For the fourth game in our series counting down the best Ohio State wins against their Big Ten foes, we focus on Northwestern.
The Buckeyes have dominated the series, leading 59-14-1 since it commenced 100 years ago with a 58-0 OSU win in Columbus. Ohio State won the first five in the series before the Wildcats enjoyed a span from 1927-31 in which they won four of five from the Buckeyes. It remained relatively competitive until 1949 when a 24-7 victory started a nine-game winning streak for the Buckeyes. Starting in 1958, the Wildcats won three of four from Woody Hayes Ohio State teams before a 10-0 Ohio State win in 1964 that kicked off a 50-year span that included only two Wildcat wins (1971 and 2004).
Northwestern snapped a 24-game losing streak in the series with a double-overtime 33-27 win over the Buckeyes in 2004, and Jim Tressel’s OSU teams responded emphatically by outscoring the Wildcats 205-34 in the following four meetings.
Regarding school records from the series, the Buckeyes tied the school’s modern single-game record for rushing touchdowns against Northwestern twice, in 1978 and ’80.
John Brockington set an Ohio State record with 42 carries against the Wildcats (for 161 yards) in 1970, a mark broken two years later by Champ Henson when he had 44 rushing attempts for 153 yards at Northwestern (as referenced below).
Tim Sawicki set an Ohio State record for tackle-for-loss yardage against the Wildcats in 1979 with four stops behind the line of scrimmage adding up to 49 yards lost. The four TFLs tied the school record at the time.
Cornerback Ted Provost tied the school record with three interceptions in a game against Northwestern in 1967.
Ohio State 58
The first meeting on the gridiron between Ohio State and Northwestern was also the first Western Conference (now the Big Ten) victory in Ohio State history, so we dubbed it worthy of inclusion on this list.
After losing their conference debut to Indiana 7-6 on Nov. 1 and dropping a 12-0 decision at Wisconsin on Nov. 8, the Buckeyes shut out Northwestern 58-0 on Nov. 22 at Ohio Field in Columbus.
First-year coach John W. Wilce, now a member of the College Football Hall of Fame after finishing his tenure at Ohio State as the Buckeyes’ all-time winningest coach, led the Buckeyes from the sidelines, while Boyd Cherry, the school’s first All-American, was in his second year starring between the lines. Future Ohio State head coach Sam Willaman scored the game’s final touchdown on the final play. The season-ending shutout was the Buckeyes’ fifth of the seven-game season, a campaign that started with 58-0 win over Ohio Wesleyan.
The game was preceded by the first Senior Tackle ceremony. The Buckeyes also held the Wildcats scoreless in 1914 and 1915.
No. 12 Ohio State 7
No. 7 Northwestern 0
For the first time in school history, Ohio State beat a school ranked in the Associated Press poll. Coach Francis Schmidt’s twelfth-ranked Buckeyes topped the No. 7 Wildcats, 7-0, at Ohio Stadium. Not long after intermission, Ohio State’s Richard Nardi scored the game’s only touchdown on a 3-yard run. Following Nardi’s plunge, Buckeye Jim McDonald’s extra point attempt was blocked, but holder Mike Kabealo picked up the ball and tossed it to McDonald. The future All-America quarterback carried the ball over the goal line to complete the one-point conversion.
Ohio State out-rushed Northwestern, 125-112, while Buckeye defenders intercepted three of Northwestern’s 10 pass attempts. Besides McDonald, the game also featured Ohio State All-Americans Carl Kaplanoff, Ralph Wolf and Gust Zarras along the line. Wolf and McDonald captained the squad as Ohio State avenged a one-point loss from the previous season that denied it the conference championship. For the season, the Buckeyes, who were also ranked in the AP poll for the first time, were 3-0 against schools from the state of Illinois. They shut out Chicago, 39-0, one week later, and blanked Illinois on Homecoming two weeks later en route to finishing 6-2. The Buckeyes shut out all six teams they beat.
No. 2 Ohio State 24
No. 20 Northwestern 10
Northwestern got the drop on the Buckeyes, but Ohio State rallied to beat the Wildcats, 24-10. Northwestern’s Mike Adamle scored on a 1-yard run to give the twentieth-ranked Wildcats a 7-0 lead, and they held a 10-3 halftime lead after Ohio State’s Fred Schram and Northwestern traded field goals.
But in the second half it was all Buckeyes, as Rex Kern and John Brockington led No. 2 Ohio State to 21 unanswered points. Kern scored twice, on runs of six and three yards, while Brockington did much of the heavy lifting. The senior All-America fullback toted the ball a then-school record 42 times, gained 161 yards and scored a touchdown of his own. Kern finished with 74 yards on 15 carries. The Buckeyes out-rushed the Wildcats 336-93 and ran 36 more plays. Stan White led the defense with 16 total tackles. He also forced and recovered a fumble and was credited with a pass defensed. Doug Adams and All-American Jim Stillwagon also tallied double figures in tackles, with 13 and 10, respectively. Mike Sensibaugh, another of six All-Americans on the squad, had a pair of interceptions. The win was one of nine in a perfect regular season that also included an outright Big Ten championship.
No. 9 Ohio State 27
Fullback Champ Henson ran a school-record 44 times for 153 yards and four touchdowns as No. 9 Ohio State downed host Northwestern 27-14 to improve to 8-1 overall and 6-1 in Big Ten play. Besides setting the single-game carries mark, Henson also broke Jim Otis’ single-season record for touchdowns by running his total on the year to 19. The win also set up yet another chance to win the Big Ten with a win over Michigan one week later. When the Buckeyes did that, they clinched a Rose Bowl berth that was the first of a school-record 15-year streak of bowl appearances.
Henson tied an Ohio State single-game record (since broken) with 24 points.
No. 20 Ohio State 17
In the Big Ten season opener, Ohio State spotted Northwestern a 9-0 halftime lead, but Eddie George came to the rescue in Evanston. The junior tailback carried a career-high 39 times for 206 yards rushing. He scored a touchdown on the 6-yard run on the final play of the third quarter for the last of Ohio State’s 17 unanswered points in that stanza. Northwestern scored a touchdown to cut the lead to two with 5:01 left in the fourth quarter, but Matt Finkes stopped Wildcat Dennis Lundy two yards behind the line of scrimmage on the ensuing two-point conversion attempt to preserve the lead.
Lorenzo Styles led the Buckeye defense with 15 tackles. Bobby Hoying and Joey Galloway hooked up for a 13-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter to begin the Buckeyes’ comeback. Josh Jackson kicked a 21-yard field goal to give Ohio State its first lead, 10-9, with 3:52 left in the third quarter. The Buckeyes out-gained Northwestern 249-30 in the second half. Ohio State beat Northwestern 24 consecutive times from 1972-2003, and this match-up was one of only two games during that stretch decided by fewer than 10 points (16-7, 1979).
Ohio State 38
No. 14 Northwestern 20
On the night Les Horvath’s No. 22 was retired, a then-record crowd of 104,042 watched another Ohio State halfback star in the Horseshoe. On the second play of the game, senior Jonathan Wells carried 71 yards for a touchdown and the unranked Buckeyes never looked back, knocking off the No. 14 Wildcats 38-20 under the lights. Wells’ run set the tone for the night, though the Wildcats came back quickly to tie the score at 7-all later in the first quarter. With time winding down in the opening stanza, Ohio State strong safety Mike Doss returned a fumble 30 yards for a touchdown. The defensive score set off a 31-point explosion that covered the next two quarters. Wells scored two more touchdowns and Lydell Ross found the end zone, too. Late in the third quarter, Mike Nugent booted a 44-yard field goal to give the Buckeyes their largest lead at 38-7.
Wells finished with 179 yards on 22 carries and three touchdowns. Doss led the team with 13 total tackles in addition to his fumble recovery for a touchdown he had a sack and a pass defensed. His efforts helped the Buckeye defense hold Northwestern, which entered the game averaging 490.3 yards per game, to 306 total yards for the game.
No. 10 Ohio State 48
No. 25 Northwestern 7
The Buckeyes responded to their first loss in the series since 1971 by annihilating the visiting Wildcats on Senior Day at Ohio Stadium.
Behind the nifty moves of running back Tyrell Sutton (a former Ohio Mr. Football), the Wildcats drove 80 yards for a touchdown on the opening drive of the game then yielded 48 unanswered points.
Troy Smith ran for a pair of touchdowns to put the Buckeyes on top 14-7 by the end of the first quarter, and they extended the lead to 14 points when senior linebacker A.J. Hawk returned a blocked punt eight yards for a touchdowns.
The Buckeyes outgained the visitors 422-171 after the opening drive, and Ohio State did most of its damage on the ground. Smith ran for 75 yards and and threw for another 77 while Antonio Pittman led the rushing attack with 132 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Maurice Wells added 70 yards rushing and a touchdown and Erik Haw found the end zone as well in the fourth quarter.
Northwestern’s 251 total yards were a season low.
The Wildcats failed to reach 400 total yards for the first time in 11 games. Hawk totaled eight tackles to eclipse the 100-tackle mark for the third-consecutive season.