2007: No. 1 Ohio State 24, Michigan State 17 – The ghosts of 1998 were kept at bay, as the upset-minded Spartans fell short in their quest to ruin Ohio State’s perfect season.
As Buckeye fans surely remember, nine years before the ’07 matchup, Michigan State invaded Columbus and took advantage of Ohio State turnovers and mistakes to pull off a major upset. This time, however, the Buckeyes held on despite some late struggles. A pair of MSU defensive touchdowns made Ohio State hold its breath, but the Buckeyes were able to come away with the victory.
“Oh yeah, (the coaches) mentioned (1998) quite a bit,” Ohio State defensive tackle Dexter Larimore said in the Oct. 27, 2007, edition of Buckeye Sports Bulletin. “We had a lot of film with (then-MSU tailback Sedrick) Irvin picking grass (as a keepsake) and all that stuff. It kind of reminded us, ‘Hey, we can’t let this game slip by us.’ ”
Instead of picking up the pieces after an upset, the Buckeyes improved to8-0 (4-0 Big Ten) while looking ahead to battles with Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan to close the season – all teams with winning records.
It looks like Ohio State would cruise to an easy victory for much of the afternoon. The Buckeyes built a 24-0 third-quarter lead before the Spartans tightened the game up with two defensive scores.
“Well, it was an interesting game we played today,” OSU head coach Jim Tressel said. “Defensively, I thought we played solidly the whole game. Our defense held them to under 200 yards total offense, which is extraordinary for a college football game. Unfortunately, our offense gave up 14 points, which you cannot do if you want to be Big Ten champions.”
Tight end Jake Ballard got the scoring started, capping a 93-yard drive by Ohio State on the game’s first offensive possession. He speared a Todd Boeckman pass, juggled it as he was falling, but cradled it before he landed in the end zone for a 14-yard score. The Buckeyes extended their lead on their next drive, thanks to a 42-yard field goal by Ryan Pretorius later in the first quarter.
Michigan State quarterback Brian Hoyer then added to his team’s difficulities when he had a pass picked off by Doug Worthington, giving OSU the ball at the Spartans 29-yard line. It took only six plays for Ohio State to get into the end zone again, capped by a 5-yard run by Wells. Pretorius added the PAT, pushing the Buckeyes’ lead to 17-0 with 10:15 left before halftime.
The score stayed the way until the second half. Ohio State’s next touchdown drive when 70 yards in only three plays. It ended with a 50-yard bomb from Boeckman to Brian Robiskie, who had gotten a step on a pair of MSU defenders. The ensuing PAT gave OSU a commanding 24-0 lead at the 6:52 mark of the third quarter.
After that point, the Spartans’ defense got MSU back into the game. Michigan State went three-and-out on its ensuing possession, and after another punt, the Buckeyes looked intent upon padding their lead. But on the fourth play of the drive, Boeckman threw behind his intended receiver and backup free safety Otis Wiley was there to make the interception for the Spartans. Wiley picked up a couple of blockers and raced 54 yards for his team’s first score of the day.
MSU kicker Brett Swenson added the extra point, paring Ohio State’s lead to 24-7 with 3:52 left in the third period.
Less than a minute later, Michigan State defensive end Jonal Saint-Dic sacked Boeckman, who lost control of the football. Spartans linebacker SirDarean Adams scooped up the fumble on one bounce and thundered 25 yards to pay dirt.
Following the Swenson PAT, MSU had cut its deficit to 10 points in only 56 seconds with 2:56 left in the third quarter.
Ohio State caught a big break during its ensuing possession. On the first play of their very next drive, Chris Wells fumbled as he was being forced to the ground by Michigan State freshman nose tackle Antonio Jeremiah, another Columbus-area product.
Somehow, Wells was able to regain possession at the bottom of a pile, avoiding another turnover that would have given the Spartans the ball at the Ohio State 13.
Ohio State’s defense took care of the rest, limiting Hoyer and company on their final two possessions. One resulted in a 43-yard Swenson field goal with 3:42 left, but that was the last time MSU had the ball on offense.
Ohio State got the ball back and the Michigan State defense simply could not stop Wells when it needed to most. He ran the ball seven consecutive times for 32 yards on the Buckeyes’ final drive, and after MSU took its final timeout at the 1:49 mark, the game was essentially over.
A final 4-yard run by Wells on third-and-2 with 59 seconds left sealed the deal.
Ohio State dominated the stat sheet, outgaining MSU 422-185 and finishing with 229 rushing yards, compared to only 59 by MSU’s vaunted rushing attack. The Spartans entered the game as one of the top running teams in the country, averaging 298.7 yards for its first three conference games and 242.7 in seven games overall.
Wells led Ohio State, rushing for 221 yards on 31 carries – setting career single-game highs. MSU counterpart Javon Ringer was limited to 49 yards on 19 carries. Boeckman experienced some lofty highs and depressing lows in the contest. He completed his first 10 passes and, coupled with two completions at the end of previous week’s game against Kent State, tied the school record with 12 consecutive completions.
But he connected on only 5 of his last 13 throws and finished 15 for 23 in the passing department for 193 yards and two touchdowns.
Unfortunately, it was Boeckman who also made the costly third-quarter mistakes – an interception and fumble while being sacked – that gave Michigan State its two touchdowns.
Hoyer didn’t fare much better, completing only 12 of 23 passes for 126 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. He was also sacked three times.
Ohio State was led defensively by junior middle linebacker James Laurinaitis, who had 12 tackles. Junior cornerback Malcolm Jenkins was next with eight stops while junior outside linebacker Marcus Freeman added seven.
2001: Ohio State 27, San Diego State 12 – The Buckeyes (4-2) earned a nonconference victory against the upstart Aztecs, but the postgame scene was not a celebratory one.
Take this Tressel quote after the game, for example.
“It’s a win,” the first-year OSU coach said in the Oct. 27, 2001, edition of BSB. “That’s good. We had a chance to come back and play after being disappointed with our performance (in a 20-17 home loss to Wisconsin on Oct. 13). And I don’t think there is any misconception from anybody in our locker room that we’re wonderful all the sudden.”
The Buckeyes heard boos from the Ohio Stadium crowd as the first half ended with SDSU leading 12-6. Ohio State missed a pair of field goals and an extra point during the first two quarters.
Fortunately for the Buckeyes and their fans, things improved after the break. Ohio State forced the Aztecs into five second-half turnovers on consecutive possessions to eventually take the lead and hold on for the win. OSU scored a pair of third-quarter touchdowns to right its ship. Quarterback Steve Bellisari put his team ahead thanks to a 4-yard touchdown run with 4:35 left in the third quarter. The PAT by Mike Nugent gave OSU a 13-12 lead. The drive was made possible thanks to a SDSU fumble that was recovered by Fred Pagac Jr. at the Aztec 18.
The Buckeyes got another break on San Diego State’s ensuing drive. Quarterback Lon Sherriff was pressured into throwing a pass that was intercepted by Derek Ross, who returned the ball 31 yards to the SDSU 5.
Three plays later, the Buckeyes were in the end zone again. Jonathan Wells carried the ball on all three plays, finishing the march with a 1-yard TD over left tackle. The PAT made it 20-12 OSU with 2:18 remaining in the third quarter.
Ohio State capped the scoring in the fourth quarter. Lydell Ross scored his second TD of the game, racing for a 51-yard score that gave OSU a 15-point advantage with 9:41 remaining.
Bellisari bounced back from a rough performance a week earlier against the Badgers. He completed 15 of 28 passes for 198 yards and an interception to go with his rushing score. Wide receiver Chris Vance caught five passes for 87 yards, and Ross finished with nine carries for 60 yards and a pair of TDs.
Defensively, Ross had two interceptions. The Buckeyes picked off four Sheriff passes on the afternoon.
The game was originally scheduled for Sept. 15, but the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, caused the game to be postponed.
1990: Ohio State 42, Purdue 2 – The Buckeyes dominated on both sides of the football and left West Lafayette with a lopsided victory, their largest since a 64-6 beatdown of Utah in 1986.
Ohio State (3-2-1, 1-1-1 Big Ten) won for the first time since Sept. 15 and put a pair of losses to USC and Illinois and a tie at Indiana in the past. Quarterback Greg Frey and flanker Jeff Graham had a big hand in it, as the seniors led the offense to its best performance of the ’90 season to that point. Frey completed 8 of 11 passes for 172 yards and three touchdowns – despite playing only three quarters. He also caught a TD pass from Graham on a fake reverse. Graham caught four passes for 144 yards and a pair of TDs.
“I think this kind of game was the thing we’ve been looking for,” Frey said in the Oct. 27, 1990, edition of BSB. “We had been getting so close and things had been going against us. We really needed to put everything together and win big. I think we did that today.”
The Buckeyes never trailed, getting their momentum going early with a 69-yard touchdown run by Robert Smith less than three minutes into the game. Purdue’s lone points came later in the first quarter when the Boilermakers stopped Smith in the end zone for a safety.
From there, however, it was all OSU. The Buckeyes scored three touchdowns before halftime to take a commanding 28-2 lead into the break. Rich Huffman caught a 2-yard touchdown pass from Frey, who then caught his 60-yard score from Graham. Frey returned the favor by tossing a 58-yard scoring strike to Graham with 5:11 left in the quarter to give OSU its large halftime lead.
For Huffman, a senior tight end, it was his first catch of the season and second of his career.
“It felt really great,” Huffman said. “I had to try to get my mind back on the game after I caught it. When you don’t do something too often, you like to dwell on it for a little bit. But I had to clear my mind and get back into it.”
The Buckeyes closed out the game by outscoring Purdue 14-0 after the break. Graham caught his second TD pass in the third quarter, a 48-yard strike by Frey. Butler By’not’e closed the scoring in the fourth quarter with a 2-yard run.
Smith finished with 96 yards on 10 carries to lead OSU’s rushing attack. Defensively, Vinnie Clark, Chico Nelson, Jim Peel, Bryan Cook and Steve Tovar each recorded six tackles. Clark added a pair of interceptions.
1984: No. 8 Ohio State 23, Michigan State 20 – Much like in 2007, the Spartans kept it close before failing to pull off the upset.
The visiting Buckeyes (6-1, 4-1 Big Ten) had to sweat it out in the final minutes, though. Michigan State had a final drive that began at the OSU 39 with 2:56 to play thanks to a short Tom Tupa punt and a solid return by Bobby Morse. Ohio State’s defense tightened up from there, however, allowing MSU only 13 net yards in five plays.
With MSU facing a fourth down at the 26 with six seconds remaining, MSU head coach George Perles called on kicker Ralf Mojsiejenko to attempt a long field goal. Despite making all six of his previous attempt, including four from 40 yards or more, Mojsiejenko’s boot was short and wide – preserving an OSU victory.
Mojsiejenko’s counterpart, OSU kicker Rich Spangler got his team going with the first points of the game late in the first quarter. His 36-yard field goal gave OSU a 3-0 advantage at the 2:14 mark of the first period. Spangler later gave the Buckeyes a 9-0 lead with a pair of second-quarter field goals from 42 and 30 yards, respectively, before halftime.
Ohio State looked like it might blow the game open at the start of the second half.
On the second play from scrimmage, MSU tailback Carl Butler fumbled, with OSU’s Pepper Johnson recovering the ball on the Spartan 2-yard line. It took Keith Byars two attempts before he could penetrate the Spartan defense for the touchdown and a 16-0 Ohio State lead.
Michigan State’s first big play came on OSU’s next possession after Byars’ touchdown. After three running plays netted 5 yards to the OSU 29, Tupa went back to punt and under a fierce Spartan rush, fumbled the ball turning it over to MSU at the 20.
Five plays later, Dave Tarema rolled right and hit Morse with a 2-yard TD pass. Mojsiejenko’s kick failed, making it 16-6 with 9:03 left in the third quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, Yarema went long to Mark Ingram, who split two OSU defenders and raced 75 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving the score 16-12 with 11:40 remaining in regulation.
The Buckeyes bounced back with a 1-yard Mike Tomczak TD run and with Spangler’s PAT, Ohio State held a 23-12 lead with 4:44 left.
Larry Jackson, however, returned the ensuing kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown. Yarema then hit tight end Butch Rolle with a two-point conversion pass t11o make it 23-20.
That set up the final drives and OSU’s eventual narrow victory.
Byars led Ohio State’s offense with 121 yards on 40 carries. Tomczak completed 16 of 27 passes for 256 yards, with Mike Lanese as his top target. The receiver caught seven passes for 116 yards.
Defensively, Johnson had 12 tackles, including two for loss, in addition to a fumble recovery.
1979: No. 6 Ohio State 59, Wisconsin 0 – Ohio State improved to 7-0 (4-0 Big Ten) with a whitewash of the visiting Badgers.
The Buckeyes posted their best scoring output of the 1979 season and blanked an opponent for the first time since a 35-0 victory at Illinois on Nov. 5, 1977. .
1973: No. 1 Ohio State 37, Indiana 7 – The Buckeyes (5-0, 3-0 Big Ten) looked like the top-ranked team in the nation, piling up 419 yards and scoring in each quarter in a rout of host Indiana.
Bruce Elia scored twice in the win and finished with 123 yards. Archie Griffin led the rushing attack with 130 of his own. Defensively, Neal Colzie had the play of the game when he returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown – much to the dismay of IU head coach Lee Corso.
1962: No. 8 Northwestern 18, No. 6 Ohio State 14 – Akron native Ara Parsegian returned to his home state and coached the Wildcats to a key victory at Ohio Stadium.
The game started well for the Buckeyes (2-2, 1-1 Big Ten) when Bob Klein returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. The lead extended to 14-0 later in the first quarter when Ohio State marched 71 yards for another touchdown, a 9-yard TD run by fullback Dave Francis.
From there, however, Northwestern took command. The unbeaten Wildcats scored 18 unanswered points and took advantage of two OSU touchdowns that were called back because of penalties.
1956: Penn State 7, No. 5 Ohio State 6 – In only the second meeting between the schools, Ohio State dropped a one-point loss against the visiting Nittany Lions. Penn State was a three-touchdown underdog but managed to play the first half to a scoreless draw. The game remained scoreless – thanks in large part to a PSU interception in its own end zone in the third quarter, which came after 17 consecutive OSU running plays – until Penn State broke through late in the fourth quarter. The Lions took the lead on a Milt Plum touchdown run with 3:35 remaining.
Ohio State (3-1) answered quickly, marching 80 yards in five plays. Don Clark ended the drive with a 3-yard TD run, but a miscue then proved costly. As the Buckeyes set up for the PAT, OSU head coach Woody Hayes – thinking he only had 10 men on the field – sent out Leo Brown onto the field. Hayes was wrong, however, and the Buckeyes were flagged for having 12 men on the field. The Buckeyes then watched as Frank Kremblas’ PAT sailed wide left.
Penn State then took over on offense and successfully ran out the clock.
1951: Indiana 32, No. 17 Ohio State 10 – Seventeen-point underdog shocked the Buckeyes thanks to five Ohio State turnovers. Three of those miscues led to three IU touchdowns. The 22-point loss would be the worst for Ohio State (1-2-1, 0-2-1 Big Ten) until losing by 23 (35-12) to Iowa in 1960.
1945: No. 9 Purdue 35, No. 4 Ohio State 13 – The visiting Boilermakers ended Ohio State’s winning streak at 12 with a convincing victory. The first home loss in the Carroll Widdoes era was not a close one. Purdue led 28-0 before Ohio State (3-1, 2-1 Big Ten) attempted to make the final score more respectable.
1934: Ohio State 10, Colgate 7 – The Buckeyes bounced back from a one-point loss to Illinois with a defeat of the visiting Red Raiders. Ohio State (2-1) got its points on a 22-yard second-quarter field goal by Regis Monahan and a Jack Smith 1-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
1928: Ohio State 19, Michigan 7 – Ohio State broke a six-game losing streak to its archrival and its first win against U-M at Ohio Stadium. With 72,439 in attendance, OSU erased a 7-6 Michigan lead shortly before halftime and cruised from there. The Buckeyes took the lead on a 21-yard reverse run by Byron Eby. The extra point was blocked, but OSU (3-1) added another touchdown in the second half on a 21-yard TD pass from Alan Holman to Charles Coffee.
1923: Michigan 23, Ohio State 0 – The visiting Buckeyes came out flat and were flattened by the Wolverines a week after OSU earned a solid 23-23 tie against East Coast power Colgate. Ohio State fell to 1-1-1.
1906: Michigan 6, Ohio State 0 – The Buckeyes (3-1) lost for the first and only time during the ’06 season. Michigan scored its points on a field goal and a safety, which back then added up to six points.
1900: Ohio State 47, Ohio Wesleyan 0 – Ohio State remained unbeaten with a shutout against OWU – the Buckeyes’ fourth shutout in as many games.
1894: Ohio State 30, Columbus Barracks 0 – The visiting Buckeyes improved to 2-3 and won for the first time since earning a 32-0 win against Antioch.