Bernard Edwards failed to hold on to a Greg Frey pass. On second play, Ohio State attempted to fool IU with a draw play. However, running back Raymont Harris gained only 3 yards to set up a third-and-7 at the 23.
Indiana then called one of its two remaining timeouts, and during that break, OSU offensive coordinator Jim Colletto called in a pass play. It was overruled by Cooper, however, who changed the call to a run. Harris was stopped for no gain, forcing Ohio State to punt and ending its hopes of earning a late victory.
"Everyone probably wonders why we didn't throw the ball," Cooper said in the Oct. 20, 1990, edition of BSB. "Well, my thinking was that throwing the ball was the only way we could have lost the ball game.
"If we throw the ball and it's incomplete, they were going to get the ball back at about midfield with one timeout left. So we took a chance with running the delayed draw play, trying to get a big play as we did earlier in the game."
It appeared Cooper and Colletto had an argument on the sideline near the end of the game, but both men said there was no dissention over the final call.
"We were going to throw it, and then we said, ‘Heck no,' " Colletto said. "The last thing we wanted to do was make a mistake there, throw it to them and lose the game. With 72 yards to go, it just was not worth it to try and make some big play. There was no disagreement at all.
"I did not question him. In fact, I told him, ‘Yeah, I think you're right.' We had sent the play in, but then we had some time to think about it and we said, ‘No way, Jose."
Frey agreed with the coaches, too.
"From the players' standpoint, we wanted to throw," Frey said. "But, you know, it was a good move. I'm not going to disagree with what the coach did there. Indiana had a timeout left, and they still had a chance if we didn't get the first down."
The game was a back-and-forth affair. Indiana raced out to a 17-7 lead in the second quarter before Ohio State rallied with four unanswered scores – a pair of touchdowns and a pair of Tim Williams field goals. That se the score at 27-17 before Indiana rallied with 10 fourth-quarter points to close the scoring.
Running back Robert Smith rushed 16 times for 127 yards. Frey completed eight of 18 passes for 153 yards and a pair of TD passes, while Jeff Graham caught three of those balls for 98 yards and one of Frey's scores.
On defense, Steve Tovar led the way with 12 tackles. Mark Pelini and Bryan Cook both intercepted IU passes.
1984: No. 8 Ohio State 45, Illinois 38 – Junior running back Keith Byars made history as the Buckeyes bested the visiting Fighting Illini, breaking Archie Griffin's single-game rushing record in the victory.
Byars carried 39 times for 274 yards in the win, topping the 246-yard mark Griffin held. It was a goal Byars wanted to accomplish.
"Over the summer, I had a copy of a program that showed all the records," Byars said in the Oct. 20, 1984, edition of BSB. "I never set a game in which I wanted to break it, but it's a goal – if you're a running back – that you always want. If one person could do it, I was sure another one could do it."
Byars, as usual, was humble about setting the mark.
"I didn't break the record," he said. "I just happened to be the person running the football. I think the whole team broke the record.
"I didn't know I was even that close until I looked up at the scoreboard and it said 274. I was just amazed that I had done it."
Byars met the total in style – on a 23-yard run during Ohio State's final, game-winning drive. His final run, a 3-yard touchdown run, sealed the win. With the game tied at 38-38 and facing a third-and-goal, Ohio State called time out and turned to Byars. A pitch play was called, and Byars swept around left end before cutting to the end zone thanks in part to a nice block from fullback George Cooper.
It was Byars' fifth touchdown and came at the end of a crucial 80-yard drive.
"We said, ‘Hey, this is the season right here,' " Byars said. "Last year, we went all the way down and got stopped. They came back and won the football game on us."
Byars' big game overshadowed an impressive comeback for the Buckeyes, who trailed 24-0 just 16 minutes into the game.
"I didn't see any eyes of defeat in the Buckeyes when we were down 24-0," OSU head coach Earle Bruce said. "I was looking for them."
Added Byars: "We were down 24-0 and we couldn't help but to second guess ourselves. That's the first time I've ever been down 24 points and come back to win."
In addition to Byars' efforts, quarterback Mike Tomczak completed 16 of 26 passes for 236 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Cris Carter caught seven of those passes for 134 yards. Pepper Johnson led the defense with 15 tackles.
Ohio State moved into a four-way tie for first place in the Big Ten with a 3-1 league record. The Buckeyes improved to 5-1 overall.
1979: No. 8 Ohio State 47, Indiana 6 – The Buckeyes kicked into gear against Indiana, blasting the visiting Hoosiers. Ohio State (6-0, 3-0) began a three-week span in which it outscored opponents 147-6 with a rout against Indiana.
1973: No. 1 Ohio State 24, Wisconsin 0 – Bruce Elia scored a pair of short-yardage touchdowns as Ohio State earned a win in Madison. The Buckeyes (4-0, 2-0) led only 7-0 at halftime before pulling away. In addition to Elia's efforts, QB Cornelius Greene rushed for a 2-yard touchdown and Blair Conway added a 36-yard field goal. Archie Griffin rushed for 169 yards.
Defensively, Randy Gradishar made 12 tackles, as did Pete Cusick. The OSU defense held talented UW running back Billy Marek to 49 yards.
1962: No. No. 10 Ohio State 51, Illinois 15 – The Buckeyes bounced back from a loss at UCLA a week earlier by crushing the host Fighting Illini. Ohio State (2-1, 1-0) rushed for a then-Big Ten single-game record 517 yards. Quarterback John Mummey rushed for 114 of thos yards on 12 carries. Illinois scored only two touchdowns, but did make some history because the second – a 90-yard pass play from Mike Taliaferro to Mike Yavorski – was the longest pass play ever against the Buckeyes.
1956: No. 5 Ohio State 26, Illinois 6 – Ohio State improved to 3-0 with a win at Illinois. The Buckeyes limited the Illini's trio of halfbacks – Abe Woodson, Bobby Mitchell and Harry Jefferson – and kept Illinois off the scoreboard after Jefferson rushed for a 44-yard touchdown to open the scoring. OSU's Jim Roseboro rushed for a game-high 101 yards, and fullback Galen Cisco added 98 more.
1951: No. 9 Ohio State 6, Wisconsin 6 – Despite finishing with 106 yards of total offense, the Buckeyes (1-1-1, 0-1-1) earned a tie in Madison. Wisconsin finished with 346 yards but could not put away OSU. Vic Janowicz helped his team earn a tie by throwing a 4-yard TD pass to Ralph Armstrong in the fourth quarter. Janowicz, however, missed the extra point.
1945: No. 4 Ohio State 12, Wisconsin 0 – Touchdowns in the second and third quarter were enough to push Ohio State (3-0, 2-0) past the Badgers on a cold and windy day at Ohio Stadium. Tom Watson opened the scoring with a 10-yard TD pass from Dick Fisher shortly before halftime. Paul Sarringhaus added the second score on a 5-yard run early in the second half.
1934: Illinois 14, Ohio State 13 – The Buckeyes (1-1) failed to complete a comeback at Memorial Stadium. Ohio State trailed 14-0 in the fourth quarter before scoring a pair of touchdowns. Unfortunately for OSU, Regis Monahan missed the extra-point attempt after the first TD.
1928: Ohio State 10, Northwestern 0 – Ohio State traveled to Evanston for the first time since 1915 and emerged with a shutout win. The Buckeyes improved to 2-0 heading into a home game against rival Michigan.
1923: Ohio State 13, Colgate 13 – The Buckeyes rallied to earn a tie against the Raiders. Colgate led 17-3 at halftime and 23-10 after three quarters before Ohio State (1-0-1) stormed back. Hoge Workman tie the game in the final minutes with a 15-yard touchdown run on fourth down.
1917: Ohio State 40, Northwestern 0 – Pete Stinchcomb scored three touchdowns as OSU (3-0, 1-0) defeated the visiting Wildcats. Northwestern was expected to give the Buckeyes a tight game, as NU had went 7-1 in its last eight games, but Ohio State had little trouble.
1900: Ohio State 29, Cincinnati 0 – Ohio State (3-0) traveled to southwest Ohio for its first road game and defeated the Bearcats.
1894: Wittenberg 18, Ohio State 6 – The Buckeyes played Wittenberg for the second time during the '94 season and lost for the second time. Ohio State (1-3) dropped an 18-6 game to the Tigers Sept. 7 at the Ohio State Fair.