EDITOR’S NOTE – As we prepare for the Jan. 2 Fiesta Bowl between Ohio State and Notre Dame, this is the latest in a continuing series on the history of the rivalry between these two tradition-laden schools.
After close to 10 years of build-up – and, for some people, 59 years of waiting – Ohio State and Notre Dame got back on the college football field as rivals on Sept. 30, 1995.
And this time it was the Buckeyes who capitalized on a series of Fighting Irish mistakes to go on a second-half scoring barrage on their way to a 45-26 win before an Ohio Stadium-record crowd of 95,537.
The Buckeyes prevailed in just the third game ever between the two schools steeped in tradition. Notre Dame had won the two previous meetings in 1935-36. The anticipation had been building in Columbus for this game, though, since the late-1980s, when the schools announced they would play a home-and-home series in 1995-96.
Even 10 years later, this game stands as one of the top 10 games ever played in Ohio Stadium, just from the standpoint of being a one-of-a-kind event.
“Coach (John) Cooper talked about it at the beginning of the game,” said OSU quarterback and co-captain Bobby Hoying, who tossed four touchdown passes against the Irish. “He said it’s a game you’ll be talking about for the rest of your life. We’re the first Ohio State team to beat Notre Dame.
“It’s just phenomenal. I can’t put it into words. When you’re sitting out there in the fourth quarter and you’ve got the game won, that’s a phenomenal feeling.”
The Buckeyes and their fans were provided a lifetime of great memories in the course of that brief 3-1/2 hour football game as two of the most storied programs in college football collided head-on.
“I don’t know how much anybody out there paid for tickets today, but I guarantee they got their money’s worth,” Cooper said. “It was a great victory and I’m just so proud of our senior players.”
There were a number of interesting sideplots, including:
* OSU’s continued fine offensive play. The Buckeyes rolled up 533 yards total offense and, after trailing Notre Dame 17-14 at halftime, exploded for 31 second-half points to seize the win.
* The return to Columbus of Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz, an assistant to Woody Hayes on OSU’s 1968 national championship team. Holtz had not been back to Ohio Stadium since leaving the Buckeyes in 1969. He coached the game on the sideline wearing a neck brace, despite his ongoing recovery from spinal surgery performed just 18 days earlier.
* OSU’s second-ever “Tunnel of Pride. This congregation of about 1,000 former OSU football players and their guests helped lift the Buckeyes to victory, just as it had the previous November against Michigan.
* The sellout crowd in the Horseshoe, many of whom paid $200 or more for $25 face value tickets. This produced an atmosphere of football fans who wanted to be there and, in turn, an air of electricity unmatched at the stadium in many years. Plus, the game was televised nationally by ABC with a 3:30 p.m. start time.
* Ohio State ended up its nonconference season 4-0, having beaten three ranked teams including the 15th-rated Irish. OSU moved up from seventh to fifth nationally after the win.
* The play of several OSU standouts. Tailback and co-captain Eddie George had 207 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, while Hoying threw for 272 yards and his four TDs without an interception.
* And the play of several unlikely heroes. Flanker Dimitrious Stanley, a backup, caught a 17-yard TD pass just before halftime, while defensive tackle Matt Bonhaus and punt long snapper Dean Kruezer each recovered key ND fumbles in the second half.
Against Notre Dame, the Buckeyes went to their most reliable weapon in George. The senior who would go on to win the Heisman Trophy that year, carried the ball 32 times. Through four games, he had amassed 640 yards and six touchdowns.
“I really don’t know about (the Heisman),” said George, who was serenaded with chants of “Eddie, Eddie!” after each of his big plays. “All I know is I played the game today against Notre Dame and I did my job to the best of my ability. If I’m up for it, that’s great. If I’m not, we’ve got to play Penn State next week, then Wisconsin and Purdue and it just goes on and on.”
Hoying was also outstanding, completing 14 of 22 passes for 272 yards and four touchdowns. He completed a 51-yard pass to Buster Tillman and a breathtaking 82-yard catch-and-run play to Terry Glenn.
“We were so conscious this week of not concentrating on Terry Glenn because of the big game he had (last week) at Pittsburgh,” Hoying said. “We were really working on spreading the ball out and, for the most part, we did that. We got a lot of people involved.”
Glenn, coming off a school-record 253 yards receiving against Pitt, caught four passes for 128 yards.
“I’ll never forget this for as long as I live,” Glenn said. “The crowd was really like a big factor in the ball game, the 12th man.”
For Notre Dame, quarterback Ron Powlus was 13 of 26 passing for 243 yards and an interception. Tailback Randy Kinder had 143 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries. But the Irish were left to bemoan their three critical turnovers.
“When you have a game like this that’s hard fought for 3-1/2 quarters, it’s going to come down to a mistake here or there and we made them,” Holtz said. “We could not make more mistakes than Ohio State and win the game. We have three turnovers. We make the three mistakes and they don’t make any, and that’s the difference in the game.”
“We shouldn't have lost the game the way we did,” Powlus said. “If they were going to beat us, they should have beaten us on a last-second field goal or a last touchdown drive. We beat ourselves today, there's no question. They capitalized on our mistakes and that makes them the better team.
“They didn’t force the fumbled snap. They didn’t force the interception. They didn’t force the bad catch on the punt. There’s three turnovers they turned into scores.”
The Way It Unfolded
Neither team was able to score in the first quarter, although OSU did drive 60 yards down to the ND 3-yard line. On fourth down there, Hoying’s pass to tight end Rickey Dudley in the end zone was incomplete.
Notre Dame then moved almost the length of the field. But the Irish had to settle for Kevin Kopka’s 20-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead with 14:50 left in the first half.
After an OSU punt, ND went back to work. Powlus found fullback Marc Edwards for a 30-yard gain. A roughing-the-passer penalty on the Buckeyes moved the ball down to the OSU 9. Three plays later, Kinder capped the seven-play, 61-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run that put the Irish ahead 10-0 with 11:25 left in the first half.
Ohio State, scoreless on its first three possessions, needed an answer. It came as Tillman hauled in a short Hoying pass and rolled for 51 yards down to the ND 28. Five plays later, Hoying hit Glenn on a 10-yard slant pass for OSU’s first touchdown, cutting the ND lead to 10-7 with 8:08 left in the half.
Notre Dame answered with a recipe of Kinder and Edwards on the ground. The Irish moved 65 yards in eight plays before Kinder scored on a 7-yard TD run to put ND up 17-7 with 4:31 left in the half.
Ohio State then engineered a critical 12-play, 76-yard scoring march before halftime. Hoying converted one third-down situation by scrambling for 8 yards. He then converted a fourth-down predicament with a 10-yard pass to Glenn. The touchdown came on a 17-yard pass from Hoying to Stanley, who curled around ND’s Shawn Wooden to make a miraculous grab that cut the Irish lead down to 17-14 with 44 seconds left in the half.
“We needed a touchdown,” said Stanley. “We couldn’t go in like it was. We needed a big play.”
Notre Dame had the ball to start the second half and the Irish looked poised to run over the Buckeyes again. But as ND neared the goal line, the OSU defense stiffened. On third-and-goal at the 2, OSU end Mike Vrabel popped Edwards to cause a fumble. Edwards recovered it at the 4, but the Irish had to settle for Kopka’s 22-yard field goal and a 20-14 lead with 9:14 left in the third quarter.
The Irish defense forced an Ohio State punt. ND’s Emmett Mosley signaled for a fair catch. But he had to adjust at the last second and muffed the punt. OSU’s Kruezer, hustling down after snapping the ball, pounced on it at the ND 19-yard line.
"Somehow I misjudged it," Mosley said. "When I went to catch it, I felt my man right there, and I figured it would hit him if I didn't catch it. But it turned out it was one of their men, right near me."
Holtz tried to argue for an interference call, but to no avail.
"It looked like he was interfered with, but that was a big play," Holtz said. "Because instead of us having the ball with a 20-14 lead, they had it at our 19-yard line."
Facing a third-and-6 from the ND 15, Hoying hit Dudley over the middle. He accelerated away from linebacker Lyron Cobbins and carried ND’s Brian Magee and Allen Rossum to the goal line for the touchdown. When Josh Jackson tacked on the extra point, the Buckeyes had their first lead at 21-20 with 5:06 left in the third quarter.
“It was an exciting feeling because it took us up a point and it was kind of a turning point for us,” Dudley said.
Suddenly, Ohio Stadium – calm for much of the first half – was rocking and the Irish were reeling.
On the ensuing kickoff, ND attempted a reverse handoff. But Mosley and Autry Denson fumbled the exchange. Denson recovered it, but the Irish were pinned back on their own 12-yard line.
Powlus responded with one of his biggest plays of the game, hitting Derrick Mayes with a 56-yard pass down to the OSU 32. The Irish were going for the go-ahead score, but the drive was snuffed out three plays later when Powlus overthrew Mayes and OSU’s Shawn Springs made a diving interception at the OSU 11 with 2:50 left in the third quarter.
“I just made the play,” Springs said. “Now that I think about it, we did need a stop there.”
"We had a busted pattern," Holtz said. "Instead of having a chance to take the lead with a field goal, the kid makes a great play to intercept the pass."
Three plays later, Hoying found Glenn on a short pass. His cover man, free safety LaRon Moore, slipped and Glenn turned upfield. He sprinted away from Rossum, a reputed world class sprinter, and scored on his 82-yard touchdown that gave the Buckeyes a 28-20 lead with 1:20 left in the third.
“That was a 12-yard hook,” Glenn said. “The key to that was Bobby threw the ball early. As soon as I turned around, I caught the ball. I guess they said the DB slipped. When I turned around, I saw the end zone and two guys coming to tackle me. I was just thinking I better get on my horse and take it from there.”
With the stadium now at a fever pitch, Notre Dame was experiencing difficulty communicating. Perhaps that contributed to the fumbled snap, which came on first down at the ND 14. Bonhaus fell on the loose ball and, again, the stadium was rocking.
“We had a problem (with the noise),” Powlus said. “I couldn’t hear myself. I talked to him, and the official said we had to run the play or we would get a delay of game. It was a little bit of a surprise. I did ask him if we could get a little bit of leeway because we couldn’t hear.”
Ohio State capitalized on this ND miscue as George carried for runs of 5, 4 and 5 yards on the three-play touchdown drive. On the touchdown run, George took a pitch left and watched as fullback Nicky Sualua pancaked an ND defender to open a hole. The touchdown pushed the OSU lead to 35-20 with 14:55 left in the game.
Notre Dame did not go quietly, though. Powlus hit tight end Pete Chryplewicz on a 28-yard gain, setting up Kinder’s 13-yard TD run. That capped a quick six-play, 65-yard scoring march. The Irish tried for a two-point conversion, but Powlus was stopped short of the goal line on an option run by OSU defenders Bonhaus, Greg Bellisari, Ryan Miller and Kevin Johnson. Still, the OSU lead had been cut to 35-26 with 12:55 left.
No worries, though. After a touchback on the kickoff, George raced through a gaping hole cleared by fullback Matt Calhoun. He rolled for 61 yards until he was knocked out of bounds by ND’s Wooden.
Three plays later, George followed left tackle Orlando Pace and dove for the goal line to complete a 3-yard TD run that put Ohio State ahead 42-26 with 11:24 left.
The Irish then attempted a fake punt, but up back Edwards was stopped short of the first down at the ND 31. OSU then moved 13 yards and melted four minutes of clock time before Jackson’s 35-yard field goal pushed the lead to 45-26 with 6:09 left.
The Buckeyes then took over after an ND punt with 4:56 left and ran out the remaining time. The only suspense was whether George would get 200 yards, which he did on a 7-yard run with 3:30 left.
* The crowd figure of 95,537 eclipsed the old Ohio Stadium mark of 95,357 set for the 1991 game against Iowa.
That mark would stand for five years until a crowd of 96,583 attended the 2000 season opener against Fresno State. That game was the first played in a partially enlarged and renovated Ohio Stadium.
* The game drew an 8.0 rating and 20 share on ABC. The game was seen by 7.6 million viewers and was one of the network’s top regular season game broadcasts during the decade of the 1990s.
* A number of OSU’s 1935 team members came together and were recognized at halftime of the game. They were the last OSU team to play Notre Dame in Ohio Stadium.
* OSU went on to win its first 11 games in 1995. But the Buckeyes, who rose to No. 2 in the national rankings, fell to Michigan 31-23 in the season-ending game in Ann Arbor. The loss denied OSU not only a chance at the national title but also the Big Ten championship and a berth in the Rose Bowl. The Buckeyes then fell to Tennessee 20-14 in the Citrus Bowl to end up 11-2 and sixth in the final AP poll.
Notre Dame, which had opened the year with a loss to Northwestern, reeled off six straight wins to reach the Orange Bowl. But Florida State pulled out a 31-26 win there and the Irish finished 9-3 overall and 11th in the final AP poll.
The Box Score
At Ohio Stadium
September 30, 1995
Notre Dame (15) 0 17 3 6 - 26
Ohio St (7) 0 14 14 17 - 45
ND -- FG Kopka 20
ND -- Kinder 3 run (Kopka kick)
OSU -- Glenn 10 pass from B Hoying (Jo Jackson kick)
ND -- Kinder 7 run (Kopka kick)
OSU -- Stanley 17 pass from B Hoying (Jo Jackson kick)
ND -- FG Kopka 22
OSU -- Dudley 15 pass from B Hoying (Jo Jackson kick)
OSU -- Glenn 82 pass from B Hoying (Jo Jackson kick)
OSU -- George 5 run (Jo Jackson kick)
ND -- Kinder 13 run (two-point conversion failed)
OSU -- George 3 run (Jo Jackson kick)
OSU -- FG Jo Jackson 35
ND / OSU
First downs 21 / 24
Rushes-yards 47-204 / 48-261
Passing yards 243 / 272
Sacked-yards lost 0-0 / 0-0
Return yards 0 / 4
Comp.-Att.-Int. 13-26-1 / 14-22-0
Punts 3-39.3 / 3-35.3
Fumbles-lost 5-2 / 0-0
Penalties-yards 1-5 / 2-14
Time of possession 28:23 / 31:37
Notre Dame -- Kinder 28-143, Edwards 12-49, Powlus 4-6, C. Stokes 1-4, Mosley 1-3, A. Denson 1-minus 1.
Ohio St -- George 32-207, Pearson 7-29, B. Hoying 4-14, Je. Jackson 3-8, Sualua 2-3.
Notre Dame -- Powlus 13-26-1-243.
Ohio St -- B Hoying 14-22-0-272.
Notre Dame -- Mayes 5-125, Mosley 3-21, Edwards 2-48, Chryplewicz 2-41,
A. Denson 1-8.
Ohio St -- Glenn 4-128, George 3-22, Tillman 2-61, Dudley 2-35, Sualua 2-9,
Here are the archives from the previous installments of our look at the history of the OSU-Notre Dame rivalry:
OSU-ND Rivalry Overview
Look Back At 1935 “Game Of The Century”
Look Back At 1936 Rematch In South Bend”