Tresselball was a pejorative or affectionate term describing Jim Tressel's coaching style at OSU. It could be described, broadly, as the basic conservative philosophy of football: don't make mistakes, rely on your power running game, play good defense and special teams.
Except Tresselball was a bit different. His offenses, especially early on, were often anemic and didn't even run the ball well. And he relied on GREAT special teams. And not just great special teams, he, as the quote said, had an odd love of punting.
Many games early on in Tressel's tenure involved an OSU win where the offense was bad, but great defense and special teams saved the day. However, I don't think any game accurately has such a balance of bad offense and great punting as this one. AJ Trapasso was the punter this year, and Mike Nugent was still the kicker.
Purdue came in at 8-2. They began the year ranked #16, but dropped their opener to Bowling Green (first year post Urban) by 1. Now Bowling Green and Miami, OH were both really good and spent much of the year ranked, so it wasn't too bad a loss. They rebounded to have wins over Wake Forest, Arizona, Notre Dame, Penn State, Wisconsin and Iowa. Half of those teams ended up non bowl eligible, but it helped Purdue climb back up to #11 by kickoff (they did lose to Michigan by 4 tds).
OSU was the defending National Champs, sitting at 9-1. They had some lackluster wins (16-13 over SDSU, for example), but still were in the BCS chase. They were coming off a 10 pt win over then #14 Michigan State.
OSU started with a punt. Purdue had a competent drive that ended in a FG. After a trading of punts, Craig Krenzel found Michael Jenkins for a 60 yard bomb to set up a FG (Krenzel to Jenkins vs Purdue will feature in a future game on the list). A long kick off return set up Purdue for a long FG and a 6-3 lead. OSU muffed the kickoff and then had to start at their own 12.
They went 3 and out and had to punt deep in their own territory. The defense held, but the Purdue punt put OSU at their own 5. A miraculous drive got OSU out to midfield, where Trapasso was able to pin Purdue at their own 5. Despite allowing a first down, OSU forced a punt at Purdue's 15, which was shanked to their own 37. OSU cashed in for a FG and a 6-6 tie. In a series of 2 punt (and a decent offensive drive) OSU flipped the field from their own 12 to the Purdue 37. TRESSELBALL!
OSU punted on their first 3 possessions of the 2nd half. They were downed at the 4, the 15 and 5 (one of those drives resulted in a blocked FG). Purdue was CONSTANTLY in the shadow of their own endzone, which was tough to do vs that OSU defense. Finally, Purdue cracked. Will Smith (RIP) caused Kyle Orton to fumble which was recovered by Mike Kudla (RIP) for a TD. OSU lead 13-6 with no offensive TDs, and 10 points caused via field position gained from punts.
The teams exchanged punts again, with OSU downing theirs at the Purdue 8. Unfortunately, Tresselball hit a snag, as Purdue went 92 yards for the tying score. OSU got the ball back and punted, downed at the Purdue 8. Thats 6 straight punts inside the 15, of them inside the 10 and 3 inside the 5. TRESSELBALL!
Purdue fumbled allowing for an OSU FG attempt with 4 seconds left, but Purdue blocked it, setting up OT. OSU didn't get a first down, but this time Nugent made his FG. Purdue managed a first down, but had to settle for a FG. Pictures suggest OSU might've gotten a finger on the kick, causing to go wide left. Either way, it was a miss and a 16-13 OSU win.
OSU had no offensive TDs, 2 FG drives where they didn't get a first down, yet still won. It was a testament to a coaching style that somehow was extremely successful for half a decade. And many other games were won via this method, this one always sticks out in my mind. Mainly the long string of punts that were all downed deep in Purdue territory.
29.) Ohio State 26, Michigan 21 2012
Urban Meyer went 7-0 vs Michigan. This was his first.
We've talked about OSU in 2012 already. Michigan was in year 2 of Brady Hoke, coming off a successful first year that saw an 11-2 record, a win over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl, and a win over OSU (marking the only time post Tressel that saw Michigan beat OSU and win their bowl game. Cooper was able to do this once in 13 years. Michigan has done it once in 19 years and counting). During the win over Ohio State, some Michigan players celebrated with the "feed me" gesture, where they'd mimic shoveling food into their mouths with a spoon. It signified they were hungry for a win over OSU (and they were), but seemed to be a fairly tame taunt. But OSU noticed.
Michigan had a not terrible year, but still a step down. They lost to both BCS title game participants in Alabama and Notre Dame as well as a solid Nebraska team. They did beat Michigan State for the first time in 4 years, plus beat a ranked NW team. They came into The Game 8-3 and ranked 20 in the AP.
Ohio State stared fast, hitting a 52 yard pass to Devin Smith setting up a 4 yard Hyde TD run. Michigan drove to the OSU 22, but Denard Robinson fumbled, ending the drive. OSU punted, but Michigan responded with a 75 yard TD pass to Roy Roundtree on a busted coverage. OSU responded with a methodical 14 play drive that included a 3rd and 14 conversion for a 41 yard FG and a 10-7 lead. OSU then forced a punt, but Philly Brown muffed at an Michigan recovered with a short field, leading to a 2 yard Robinson TD run.
OSU won an exchange of punts and started a drive at their own 41. They quickly went down and Brown caught a TD pass with 1:30 left in the half. Michigan seemed content to run out the clock, however atrocious OSU tackling gave Robinson a 67 yard TD run. OSU was able to salvage a 52 FG as the half expired, and Michigan lead 21-20 at half.
OSU's defense ruled the 2nd half. Michigan netted only 68 yards on 6 drives, 30 of which came on 1 play, and ran no plays past midfield. Best visual representation of the 2nd half:
Michigan's first drive was the farthest they'd reach, getting stopped on downs at their own 48. OSU cashed in with a FG, and took a lead they'd never give up.
The teams traded punts into the 4th quarter. Then, Devin Gardner fumbled that OSU recovered at the Michigan 10. OSU had to settle for another FG. Gardner threw a pick on the next possession. OSU had 4:50 to run off the clock. Facing a 3rd and 7, Hyde rumbled for 12 yards and a 1st. He then added runs of 5 and 6 yards, good for another first down and meaning OSU only had to kneel for the win. His response after the clinching 1st:
It wasn't an especially well played game, with bad tackling and turnovers, and only 2 FGs in the second half. But it did stop Michigan's longest streak in the series this century, and the first of Urban's perfect record. Also, the Hyde taunt is perfect.
28.) Ohio State 63, Nebraska 28 2012
Ohio State is back!
That seems like a silly thing to say about a team that has finished in the top 10 in 15 of the last 17 seasons. OSU has never been down since Tressel was hired. Every major program (save Oklahoma) has gone through a multi-year lull in that time span, except OSU.
However, narratives change quickly in CFB. Just 5 years ago, everyone wondered if Clemson could ever get it all together and win the ACC. Now, they're the top program in the country.
Prior to the start of 2012, OSU had a 6-7 season in 2011, which was preceded by a tumultuous off-season marred by the Tatgate fallout which saw Tressel 'retire'. While the Meyer hiring was obviously a shot in the arm, OSU hadn't had a big game yet. They had beaten then #20 MSU the week prior by 1, but that was it.
Nebraska came in at 4-1, ranked #21. Their lone loss was a 6 point road loss to eventual Pac12 South Champ UCLA, and had avenged a blowout loss to Wisconsin the week prior. The previous year, OSU traveled to Nebraska and blew a 27-6 lead, good for Nebraska's first B1G win and their biggest comeback ever.
This was Meyer's first 'big' game. Granted, the previous week was against a higher ranked opponent on the road, and during this era, MSU was probably a stronger program. However, Nebraska's name still had some cache, winning the Big 12 North their last 2 seasons there. Plus it was only the 4th meeting between the 2 schools and only the 2nd night game at the Shoe since the Texas game.
Also, as @-Akronite- pointed out, this game was bonkers. My recap will be slightly less detailed because there was a ton going on.
Bradley Roby returned a pick 41 yards for the first score of the game. However, OSU really didn't gain any traction until early in the 2nd quarter. Their first 2 drives netted -2 yards, including squandering a fumble recovery in Nebraska territory. After the Roby pick, Nebraska scored 17 straight points, powered by a 72 yard run by Rex Burkhead, a 43 yard punt return by Ameer Abdullah, and thwarting a fake punt at the OSU 31. OSU had a net total of 7 yards, 6 coming on the fake punt that was short.
Then the offense got rolling. Miller ran 72 yards setting up a short Hyde TD. Three plays later, Roby returned another pick to the Nebraska 20, which Miller converted into a TD pass to Jeff Heuerman and a 21-17 lead. Nebraska used a 74 yard pass to set up a TD on the next drive to retake the lead. OSU used a methodical 10 play drive to set up another Hyde TD run to go ahead again. After a 3 and out forced a Cornhusker punt, OSU went 57 yards in a minute, the last 31 on a 4th and 2 counter by Braxton Miller. After 7 yards in the first 18:30, OSU scored 4 TDs on 227 yards in 11:30.
Nebraska opened the and half with TD pass to TE Ben Cotton. OSU answered with a short Hyde TD run set up by a 35 yard pass to Heuerman to the 1. Nebraska went 3 and out, and Philly Brown returned the ensuing punt 76 yards for a score. OSU lead 49-31 and this essentially ended the game. Nebraska would turn it over 2 more times sandwiched around a score, and OSU managed 2 more rushing TDs (one a pretty 33 yard by Rod Smith) for the final margin.
OSU ended up with 498 yards in essentially 3 quarters. Nebraska turned it over 4 times. It was a wild game.
Nebraska ended up winning out during the regular season, never giving up more than 28 points. However, they faced Wisconsin in a rematch during the B1G title game (Wisconsin finished 3rd in the *sigh* Leaders Division, but 1st place OSU and 2nd place PSU were ineligible). Wisconsin hung 70 on Nebraska.
OSU's 2016 schedule was insane. Including the playoff game, they played half of the top 10, only one of them at home. They also played a 9 win Nebraska team, 10 win Tulsa team and 3 other bowl teams. 2 more of those games are this list, although this was probably the most complete performance. OSU had destroyed Bowling Green in week one and beaten the aforementioned Tulsa team 48-3 during a monsoon in Columbus, and were ranked #3.
Oklahoma was coming off a playoff appearance in 2015. They lost the opener to Houston (lead by Tom Herman), and came in ranked #14. Bob Stoops was in what would become his last year as HC, and current QB guru Lincoln Riley was in his 2nd year as OC. Oklahoma was lead by transfer QB and former walk on named *checks notes* Baker Mayfield. Hmmm, that name sounds familiar. Anyone know what happened to him?
Also of note: Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt had the call on Fox. While Gus Johnson had certainly done some OSU games going all the way back to 2013, I believe this is the first time Johnson and Klatt did an OSU game together. Now, they do every big OSU game it seems.
Oklahoma controlled the run of play early, but OSU countered with big plays. OU marched down to the OSU in 11 plays, never facing a 3rd down. However, the drive stalled and Austin Seibert (again, sounds familiar) missed a chip shot. OSU went three and out, but a 68 yard Cameron Johnston punt flipped the field. OSU regained possession on the Oklahoma 45. Facing a 4th and 1, they ran a sweep left, to the short side of the field, with Mike Weber leading for Curtis Samuel. Weber got a good seal and Terry McLaurin had a great downfield block for a 36 yard TD.
On their next drive, OU marched again, getting to the OSU 33. Facing a 4th and 3, Oklahoma also decided to go for it. However, Jalyn Holmes tipped a Mayfield pass that Cleveland native Jerome Baker picked off and returned 68 yards for a score. We talked about how the 2015 team would seem to dominate a game but the score wouldn't reflect it. 2016 was opposite. OU had outgained OSU 102-46, and 36 of OSU's total came on one play. OU had run 23 plays to OSU's 7, but OSU lead 14-0.
14-0 didn't last as Joe Mixon returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a TD (even though he may have let the ball go before he crossed the goaline, but replay didn't overturn). However, OSU's offense then woke up. Aided by a 35 yard Weber run and a Barret scramble on 3rd down, Noah Brown caught a 4 yard TD pass to make it 21-7. OU responded with a 35 and a 36 yard play on their next drive, setting up 1st and goal at the 3. However a sack forced a FG and 21-10 score. OSU punted on their next drive. However, Mayfield threw another pick, which Glenville alum Marshon Lattimore returned to the Oklahoma 37. On the next play, Barrett found Brown again for another TD and 28-10 lead. OU responded with a quick TD drive and only trailed by 11. OU had outgained OSU, and if they could clean up 4th down, the redzone and turnovers, had a real shot storm ahead.
Then the back breaker.
OSU got the ball back with 4:12 after a touchback. OSU methodically moved the ball down the field, taking 8 plays to get to the Oklahoma 21, including another 4th down conversion. On 1st down from the 21, Barrett threw an incompletion to Marcus Baugh, who might've been able to score had he caught it. There were only 13 seconds left and OSU had no timeouts, so maybe OSU was thinking FG.
Then Noah Brown did this:
One of the great OSU catches of all time. It seemed to break Oklahoma's back. OSU opened the 2nd half with a methodical drive. Running yards accounted for all of OSU's drive, except for the last 8, which was Noah Brown's 4th TD of the game. Brown came into the game with 5 catches for 72 yards and 1 TD in his career. He had 5 catches for 72 yards and 4 TDs in this game. For the rest of his OSU career, he had 23 catches for 367 and 3 TDs. Just an amazing outlier of a performance.
Trailing 42-17, Oklahoma never really threatened to make a serious charge. Mayfield did throw another TD. Twice more Oklahoma was just past midfield before turning it over on downs. OSU turned one of those stops into a FG and the 45-24 final.
OSU only ended up outgaining OU by 40 yards, which was nullified by a 47 yard penalty disparity in OUs favor. But OSU caused both of the games turnovers, both resulting in TDs, and went 2-2 on 4th down while Oklahoma went 0-3, and Oklahoma had 2 trips inside the OSU 10 that resulted in a total of 3 points. It's a game that probably should've been closer, but OSU made the big plays, or Oklahoma failed to make them, at the crucial times.
Oklahoma ran the table the table, beat Auburn in the Sugar Bowl. They finished #5 in both major polls, somehow jumping OSU despite OSU having the same record, a much tougher schedule, and winning this game.
26.) OSU 31, Arkansas 26 2011 Sugar Bowl
Technically, this game never happened.
2010 OSU was loaded. They were coming off a B1G title and a Rose Bowl win (more about both later). They had only lost 4 draft picks from that team (a 4th rounder and 3 7th rounders). They returned 9 offensive starters and about half their defense, and pretty much their entire offensive skill players. They began the year ranked #2 behind defending national champions Alabama. They were #1 for one week, but lost at Wisconsin. The only other time they were tested was a 3 pt win at Iowa. They beat Michigan by 30, ending the Rich Rodriguez era. They ended up in a 3 way tie with Wisconsin and MSU. Wisconsin got the Rose Bowl nod by beating both teams. But of course an 11-1 OSU team was going to a BCS bowl. They were picked for the Sugar against Arkansas. Up until this point, OSU had never beaten an SEC team in a bowl.
During the layoff before the bowl game, it was announced that 5 OSU players (Terelle Pryor, Devier Posey, Mike Adams, Boom Herron and Soloman Thomas) had traded some of their OSU memorabilia (including the gold pants they receive for beating Michigan) for free tattoos. All 5 players were suspended for the 1st 5 games of next season, but not this game. I am assuming because OSU was picked for this game before the story broke, the sponsors were banking on high viewership and thus wanted a full OSU squad.
Arkansas was in year 3 with Bobby Petrino, after Petrino's failed 1 year with the Atlanta Falcons. Arkansas won 10 games for the 1st time since 2006 and second time since 1989. There 2 losses were by 4 to then #1 Alabama and to eventual national champ Auburn. They beat 3 ranked teams (SEC East Champ South Carolina, Miss St and LSU) in the final 4 weeks of the season. They were lead by Michigan transfer Ryan Mallett.
OSU started fast. After dropping a potential TD on the first play of the game, Arkansas went three and out. OSU quickly drove into Arkansas territory. On 3rd down from the 37, Pryor scrambled to the 3 yard line, but fumbled into the endzone, where Dane Sanzenbacher recovered for a TD. Mallett responded with a TD drive in 5 plays.
Then OSU started to roll. A 31 yard pass to Senzanbacher set up a Herron TD run. After an exchange of punts, OSU stopped Arkansas at the OSU 30 on 4th and 1. A 42 pass to Reid Fragel set up a 15 yard TD pass to Sanzenbacher. OSU forced a punt and drove down to the Arkansas 33 before missing a FG. Another 3 and out, featuring a Dexter Larrimore sack got OSU the ball back at their own 32. That set a beautiful 43 yard TD pass to Posey and a 28-7 lead. Arkansas was shellshocked.
But they did recover. Mallett lead Arkansas to the OSU 3 with 4 seconds left, with the Razorbacks opting for a FG. The momentum continued into the 2nd half for Arkansas. They forced an OSU punt, then cashed in for a FG. After an exchange of punts, OSU got the ball at their own 45, which lead to a FG and a 31-13 lead with 4 minutes left in the 3rd.
Arkansas responded with a TD. The ensuing OSU drive was stalled by a hold. After an exchange of punts, OSU was backed up to their own 4. On the first play, Herron was stopped at the 2. However, he gave up ground to continue fighting, retreating into the endzone. Herron was tackled for a safety, and all of sudden Arkansas had the ball down only 8. Arkansas drove down to the 30 and kicked another FG, making it 31-26.
On the next drive, OSU went for a 4th and 1 at their own 37. They were stuffed. Luckily, the defense held in part thanks to a holding call, and forced a punt. Again, it was downed at the OSU 4 with about 4 and a half minutes left to play. Herron immediately had a 17 yard run to give OSU some room. Pryor converted a 3rd and 1. Arkansas then burned through their timeouts, forcing a 4th and 3 at the OSU 36 with 1:15. All OSU needed was a good punt and the defense had to stop Arkansas from going the length of the field with no timeouts.
However, the punt was blocked (on a play I think could've been called for leverage). An Arkansas player instinctively fell on the ball at the 18. Had he tried to pick it up and run, he would've scored, likely giving Arkansas the win. However, Arkansas still had the ball at the 18. After a drop on 1st down, OSU ran a zone blitz on 2nd down. Mallett didn't see Soloman Thomas drop and threw it right to him for a game sealing interception.
After the game, Rece Davis, Lou Holtz and noted Buckeye troll Mark May, who were on site, interviewed Tressel and some OSU players (video below). About 1:49 into the video, you can hear a "Mark May sucks" chant. About 3 and half minutes in, May finally gets the mic to ask a question. As soon as he speaks, there is a very loud "BOOOOOOOOO" from the OSU fans. It's so loud, you can hear Lou laugh as he says "They're booing Mark". Classic.
As I said, this game never technically happened. It was reported that Tressel knew about the tattoos and never reported them. This lead to a 2 game suspension and eventual 'retirement' from Tressel. All 12 wins win were vacated. Pryor ended up going in the supplemental draft. The rest of the seniors came back for a tumultuous 2011 season (that does have a game on this list). And technically, OSU had never beaten an SEC team in bowl.
Arkansas actually improved next year. They were 10-1 and ranked 3rd heading into the regular season finale with #1 LSU. They lost, but ended up beating #10 Kansas St in the Cotton Bowl and finished 5th. However, that offseason, Petrino got in a motorcycle accident. It was eventually revealed he was riding with a staffer whom he was having an affair with and had given special treatment. He was fired that offseason. Since then, Arkansas has had only 3 winning seasons and just hired their 5th coach.
Firmly believe that vacating wins is pointless and Ohio State should unvacate since that's a thing we can do apparently. We beat Michigan and an SEC team that year, I saw it happen on muh TV. Gimme dem wins and toss that asterisk in the trash, who cares.
I've been busy lately and haven't had much time to write. However, I meant to include this game and unfortunately crossed it off and forgot to place it on the list. So this is not a top 41 list with this game somewhere in the countdown.
There's another game from this season I meant to include and forgot to place it. I'll include that later. There are 2 other games that were borderline and I might include as interludes. And if I notice I missed another game I'll include it as an interlude as well.
Ohio State 34, Notre Dame 20 2006 Fiesta Bowl
Charlie Weis was the next big thing. Notre Dame was well entrenched in the "Notre Dame is always overrated" years, but not so far removed from the Lou Holtz era that only your dad remembered when Notre Dame was good. This was his first year after taking over for Tyrone Willingham. Notre Dame started the year unranked but had climbed all the way to #5 coming the Fiesta Bowl. However, they were a bit of a paper tiger.
- They started off the year with wins at #22 Pitt and at #3 Michigan to vault into the top 10. But those teams combined to go 12-11 on the year, so they weren't big wins.
- They beat Purdue when they were #22, but Purdue ended up not bowl eligible. In fact, the only bowl eligible teams they beat were Michigan (7-5), Navy (8-4) and BYU (6-6). They had 10 games against BCS conference schools, and only 2 of them made bowl games.
- The other bowl team was USC, who was #1, who was one of the greatest teams (both that year and if you include the whole Carroll run). ND lost by 3 at home, in the infamous "Bush Push" game. USC had a frantic last second drive that saw Reggie Push push Matt Leinart across the goaline on a QB sneak in the dying seconds.
So a 7 point win over 7-5 Michigan and a 3 pt loss to USC was basically NDs resume. Still, 9-2 is an accomplishment and ND is a draw. OSU went 9-2 as well, but lost to Penn State and thus were shunned from the Rose Bowl. The Fiesta Bowl, despite having OSU there for the 3rd time in 4 years (OSU played at the Fiesta Bowl site 5 times in a 7 year span), were all too happy to snag OSU and ND.
This OSU team was previously discussed in their Texas game. Uber talented, but the results didn't always match. This game was no exception. OSU absolutely dominated this game and should've won going away. Instead, it went down to the wire.
(side note: Brady Quinn was NDs starting QB. His sister was engaged (and is still married) to AJ Hawk. This was a big storyline before the game, but I really don't care to say anything more about it. )
ND got the ball first and went 72 yards in 6 plays for an easy score. OSU converted 2 3rd and longs before Ted Ginn got WIDE open for a 44 yard TD. After forcing a punt, Troy Smith fumbled and ND recovered at the OSU 15. However, Weis gambled on 4th down resulting in an AJ Hawk sack, and OSU got the ball back. After converting a 3rd and 9 (sense a pattern?), Ted Ginn took an end around 68 yards for his second big score, and OSU lead 14-7.
OSU forced a 3 and out, and quickly drove to the ND redzone. However, Smith lost another fumble. ND was able to flip field, driving to the 50 then downing the the ensuing punt at the 2. After Smith converted a 3rd and 6, he found Santonio Holmes for an 85 yard TD and a 21-7 lead (which got flagged because he showboated crossing the goaline and nearly got tackled). OSU had 197 yard worth of scoring plays, and we were still in the first half.
After another ND 3 and out, OSU ran an efficient 2 minute drill, driving to the ND 11 with 4 ticks left. However, the FG was blocked and 21-7 was the half time score. OSU and ND traded punts to start the second half, with OSU taking over at their own 41. A drive to the ND 29 stalled, but again the FG was blocked. OSU still lead by 14, but already had squandered 3 trips deep in ND territory.
Notre Dame's offense finally woke up, going 71 yards and ending with Darius Walker's 2nd TD of the day. However the point after was missed, and OSU lead 21-13. OSU's ensuing drive saw near disaster. A third down pass to Anthony Gonzalez ended in an apparent fumble that ND returned for a TD. The play was overturned as replays showed the normally sure handed Gonzalez never had control (also, an illegal block would've nullified the TD anyways). After an ND punt, OSU drove down to the ND 9, but settled for a FG. Despite the 3 big TDs, OSU had 5 drives inside the ND 30 that resulted in a total of 6 points. They lead by 14, but could've been up by 30.
And the lead was cut to 7. ND lead a 13 play drive that included a 3rd and 12 and a 4th and 8 conversion. Holmes muffed the kickoff and was only able to return it to the 15. There was still 5:20 left, plenty of time for a stop and a score to force OT.
Then Troy Smith happened.
After a 1 yard run and an incomplete pass, Smith found Antonio Pittman for 10 yards and a 1st. 2 more running plays found OSU at 3rd and 11. ND DE Ronald Talley had what looked to be an easy sack coming in from Smith's blind side. Smith ducked the sack, scrambled to his right, and somehow found Gonzalez for a 15 yard pass and another first down. It was a Houdini escape when OSU needed it.
OSU was now all the way to the ND 40 with 1:46, and ND only had 2 timeouts left. They needed a stop, and probably have to go the full field to tie the game. Anontio Pittman then ripped off a 60 yard TD run to seal it. Final score 34-20 (I tried to find a gif of the Pittman run but couldn't. If watch the game below, watch the 15 yard line as Pittman goes in. You can find a scarlet clad Mike Doss jumping up and down).
OSU outgained ND 617-348. OSU never punted, while ND did 6 times. OSU had a 300 yard passer, 2 100 yard receivers and 100 yard rusher. It should've been a blowout but redzone failures and turnovers kept it close. Still it was a fun game and a great offensive show.
This also marked the last time Gary Danielson and Brent Musberger did a game together. Danielson left for CBS the next year.
Jim Tressel went out with a Sugar Bowl win (later vacated). Urban Meyer went out with a Rose Bowl win. Lloyd Carr went out with a Capital One Bowl win over Tim Tebow (and Urban Meyer). Brady Hoke went out in this game.
We previously talked about Hoke's teams in 2012 and 2013. After a strong start in 2011, his teams had gotten noticeably worse. Michigan came into this game 5-6, needing a win to make a bowl game. Again, the offense was bad, only scoring more than 24 points against Appalachian State (at least they won), Miami, OH, and Indiana. They had lost to Maryland and Rutgers (although both were bowl teams), to Utah and Minnesota, to a top 10 MSU team by 24 and by 31 to an 8-5 ND team. Beating a 6-6 Penn State 18-13 at home was, perhaps by far, their best game of the season.
OSU entered #6 in the CFP rankings. Starting QB Braxton Miller had re-injured his shoulder in the preseason, which lead to JT Barrett beating out Cardale Jones for the starting QB job. The top 3 CFP spots seemed to belong to Bama, FSU and Oregon (barring upsets). Fighting for #4 with the Buckeyes were B12 co-leaders Baylor and TCU (more on that in game 10). An unfortunate backstory to the week was OSU walk on defensive lineman Kosta Karageorge had gone missing. Despite the disparity in records and results, OSU was only a 14 pt favorite.
There was also some heavy speculation about Hoke's job security, and Jim Harbaugh's name had been heavily rumored as his replacement already. Michigan seemed like they were beaten before kickoff and looked like a rout in the early going. On the second play from scrimmage, Devin Gardner was picked off by Vonn Bell at the UM 41. Thanks to a 17 yard Zeke run, OSU cashed in for a short TD pass. Michigan's next drive featured 2 sacks and a punt from their own 15 that Jalin Marshall returned to the Michigan 41. The rout was on.
No it wasn't. Michigan was able to get OSU into a 4th and 20, forcing a punt from Michigan's 37. After a touchback, Michigan slowly drove near midfield. Gardener then found Devin Funchess for a bomb down to the OSU 12, which turned into a TD pass to Jake Butt on the next play. After stopping OSU's next possession, Michigan took over at their own 5. They scored in 15 plays, with no play over 16 yards, capped by a 2 yard Drake Johnson run. They lead 14-7.
OSU went 3 and out. They were able to force a Michigan punt down at the OSU 17 with a little over 2 minutes left. A facemask on OSU gave them a 1st and 24 hole. However, a 16 yard pass to Michael Thomas started a drive that got to to Michigan 25 with 22 seconds left. On 2nd down, JT Barrett scrambled, juked Ignatius grad Jake Ryan out of his jack at the 19, and stumbled to the endzone to tie it at 14 at half.
The 2nd half started fast. A 52 yard bomb to Devin Smith set up a 2 yard Barrett TD. Michigan responded with another methodical drive that saw only 2 plays over 10 yards. OSU seemed to have Michigan stopped on a 3rd down at the OSU 29 when the Bucks recovered a fumble. However, a Joey Bosa offside penalty gave the ball back, which Michigan converted in a 2 yard Johnson TD. OSU responded with their own methodical drive, converting 3 different 3rd downs that lead to a short Zeke TD run. OSU lead 28-21.
Then the most significant injury in OSU history.
OSU forced a 3 and out and took over at the Michigan 24. On the last play of the 3rd, Zeke had a 9 yard first down down run, setting up 2nd and 1. As he often did, Meyer allowed Barrett to get the first. After faking a handoff to Marshall, Barrett ran, and was tackled very awkwardly. He left the game with what was later confirmed to be a broken ankle. Cardale Jones came in and was stuffed on 3rd down. OSU was only up 7, was down to their 3rd string QB, and needed an impressive win for the CFP. Things were looking bleak.
Michigan drove the ensuing possession into OSU territory, again aided by a 3rd down Bosa penalty after OSU seemingly had a stop. OSU eventually took over after a touchback. Jalin Marshall took a few snaps at QB, and a few runs, plus a few Jones dump offs got OSU to a 4th and 1 at the Michigan 44. Jones handed off to Zeke, who broke a Jake Ryan tackle at the line of scrimmage and raced to the endzone for a 35-21 lead (OSU had 69 yards and 2 TD on Jake Ryan missed tackles.)
On the next Michigan drive, Bosa sacked Gardner and forced a fumble that Darron Lee picked up and raced 33 yards for another score. Michigan added a TD with 1:15 left, but OSU recovered the onside kick and knelt out the rest of the clock.
The news of Barrett's injury came after the game. Little did OSU fans know the greatest 3 game run of the program's history was upcoming.
Hoke was fired, failing to reach a bowl game (prior to 2008, Michigan had made 33 straight bowl games This season marked the 3rd time in 7 years they failed). He beat a bad OSU team in 2011, then gave 3 much superior OSU teams dogfights, but lost all 3. He was replaced Jim Harbaugh, who has undeniably been more successful, yet not been able to keep the OSU game as close as Hoke did.
This is the 2nd 2014 game. Certainly not the last.
24) OSU 24 Penn St 7, 2009
Storyline #1: OSU in big games
For the first half of his OSU tenure, Jim Tressel was "the" big game coach. He was 4-1 vs Michigan, 4-1 in bowls (including 3-0 in the Fiesta), and was 3-0 against teams ranked in the 2 of the AP at time of the game. And won a BCS title.
Then OSU got murdered by Urban Meyer and Florida in the BCS title game, and everything flipped. Things got way worse then next 2 and a half seasons. OSU lost to LSU in the next BCS title game, got destroyed by USC in 2008, lost the defacto B1G title game to PSU in 2008, lost the Fiesta Bowl to Texas that same year, then lost again to USC (who ended up mediocre) at home in 2009. Closest thing to a big win in that stretch was probably beating Michigan in 2007. When you are supposed to be a national power but your best win in 3 years is over an 8-4 team that lost to a FCS team? Not good.
Storyline #2: Terrelle Pryor
In the early days of internet recruiting websites, Pryor was one of the first "celebrity" recruits. Pryor is from Jeanette, Pennsylvania, which is about 40 mins east of Pittsburgh and 2 hours southwest of Happy Valley. He was a 5star recruit in basketball, and originally committed to Jamie Dixon's Pitt Panthers basketball team, before eventually choosing football (his freshman year, Pitt was a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament and lost in the Elite 8. Imagine what happens to Pitt basketball and OSU football if he sticks to basketball).
His recruitment was crazy. He was heavily considering OSU, PSU and West Virginia, then Michigan when Rich Rodriguez left West Virginia. He eventually signed with OSU 2 months after Signing Day. PSU fans were definitely not pleased. Pryor was a bit of a diva. He once said Happy Valley was "too country" for him to go the PSU. Then, when discussing the Mike Vick dogfighting scandal, he uttered the immortal phrase, “Not everybody's the perfect person in the world. I mean everyone kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me, whatever." In 2008 he took over for Todd Boeckman after the USC debacle. He had a costly late fumble that set up the decisive score in a 10-6 PSU win that won the B1G for PSU.
Which brings us to this game. OSU was #16, losing to USC and Purdue (both in which Pryor played terribly). He had more cringeworthy quotes about QBs turned dogfighting organizers than he had big wins. PSU came in #11. They had lost to eventual #7 Iowa for their only blemish. PSU was lead by senior Daryll Clark, from Youngstown. It seemed like the Ohio kid playing for PSU was more successful than uber-recruit Pryor was for OSU.
It was only #16 vs #11, and neither had a legit shot at the BCS title game. And Pryor was only a sophomore, so his story was still being written. But it still was a big game and still a chance for Pryor to amend for his big game trouble.
The two teams traded 3 and outs early. However, OSU punted from their own 29, downing the ball at the PSU 16. PSU punted from their own 13, which was returned to the PSU 9. OSU gained 42 yards in one punting sequence. TRESSELBALL! On second down, Pryor dropped back, scrambled, broke a tackle, and dove into the endzone for a score. 7-0 on an impressive Pryor run.
The teams traded punts for the rest of quarter, including OSU punting from the PSU 34. PSU used a 31 yard pass to Graham Zug to eventually set up a 1st and goal at the 2. OSU forced PSU into a 4th down decision. PSU tried a QB sneak. WhIle replays show Clark may have been short, the TD was given and it was 7-7.
Pryor accounted for 50 yards on the next drive. He had a 24 yard on a QB draw on 3rd and 5 (shades of JT Barrett) and a 22 yard pass to Dane Sanzenbacher on 3rd and 3. OSU eventually kicked a FG for a 10-7 lead.
8 of the next 9 possessions ended in punts, the only exception being a 4 play OSU drive that ended the 1st half. OSU's defense had a whale of a game. PSU punted 10 times, 7 on 3 and outs. OSU also had an INT, a turnover on downs and the only points they allowed perhaps shouldn't have counted. Great performance.
PSU's 3 punts to start the 2nd half were from their own 36, 20 and 18. OSU was slowly squeezing them, putting a ton of pressure on PSU's defense to be perfect. After the punt from the 18, OSU took over from their own 38. On the first play, Pryor went deep down the left side to Devier Posey for a TD and 17-7 lead. Given how OSU's defense was playing, the lead felt insurmountable.
The next few series ended all doubt. PSU again went 3 and out, with Thad Gibson making a great TFL on 3rd and 1. Ray Small and Brandon Saine combined for 25 rushing yards on the next series. Pryor had a 12 yard run and capped the drive with a 5 yard TD pass to Saine, 24-7. On the second play of the next drive, Clark threw a pick to Ross Homan, and PSU was done.
OSU sat on the ball the rest of the game, not attempting a single pass. PSU got as far as the OSU 47 before a turnover on downs. It all happened so quickly, starting with the TD bomb to Posey. PSU went from down 3 with the ball to down 17 with OSU having the ball in their territory in under 8 minutes of gametime.
Pryor's statline was not robust. 8/17 for 125 passing, 5 for 50 rushing. However, he accounted for all 3 TDs and most of the yardage on the FG drive, with no turnover. He had the big play to Posey as the backbreaker. It was the first "big" game win of his career, and served as revenge for the previous year's fumble.
There are 2 more games from 2009 on this list, plus we've already discussed the Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas. It's hard to say how much this game changed the trajectory of OSU's program. But after almost 3 full seasons of big game failure, this game seemed to restore some balance to program. At the very least, it felt good for Pryor to win at #11 in the country, against afanbase who (understandably) really didn't like him.
PSU would go on to win their last 3 games, including over #12 LSU in the Capital One Bowl, finishing the year #9 in the AP. They were one of 6 9+ win teams OSU played that year, including 5 10 win teams and 4 top 16 teams.
Couldn't find a speed game or the full game on Youtube. These were the best I could do.
In 2004, Michigan went to their 2nd straight Rose Bowl. They had won at least a share of the B1G in 5 of the last 8 years. They had finished worse than 2nd in the B1G once in that span (3rd in 99 when they still finished 9th in the AP). They finished outside the top 12 in the AP once in that span, and that was a still respectable 20th. They also had a split national title in 1997. They were a model of consistency.
Perhaps 2005 is the year that knocked Michigan off it's axis. They've had teams in 2006, 2016 and 2018 that were in the national title hunt for the entire season. However, starting in 2005, they are 1-14 vs OSU, 7-8 vs MSU (which is by far their worst stretch since pre-Bo), have won 3 bowl games, and have yet to climb above 9th in the final AP. What happened?
The season was quite eventful. They lost to Notre Dame 17-10 week 2 (that ND team has been covered). They lost at home by 3 to Minnesota by giving up a 61 yard run on 3rd and 9 as Minnesota was trying to run out the clock and force OT. They gave up the winning TD with 24 ticks left to lose @ #15 Wisconsin. They also won @ Iowa, @ then #21 NW and @ then #11 MSU, as well as handing PSU their only loss of the season. They were 7-3 and ranked #17, but were 9 points from being 4-6 and 13 points from being undefeated.
We've talked a lot about 2005 OSU, uber talented but not always with the results to match. This game is not different. OSU probably should've won by more. Why this game makes the list is it's probably the 3rd best finish to a Michigan game I've seen.
OSU started fast. Smith to Holmes converted a 3rd and 14. Brush native Roy Hall set up a goal to go with an 11 yard catch on 3rd and 1. Smith kept the ball on an option for a 4 yard TD run, but OSU missed the PAT. Michigan's first drive got to the OSU 28, but Lloyd Carr gambled and 4th and 1 and OSU held firm. OSU then drove down for a FG, 9-0. A penalty killed Michigan's next drive, and OSU took over at their own 40, halfway through the 2nd quarter.
Then, in classic 2005 style, the Bucks decided to be generous and let Michigan into the game.
Maurice Wells fumbled on the first play. Michigan took 9 plays, but they went 36 yards for a TD. OSU answered with a FG drive that stalled inside the Michigan 10. OSU lead at half, 12-7.
OSU forced a 3 and out to start the 2nd half. However, Smith fumbled, which Michigan recovered at the OSU 20 and converted into a FG. A couple of possessions later, AJ Trapasso shanked a punt that Michigan got at the OSU 37. Aided by a PI call, Michigan quick snapped OSU for a short TD run, then a lumbering Chad Henne 2pt conversion gave Michigan their first lead at 18-12. OSU then missed a FG. On the ensuing drive, Michigan converted a 4th and 1, then OSU committed a completely unnecessary hold on 3rd and 10 to allow an eventual Michigan FG.
OSU was down by 9 halfway through the 4th quarter. They hadn't scored since halftime. All 3 of Troy Smith's wins vs Michigan are on the list, and this is the lowest. However, what happened next is probably his best play vs Michigan.
OSU started the next drive at their own 33. Smith accounted for all 67 yards. After a 27 yard pass to Anthony Gonzalez, Smith scrambled for 14 yards on 3rd and 10, which included a great cutback to get the first down. On the next play, he found Santonio Holmes across the middle for TD. Holmes dove into the endzone to elude a few Michigan defenders, but was flagged for 15 yards. Because of that, Michigan started the next drive at midfield. After a first down, they punted from OSU's 35, downed at OSU's 12 with 4 minutes left, OSU trailing. 21-19.
Smith found Ginn 3 times for 26 yards and Holmes 3 times for 24 yards. A few sprinkled runs had OSU at the Michigan 31 with 47 seconds left. Then this happened.
Knowing OSU could wind the clock down and kick a game winning FG, Michigan started using their timeouts. OSU scored 2 plays later on an Antonio Pittman run. OSU missed the 2 pt conversion, but still lead by 4. Michigan got to their own 40 after a pass to Jason Avant, but Tyler Ecker failed to get out of bounds on a 2nd down pass, ending the game.
Smith was the hero. He went 27-37 for 300 yards and a TD, and added 37 rushing yards and another score. He went 9-12 130 yards, and 2 rushes for 17 yard on the last 2 drives. Smith starting the year suspended caused some rust which didn't shake until after losing to Texas (#1) and PSU (#3 on the road) by a total of 10. Given what he did in this situation, you can't help but wonder what a team with him starting from the beginning of the camp would've looked like.
Michigan went on to lose the Alamo Bowl by 4 pts to Nebraska. They ended up going 7-5, playing 5 ranked teams (4 in the top 15), 2 more teams ranked at the time of the game, and their 5 losses were by a combined 21 points. Then again, only 4 of their wins were by more than 3, and 3 of those were against Northern Illinois, Eastern Michigan and a 4-7 Indiana team. Weird team.
22) Ohio State 33, Wisconsin 29 2011
2011 was a sucky year for OSU. Finishing 6-7, it was Ohio State's worst record since Coopers first year in 1988 (the 1999 team went 6-6, but back then you had to be over .500 to make a bowl). It is the only post Cooper year where OSU lost both to Michigan and their bowl game.
It wasn't supposed to be like this. It was supposed to be the senior season of Terrelle Pryor, Boom Herron, Devier Posey and the 3 5 star Olineman from the 2008 class (Michael Adams, JB Shugarts and Michael Brewster). It was also the junior year of Jake Stoneburner, Duron Carter and Jordan Hall, and featured youngsters like Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde and Devin Smith. The offense should've been loaded. The defense lost a lot to graduation, but we've seen OSU reload before.
Tatgate ruined everything. Tressel was gone. Herron, Posey and Adams were suspended 5 games. Carter left the program. And interim coach Luke Fickell probably wasn't ready. Former MiLB Joe Bauserman started as QB. He lead the team to a 5 point win over Toledo before and ugly loss to Miami. Braxton Miller took over as QB, and did lead a win over 3 win Colorado, but OSU only scored 7 pts in a loss to MSU and blew a huge lead to Nebraska (already mentioned). They had beaten then #16 Illinois by 10 the previous week despite completing 1 pass (no, seriously). OSU came in at 4-3, and this was the first home game for the returning suspendees. It was also a night game at the Shoe. Boom Herron was was on camera crying during the national anthem.
Wisconsin is well known for being an old school football team. They are known for a great running games, great OLines (see avatar) and prolific RBs, as well as good defenses. And as far as QBs go....have I talked about their Oline? Seriously, what would it look like if Wisconsin ever had an NFL caliber QB?
Unfortunately, in 2011 Wisconsin had to rely on a grad transfer from NC State to play QB. Seriously, how good can an NC State transfer be? His name was *checks notes*....RUSSELL WILSON?!?!?!? This list features games where OSU beat Tom Brady and Russell Wilson, and neither team was coached by Tressel or Meyer. Amazing. (For the record, Tressel did beat Phillip Rivers in 2003).
Anyways, Wisconsin was really freaking good with Wilson at QB. In the regular season, they won 10 games by am average of 36.6 pts a game. They began the year ranked 11 and rose to #4. The week before this game, they lost @ #15 MSU by 6 on a walk off Hail Mary that was originally ruled down at the 1 yard line then overturned via replay. They dropped to #12.
The first half was actually quite tame. Wisconsin's 2nd drive resulted in a TD pass to RB Montee Ball. After an exchange of punts for a while, OSU got good field position at the 40 (Tresselball?). They engineered a 10 play, 31 yard drive that resulted in a FG, with 14 yards coming on a Miller scramble on 3rd and 10. That was OSU in 2011. The lone scoring drive of a half averaged 3.1 yards per play, and less than 2 yards per play when you take away a broken play. The first half featured 8 punts and one drive longer than 31 yards.
The second half was bananas.
Herron took the first play from scrimmage 57 yards to the Wisconsin 18. After a loss of 1, he ran for 18 more, setting up first and goal at the 1. The first 3 plays saw Miller under center and hand off to Herron, and all 3 were stuffed (the 2nd down play was initially ruled a TD but correctly overturned by replay). On 4th down, Miller faked to Herron and ran a naked boot. Miller was one on one with Wisconsin redshirt junior DE Brendan Kelly on the edge. Now, Kelly is probably a nice guy and a good football player. But even as a frosh, Brendan Kelly is not taking down Braxton Miller in the open field. Miller waltzed in and OSU lead 10-7.
Wisconsin went 3 and out on their next possession. Philly Brown blocked the punt which OSU recovered at the 1. After the previous series where OSU lined up under center and rushed Boom Herron into the line, OSU got creative.....and did the same thing with the smaller Jordan Hall. After being stopped cold on the first 2 plays, Hall was able to dive into the endzone on 3rd down after initially being stopped. The offensive coached in 2011 was not, shall we say, good. or creative. Or competent.
After one first down, OSU forced Wisconsin to punt. However, Hall muffed the punt, which the Badgers recovered on the OSU 27. Wisconsin covnerted a 3rd and 4 and scored on a 3rd and goal from the 1 to make it 17-14. Just like that, the game was close again after OSU seemed to start separating themselves.
A great punt pinned Wisconsin inside their own 5. A grounding call on Wilson set up a punt that OSU returned to the Wisconsin 34. OSU got a 1st and goal at the 7, but two inside Herron runs (at least one was out of the shotgun) set up a 3rd and goal that OSU didn't convert. OSU settled for a FG and a 20-14 lead.
A good return by Jared Abbrederis set up Wisconsin's next drive at their own 40. They drove to the OSU 38, setting up a 4th and 2. They ran Ball on a sweep that OSU swarmed, and Wisconsin turned it over on downs. OSU had the ball, up 6 with 8 minutes left. On 3rd and 4, Miller make Kelly whiff on a QB draw (poor guy), and made a first down. 3 plays later, on 3 rd and 2, OSU ran and option left. Mike Adams had a good block on Kelly (he didn't miss a tackle, at least), Andrew Norwell got a good block on a LB and Jake Stoneburner got a great block on a safety to spring Miller for a 44 yard TD. OSU went for 2 to go up by 14, but failed. But they lead by 12 with 4:20 left to play. It seemed over.
Russell Wilson will be an NFL HOF QB someday. The fact that Wisconsin only had 14 points was a testament to great game by the defense. However, Wilson can only be shut down so long.
Wisconsin answered quickly. A 40 yard draw to Ball set up Wisconsin at the 17. On the next play, Abbrederis beat Bradley Roby on a post for a score. On OSU's next possesion....they lined up under center and handed off the Herron and 1st and 2nd down (bangs head against wall). A 3rd down Miller keeper was short and OSU had to punt with 2:30 left. After 3 plays netted 19 yards, Wilson found Abbrederis wide open for a 49 yard TD. Wilson converted the 2pts on a pass to Ball, and Wisconsin led 29-26. After playing so well, the defense just collapsed.
Jordan Hall had a great return to the OSU 48 with 55 seconds left. It took OSU 28 seconds and 1 timeout to get a first down at the Wisconsin 40. Rather than call their last timeout, OSU rushed to the line. And Braxton Miller showed why he's special.
Just an amazing play.
Drew Basil's kickoff went out of bounds. Starting at their 40, Wilson almost found Nick Toon twice deep in OSU territory. A penalty on what seemed to be the last play gave Wisconsin one last play at the OSU 45. However, his last pass was hurried and never got close. OSU won a thriller.
OSU won the following week to get to 5-3. They lost their last 4 games by a combined 22 points to finish 6-7. Then they hired Urban Meyer, who ended up being pretty successful. So I guess it worked out.
Wisconsin won out in the regular season, then beat MSU in the first ever B1G title game thanks to a wild comeback and a somewhat controversial running into the kicker call. They lost to a top 5 Oregon team by 7 in the Rose Bowl.
Since Michigan won a split title in 97, there have been a handful of B1G teams who were National title contenders. In 2005 and 2008, Penn State was 1 second away from an undefeated season, then were 1 spot out of the CFP in 2016. Michigan was #2 heading into The Game in 2006, and in position to make the CFP in 2016 and 2018 had they beaten OSU. Iowa in 2015 and Wisconsin in 2017 were undefeated heading into the B1G title game. MSU made the CFP in 2015. Yet, I wonder if of all those teams, 2011 Wisconsin was the best. They were coming off a Rose Bowl berth (although they had lost JJ Watt), had a typical Wisconsin rushing attack and a legendary QB. They didn't have a killer schedule, but all 10 of their regular season wins were by double digits, and all but 1 were by at least 4 TDs. Take away 2 Hail Marys, and they are playing LSU in the BCS title game instead of having that awful Bama-LSU rematch. Hell, take away this game and maybe they get the nod over non-division champ Bama.
Still a great game, though.
21) Ohio State 20, Wisconsin 17 2008
Another Wisconsin game? Why not!
2008 was supposed to be a great year for OSU. The past 2 seasons, OSU had lost in the BCS title game, but both of those teams had seen mass defections to the NFL. The 2006 team had 5 first rounders and 9 defnesive starters move on. The 2007 team lost a Heisman winner, leading rusher, 2 leading receivers, and 8 total draft picks. The 2008 team lost...3 total draft picks, 2 of them being 7th rounders. James Laurinaitis, Malcom Jenkins and Alex Boone all eschewed the NFL draft to come back. Beanie Wells, fresh off a great sophomore campaign was back, as was 18 starters. Add in Tressel's best recruiting class since 2002, and OSU was primed for a big year. They started off #2.
However, the year went to crap quickly. Wells got hurt in the opener and missed the next 3 games. Week 2 saw OSU trail a 4 win Ohio team into 4th quarter. Week 3 saw a 32 pt loss to USC. Senior QB Todd Boeckman was benched for freshman Terrelle Pryor. OSU then beat a decent Troy and a decent Minnesota team. They now traveled to Wisconsin ranked #14.
Wisconsin entered the game ranked #18, but this was not a good Wisconsin team. In fact, it might be the worst Wisconsin team since the early Barry Alvarez years. They had beaten then #21 Fresno St, but Fresno ended up 5th place in the WAC. The previous week they had lost to Michigan, but this was Rich Rodriguez's first team that went 3-9. They beat 2 bowl teams all year, and needed OT to beat Cal Poly. They lost their bowl game by 29.
Why is this game so high? Well it was a very exciting finish. But mostly because this is the only road Buckeye game I've ever been to. The Wisconsin band had been suspended for the week, which opened up a lot of extra seats. Add in the loss the previous week, and I was able to score very cheap tickets. I also had a buddy living in Milwaukee at the time, so no need for a hotel. Just needed gas and beer money. ROAD TRIP!
It was a night game at Camp Randall. I left Cleveland around 6 am and drove to Milwaukee. Coincindetally, I needed to stop for gas in South Bend. When I walked into the gas station to buy a snack, I saw I was one of about 20 people there. 19 of them wearing Notre Dame gear and me clad in Scarlet and Gray. Everyone immediately starred at me when I walked in.
As I walked out, one of the patrons yelled at me, "Go Irish".
I stopped, looked at him and asked, "Who are they playing?"
He replied, "Stanford"
I thought for a second, shrugged, and with a very disintered tone said, "Sure, Go Irish". To this day, I don't know if he thought I was actually wearing Stanford colors, or just wanted me to know he was a Notre Dame fan (Notre Dame beat an eventual 5-7 Stanford team 28-21.)
When my buddy and I got to Madison, we tried to find a bar before the game. Every bar was packed, as the Brewers, lead by CC Sabathia, were playing the Phillies in the playoffs (CC didn't pitch that game and the Brewers were eliminated. However, he lead them in WAR tha year despite speding half the season here.)
While it was an exciting finish, it was overall not a tremedously well played game. So the recap won't be as long.
OSU started out fast, with Beanie Wells scoring from 33 yards out. OSU had one drive go into Wisconsin territory and another start there, but neither resulted in points. Wisconsin eventually scored on a 15 play, 91 yard drive with a longest gain of 11. On the series after that, OSU got down to the Wisconsin 32. But at the end of the play, Dane Sanzenbacher was hit hard, fumbled, and was given a concussion ( I am sure the play would be targeting now). Wisconson eventually drove down to the OSU 3 with 5 seconds left and kicked a FG for a 10-7 halftime lead.
On OSU's first 2nd half drive, Wells took the first handoff and raced 54 yards to the Badgers 26. OSU got a 1st and goal at the 3, but settled for a FG. After some Tresselballing, OSU took over at their own 41 near the end of the 3rd. They ended up with a FG and a 13-10 lead. To this point, there had been many punts and little offense. However, I did get to experience "Jump Around" inbetween the 3rd and 4th quarter. Even without the band, the entire stadium shook. It was as awesome as advertised.
Wisconsin took over with 10:25 left. A methodical drive resulted in a 2 yard TD run and a 17-13 lead with 6:30 left. OSU hadn't scored a TD since the opening drive, but now needed one. Facing a 3rd and 6, Pryor found Hartline for 19 yards. Pryor lost 5 yards on the next play, fumbled, but got it back. Next play, 2nd and 15, he found Hartline for 27 yards, but Hartline fumbled, only for Brian Robiskie to recover. A few plays later, on 2nd and 15, Pryor floated a ball to Ray Small. From my seats, it looked like 3 Badgers could've picked it. Somehow, Small caught for a 14 yard gain. A few plays later, Pryor kept it on an option and went 11 yards for a score. On Wisconsin's first play after the kickoff, Malcom Jenkins picked it off, allowing OSU to kneel on it.
Despite a fun finish, it wasn't a great game. The QBs combined for 291 yards on 44 attempts. Wells had 168 yards, but over half came on 2 carries. Wisconsin had 1 play over 20 yards (a pass to Glenville alum Kyle Jefferson). But I'll always remember the experience, from the Notre Dame gas station to Jump Around under the lights.
OSU would lose to Penn State and Texas in the Fiesta Bowl. Their three loses were to teams who finished #3,#4 and #8 in the final AP poll. OSU did have 2 blowout road wins against MSU and NW, both of whom won 9 games. But to not even win the B1G in the year when you returned so much was a dissapointment.
I am going to start doing 2 at a time since doing 5 exceeds the character limit. When I get to the top 6, I might do 1 at a time.
20) Ohio State 49, Michigan State 37 2014
This is when the Bucks National Title chase started.
OSU started the season with a win over Navy and a 14 loss to eventual 6-6 Virginia Tech. Just about everyone wrote off OSU getting into the CFP. After that VT loss, the Bucks did take off, especially on offense. They scored 50+ in 5 of the next 6 games (previously covered 2OT Bosa walk off sack win @ PSU at night being the exception). While 4 of the 50+ games were versus eventual bowl teams, the best team of the lot was either Cincinnati or Rutgers, so not a murders row. OSU had climbed to 14th in the CFP, but they were the 3rd team in the B1G, and also behind 4 SEC teams and 3 Big 12 teams. Seemed like too big a hill to climb.
Michigan State was still in the race. The previous year, they had tragically beaten OSU in the B1G title came to keep OSU from a BCS title game appearance. They had won the Rose Bowl, and started off 2014 ranked 8th. They fell @ Oregon in week 2 by 19, but they had lead a good chunk of that game and Oregon was currently #4 in the CFP. MSU's best wins since then was a 5 point win over Nebraska (ranked 1 spot ahead of OSU in the CFP) and a 24 point win over an eventual non bowl Michigan team. They rebounded to #8 entering this game.
Gameday was there, it was the Saturday Night game, and a lot of people thought it would be the game that shot MSU back into real CFP contention. Two things stood out to me about the game:
1.) OSU very easily could've been knocked out in the first half, but got one break, and it COMPLETELY changed the game.
2.) MSU won the turnover battle 2-0, and recovered 4 of the 5 fumbles in the game. A few times, OSU had seemingly easy turnovers fall through their hands. A couple different bounces, and this is a 30 point game.
OSU came out aggressive and featuring JT Barrett. On the first drive, 7 of the 9 plays were passes and the other 2 were Barrett runs. OSU drove down to the MSU 30, but missed a FG. The MSU 30 was the least successful drive OSU had until the last drive of the game. MSU scored in 5 plays, featuring a pretty 44 yard pass to Keith Mumphrey. OSU answered even quicker, turning a 47 Zeke run into a short Barrett TD and a 7-7 tie.
On MSU's next drive, they faced a 3rd and 25 at their own 27. Connor Cook was sacked and fumbled, and multiple Buckeye defenders looked to have a shot at the ball. However, MSU recovered and punted. The punt bounced off an OSU blocker and MSU recovered at the OSU 33. They scored in 1 play. Two fumbles that both bounced the wrong way turned a probable OSU lead into a deficit.
OSU actually fumbled on the kickoff, but recovered. OSU drove down to the MSU 22 in 6 plays, however a 5 yard loss, a 15 yard penalty and an intentional grounding moved OSU back to their own 45 (it was 4th and 43). Cameron Johnston dropped a punt inside the MSU 10. After a 3 and out, OSU got the ball back just short of midfield. A sack and another penalty forced a 3rd and 23, but Barrett found Devin Smith for 43 yards and a 1st. They ran Jalin Marshall out of the wildcat 3 times to get to the MSU 2. After Zeke got stuffed, Barett kept it on 4th down for a yard score and the game was tied again.
MSU answered with a methodical 14 play drive for a TD and a 7 point lead, 21-14. Then started the sequence that changed the game.
Dontre Wilson fumbled the kickoff and MSU recovered at the OSU 18. It marked the 3rd fumble of the game, with MSU recovering all 3. On 3rd and 3, Langford scored on an 11 yard run, but it was nullified by an obvious (but probably unnecessary) hold. After an incompletion, MSU missed a 39 yard FG. On the first play after the miss, Barrett found Michael Thomas on a slant and he raced the down the left side for a 79 yard TD. In 3 plays, OSU had gone from semmingly down by 14 to tied. This was the first (and only) real break OSU got, but it changed the game.
MSU was able to drive to their own 42 before punting. A good Marshall return gave OSU the ball at their own 36. Passes to Thomas and Evan Spencer got OSU to the Sparty 44, where Barrett found Smith for a TD and OSU's first lead, 28-21. In gametime, this was less than 3 minutes after it looked like MSU was going up by 14. MSU had less than a minute left and couldn't score.
MSU stayed in it early in the second half, although with a bit of luck. On the 4th play of the openeing drive, Adolphus Washington forced a fumble that went right through Tyvis Powell's hands at the MSU 45. 4 plays later, Eli Apple let a ball hit him in the numbers at the OSU 40 (and he had room to return). They eventually kicked a FG to cut OSU's lead to 4.
OSU's next drive was their most methodical. The 2 biggest players were 17 and 16 yards. On 1st and 10 at the 39, Barrett found Dontre Wilson for a wide open TD....that was dropped. Wilson redeemed himself 2 plays later with a 16 yard catch on 3rd down that got OSU in the redzone. It again took 3 cracks from inside the 3 to get in, but Zeke scored, giving OSU a double digit lead.
In the same way that Tresselball would build pressure by pinning you deep against a great defense, MSU was feeling the pressure of OSU's offense. OSU had scored a TD on 4 straight possession, on 5 of 6 possessions, and ventured inside the MSU 30 on the 2 drives that didn't score. This forced MSU to press the issue on their next drive. On the last play of the 3rd quarter, MSU went for a 4th and 5 from the OSU 35. A weird misdirection/counter resulted in a 1 yard loss. OSU scored in 6 plays, using a 14 yard Zeke run, a 15 yard late hit and a 20 yard pass to Jalin Marshall to set up a 7 yard TD pass to Wilson. OSU lead by 18 and the game was essentially over.
MSU did score in just under 3 minutes. The last 36 yards coming on the last 2 plays to Josiah Price. Needing a stop with under 10 minutes left, OSU scored in 4 plays, keyed by a 55 yard Barrett run and capped by a 17 yard Zeke run. MSU did answer with a 10 play TD drive with 5:20 left. Rather than onside, MSU kicked off. OSU responded with a 10 play drive that salted all but 30 seconds off the clock. OSU ended up punting from the MSU 33. It marked the only punt of the game and least penetration into Sparty territory.
OSU only outgained Sparty by 30 yards. MSU did have over 100 yards in penalties, and OSU was 10-14 on 3rd down and 1-1 on 4th. MSU was a respectable 8-15 on 3rd themselves. But OSU's offense was just too good. Barrett was 16/26 for 300 yards and 3 TDs, adding 86 yards and 2 TDs on the ground. Zeke had 154 and 2 TDs, while Devin Smith and Michael Thomas added 129 and 91, respectively, both scoring once. MSU had a 300 yard passer as well.
MSU won out, beating Rutgers, Maryland and Penn State to climb to 8th in the final CFP. They earned a date with Baylor (more on them in game 10) at the Cotton Bowl. MSU beat Baylor is a wild comeback and finished 5th in both polls.
19) OSU 37, Michigan 24 2004
In hindsight, trends seem inevitable. Of course Brady-Belichick was a dynasty. Of course Saban and Alabama would win a bunch of titles. Of course LeBron went to 8 straight finals.
But at their start, we don't know they are trends. LeBron struggled with the Celtics in his first 2 years with the Heat, and also had some nail biting series with Indiana and Chicago. New England missed the playoffs after their first Super Bowl. Saban lost to Louisiana-Monroe in his first season.
Post-Cooper, OSU has dominated Michigan. They are 17-2 (16-2"officially"), and one of the losses was with an interim coach. However, in 2004, we didn't know that was the case.
OSU had a then record 14 players drafted after 2003. Coupled with 5 from 2002, the vast majority of contributors form the 02 title team were gone. Most of those players were recruited by Cooper, and many began their careers with Cooper. Now, the 2004 Buckeyes was a team that was almost all Tressel recruits. Despite the attrition, OSU started out ranked #7. In the first 3 games, OSU beat Cincinnati (Dantonio's first game as HC), Marshall and NC State (first year post Rivers). Then, OSU lost @ Northwestern, at home to Wisconsin by 11 and @ Iowa by 26. They rebounded with wins over bad Indiana and PSU teams, plus a fun win over MSU (which I may do as an interlude). Then a loss @ Purdue and OSU came in at 6-4.
Michigan came in at 10-1 and ranked 7th. The only loss was by 8 @ Notre Dame. They did have an impressive win over eventual #8 Iowa. While their resume wasn't robust, in a normal year (USC, Oklahoma and Auburn all went undefeated) they might've had a shot at the BCS title game. As it was, they had already clinched a Rose Bowl bid.
In the writeup of the 2005 OSU-Michigan, we talked about how 2005 was a turning point year for Michigan. Heading into this game, Michigan was pretty easily considered the better program. They had won 10 games in 5 of the previous 10 seasons (winning 9 and 8 the other seasons), gone to 2 Rose Bowls and one Orange Bowl, and this was going to be the 5th time in 8 years they had won at least a share of the B1G. Plus, they were only 7 years removed from a split National Championship. OSU had won the BCS more recently, but outside of that, Michigan was the better program. Michigan had won the previous year's meeting by 14. Even though OSU had more NFL attrition, Michigan was starting a true frosh at QB (Chad Henne) and and RB (Mike Hart) and hadn't skipped a beat.
So maybe, this was the game that threw Michigan off its axis?
OSU hit a big play on the opening drive. On 3rd and 12, Troy Smith found Anthony Gonzalez for a 68 yard TD. However, Michigan quickly grabbed control. A 38 yard screen to Hart set up a 4 yard TD pass from Henne to Jason Avant to tie it at 7. OSU lost 2 yards in 3 plays and punted. A rare bad punt gave Michigan the ball at OSU's 43. 6 plays later, Hart barrelled in from the 1 to give Michigan the lead. OSU again went three and out. The defense finally got a stop, forcing a 3 and out of their own, but Michigan downed the pun at the 2. OSU was down 7, had allowed 2 TDs, had been getting their butts kicked on punts, and 90% of its offense came on 1 play. And they were at their own 2.
Then OSU's offense got rolling. 3 Branden Joe rushes got them out of the shadow of the goalpost. A pass to Ted Ginn and a few rushes got them near midfield as the quarter ended. Smith found Santonio Holmes on a beautiful fade for 33. Smith did most of the rest of the work on the ground, including a 1 yard score, capping a 12 play, 98 yard drive. OSU forced a quick 3 and out. A 42 yard pass to Ginn and a 20 yard pass to Ryan Hamby got OSU to the 2. However, Michigan's defense held on a 4th down and got the ball back.
OSU made Michigan punt from their own 2. A Ginn return set up OSU at the Michigan 33. OSU quickly advanced to the 2. However a few stuffs and a botched handoff forced another 4th down. This time, OSU took the points and lead 17-14. Twice having 1st and goal and the 2 and coming away with 3 total points is obviously inefficient. But this also marked 3 straight drives where OSU drove down to the Michigan goaline. The 2004 offense was not a well oiled machine, but they moved the ball very well this game, and wouldn't stop till the game was out of hand.
OSU forced a punt and got the ball back at their own 30 with 3 timeouts. A little clock mismanagement stymied the drive, but a 18 yard Smith scramble and a 26 yard pass to Ginn on the run allowed Mike Nugent to kick a 42 yarder as the half ended. OSU was up 6 and probably should've been up more, but had all the momentum.
Michigan started the 2nd half with a 3 and out. Ted Ginn nearly broke the punt return, netting 20 yards to midfield. OSU lost 3 yards and had to punt. Michigan was able to move to their own 29 before punting again. Ginn nearly muffed the punt, then ran right into about 3 Michigan defenders. He bounced off them, swung left, and found some daylight. He had only the punter to beat. No punter on earth is stopping Teddy Ginn in the open field. He raced down the sideline for the score, 27-14 Bucks.
Michigan again had to punt, this time downing the ball at the 3. OSU then went 97 yards, mostly on the ground. 4 different Buckeyes had carries, with Smith's 46 yard scramble on 3rd down the biggest. Smith then found Holmes for a 12 yard score, 34-14. It was the second 97+ yard drive of the game. Michigan drove inside the OSU 10 on the next drive, but Henne was picked off by Ashton Youboty. This essentially ended the game. OSU was up 20 with the ball, with under a quarter to play.
Henne did throw a TD pass to Braylon Edwards. Michigan later went for a 4th down in their own territory and failed, leading to an OSU FG. OSU had another 4th down stop near midfield. On Michigan's final possession, Nate Salley picked off Henne to seal the win.
Smith was the star, going 13/23 for 241 and 2 TDs, while rushing for 145 and another TD. Henne did have 328 yards, but it took him 54 attempts. It was his first of 3 Michigan wins. His overall statline vs Michigan was insane.
OSU went on to the Alamo Bowl, where they beat Les Miles and Oklahoma state handily (despite Justin Zwick starting for a suspended Smith). Michigan faced Texas in the Rose Bowl (USC made the BCS title game), and lost on a last second FG.
2001 was when the worm turned, but I think you could argue it didn't fully turn until this game. OSU finished 20th that year, but has finished at least 10th in one of the polls every since, save 2011. Michigan finished 14 in the AP, and has only bettered that 4 times since then.
There is only the 2014 MSU game on the official list. The rest of the top teams of the B1G (Michigan, PSU, Wisconsin and even Purdue) all make 3 or more appearances. Iowa is on the list and nearly made 2 appearances, despite rarely playing OSU. The lack of MSU is a little odd, since one could make an argument that MSU has been the 2nd best B1G program since Dantonio took over in 2007. However, pre-Dantonio, OSU had 2 fun wins in a row in 2004 and 2005.
Duffey Daugherty went undefeated in B1G play in 1965 and 1966. MSU couldn't go to the Rose Bowl in 1966 because a B1G rule prohibited teams playing in the Rose twice in a row. Still, it was a great feat. MSU then was a bit of a wasteland. George Perles was the only coach inbetween Daugherty and Dantonio to stay more than 5 years. He did go to a Rose Bowl, but was barely a .500 coach. Nick Saban coached for 5 years, but was a total of 3 games over .500 during his first 4.
John L Smith was supposed to changed that when he was hired in 2003. He was coming off a successful 5 year stint at Louisville, and ran a spread offense before everyone was running a spread. He started off 7-1 and was ranked 9th in his first year, but lost 4 of his last 5 to finish 8-5 and unranked. Still, it was only their 2nd 8 win season since 1990, so a successful debut year.
In 2004, OSU came in at 5-3 and MSU at 4-4. It was the noon game on ESPN 2, usually reserved for something like an Illinois-Iowa game. However, this game belonged to Teddy Ginn.
Ashton Youboty had an early pick at the MSU 17. 2 plays later, Ginn ran for a TD on an end around. OSU forced a 3 and out and Ginn returned the punt 60 yards for a TD. 2 touches, 2 touchdowns.
This being 2004, OSU squandered the lead. A FG (aided by a Ginn 12 yard catch) gave OSU a 17-0 1st quarter lead. However, MSU added a TD and 2 FGs in quarter 2, and had a 54 yard FG miss on the last play of the half. In the second half, a Lydell Ross fumble set up a Sparty FG, and a 14 play drive netted another, giving MSU their first lead, 19-17, with 3 minutes left. OSU hadn't scored since the 1st quarter and hadn't scored an offensive TD in over 50 minutes of gametime.
On the 4th play of the ensuing drive, Smith found Ginn on a slant....and Ginn ran away from everyone for a 58 yard TD. AJ Hawk had a pick that OSU cashed in on in the form of a 51 yard Maurice Hall TD. Final Score, 32-19. Ginn touched the ball 8 times (2 runs, 4 catches, 2 punt returns). He had 169 all purpose yards (98 from scrimmage) and scored TDs 3 different ways. A game changing performance by a true frosh.
I couldn't find any highlights of this game. Feel free to post if you have any.
In 2005, MSU came in to the Shoe at 4-1, ranked 16th, with a win over then #10 ND and a 3 pt loss to then #11 Michigan. OSU was 3-2, but ranked #15 with a big win over Iowa and close loses to undefeated Texas and PSU.
OSU turnovers marked the 1st half. An Antonio Pittman fumble FG at midfield set up an MSU FG. Santonio Holmes fumbled the ensuing kickoff, which lead to a short Sparty TD. OSU answered on a 51 yard TD pass to Holmes, but MSU scored on a 12 play 85 yard drive to go back up 10 at 17-7. The teams traded punts, but Ginn fumbled at his own 27. MSU had a minute to try and score. They tried to rush the FG team on the field with time running out. Chaos ensured.
Yeah, that happened. OSU had 3 turnovers deep in their own territory, but only trailed by 3. And John L Smith, perhaps still sore from the Ted Ginn Show the year before, had the best halftime interview, ever.
The second half was a bit of a see-saw. OSU struck first with a 57 yard TD pass to Ginn in which he bounced off a few Spartans, taking their first lead. MSU regained the lead with a long TD drive. In the middle of the 4th, Troy Smith fumbled at the OSU 23. However, MSU again missed a FG. On the next drive, OSU ran the same action that Holmes scored on earlier. Smith threw a LASER across the field. Holmes caught it, broke a tackle, and went in for the score and a 28-24 lead. After a few sacks and a good punt return, OSU got the ball at the MSU 11, which they turned into a score and a 35-24 final.
In 2004, a 17 point MSU comeback was thwarted with 3 mins left. In 2005, 4 turnovers and an early lead wasn't enough as OSU took the decisive lead with 5 minutes. 2 times MSU easily could've won, yet lost by double digits both times.
MSU did not make a bowl game either year. in 2006, they started out 3-0 and had a 16 pt lead on Notre Dame. However, they blew the lead and lost by 3. In the post game presser, he did this:
MSU ended up going 4-8, 1-7 in the B1G in 2006. Their lone win was vs Northwestern, a game they trailed 38-3 with 10 minutes left in the 3rd. A curious 4 year stretch. Smith was fired and Dantonio was hired that offseason.
The first official B1G Conference Championship game was held in 2011. Tatgate decimated the 2011 Bucks, and the 12-0 2012 Bucks were ineligible, so OSU didn't play in their first official title game until 2013 and didn't win one until 2014.
However, OSU played many 'unofficial' B1G title games. There have games like vs Penn State 2008 when the winner would almost assuredly win the B1G. You also had many Michigan games where it was known whoever won The Game would go to the Rose Bowl (or better). Because OSU and UM are the two winningest programs and play at the end of the year, this made sense. Most of the 10 year war was winner take Rose, and more recent games like 1997, 2006 and 2007 were for the B1G title.
This however, was a B1G Championship Game that featured OSU and....Iowa?
Iowa was coming off a 9 win 2008 campaign that saw them hand PSU their only regular season loss. The beat South Carolina in the Outback Bowl and started the year ranked #22. They opened against FCS Northern Iowa, and needed to block 2 last second FGs to escape with a win. Then went on the beat Iowa State and Arizona (both bowl teams) out of conference. Their big win came week 4 @ then #5 PSU. They then mastered the art of the close win, beating Arkansas State by 3, Michigan by 2 and Michigan State by 2 on a walk off TD pass as time expired. The week before, Iowa was ranked #4 facing NW. However, Mentor native and starting QB Ricky Stanzi sprained his ankle, and Iowa lost 17-10 behind frosh QB James Vanderberg. They came into this game ranked #11.
OSU was ranked #9, and we previously discussed their win vs PSU. Both teams had 1 conference loss. PSU and Wisconsin both had only 2 conference losses, but both had been swept by owa and OSU, so they lost tiebreakers. Winner clinched the Rose Bowl and would win the title outright if they won their final game.
While the game was of great importance, it was not an overly flashy game. But it was very close throughout.
It started with 3 straight punts. Iowa out-Tresselballed Tressel and started their 2nd possession at the OSU 43, and cashed in with a FG. OSU responded with a 17(!) play drive featuring one play over 10 yards and 3 3rd down conversions, that resulted in a FG. OSU forced a 3 and out. The next drive started methodically, gaining 24 yards in 6 plays. However, a facemask and a 12 yard pass to Ray Small set up a 22 yard Brandon Saine TD run, and OSU lead 10-3. Iowa threatened a bit on their next drive, but Vandenberg was picked off at the OSU 33, and OSU knelt to end the half.
2nd half was a bit bonkers. Iowa used a 55 yard pass to Youngstown native Derrell Johnson-Koulianos to set up a first and goal. However, OSU stiffened and Iowa missed a chip shot FG. Iowa used Tresselball again, turning a series of punts into a sarting field position of their own 44. A 33 yard pass to Marvin McNutt got Iowa in the redzone, and McNutt finished it off with a 9 yard TD catch, 10-10.
OSU then seemed to take control. A methodical drive got some life when Pryor scrambled on 3rd and 10 down to the Iowa 11. Boom Herron scored on the next play, and OSU regained the lead with 13 left in the 4th. Vanderberg threw a pick at midfield. On the next play, Saine went for 49 yards and a score, and OSU lead by what felt like an insurmountable 14 points with 11 left.
However, Johnson-Koulianos returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a score. Iowa’s kickoff went out of bounds, giving OSU great field position. OSU drove inside the Iowa 30, but missed a 47 yard FG. With 6:40 left, Vandeberg delivered a clutch drive that was almost a disaster. OSU had a pick six waived off for offsides. Vandberg composed himself, and went 5-5 for 60 yards on the drive, the last 10 to McNutt for the tying score.
As exciting as the game was, the rest of the game was a bit anticlimactic. OSU couldn't move the ball and punted. Iowa got it back at their own 33, but instead of trying to scored in the final 35 seconds, they knelt and we went to OT. Iowa got the ball first in OT. They went incompletion, loss of 6 on a run, sack for a loss of 10. They were out of FG range so they had to go for a 4th and 26, which was intercepted. OSU ran Boom Herron 3 times for a total of 3 yards. Devin Barclay hit a 39 yarder to win and sent OSU to Pasadena.
It was still a great game, especially for a Championship game. OSU went on to beat Michigan the following week to win the conference outright. They faced Oregon in the Rose Bowl (that game to come on the list). Iowa rebounded with a win over Minnesota to close out the B1G schedule, the beat ACC Champ Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl to climb to #7 in the final polls.
On thing that will always irk me about this season: Iowa had 7 players who were 1st team All B1G, either by the coaches or media. OSU had 1, S Kurt Coleman. Both teams had 5 more guys make 2nd team All B1G. So Iowa CLEARLY had better players in the eyes of the voters. So of course, if Ohio State beat Iowa and won the B1G with worse players, it had to be because of better coaching, right? Nope, Kirk Ferentz won his 82nd B1G COY, while Tressel the best coach of the aughts, never won once.
17.) Ohio State 30, Wisconsin 23, 2016
We go back to 2016 for the 2nd of OSU's 3 top 10 wins that year.
Gameday was in Madison for #2 vs #8. OSU had 2 pallate cleansing games vs Rutgers and Indiana since the previously covered Oklahoma win. Wisconsin started the year unranked. However, they played 3 top 10 teams (at the time) in the first 5 weeks. They beat #5 LSU @ Lambeau on a last second FG, crushed then #8 MSU in East Lansing (although MSU went 3-9 that year), and were coming off a tough 7 point loss to Michigan in the Big House.
Early on was all Wisconsin. OSU gained a net 5 yards on their first possession. Wisconsin gained 28 yards on their first play, which eventually lead to a FG. OSU gained 17 yards on their 2nd drive, and were able to pin Wisconsin at their own 5. Wisconsin then gained 68 yards on the first play of that drive. 3 plays later, Alex Hornibrook threw a 24 yard TD on 3rd and 7, and barely more than halfway through the first quarter, Wisconsin had a double digit lead.
It took OSU most of the rest of the game to inch back. Barrett featured on the next drive, accounting for 45 yards passing and throwing. Yet the patented 3rd down QB draw resulted in a 4 yard loss at the Wisconsin 7, and OSU settled for a FG. The teams traded punts into the second quarter, when Barrett found Marcus Baugh for 29 yards and Curtis Samuel for 25, both along the sideline. OSU kicked a FG for a 10-6 score.
Wisconsin nearly delivered a knockout over the rest of the half. They had 2 separate drives result in a goal to go situation sandwiched around and OSU 3 and out. The first drive featured a 30 yard pass on a Hornibrook scramble down to the 10. Wisconsin scored 2 plays later, but it was nullified by a hold, forcing an eventual FG. After the OSU 3 and out, Wisconsin had 1:57 left in the half. They got down to the OSU 5 in six plays. However, OSU stiffened and forced another FG right before half. OSU was still down 10, but it could've been much worse.
It seemed like OSU was righting the ship early in the 3rd. A big Jayln Holmes sack forced Wisconsin to punt from their own 30. Dontre Wilson muffed the punt, but outwrestled numerous Badgers to come away with the ball. After 2 first downs, Barrett netted 21 yards on a scramble to the Wisconsin 14. Then, a sudden rain burst occurred, and Barrett's 2nd down pass floated right to a Badger. It seemed like this had been OSU's chance to get back in it.
Then, the fireworks really began. OSU forced a 3 and out and took over just past midfield. Barrett converted a 3rd and 3, then Mike Weber convert 2 different 4th and 1, the second of which requiring him to drag a Badger across the line. The longest play of the drive was a 10 yard Wisconsin penalty giving OSU 1st and goal at the 2. Barret scored 2 plays later, and OSU was back within 3 with just under 3 left in the 3rd.
The Buckeye defense then made a play. After giving up a 1st down, Gareon Conley picked off Hornibrook at the Wisconson 38 (Conley tripped while making the pick, otherwise he might've scored). OSU needed 2 clutch 3rd downs from Barret to score. On 3rd and 5 from the 33, he threw a strike to Noah Brown for 21 yards. After the quarter switch, on 3rd and 6 from the 8, Wisconsin brough an unblocked blitzer from Barret's right. Barret dodged him, then scrambled to the right pylon for OSU's first lead, 20-16.
Wisconsin answered. Hornibrook completed a 36 yard pass on 3rd and 9. After a 20 yard Corey Clement run, a 4 yard shovel pass on 3rd and 3 put Wisconsin at the OSU 12. The Badgers then ran the FB on 3rd and 2 from 4 for a TD, and regained the lead 23-20 with just under 8 remaining.
A holding call and a sack threatened to derail the next OSU drive. But Barret found Dontre Wilson for 43 yards on a scramble to put OSU in the red zone. The drive stalled, and OSU kicked a FG for a 23-23 tie. Starting with 4 minutes left, Wisconsin was able to move to midfield on their next drive, almost all on the ground. But a holding penalty set them back and they punted. OSU ran the last few second off to set up OT.
OSU got the ball first. The possession featured a false start and a hold, but a couple nifty Curtis Samuel catches got OSU to a 3rd and 4 at the 7. Barrett then found Noah Brown on a fade and OSU went up 7.
On their possession, Wisconsin quickly got to the OSU 4, setting up a first and goal. On first down, OSU stuffed a run up the middle. On second down, pressure forced Hornibrook to overthrow and open receiver after play action. Another run was stuffed on 3rd down. Facing 4th and 4, Wisconsin put Hornibrook in the shotgun. He dropped back, pumped once, then was devoured by the OSU Dline. OSU escaped, 30-23.
This was a very typical JT Barret "big game" performance. He threw for 226 yards on 29 attempts, and rushed for 92 on 21 carries, add 3 total TDs. Numbers weren't gaudy, but he got it done.
Wisconsin would win out in the regular season and win the B1G West. They blew a 28-7 lead vs PSU in the title game. They beat PJ Fleck and 13-0 Western Michigan in the Cotton Bowl.
We've already had one White Out on this list. Beaver Stadium at night is a tough place to play. In 2016, OSU lost a thriller on a blocked FG return that seemed like the moment PSU finally returned to prominence. The 2017 game was also bonkers and it will feature a little later.
Normally I recap where each team is for this list. However, a more detailed rundown of 2018 OSU is upcoming. The Buckeyes were ranked #4 heading into this game. Penn State needed overtime to beat Appalachian State (who ended up being 11-2 and ranked for a week), and beat a Pitt team who won the "non-Clemson" division of the ACC. They came in ranked #9.
Many predicted the game to be an offensive shootout given both teams being stronger on offense. However, it was a defensive struggle for much of the game. PSU's strategy was to pressure Dwayne Haskins. While this certainly affected Haskins all game, it did leave PSU vulnerable to OSU's screen game, which was the ultimate deciding factor of the game. Also, there were two huge momentum shifts in OSU's favor.
PSU started off with the ball and the teams traded punts. On PSU's second possession, Juwan Johnson made an OBJ-esque one handed catch for 31 yards into the redzone. However, a botched trick play forced PSU to settle for a FG. OSU went three and out, and Trace McSorely scrambled for 51 yards on the first play. However, OSU stopped PSU and forced another FG attempt, which was missed.
After another exchange of punts, OSU started at their own 45. Mike Weber gained only their 2nd first down on the first play of the drive with an 11 yard run. Then Dwayne Haskins' pass bounced off the hands of Rashod Berry (OSU's 3rd drop of the quarter) for an interception which was returned to the 28. OSU's D again saved the day, forcing another FG and a 6-0 PSU lead.
OSU punted on it's next 2 possessions. PSU took over at their own 2. OSU forced a 3rd and 5. Greg Schiano decided press man was the best option, and KJ Hamler burned OSU for a 93 yard TD, and it was 13-0. OSU went 3 and out on it's next 2 possessions as well. In 8 possessions, OSU had 7 punts, 5 3 and outs, 3 first downs and 1 pick. OSU had 65 total yards and PSU had plays of 31, 51 and 93. 13-0 seemed like 30-0.
Then OSU's first big break came. On first down, Tuf Borland forced a fumble recovered by Dre'mont Jones. 2 plays later, a screen pass to JK Dobbins went for 26 and a score. Despite being massively outplayed, OSU was only down 6. In between giving up some big plays, the defense had kept OSU in it. PSU got to the OSU 49 then punted (the second time they punted past midfield in game) right before half, and OSU knelt to go to halftime.
OSU's offense finally got going early in the 3rd. A couple screen passes to Paris Campbell got OSU to midfield. After a Dobbins conversion on 4th and 1, a couple screen passes to KJ Hill got OSU to the 4, where Dobbins punched it in and OSU lead 14-13. OSU forced a 3 and out and got a 15 yard boost from a PSU targeting foul on the punt return. A Campbell screen got OSU to the PSU 31. On 3rd and 6, a KJ Hill screen went for 11 and a first down at the 16. However, a loss on a wildcat and a penalty forced a FG. OSU made the FG....but it was waived off due to a facemask. The second try from 15 yards back was no good, and OSU still lead by only 1.
OSU's offense then went into hibernation. They went 3 and out on their next 2 series. Sandwiched in between was a PSU drive that got to the OSU 24, but Chase Young batted down a 4th down pass. On their next drive, McSorely for Hamler for 36 yards and 15 yards were added on for targeting to get to the OSU 16. 2 plays later, McSorely threw a 2 yard TD pass to Pat Freiermuth and PSU regained the lead 20-14 with 12:22 left in the 4th. OSU got a first down on their next drive, but a 4th and 1 was thwarted at midfield and PSU took over. PSU scored in 7 plays. The Buckeyes stopped the 2 pt conversion, but still trailed 26-13.
Then came OSU's second big break. After 2 first downs, OSU was at the PSU 47. Haskins was flushed, scrambled and threw high, over the middle, across his body. Usually, that's an interception. Instead, Ben Victor plucked it out of the air, broke two tackles, raced down the sidelines, cut back in between some good downfield blocks, and scored. OSU was alive, only down 5 with 6:43. PSU was able to drive to the OSU 37, thanks in part to a facemask penalty. But Franklin punted with 4:35 left, which was downed at the 4. OSU had only 283 yards of offense, and needed 96 to win.
It started with a screen pass, of course. Dobbins went for 35 to get OSU out of trouble. After 2 runs got a first down, a screen to Campbell went for 11. 2 plays later, OSU faced a 3rd and 5 from the 24. The ran a screen to KJ Hill. Hill made the first guy miss. Austin Mack had a good block and Terry McLaurin had a great block that took out 3 Nittany Lions. He waltzed into the endzone, and OSU lead by 1. The 2 pt conversion failed.
McSorely found Freiermuth for 27 yards on PSU's first play to get into Buckeye territory. On first down, Chase Young got a sack, but was flagged for another facemask. Luckily, the refs correctly picked up the flag. 2 plays later, it was 4th and 5. The teams lined up 2 different times only for both teams to call a timeout. PSU then audibled twice before snapping the ball. I think it was supposed to be an RPO. It might have a simple read option or even a straight handoff. Either way, Miles Sanders was smothered in backfield, and OSU took over on downs. Final score, 27-26.
OSU was outgained by over 100 yards and had 40 more yards in penalties. However, PSU had 4 drives inside the OSU 40 that resulted in punts or turnover on downs. And OSU ran just enough screens.
PSU lost the following week to MSU at home. Two weeks after that, McSorely was injured vs Iowa, which severely limited him in a loss to Michigan. They finished the regular season 9-3 and ranked 13th, but a hobbled McSorely couldn't lead them past Kentucky in their bowl. PSU ultimately finished 17th.
15) OSU 26 Oregon 17, 2010 Rose Bowl
Since this is a football section of a Cleveland sports blog, you probably have some familiarity with the Cleveland Browns. Among their many faults, the Browns change coaches about every 2 years. Now it's a bit of chicken or egg question: are they dysfunctional because they are always changing regimes or are they always changing regimes because they are dysfunctional? Either way, the two are highly correlated, it seems.
What if I told you one of the strongest college programs of the last decade plus was stable for over 30 years....and didn't become a power until they started changing coaches? Welcome to Oregon football.
From 1977 to 2008, Oregon had 2 coaches: Rich Brooks and Mike Belotti. Brooks coached for 18 years. In his first 17 years, he fished 2nd once and 3rd twice in the Pac 10, then never higher than 6th. In 1994, he shocked the world by winning the Pac 10. He was hired by the Rams that offseason. Mike Belotti, who had been OC for the past 6 seasons, took over. He was more successful, finishing 3rd or better 8 times in 14 years. In 2000, Oregon was co-champs but lost the tiebreaker. They won the Pac 10 outright in 2001, played in the Fiesta (the Rose was the BCS title game that year), and ended up #2. They were on track for a BCS title game in 2007 when Dennis Dixon hurt his knee. So in 32 years, Oregon managed 2 outright championships and a co-championship.
Belotti retired in 2008. Chip Kelly, who had been OC for few years after many years at New Hampshire, took over. Oregon lost their first game to (eventually undefeated) Boise State, in which starting Oregon RB Legarrette Blount punched a Boise player after the game and was suspended indefinitely. Oregon rebounded and beat Purdue, #18 Utah, #6 Cal and #5 USC to rise to #8. They lost to Stanford the following week. However, they entered the final game vs #16 Oregon State where the winner got the Rose Bowl bid. Blount made his return and scored a TD in a 4 point win. Oregon won their first conference title since 2001 and went to their first Rose Bowl since 1994.
It's been 11 years since Belotti retired, and Oregon is on coach #4. However, in those 11 years they've won the Pac12 5 times, went to 3 Rose Bowls, 2 National Championship Games, as well as a Fiesta Bowl and 6 top 11 finishes (Belotti had 3 top 11s and Brooks had 1). Moreso, 3 different coaches won the Pac 12, with Willie Taggart, who only stayed for 1 season, being the outliers. It should be mentioned that Mike Belotti was very innovative. He remained on as AD after he left coaching, and I think alot of the recent success can be traced to him.
This was Jim Tressel's only Rose Bowl (same number as John Cooper and Urban Meyer). Tressel won a share or and outright title in 7 of his 10 seasons. In 2002, 2006 and 2007, OSU went to the BCS title game. In 2005, 2008 and 2010, they lost the tiebreaker and went to a different BCS Bowl. 2009 was his only trip to Pasadena. We've already covered 2 different 2009 games. It should be mentioned OSU was 10-2, with the 2 losses being to Purdue and USC, both of whom Oregon beat.
Since I've written alot, the game recap will be a little briefer. It was a very back and forth affair, close throughout and cleanly played.
OSU started out strong. Terrelle Pryot scrambled for 24 yards on a 3rd and 6. On 3rd and 10 from the 13, he scrambled a bit, found Brandon Saine along the sideline, and Saine barrelled into the endzone (the previous play, Devier Posey dropped a well thrown fade in the endzone that should've been a TD). After the teams traded punts for a bit, Pryor found Saine on a 46 yard wheel route down to the 4. OSU however settled for a FG.
Then Oregon began to roar. A 37 yard LaMichael James run set up a chip shot FG. After a 3 and out, Kenyon Barner returned a punt to the 30. It took 8 plays (and a 4th and 9 conversion) but Oregon eventually cashed in on a 3 yard Blount run and a 10-10 tie.
OSU then slowly and methodically inched ahead. And I mean methodically. First was a 19(!) play drive. The drive featured only 1 play longer than 9 yards, two completed passes for a loss, a 4th and 1 conversion and a 3rd down conversion on a penalty. Pryor also had a nifty scramble and completion to Boom Herron for 15 yard on 3rd and 12. OSU eventually settled for a FG. With a minute left, Oregon tried to score. However, Jeremiah Massoli was picked off by Ross Homan, who returned it to the Oregon 46 with 19 seconds left. Pryor completed an 18 yard pass to Dane Sanzebacher to set up a FG on the last play of the half. 16-10 OSU.
Oregon threatened to pull away in the 2nd half. Barner returned the opening kickoff to midfield. Oregon converted a 3rd down on a defensive PI, a 4th and 3, and a 3rd and 10 on screen to set up a 1 yard Massoli TD run. Oregon grabbed their first lead at 17-16. A hold on the ensuing kickoff set OSU back. A few plays into the drive, Pryor found Posey for 36 yards off play action. However, OSU settled for another FG. They lead 19-17, but had 1 TD on 4 red zone attempts.
Oregon looked like they were going to make OSU pay. Another good return and 3 runs, notably a 30 yarder by James, and Oregon was at the 18. However, Blount fumbled a handoff from Massoli and inadvertently kicked it. The ball eventually squirted out of bounds in the ednzone for an OSU touchback and a huge break.
That break seemed to re-energize the OSU defense. Pryor threw a pick and Oregon had great field position. However, OSU forced a punt. OSU quickly went 3 and out, but defense was up to the task, forcing an Oregon punt. OSU took over at their own 19. In 5 plays they were near midfield, but then faced a 3rd and 13. Pryor was pressured, rolled to his right and threw up a wounded duck....that TE Jake Ballard went up and caught in heavy traffic for 24 yards. Another Pryor scramble on 3rd and 6 gained a first down. 2 plays later, he threw another fade to Posey in same corner of the endzone as the first drive. This time, Posey held on for a TD and a 26-17 lead.
The way OSU's defense had responded after the gift fumble, 9 points felt insurmountable. A reverse on the kickoff allowed and Oregon return to the OSU 36. However, OSU didn't allow a first down and Oregon missed the FG attempt. Saine, Pryor and Herron managed gain 3 first downs and run the final 5:10 off for a 26-17 win.
I do think the play of the game was the Blount fumble. In their previous 4 drives, the Ducks had 2 TDs and a FG, and the other drive went into OSU territory. They gained a total of 27 yards on 9 plays afterwards. That play not only stopped a drive that would've given Oregon the lead, but also killed their momentum.
OSU finished the year #4, behind Alabama, Texas, Florida and Boise State (Boise was undefeated and Florida and Texas only lost to Bama. TCU and Cincinnati also finished the regular season 12-0, but lost to Boise St and Florida in the bowls). Oregon finished #11. OSU ended up beating #7 Iowa, #8 PSU, #11 Oregon and #16 Wisconsin as well a 10-4 Navy team. At the time, they were the first team to beat 5 teams who had 10+ wins in a season.
I proposed to my girlfriend that night of the penn state game in 2018 in san fransisco (proposed at the red woods, first time there too). My fiancee and I got way too wine drunk (browned out, to steal a phrase from it's always sunny) and returned to our hotel with in and out and saw the last minute of the game. We knew it was meant to be after that
I haven't yet talked about OSU Michigan in 2006. But in short - Michigan just missed playing for a national title, and wasn't happy. Juniors OT Jake Long, QB Chad Henne and RB Mike Hart were 0-3 vs OSU and 0-3 in Bowl Games, losing to Texas, Nebaska and USC.
All 3 eschewed the NFL to return in 2007 to beat OSU, win a bowl game and possibly a national title. Michigan did lose a decent amount of defensive starters, with Lamarr Woodley, Alan Branch, David Harris and Leon Hall all going to the NFL. However, they returned the vast majority of their offensive players, including and up and coming OL named Justin Boren. They started the year ranked #5.
The NCAA was 1 year removed from renaming DI-AA to Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). This was partly to shame DI-A (now Football Bowl Subdivision) for not having a playoff. Appalachian State was the 2 time defending champion of 1-AA/FCS. The previous 2 seasons had seen them run through all 4 rounds of the playoffs. However, in 2005, they lost to a 7-5 Kansas team and a top 5 LSU team, and in 2006 they had lost to a 3-9 NC State team. Before that, they had gotten blown out by Wyoming and Hawaii. So while they were kings of FCS, they had never toppled an FBS school.
Even though ASU was a formidable FCS team, they were still just cannon fodder for a top 5 Michigan team. To this date, only once had a DI-AA team beaten a ranked DI-A team (Cincinnati somehow beat Penn State in 1983).
Early on, it looked like Michigan was in for a relatively easy day, at least offensively. Hart hard a 33 yard run to set up a 4 yard score. However, App St answered with a 68 yard slant from Armanti Edwards to Dexter Jackson to tie it at 7. After a trade of punts, Michigan scored on a 9 yard pass to Mario Manningham. App St went to the rushing attack for their next drive, with 9 rushes getting them down to the Michigan 4. After a penalty, Edwards threw another TD to Hans Batichon (great name) and it was tied 14-14.
Then, App St really took off. After a 3 and out, App St used a good punt return plus a late hit to start at the UM 35. They scored in 5 plays, the last 20 being another TD pass to Jackson. Michigan drove into App St territory, but pressure on a 4th down pass caused an incompletion and ended the drive. ASU then went 65 yards, all via the ground or penalties. Edwards converted a 3rd and 6 with a 20 yard draw (hello JT Barrett) and scored on a 6 yard run to give the Maountaineers a 28-14 lead with 2:15 left in the half. Michigan drove down the ASU 5 quickly, but stalled and settled for a FG.
The second half saw Michigan mostly get their act together on D and slowly creep back into the game. Morgan Trent picked off Edwards on the 2nd play off the half. The offense only gained 15 yards, but converted a FG. ASU responded with another solid drive, featuring a 27 yard pass to Coco Hillary (ASU WRs all have great names) on 3rd and 10 to get into the redzone. Future 2nd round pick Brian Quick dropped an easy TD on 3rd down, and ASU settled for a FG and a 31-20 lead. This was the last competent ASU drive for a while.
Michigan fumbled at their own 32 on the next drive. However, ASU gained no yards and missed a FG after recovering. After a Michigan punt, Edwards fumbled at his own 31. Michigan scored in 6 plays on a Hart run. Michigan went for 2 but Henne fumbled the snap and score remained 31-26 as we entered the 4th.
Michigan forced a punt and after a good return and a facemask, got the ball at the App St 34. However, Henne threw a pick. Another 3 and out gave Michigan the ball back at their own 24. They quickly got to midfield, but 2 procedure penalties forced a 4th down which Michigan again couldn't convert. Michigan sacked Edwards twice and a bad punt gave Michigan good field position again. This time, they cashed in on 1 play. A spectacular Mike Hart run that saw him break multiple tackles, cut 2/3 of the way across the field, and a great stutter step on the last defender, went 54 for a score and Michigan regained the lead with 4:31 left. Michigan again went for 2, but Brandon Minor slipped.
Edwards threw another pick at his own 43 on the first play. That seemed to be the end of it. In the second half, if you take away the one FG drive, App St had gained 5 yards on 19 plays with 1 first down and 2 turnovers, and a long drive of 3 plays. They seemed to have shot their wad in the first half offensively. Michigan had the ball, in ASU territory, and the clock was beginning to be a factor.
Michigan got a first down and was able to exhaust ASU's timeouts. With 1:37, they tried a FG that was blocked. ASU's first half offense then showed up. Edwards ran for 18, then completed passes of 20, 6, 5 and 24 to get to the Michigan 5. Out of timeouts, ASU didn't risk getting tackled in bounds, and kicked a FG with 26 ticks left.
Michigan had one final shot. Minor had a good return to the 34. After an incompletion, Henne threw up a Hail Mary to Manningham. Manningham overcame 2 defenders and pass interference to catch the ball at the ASU 20. Michigan called their last timeout to set up the game winning FG.
Then this happened
Final score, 34-32.
It wasn't a great look for the B1G, especially after how the previous year had ended. On the other hand....wasn't that great?
Michigan fell from #5 to unranked. Shellshocked, they were blown out by Oregon the following week. They rebounded to win their next 8, which saw them climb all the way back to #13. However, they lost their last 2 games to a ranked Wisconsin team and OSU. They earned a Citrus Bowl bid, where they faced #9 Florida, lead by Heisman winner Tim Tebow and Urban Meyer. Michigan won and finished the year 18th.
Lloyd Carr retired after the year. Many thought that Michigan alum (and Elyria native) Les Miles would take over. He nearly did, but Michigan eventually lured Rich Rodriguez from a very successful stint at West Virginia. Alabama had tried to hire Rodriguez the previous year, but were spurned and instead were able to get Nick Saban from the Dolphins. Imagine a world where Bama is successful in getting Rodriguez. You never have the Bama dynasty and you probably don't have the 7 year Rodriguez/Hoke dip. Does Michigan get Miles? Or even Saban? Or maybe Brian Kelly?
App St went on to win their 3rd straight FCS title. They made the playoffs the next 5 years, but never got past the semifinals. They then transitioned to FBS, where they have finished worse than 7-5 and finished last year ranked 18th.
Another game on this list I was lucky to be at. It also featured one of the loudest moments in the history of the Shoe.
Thus was life in 2002...close win after close win. OSU came in 4th in the AP and 6th in the BCS. They had destroyed a solid Texas Tech team (already mentioned) and beaten eventual Pac10 champ Wazzu soundly. They had also nearly lost to Cincinatti and were coming off a 5 point win in Madison. PSU was ranked 17th. They only had 2 losses, both OT losses to eventual top 10 teams in Michigan and Iowa and were coming off a 49-0 win over NW.
The previous year's matchup saw PSU and QB Zach Mills come back from a 27-9 deficit in Happy Valley. OSU had 2 new starters on defense. Senior LB Cie Grant was out, replaced by true freshman AJ Hawk. Chris Gamble made his first start at CB. He had played some nickel situations and had started every game at WR and as a returner.
I couldn't find a written play-by-play so this won't have the normal detail, but I do have the key moments.
OSU moved the ball well on the opening drive. Maurice Clarett went over 1,000 yards on the season on the first play, which went for 30. However, after his 4th carry, he suffered a shoulder injury that kept him out the whole game. OSU got down to the PSU 1, but Craig Krenzel fumbled as he dove for the endzone. PSU DB Anwar Phillips picked it up and raced downfield with blockers. Somehow, Chris Gamble chased him down from behind at the OSU 41, otherwise Phillips would've scored. On second down, Hawk intercepted a tipped Mills pass to keep PSU off the scoreboard.
On PSU's next drive, Larry Johnson took a draw 35 yards to the OSU 26. A few plays later, he scored on a 5 yard option run, although replays showed he might've fumbled it into the pylon for a touchback. Never the less, PSU lead 7-0. Next PSU drive, Dustin Fox (of 92.3 fame) deflected a pass that DE Will Smith picked off at the PSU 32. OSU managed 1 first down before settling for a FG.
OSU threatened twice more in the half but didn't score. A screen pass to Lydell Ross and roughing call got OSU to the 19. However, Chris Vance fumbled at 14. Gamble returned the ensuing punt to the PSU 42 with 9 seconds left, but Krenzel's Hail Mary was intercepted, and it was 7-3 at half.
On PSU's first drive of the second half, they faced a 3rd and 12 from the 18. Mills rolled left and fired. Gamble cut in front of the receiver at the 39, raced down the sideline, cut twice, and scored. The stadium went BERSERK! Loudest I have ever heard the Shoe. OSU had 10 points, all via turnovers from their new starters.
PSU drove into OSU territory next. OSU seemed to end the drive with a pick, but it was nullified by an iffy roughing call. PSU eventually punted, which was downed at the 10. OSU had a methodical drive lead by Krenzel. Facing a 1st and 20, he scrambled for 8, the scrambled and found Michael Jenkins for a 14 and 1st down. He converted a second 8 via a scramble near midfield and an a 2nd and 9 on a pass to Jenkins. OSU eventually kicked a 37 yard FG, and lead 13-7 late in the 3rd.
PSU had one last good shot to score. Krenzel threw a pick with 8:30 left that was returned to midfield. PSU got one first down but had to punt. They pinned OSU deep, and forced OSU to punt from their own 5, but Andy Groom uncorked a 60 yard punt, with a PSU illegal block, to flip the field. OSU got it back at their own 42 with 4 minutes left, but failed to get a first down. Groom unleashed another beauty, and the returner was tackled at the 16. PSU turned it over on downs in 4 plays, and OSU ran out the clock for the win.
PSU averaged 34 points and 423 yards a game that season, but were held to 7 and 179. PSU went on to win out in the regular season, but lost by 4 to Auburn in the Outback. PSU went 9-4, with the 4 losses by a combined 20 to teams ranked #1,8,9 and 14 in the final AP poll.
But the Chris Gamble pick six was the story. It was his first start, making him the first OSU player to start 2 ways since Ohio and Cleveland legend Paul Warfield. And when he made that play, it was LOUD. It also continued a trend, as it was the 2nd of 8 pick sixes OSU had vs PSU in the Tressel era.
13) OSU 26, Michigan 23 2001
"You'll be proud of our young people in the classroom, in the community, and most especially, in 310 days in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on the football field"
And thus a 1 sided rivalry got flipped.
John Cooper was 2-10-1 against Michigan. In 1993, 95 and 96, OSU was undefeated and lost to an inferior Michigan team. In 97, OSU had 1 loss and lost to #1 Michigan. In many ways, Cooper was needed for OSU. The Woody/Bruce era was very successful, but college football was no longer a regional sport. Cooper remade OSU into a national brand, getting great players from all over the country. He won a bunch of games, had a lot of high draft picks, but the Michigan rivalry was lopsided. Many mused that because he wasn't from Ohio, he didn't "get" the rivalry. He also had a spotty bowl record, so I think maybe he just wasn't a good big game coach. But none the less, all the great talen in the world didn't matter if you always lost to Michigan.
Tressel was Ohio all the way. Born in Mentor, played QB at Berea HS and Baldwin-Wallace College. Then won 4 D1-AA titles at Youngstown State. A lot of people though Minnesota coach (and OSU alum) Glenn Mason would get the job, but OSU picked Tressel.
His first year was up and down. OSU lost @ UCLA by 7, by 3 to Wisconsin, by 2 @ PSU. Starting QB Steve Bellisari got suspended before the game @ conference leading Illinois. OSU still had a shot to go to the Rose Bowl if they beat Illinois and Michigan. OSU was game vs the Illini, taking a lead into the 4th quarter, but Illinois ultimately prevailed by 12. Scott McMullen started at QB, but was relieved by Craig Krenzel. Krenzel got the nod in this game.
Michigan came in at 8-2, ranked #11. They were tied with Illinois at 6-1 in B1G play but held the tiebreaker. A win would send them to Rose Bowl for the first time since 1997.
Michigan was very sloppy in the first half. On their 3rd offensive snap, John Navarre threw a pick to Mike Doss, who returned it to the Michigan 4. 2 plays later, Jonathan Wells scored to put OSU up 7-0. A couple series later, OSU faced a 4th and 1 from the Michigan 46. Tressel went for it, and Wells went all 46 yards for a TD. OSU missed a FG on their next drive. Michigan responded by throwing another pick, this one returned to the 28. Wells scored his 3rd TD of the half a few plays later, and OSU lead 21-0 with 4:39 left.
Then things got really weird. After a few punts, a strip sack and recovery by OSU put the ball at the 21. However, Krenzel threw a pick in the endzone. Michigan had 1:27 left. They ran 3 straight wildcats with WR Jermaine Gonzalez taking the snaps. He wasn't paying attention on third down, and the snap went past him and into the endzone for a safety. OSU lead 23-0 at the break.
Michigan struck early in the 3rd. They went 65 yards in 2 minutes, scoring on a 21 yard pass to Marquise Walker. After 5 straight punts, Navarre again found Walker for 38 yards down to the 12. On 3rd down, Navarre found an open Walker in the endzone....but it was dropped. Hayden Epstein missed a chip shot and OSU still lead by 16 as we entered the 4th.
OSU had to hunker down in the 4th. Michigan blocked a punt and took over at the 9. 3 plays later they scored and it was 23-13 after a 2 point conversion failed. After an OSU punt, Navarre threw another int, again to Doss, who returned it to the 9. OSU settled for a FG. With time ticking down, Michigan quickly moved into the redzone on their next drive. But Navarre badly missed his throw on 4th down and OSU took over. OSU punted, but Michigan used all 3 of their timeouts. They got the ball back and scored on another pass to Walker with 2:47 left. Chris Vance recovered the onside kick. OSU was able to run all but 9 seconds off. Navarre's final Hail Mary (which was nowhere near the endzone) was picked off by Dustin Fox, and OSU held on.
It was a relatively simple upset narrative. Favorite is very sloppy with drops and turnovers. Underdog capitalizes early then holds on late. What made it special was Tressel's speech 310 days earlierand the fact that this win started a17-2 (and counting) OSU run in the series.
Michigan went on to lose the Citrus bowl to #8 Tennessee and finished #20. OSU jumped back into the rankings and faced #14 South Carolina in the Outback Bowl for the second straight year. Steve Bellisari led a furious comeback that ultimately fell short. OSU finished 7-5, with 4 losses by 1 score and the other loss a game they lead into the 4th quarter. Fortunately, they found out how to win close ones the following year.