2007: No. 1 Ohio State 38, Wisconsin 17 – After a week during which the Buckeyes were reminded, ad nauseam, that Wisconsin had won its last three visits to Ohio Stadium, Ohio State scored 28 unanswered points to emerge with a victory.
“That was the most important one,” OSU head coach Jim Tressel said of ending the Wisconsin hex in the Nov. 10, 2007, edition of Buckeye Sports Bulletin. “That was important to us to make sure we played well in our stadium and be successful in front of our fans, and you know when we have the built-in energy advantage of our home crowd and if you’re going to be a contender, you have to win at home.”
In addition to snapping the home losing streak to UW, the Buckeyes continued a school-record regular season winning streak (28 games), broke a Big Ten record for consecutive conference wins (20).
The Ohio State offense and defense both played big roles in the win. The Buckeyes piled up 377 yards of total offense – 169 on the ground by sophomore tailback Beanie Wells – and the defense held the Badgers (playing without injured P.J. Hill) to 12 net yards rushing and notched a season-high 10 sacks.
The Badgers erased a 10-3 OSU halftime lead before Wells took over. Wisconsin struggled to contain Wells, who rushed for 143 second-half yards and broke off TD runs of 31, 30 and 23 yards, respectively. Ohio State quarterback Todd Boeckman continued his steady play with a 17-for-28 afternoon in the passing department, accounting for 166 yards and two touchdowns. Both TDs wound up in the hands of junior split end Brian Robiskie, who gathered in a 30-yard score in the first quarter and speared an 8-yarder during the late explosion.
Junior Vernon Gholston led the Buckeye defense with four of his team’s 10 sacks. That tied a school record for single-game sacks, matching the efforts of Jason Simmons against Washington State in 1991 and Bobby Carpenter against Michigan State in 2005.
Adding to Gholston’s efforts was fellow junior James Laurinaitis. The middle linebacker recorded a career-high 19 tackles, eighth-highest in program history. He also recovered a fumble.
Ohio State started off the game with a flourish, taking the opening kickoff and marching 75 yards for a touchdown in less than three minutes. Boeckman threw the ball on six of the seven plays of the drive, capping things with a 30-yard connection with Robiskie for a TD.
Wisconsin answered with a 21-yard field goal by Taylor Mehlhaff on a drive aided by a fake punt on a fourth-and-12 near midfield. After that, the game turned into a defensive battle for much of the rest of the first half. Ohio State (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten) took a seven-point lead into the break, however, thanks to a 27-yard field goal by Ryan Pretorius shortly before halftime.
Wisconsin knotted the game with its first drive of the second half. Its march ended with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Donovan to tight end Travis Beckum. The Mehlhaff PAT made it 10-10 with 12:37 left in the third quarter. The Badgers weren’t done, either, as after an OSU three-and-out, UW scored again. This time it fullback Chris Pressley reaching the end zone on a 2-yard TD pass from Donovan – making it 17-10 in favor of the upset-minded visitors with 6:53 left in the quarter.
The Buckeyes rallied from there, though, scoring the last four touchdowns of the game. Wells started things with a 31-yard touchdown run that capped a 10-play drive following the Pressley TD. Pretorius’ extra point tied the game with 2:41 left in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter belonged to the Buckeyes. After UW was forced to punt on its next drive, Wells gave OSU the lead for good with a 30-yard scamper to the end zone just 42 seconds into the final quarter.
Seizing on the rejuvenated offense, the Buckeyes began to assert themselves on defense as well. They forced another three-and-out, but Wisconsin punter Ken DeBauche tried to pick up a fourth-and-3 and didn’t make it. That gave OSU another short field, and four plays later, Boeckman found Robiskie in the end zone for an 8-yard score. Pretorius’ PAT made it 31-17 at the 10:05 mark of the fourth period.
And still, the Ohio State defense wasn’t through. It forced a fumble on Wisconsin’s next possession and forced another with 3:25 remaining when Gibson thundered in on Donovan and caused him to cough up the football.
The first turnover resulted in a blocked field goal for OSU, but the second served to put a capper on the victory when Wells rushed over left end on the first play and didn’t stop until he had crossed the goal line 23 yards later. Pretorius added the extra point, accounting for the 38-17 final score.
2001: Ohio State 31, Minnesota 28 – The Buckeyes led 14-3 early, fell behind 20-14 and had to hold off the host Golden Gophers before emerging with a hard-fought victory. Ohio State needed the win to stay in the Big Ten title chase, which tightened up thanks to losses by Michigan and Purdue.
Illinois and U-M were atop the league with 4-1 marks, followed by a logjam of teams one game back – including Ohio State (5-3, 3-2).
“It was 100 percent must-win,” OSU tailback Jonathan Wells said in the Nov. 20, 2001, edition of BSB. “If we would have come out today and lost, it could have gotten ugly for us.”
First-year head coach Jim Tressel also addressed the importance of the victory.
“We would have lost any opportunity to be Big Ten champions,” said Tressel, who bested the man perceived to be the runner up for the OSU head coaching job, Glen Mason. “When you get two losses, you have to get help from a lot of people if you want to have a chance to hang in the race, but that’s the beauty of the Big Ten – everyone’s going to get after everyone else. Now we have a chance to get back in it.”
The crucial win didn’t come easily. Minnesota started the scoring with a Dan Nystrom 30-yard field goal with 6:08 left in the first quarter. From there, Ohio State took momentum with two unanswered touchdowns. Wells started that burst with a 2-yard touchdown run behind fullhouse backs Sam Maldonado and Jamar Martin that gave OSU a 7-3 lead with 1:01 left in the opening 15 minutes. The lead grew on OSU’s next possession, one that ended with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Steve Bellisari to an uncovered Darnell Sanders on a third-and-10 play with 8:18 left before halftime.
“On the throw to Darnell, I don’t think they expected him to release like that,” Bellisari said. “That was an easy play.”
Minnesota answered later in the second quarter on a Thomas Tapeh 3-yard touchdown run up the middle with 4:17 left before the break, cutting OSU’s lead to 14-10. Ohio State had a chance to add points, but Mike Nugent missed a 48-yard field goal in the final minute. There was enough time for the Gophers to attempt a field goal of their own in the final seconds, though, and Nystrom made a 44-yard boot to make it 14-13 at halftime.
The Gophers opened the second-half scoring with 5:51 left in the third quarter when Tellis Redmon went right and skirted a pair of defenders en route to a 52-yard touchdown run that helped make it 20-14 Minnesota.
Ohio State responded, however, thanks in part to a good kickoff return by Maurice Hall that set up OSU at its 44. Wells capped the short drive with a 1-yard touchdown that put OSU on top, 21-20, with 3:01 left in the third quarter.
“We had to answer their scores,” Wells said. “That’s something we hadn’t been doing in past games.”
After the OSU defense held Minnesota to a three-and-out, the Buckeyes moved 78 yards on five plays for an insurance score. Chris Vance capped the brief march with a 36-yard TD grab with 14:24 left in the fourth quarter, giving Ohio State a 28-20 advantage.
The Buckeyes later extended their lead with a 35-yard Nugent field goal with 4:17 remaining, but Minnesota did not quit. The Gophers scored the final points of the game on a 2-yard TD run by Asad Abdul-Khaliq with 1:55 remaining. Trailing by four (31-26), Minnesota attempted a two-point conversion, which succeeded thanks to a catch by tight end Ben Utecht.
Minnesota then attempted an onside kick, which fell into the hands of OSU’s Michael Jenkins – sealing the Buckeye victory.
Bellisari completed 12 of 17 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Ohio State offense. He also rushed 11 times for 66 yards. Wells added 152 yards on 24 carries with two scores. Vance finished with a career-high 101 yards on five receptions.
Joe Cooper led the OSU defense with eight tackles. Mike Doss had the game’s lone interception.
1990: Ohio State 48, Northwestern 7 – For the third consecutive week, Ohio State’s offense had a good day and the Buckeyes crushed an opponent. The Buckeyes (5-2-1, 3-1-1) rolled up 462 yards of total offense against the overmatched Wildcats and remained one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten – beating Purdue, Minnesota and Northwestern by a combined score of 142-32.
“We’ve done what we’ve needed to do the last three weeks,” OSU head coach John Cooper said in the Nov. 10, 1990, edition of BSB. “Now we have to build on the confidence we’ve gained during those games and use it to our advantage down the stretch.”
Ohio State averaged 6.2 yards per play and scored on eight of its 10 offensive possessions. Meanwhile, the Buckeye defense held Northwestern to 174 yards of total offense, including holding the league’s top receiver – Richard Buchanan – to two catches for 14 yards.
“We played pretty well on defense,” Cooper said. “We made some adjustments I the game, particularly in the second half, and we shut down what we consider to be a pretty good offensive football team.”
The Buckeyes set the tone for the afternoon early, marching 80 yards for a touchdown on their first possession. Raymont Harris started the OSU onslaught by catching a 10-yard touchdown pass from Greg Frey. Tim Williams made a 26-yard field goal to give OSU a 10-0 lead on the Buckeyes’ second possession.
The lead then stretched to 17-0 early in the second quarter when Harris added his second touchdown of the day on a 1-yard run. Ohio State upped its lead to 24 before halftime on a 1-yard TD run by Robert Smith.
The teams traded scores before the break, with Northwestern scoring its lone points on a Buchanan touchdown reception from Len Williams. Ohio State answered with a Williams 24-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter.
The second half was more of the same. Ohio State scored three more touchdowns. The first came in the third quarter on a 17-yard TD pass from backup QB Kent Graham to Bobby Olive. The other two came in the final quarter. Brian Stablein caught a 36-yard score from Graham, and Dante Lee capped the scoring with a 1-yard TD run.
Frey finished with 100 passing yards on 7-of-10 passing. Graham completed 5 of 6 passes for 88 yards. Leading the rushing attack was Smith, who carried the ball 23 times for 128 yards. Bernard Edwards caught three passes for 49 yards.
Defensively, Judah Herman made a team-high six tackles.
Despite sitting fourth in the conference, next up for Ohio State was a showdown with first-place Iowa. The Buckeyes could make it to Pasadena by winning out and getting some help (an additional loss by Iowa and one loss by Minnesota).
1984: No. 16 Ohio State 50, Indiana 7 – A sprained left ankle limited star tailback Keith Byars, allowing John Wooldridge to get the start and star in a lopsided win in Bloomington. Wooldridge rushed 16 times for 94 yards with a touchdown, caught a pair of passes for eight yards and returned a kickoff for nine more yards.
“John really deserved to start (based) on his work efforts this week,” OSU head coach Earle Bruce said in the Nov. 10, 1984, edition of BSB. “He ran the ball hard, I thought. He’s an exceptional football player, a good football player and a very sound football player.
“He’s a good receiver and a good runner and has fine speed and acceleration. You see that little guy run over some people and it’s hard to believe.”
Wooldridge said he was pleased with his performance.
“I think I played well,” he said. “Like always, I critique myself. I could have made some cuts when I didn’t and I made some that I shouldn’t have. But I guess that’s part of being a back.”
Byars still played, finishing with 64 yards on 13 carries.
Ohio State (7-2, 5-2) started the scoring with a 37-yard field goal by Rich Spangler 4:39 into the game. Less than a minute late, the Buckeyes were in the end zone for the first time. Indiana quarterback Steve Bradley had a pass intercepted by OSU defensive back William White and returned 20 yards for a score.
The Buckeyes extended the lead to 17-0 early in the second quarter. Byars reached the end zone for the 19th time in 1984 on a 3-yard run. Cris Carter upped the advantage to 24 points on a 44-yard pass from Mike Tomczak on a throw over the middle.
Ohio State added nine more points before halftime. Barry Walker scored his first touchdown as a Buckeye on a 3-yard run with 1:19 left before the break, and OSU added a safety in the final seconds when Kevin Richardson blocked a punt out of the end zone, giving the Buckeyes a 33-0 halftime lead.
The visitors extended the lead to 40-0 on its first possession of the second half when Wooldridge scored on a 1-yard run with 9:31 remaining in the third quarter. Spangler added a 27-yard field goal later in the third quarter, and Kevin Delaney closed OSU’s scoring with a 2-yard TD run.
Ohio State finished with 490 yards of offense, compared to 186 for IU. Tomczak completed 10 of 17 passes for 125 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Byron Lee led the OSU defense with a pair of sacks, and White had two interceptions.
The win was the 100th in the head coaching career of Bruce. He moved to 54-15 at Ohio State.
1979: No. 5 Ohio State 44, Illinois 7 – The Buckeyes (9-0, 6-0) took advantage of Illinois mistakes in cruising to an easy victory in Champaign. Ohio State turned two interceptions, a fumble recovery and a blocked punt into scores. Only games vs. Iowa and at Michigan separated the Buckeyes from a potential perfect regular season.
1973: No. 1 Ohio State 30, Illinois 0 – The final score was not close, but the host Illini made the Buckeyes work for the victory. Illinois, bolstered by the return on former coach Ray Eliot and several of his players for the game, held OSU in check in the first half. Ohio State (7-0, 5-0) led 3-0 at halftime but blew the game open in the second half. The OSU defense starred, allowing its offense to score four touchdowns on drives of less than 50 yards.
1962: Iowa 28, Ohio State 14 – Ohio State lost its chance to repeat as Big Ten champions with a disheartening loss at Iowa. The Buckeyes never led, allowing Iowa to race out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead the Buckeyes could never recover from. OSU (3-3, 2-2) was held to 174 yards rushing and 20 passing.
1956: No. 6 Ohio State 6, Northwestern 2 – It wasn’t pretty, but Ohio State set a Big Ten record with its 16th consecutive conference victory. New Northwestern head coach Ara Parseghian had his team prepared, and the Wildcats led 2-0 after the first quarter thanks to a safety on a blocked punt. The Buckeyes (5-1, 3-0) scored its lone points on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Frank Ellwood to Leo Brown with 16 seconds left in the second quarter.
1951: Ohio State 3, Northwestern 0 – A 26-yard field goal by Vic Janowicz was all the scoring necessary for the Buckeyes to earn a win against the visiting Wildcats. Ohio State (3-2-1, 2-2-1) benefitted from timely defensive stands, holding Northwestern on downs three times inside the OSU 15-yard line.
1945: No. 6 Ohio State 16, No. 20 Northwestern 14 – Despite allowing Northwestern to build a two-touchdown advantage in the first quarter, the Buckeyes rallied for a win on Dad’s Day at Ohio Stadium. Ollie Cline helped get OSU to within one point at 14-13 with a pair of 1-yard touchdown plunges. Freshman Max Schnittker played the hero when he made a 32-yard field goal that gave Ohio State (5-1, 4-1) the victory with 1:28 remaining in the fourth quarter.
1934: Ohio State 76, Western Reserve 0 – The lopsided win for the Buckeyes wasn’t notable for what happened between the two teams but what happened afterwards. Ohio State (4-1) scored 11 touchdowns and compiled 706 yards of total offense in the win, played at Cleveland’s League Park. Following the win, the Buckeyes would go 58 seasons before playing another in-state school – when they played Bowling Green on Sept. 12, 1992.
1928: Ohio State 6, Princeton 6 – A sellout crowd of 72,496 packed Ohio Stadium and watched a big-time nonconference battle between the Buckeyes and Tigers end in a tie. Princeton entered the game without being scored upon in its previous four contests and for much of the game it looked like Ohio State would not find the scoreboard either. Princeton had taken a 6-0 lead on an Al Wittmer touchdown. Bryon Eby saved the day for the Buckeyes, however, reaching the end zone with less than three minutes remaining.
Both teams missed its extra point attempts. The Buckeyes moved to 4-0-1.
1923: Ohio State 42, Denison 0 – Ohio State evened its record to 2-2-1 with a nonleague whitewash of Denison. For the Buckeyes, it was their first win since opening the season Oct. 6 with a 24-7 victory against visiting Ohio Wesleyan.
1917: Ohio State 26, Indiana 3 – Playing in Indianapolis, where students from both schools were training for World War I, the Buckeyes (5-0, 2-0) emerged with a win thanks in large part to the efforts of Chic Harley. Harley scored all of his team’s points in the win, scoring on touchdown runs of 40, 8, 11 and 33 yards.
The fans in attendance were slightly confused at times, as both teams wore red. Indiana was the home team, but Ohio State packed its home uniforms for the trip.
1906: Ohio State 6, Oberlin 0 – The Buckeyes bounced back from its first loss of the season at Michigan with a win against visiting Oberlin. Ohio State improved to 4-1 and had shutouts in each of its victories.
1900: Ohio State 27, West Virginia 0 – Ohio State moved to 6-0 with six shutouts with its win against the visiting Mountaineers.
1894: Ohio State 10, Marietta 4 – The Buckeyes (3-4) bounced back from its loss a week earlier to Western Reserve with a home victory.