An interception by Will Allen on a pass tipped by linebacker Matt Wilhelm preserved the win. Ohio State (4-0) struggled to pull off the victory without standout freshman Maurice Clarett, who missed the game because of minor knee surgery earlier in the week.
The Buckeyes took advantage of three fourth-quarter turnovers to rally past the upset-minded Bearcats. Before that, Ohio State committed three turnovers to go with eight penalties – including one that negated a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Chris Gamble.
"I felt like I just watched a wreck and I wasn't in it," OSU tight end Ben Hartsock in the Sept. 28, 2002, edition of Buckeye Sports Bulletin. "It was like there was a train wreck and I just missed it."
"I am awfully proud of the way our kids came back and won the game," Buckeye head coach Jim Tressel said. "We feel good about the win against a good team in a tough environment."
UC led 19-17 before both the Ohio State offense and defense came up with big plays. Darrion Scott forced a fumble by UC quarterback Gino Guidugli near midfield with 8:11 remaining, and that set up a go-ahead touchdown drive led by Craig Krenzel. The quarterback called his own number for the score, rushing 6 yards to the end zone with 3:44 remaining.
Cincinnati did not go away quietly. Guidugli led the Bearcats to the OSU 15-yard line before having a pass tipped by Wilhelm and intercepted by Allen in the end zone with 26 seconds left.
The largest crowd for a sporting event in the history of the city of Cincinnati – 66,319 – gave both teams a standing ovation at the end of the game.
"Every game is a blast to play in," Krenzel said. "But when you play a good football team like Cincinnati, which has good players who are experienced, that makes it even better.
"The way we won today says something about us because we made a lot of mistakes that hurt us."
Lydell Ross, starting in place of Clarett, rushed for 130 yards on 23 carries. Krenzel completed 14 of 29 passes for 129 yards and with two touchdown passes and a pair of interceptions.
The Bearcats led 12-7 at halftime. Ohio State's lone first-half score came on a 20-yard TD catch by Hartsock. The Buckeyes took a third-quarter 14-12 lead when Chris Vance caught a 4-yard scoring strike from Krenzel, but the Bearcats answered with a touchdown of their own late in the third quarter.
Mike Nugent made a 24-yard field goal with 12:31 remaining to narrow OSU's deficit to 19-17 and set up the final dramatics.
1996 – No. 7 Ohio State 72, Pitt 0: It could have been a trap game with a showdown with Notre Dame looming on the schedule, but the Buckeyes did not miss a beat in beating down the visiting Panthers. It was ugly throughout for the visitors. Ohio State scored three first-quarter touchdowns and four more in the second quarter en route to taking a 52-0 halftime lead.
"We did pretty much what we wanted to do early in the game, jumped on them early and got the ball game put away, and then had a chance to play all the young football players we wanted to play," Ohio State head coach John Cooper said in the Sept. 28, 1996, edition of BSB.
How lopsided was the game? Freshman David Boston scored on a 66-yard punt return in the fourth quarter – despite Ohio State only having eight men on the field.
"I can't tell you how good Ohio State is because we did not test them today," Pitt coach Johnny Majors said after his Panthers gave up a single-game school record for points allowed. "They look like they have an outstanding football team.
"It was quite a disastrous afternoon for us."
Running back Joe Montgomery led Ohio State's offense with 109 yards rushing, besting starter Pepe Pearson's 103 yards on 24 carries. Boston added a pair of TD receptions to his special teams score. Stanley Jackson and Joe Germaine combined to complete 14 of 17 passes for 233 yards and three scores.
Ohio State (2-0) eclipsed 70 points for the second straight week for the first time in school history. The 602 yards of total offense the Buckeyes put up against Pitt was then tied for 10th most in program history.
"I'm happy with the way the offense worked today," Jackson said. "We're looking very efficient out there, and we're not making many mental errors. We're in a tremendous situation right now."
Defensively, the Buckeyes held Pitt to four first downs and 120 yards of total offense. Andy Katzenmoyer recorded a sack, and Gary Berry intercepted a pass.
1991 – No. 16 Ohio State 33, Washington State 19: In junior quarterback Kirk Herbstreit's first collegiate start, the Buckeyes followed their signal caller to a home victory over the Cougars.
Herbstreit, who earned the start because regular starter Kent Graham was suffering with lingering effects of a concussion and a slight shoulder separation, accounted for 199 yards of total offense in the victory. Not only did Herbstreit lead OSU to a win, but he earned the respect of his teammates.
"Herbstreit is a great athlete," linebacker Steve Tovar said in the Oct. 5, 1991, edition of BSB. "He can turn a broken play into something. He always has been able to do that. We practice against him (as the leader of the scout team) all the time and he's hell to bring down."
Despite Herbstreit's efforts, Cooper said Graham was likely to return for the next game, Oct. 5 against Wisconsin.
"I don't really care about those things," Herbstreit said. "I'm confident in my ability to lead this team, and I think now maybe some other people have some confidence in me, too.
"People were probably wondering what I was going to do out there today, whether I could lead the team or not. I think I proved that I could lead the team. I hope I get the chance to do it again."
Herbstreit complete eight of 13 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown to go with 41 rushing yards. The Buckeyes helped Herbstreit by finishing with 321 yards rushing. Rushers Carlos Snow, Butler By'not'e and Scottie Graham combined for 41 carries for 270 yards.
The OSU defense faced a tough challenge in the form of WSU quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who completed 26 of 43 passes for 287 yards. The Buckeyes did sack Bledsoe nine times, however, with four sacks recorded by sophomore outside linebacker Jason Simmons.
The Buckeyes led 14-0 at halftime thanks to a pair of first-quarter touchdowns. Bernard Edwards caught a 39-yard TD pass from Herbstreit and Roger Harper returned an interception of a Bledsoe pass 42 yards for another score.
Other scores for OSU came thanks to a 4-yard TD run by Snow in the third quarter, a Tim Williams 27-yard field goal in the third quarter, a By'not'e 1-yard TD run in the fourth quarter and a 96-yard return of a two-point conversion attempt by Tovar with eight seconds left in the game.
Harper finished with 12 tackles, with Tim Walton and Greg Smith added 10 apiece.
1985 – No. 7 Ohio State 36, Colorado 13: One week after a subpar performance in the season opener, running back John Wooldridge had a big game in a win at Colorado.
The junior rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown and caught eight passes for 82 more yards and another TD against the Buffaloes. A week earlier, Wooldridge had 72 yards of total offense in a 10-7 win against Pitt.
"When I look at what John Woodlridge did today, running and catching the ball, he played exceptional," Ohio State head coach Earle Bruce said in the Sept. 28, 1985, edition of BSB. "He played exceptional this week and a lot better than last week.
"He had a lot of catches – and a couple of big ones. He ran more effectively and I think he's been coming on and on and on."
Bruce was not the only one who thought it was night and day for Wooldridge in a seven-day span.
"I felt a lot more comfortable than last week," Wooldridge said. "I felt too tense last week. It was the season opened and I was the starter and I was too tense. I needed to relax and let things happen naturally. That's what I tried to do today."
Both of Wooldridge's touchdowns came in the second quarter. He put OSU ahead for good at 13-7 with a 15-yard TD run. Later, he caught an 11-yard scoring pass from Jim Karsatos to give OSU a 19-7 advantage.
Ohio State (2-0) outgained Colorado 343-251. Karsatos completed 18 of 26 passes for 181 yards and three touchdowns. Defensively, Eric Kumerow led the way with 10 tackles, including two for loss.
1974 – No. 2 Ohio State 51, Oregon State 10: Despite losing four fumbles, the Buckeyes had little trouble against the visiting Beavers.
Ohio State (2-0, 1-0 Big Ten) led 23-3 at halftime and quickly extended that advantage in the third quarter when Lenny Willis returned the second-half kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. Archie Griffin paced the Buckeyes with 134 yards, extending his streak of 100-plus yard games to 13. His brother, Ray Griffin, scored his first two touchdowns on runs of 9 and 12 yards.
The game was the last added to the schedule when Ohio State joined the rest of the Big Ten schools by adding an 11th game to the regular season slate.