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.