Note: This is the first of a series in which BuckeyeSports.com provides an overview of the second season as head coach at Ohio State for six of Urban Meyer's predecessors. We begin with Francis Schmidt with looks at Paul Brown, Woody Hayes, Earle Bruce, John Cooper and Jim Tressel to follow this week.
Ohio State Year Two Overview: 1935
Coach: Francis Schmidt
Previous season record (finish): 7-1, 5-1 Big Ten (2nd)
Notable players: Center Gomer Jones and end Merle Wendt were named All-Americans. Quarterbacks Stan Pincura and Tippy Dye as well as end Trevor Rees and guard Inwood Smith were also among returnees. Wendt, Halfback Dick Heekin, guard Gust Zarnas and halfback Jim McDonald would later be picked in the NFL draft. Schmidt, Jones and Zarnas are all members of the College Football Hall of Fame. Jones served as captain.
Notable games: Notre Dame shocked Ohio State by rallying from a two-touchdown deficit in the fourth quarter to hand the Buckeyes their first and only loss of the season Nov. 2 at Ohio Stadium. In what has been billed as a “game of the century”, the Fighting Irish scored 18 points in the last 15 minutes, including a dramatic toss from Bill Shakespeare to Wayne Millner that provided the winning points in the closing seconds.
A week later, Ohio State had to rally to win at Chicago, overcoming the efforts of Maroons halfback Jay Berwanger. On his way to winning the first Heisman Trophy, Berwanger helped the hosts stake a 13-0 lead with a spectacular 85-yard run, but the Buckeyes put together three scoring drives in the second half to prevail 20-13.
Earlier in the season, the Buckeyes walloped Drake 85-7, setting Ohio Stadium records for points, touchdowns (13) and first downs (39) that still stand. Ohio State’s 660 yards of total offense was a record at the time, but the Buckeyes have surpassed that mark three times since.
Other developments (strategy notes, injuries, etc.): Berwanger’s touchdown was the last Ohio State would allow in the 1935 season. The Buckeyes shut out Illinois in the home finale Nov. 16 – a Tippy Dye punt return represented the only points in a 6-0 victory – then whitewashed Michigan 38-0 in Ann Arbor a week later.
Schmidt, whose wide-open “razzle dazzle” offense shares many parallels to Urban Meyer’s spread option attack, featured a variety of ball-carriers and utilized multiple quarterbacks. While Pincura and Dye shared quarterbacking duties along with sophomore Nick Wasylik, Heekin, Frank Boucher and “Jumpin’” Joe Williams were among numerous running backs to play a significant role.
How’d it end up? The 1935 season marked the first time Ohio State concluded the season by playing Michigan, and the Buckeyes shut out the Wolverines for the second consecutive year.
Michigan Stadium was nearly 40 percent empty, and perhaps the Wolverines’ fans knew what was in store as the Buckeyes throttled the Maize and Blue 38-0 in what is still the most lopsided victory for Ohio State in the series. The Buckeyes showed no mercy to the Wolverines, unleashing “the Scarlet Scourge” and moving the ball in all manner of ways, including a pair of plays that included a shovel pass and double laterals.
The decisive win in Ann Arbor made the Buckeyes (7-1, 5-0 Big Ten) co-champions of the Big Ten with unbeaten Minnesota. It was the fourth Big Ten title for Ohio State and the first since 1920, though some disappointment still lingered at the end of the year as result of the heartbreaking loss to the Fighting Irish.
Look for a more expansive look at the second seasons of Ohio State's head coaches of the past eight decades in the next print edition of Buckeye Sports Bulletin.