2002 – No. 4 Ohio State 13, No. 18 Penn State 7: “Mills rolls to the left. Fires. Intercepted at the 39-yard line! Picked off by Gamble! Chris Gamble, touchdown!”
That was the description by ABC broadcaster Brent Musburger of one of the most important plays during Ohio State’s national championship season, though technically the pass was picked off at the Penn State 40. Gamble’s interception of a Zach Mills pass on a third-and-12 play provided the Buckeyes with their only touchdown of the afternoon and sent the Ohio Stadium crowd into a frenzy.
“It feels real good that we got the win and that I got my name chanted by the crowd,” Gamble said in the Nov. 2, 2002, edition of Buckeye Sports Bulletin.
The sophomore started at cornerback and wide receiver, returned punts and kicks and was on the field for nearly three-fourths of the snaps against the Nittany Lions. Gamble entered the game with two interceptions on the season as OSU’s emergency red-zone corner. The PSU game, however, was the first in which he started on defense.
“We kind of decided really Thursday,” OSU head coach Jim Tressel said. “(Defensive coordinator) Mark Dantonio and (secondary coach) Mel Tucker said, ‘You know, this guy is extraordinary. He deserves to be our starter. He deserves to be noted and seen by the whole country as being a two-way starter.
“And Mark and Mel asked if they could start him, and, like always, I said yes,” Tressel joked.
The Buckeyes (9-0, 4-0 Big Ten) needed Gamble’s heroics because the OSU offense had a day to forget. Ohio State turned the ball over four times and played much of the game without freshman tailback Maurice Clarett, who left during the first series with a shoulder injury. Before leaving, Clarett rushed for 39 yards on four carries, pushing him past the 1,000-yard mark for the season at 1,019.
The defense did its best to keep the Buckeyes unbeaten. Ohio State held Penn State to a season-low 179 yards of total offense and just eight first downs.
“They know what’s going on in there,” Tressel said of the defense. “They communicate well and make adjustments. That’s what it’s all about. (Penn State has) a good offense, but today they met a defense on a mission and the defense came out on top.”
Penn State led 7-3 at halftime thanks to a 5-yard touchdown pass from Mills to tailback Larry Johnson. Ohio State answered in the second quarter with a 37-yard Mike Nugent field goal to set up Gamble’s big pick-six in the third quarter.
Nugent closed the scoring late in the third quarter with a 37-yard field goal. The OSU defense made the six-point advantage hold up.
Junior quarterback Craig Krenzel completed 13 of 20 passes for 112 yards and two interceptions, while Mills had three passes picked off. Lydell Ross led OSU’s rushing attack with 40 yards on 21 carries. Johnson led PSU with a combined 98 yards of offense.
On defense, Ohio State was led by Matt Wilhelm’s eight tackles, including one for loss. Gamble, A.J. Hawk and Will Smith intercepted Mills passes.
Despite the win, the Buckeyes fell from fourth to sixth in the Association Press media poll. Unbeaten Notre Dame and Georgia leapfrogged Ohio State.
1996 – No. 2 Ohio State 38, No. 20 Iowa 26: The Buckeyes moved to the inside track in the Big Ten title race with a win at previous conference unbeaten Iowa.
The victory put Ohio State and defending champion Northwestern as the only teams with unblemished league marks. The Buckeyes and Wildcats did not face each other in 1996.
“I think this kind of puts us in the driver’s seat,” OSU linebacker Greg Bellisari said in the Nov. 2, 1996, edition of BSB. “I think the sky’s the limit for this team. We’ve just got to stay focused and do what we have to do week in and week out.”
The final margin was much closer than most expected when the Buckeyes (7-0, 4-0) raced out to a 38-6 lead early in the third quarter.
“This is another one of those learning experiences that we’ve gone through,” OSU linebacker Ryan Miller said. “We’re glad we came out with the victory and I think we played hard for the most part for the whole 60 minutes.”
Iowa took an early 3-0 lead before the Buckeyes took command. Andy Katzenmoyer sparked the barrage when he intercepted a Matt Sherman pass near midfield and returned it to the Iowa 35-yard line. That set up a game-tying 27-yard field goal by Josh Jackson.
Ohio State took the lead with 3:58 left in the first quarter when Kevin Griffin fell on a punt that was blocked by Rob Kelly in the end zone. On Iowa’s next possession, Damon Moore picked off a pass at the Iowa 27, which set up another touchdown five plays later on a Stanley Jackson 16-yard pass to David Boston. The score gave OSU a 17-3 lead.
The Buckeyes then caught another break when the ensuing kickoff died in the wind between Iowa’s returners and up backs. That allowed OSU’s Dan Colson to catch the kick on one bounce, giving the Buckeyes the ball at the Iowa 22. Four plays later, Ohio State reached the end zone again, this time on a 3-yard Jackson scoring pass to tight end John Lumpkin early in the second quarter.
Ohio State took a 31-6 lead into halftime. The Buckeyes got another touchdown on a 1-yard run by Joe Montgomery and Iowa answered shortly before the break with another field goal.
The Buckeyes added to their advantage early in the third quarter when another Iowa turnover turned into an OSU touchdown. Pepe Pearson capped Ohio State’s scoring with a 4-yard TD run with 11:28 left in the third quarter.
Iowa scored a touchdown in the third quarter and two more in the fourth, but the Buckeyes were never seriously threatened.
“I thought we took their best shot and we’re happy to win,” Ohio State head coach John Cooper said. “We had some chances to put them away, but we didn’t let them live too long.”
Moore matched a school record with three interceptions. He also recorded nine tackles, as did Bellisari and Katzenmoyer. Offensively, the Buckeyes were led by Montgomery’s 160 yards on 15 carries. Jackson completed 8 of 18 passes for 91 yards.
1991 – No. 14 Ohio State 27, Michigan State 17: Senior tailback Carlos Snow rushed for 169 yards as the Buckeyes raced past the visiting Spartans.
Snow earned a rare game ball from Cooper after the game, one that meant a lot to the senior because of the questions surrounding his career a year earlier. Surgery to remove a tumor from his hip sidelined him during the 1990 season and the big game vs. MSU brightened his teammates’ moods.
“You have to love the guy coming back after all he’s been through,” OSU nose tackle Greg Smith said in the Nov. 2, 1991, edition of BSB. “Guys like him are what legends are made out of. People will be talking 20 years from now how Carlos came back in his senior year. I kind of get chills when I think about stuff like that.”
“This is a dream,” Snow said. “This is really a dream. I used to sit at home and I’d dream about having a game like this, especially one where our backs are against the wall. So this is like a dream come true.”
Snow rushed for 122 of his 169 yards, his most since rushing for 170 against Michigan in 1988, in the second half. That helped Ohio State (6-1, 4-1 Big Ten) build on a 10-6 halftime advantage and allowed the Buckeyes to move into a second-place tie in the conference standings.
The Spartans led 3-0 early in the first quarter when barefoot kicker Jim DelVerne made a 49-yard field goal. The lead did not last, as Ohio State responded with an 11-play, 65-yard drive that featured six runs and five passes – ending with a Snow 2-yard touchdown.
MSU later narrowed the deficit to 7-6 early in the second quarter, but that was as close as the Spartans would get. Ohio State took a 10-6 lead into halftime on a 22-yard Tim Williams field goal with four seconds left before the break.
The teams traded field goals to make it 13-9 midway through the third quarter. The Buckeyes then pulled away thanks to a 1-yard touchdown run by Scottie Graham late in the third quarter and a 24-yard TD strike on a fourth-down play from Kent Graham to Jeff Ellis with 9:26 left in the fourth quarter.
Michigan State closed the scoring with a touchdown with 5:37 left, but the Buckeyes did not permit the margin to get any closer.
Helping Snow offensively was Kent Graham, who completed 12 of 20 passes for 135 yards and rushed nine times for 36 more. On defense, the Buckeyes were sparked by Rich Frimel and Smith, who both notched nine tackles. Tim Walton intercepted a pass.
1985 – No. 9 Ohio State 23, No. 20 Minnesota 19: There was a notable feeling of relief coming from the Ohio State locker room at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome after the Buckeyes (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten) rallied from a nine-point deficit to beat head coach Lou Holtz and the Golden Gophers.
“They were tough today, they’re really tough,” OSU head coach Earle Bruce said in the Nov. 2, 1985, edition of BSB. “It took a great effort out of the Buckeyes to win that football game. I was very pleased with our football team that they were able to come back when the score was 19-10 and win the football game. That showed a lot of character, with the way everything was stirred up against us
“The emotion was high and we stuck in there and played good football.”
Minnesota led 12-10 at halftime. Ohio State built a 10-6 with 4:26 left before the break thanks to a 2-yard touchdown run by Keith Byars and a 38-yard field goal by Rich Spangler. The Gophers rallied to retake the lead, however, with a 7-yard TD run by Minnesota QB Rickey Foggie with five seconds remaining.
Foggie added a 1-yard TD plunge in the third quarter to give the Gophers a 19-10 lead heading into the fourth quarter. That’s when the Buckeyes rallied for the win. Tight end Ed Taggert caught a 1-yard TD pass from Jim Karsatos and Vince Workman gave Ohio State the lead for good on a 16-yard scoring run with 10:36 remaining.
The win was sealed by the OSU defense. The Buckeyes stopped Minnesota’s last drive one a fourth-and-1 at the OSU 12. Valdez Taylor’s rush was stopped by Ohio State’s Byron Lee, Pepper Johnson and Chris Spielman.
“The game was determined by inches,” Holtz said.
Keith Byars led Ohio State’s rushing attack with 67 yards on 18 carries, while George Cooper ran 10 times for 50 yards. Karsatos completed 11 of 17 passes for 115 yards with a TD and interception. Defensively, Spielman led the Buckeyes with 15 tackles. William White intercepted a pass.
1974 – No. 1 Ohio State 55, Northwestern 7: Ohio State scored on eight of its 10 offensive possessions and blasted the Wildcats in Evanston. Seven different players scored touchdowns for Ohio State, who improved to 7-0.
1968 – No. 2 Ohio State 31, Illinois 24: The Buckeyes (5-0) passed their first road test of the season in Champaign by holding off the winless Fighting Illini. Ohio State dominated the first half and built a 24-0 halftime lead. But the Illini scored three second-half touchdowns (including three two-point conversions) to tie the game.
Backup quarterback Ron Maciejowski, who was playing in place of injured Rex Kern, then saved the day – and the season – by engineering an 70-yard touchdown drive in the final minutes, capped with a 4-yard TD run by fullback Jim Otis.
1963 – Ohio State 13, No. 2 Wisconsin 10: A week after a 32-3 drubbing at USC, the Buckeyes responded in a big way at Madison. A Madison newspaper provided all the motivation OSU head coach Woody Hayes and his team would need.
“This is the year we finally get Woody!” the newspaper predicted. Hayes, out on a morning walk near Lake Mendota on the UW campus, bought a stack of papers and returned the OSU team hotel. He then woke up the entire team, handed them the papers and said, “Are we going to let them do this to us?”
They didn’t. Ohio State (3-1-1) led 6-3 at halftime on a pair of Dick VanRaaphorst field goals of 36 and 45 yards, respectively, and responded when Wisconsin took a 10-6 lead by going on a game-clinching touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. Matt Snell capped the 80-yard TD drive with a 2-yard scoring run.
1957 – No. 12 Ohio State 16, Wisconsin 13: The Buckeyes improved to 4-1 with a win in Madison. The Badgers raced out to a 13-0 lead before Ohio State rallied for the win. Don Clark sparked the offense with a 71-yard touchdown run around right end. Galen Cisco later tied the game with a 3-yard TD plunge. The scoring ended in the third quarter on a 20-yard field goal by OSU’s Don Sutherin.
1946 – Ohio State 39, Minnesota 9: After back-to-back disappointing games at Wisconsin (a 20-7 loss) and vs. Purdue (a 14-14 tie), the host Buckeyes (2-1-2) spotted the Golden Gophers a 6-0 lead before crushing the visitors. Halfback Bob Brugge rushed for a game-high 102 yards and scored on touchdown runs of 31 and 24 yards, respectively. He also threw a touchdown pass to Ernie Parks.
1940 – No. 1 Cornell 21, Ohio State 7: The top-ranked Big Red handed the visiting Buckeyes their third straight loss. A crowd of 34,500 packed Schoellkopf Field to see defending national champion Cornell extend its unbeaten streak to 16 games. Ohio State (2-3) led 7-0 after an early touchdown drive, but that was all the Buckeyes could muster offensively.
After the game, Ohio State athletics director L.W. St. John accused Cornell head coach Carl Snavely of coaching from the sideline – which was illegal in 1940.
1935 – Ohio State 28, Indiana 6: In Bloomington, the Hoosiers scored first, but the Buckeyes cruised from there. Ohio State improved to 4-0 and extended its winning streak dating back to 1934 to 10 games heading into a showdown with Notre Dame.
1929 – Ohio State 0, Indiana 0: In Ohio State’s first game after the Stock Market Crash of 1929, the Buckeyes (3-0-1) played a scoreless draw with the visiting Hoosiers.
1918 – Michigan 14, Ohio State 0: Ohio State fell to 2-1 with a home loss to the archrival Wolverines.
1912 – Ohio State 47, Cincinnati 7: The Buckeyes (3-1) bounced back from a shutout loss vs. Michigan by throttling the visiting Bearcats.
1907 – Michigan 22, Ohio State 0: A crowd of approximately 7,000 in Ann Arbor watched the Wolverines blank the Buckeyes (3-1-1). It was the first OSU-Michigan game to be played at U-M’s new Ferry Field.
1901 – Ohio State 6, Western Reserve 5: The Buckeyes (4-0-1) earned their first one-point victory in program history, but the win was marred by tragedy.
Center John Sigrist suffered a neck injury and passed away the following Monday. The 27-year-old senior is the only Ohio State football player to lose his life because of an injury suffered in a game.
1897 – Columbus Barracks 6, Ohio State 0: Ohio State was shut out for the third time in five games, falling to 1-3-1.
1895 – Ohio State 4, Denison 4: The Buckeyes moved to 1-2-1 with a tie at Denison vs. the Big Red.