"We've got to get better," Cooper said in the Oct. 2, 1999, edition of Buckeye Sports Bulletin. "We gave up way too many big plays. Our tackling was very, very poor."
The Buckeyes struggled at times with UC, even spotting the Bearcats a 17-3 lead in the second quarter, which made Cooper worry about how his team would fare in Big Ten play. The squad would get a stiff challenge in its conference opener Oct. 2 when they face Ron Dayne and defending Rose Bowl championship Wisconsin.
"Even though we won the football game, we have a long way to go before we are ready to play teams like Wisconsin, Purdue, Penn State, Minnesota and some of the other teams we'll play down the line," Cooper added.
Ohio State (3-1) fell behind early and had to dig out of a 14-point first half deficit.
The Buckeyes got on the scoreboard first on a Dan Stultz 38-yard field goal, but Cincinnati responded with 17 unanswered points. Jon Ruffin answered Stultz's field goal with a 46-yard boot, and UC quarterback Deontey Kenner added a pair of touchdowns. The first came on a 75-yard TD pass to LaDaris Vann and the second came on a 35-yard run early in the second quarter.
"It was a big shock," Ohio State linebacker Na'il Diggs said of the early deficit. "I could hardly believe it. I'm not used to playing at Ohio State where you get down and come back."
Ohio State backup quarterback Austin Moherman relieved struggling starter Steve Bellisari after the Buckeyes fell behind by two scores, but Moherman did not stay in the game long. He was hit as he threw a pass that was intercepted by UC's Bobby Fuller at the OSU 40-yard line. The Bearcats got a little closer, but had to settle for a 32-yard field goal try by Ruffin. The boot went wide left, and Ohio State took the momentum.
The Buckeyes responded with two touchdown strikes in the final eight minutes of the first half to send the game into halftime tied 17-17. The Buckeyes cut the deficit to seven on a 59-yard touchdown catch by Ken-Yon Rambo from Bellisari. Tailback Michael Wiley then tied the score in the final minute of the half when he scored from 3 yards out with 56 seconds left before the break.
Ohio State outscored Cincinnati 17-3 in the second half to set the final score. The Buckeyes got two touchdowns in the third quarter on runs by Derek Combs and Steve Bellisari of 5 and 11 yards, respectively.
Both teams traded field goals in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring. Stultz made a 41-yard kick, and Ruffin split the uprights on a 23-yard boot.
Despite the win, Cincinnati's four- and five-receiver offensive sets gave the Buckeyes big problems. UC quarterback completed 29 of 52 passes for 343 yards, and the Bearcats (2-2) actually outgained OSU 525-496 in total offense.
Conversely, the Buckeyes did not have a great day on offense. Bellisari completed only 8 of 22 passes for 197 yards. Wiley completed a 50-yard pass and led the rushing attack with 95 yards on 18 carries.
"I don't know if I've been in a tougher ball game," Cooper said. "I'm not sure we played our best ball game. You have to give credit to their football team. They really spread us out on offense."
1982: Stanford 23, No. 13 Ohio State 20 – The headline on the front page of the Oct. 2, 1982, edition of Buckeye Sports Bulletin asked the question many Ohio State football fans were asking after Stanford quarterback John Elway led the Cardinal to an upset victory at Ohio Stadium.
"Did They Call The Right Play?"
The play in question came with Ohio State leading 20-16 and the Buckeyes driving with a second-and-12 at the Stanford 27 with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The OSU sideline called for a pass play, one that resulted in an interception by Stanford's Charles Hutchings. That set up an 80-yard game-winning touchdown drive by Elway that gave Stanford the win.
"That was a bad play," OSU head coach Earle Bruce said after the game. "It was called from the sideline, it was called from the bench, I called it. Obviously we didn't execute that play.
"Bad call. It was a bad call."
Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, that interception was not the only play that left fans scratching their heads. The game-winning score came on a play in which the OSU secondary broke down and left Emile Harry wide open for a touchdown with only 34 seconds left in the game.
"We were in man coverage," Bruce said. "(Elway) rolled away and was pressured out of the pocket and ran around back there until someone lost his man. Then he threw across the field."
Elway's heroics won the game, but Bruce sounded more concerned about his team's lack of offensive production afterwards.
"I don't think you can have four interceptions, two fumbles and as many turnovers as we had and be a real good football team," he said.
Elway was the star of the game. The Cardinal signalcaller completed 35 of 63 passes for 407 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Stanford outgained OSU through the air 407-134. Ohio State starting quarterback Mike Tomczak had only 71 of those yards on 6 of 19 passing with four interceptions.
Tim Spencer tried to pick up the slack, leading all rushers with 91 yards on 26 carries. Spencer also added a 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. The Buckeyes led 13-0 at halftime, but managed only Spencer's touchdown after the break as the Cardinal rallied. A 31-yard field goal by Rich Spangler and a 1-yard TD run by fullback Vaughn Broadnax provided OSU's first-half points.
1976: Missouri 22, No. 2 Ohio State 21 – A 25-game Ohio Stadium winning streak ended with an upset loss to the Tigers. Missouri beat the Buckeyes for the first time in 11 tries by rallying after falling behind 21-7 at halftime. The Tigers capped their rally with a touchdown with only 12 seconds remaining and a two-point conversion. Missouri's first two-point attempt was stopped, but Ohio State was flagged for holding. The ensuing second chance for Missouri worked when quarterback Pete Woods ran to his left and broke through the end zone.
Ohio State fullback Pete Johnson scored all three of his team's touchdowns. He finished with 119 yards on 23 carries.
1971: No. 10 Colorado 20, No. 6 Ohio State 14 – The visiting Buffaloes snapped Ohio State's home winning streak at 19 in a showdown of top-10 teams.
In the first-ever meeting between the schools, Colorado outlasted the Buckeyes in a dramatic fourth quarter. Three of the game's five touchdowns were scored in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter. Many fans were critical of OSU head coach Woody Hayes following the game after the Buckeyes were stopped inside the Colorado 2-yard line twice on downs.
1965: North Carolina 14, Ohio State 3 – Four squandered scoring opportunities cost the Buckeyes in a loss to the visiting Tar Heels. Ohio State was held to 65 rushing yards, and North Carolina looked far fresher than the Buckeyes. UNC had already played a game, losing a home game to Michigan a week earlier. Ohio State did not have a game that week and was the only Big Ten team to not play 10 games in 1965.
1954: Ohio State 28, Indiana 0 – Halfbacks Bobby Watkins and Hopalong Cassady scored two touchdowns apiece to lead Ohio State to a season-opening home victory.
Indiana helped the OSU cause by committing four turnovers. The Buckeyes would next play a nonconference game vs. California at Ohio Stadium.
1948: Ohio State 21, Missouri 7 – A crowd of 57,042 at Ohio Stadium watched the Buckeyes open the season with a win over the Tigers. Fullback Curly Morrison, who was inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday night, led the attack with 68 yards and a touchdown. Morrison replaced starter Joe Whisler after he was injured after scoring the game's first touchdown.
The Buckeyes outgained Missouri 349-179, and quarterback Pandel Savic completed all five of his passes for 84 yards.
1943: Iowa Pre-Flight 28, Ohio State 13 – The Buckeyes lost their season opener for the first time in 49 seasons, thanks to a matchup against a team that featured several former professional players.
The Seahawks, a team representing the U.S. Navy pre-flight school at the University of Iowa, played from 1942-44. They would go on to post a 9-1 record in 1943, with the lone loss coming in a 14-13 game at Notre Dame.
1937: Ohio State 14, TCU 0 – OSU head coach Francis Schmidt beat former assistant Dutch Meyer as the Buckeyes opened the season with a lethargic win over the Horned Frogs. Meyer took over at TCU after Schmidt left the school to come to Ohio State.
A crowd of 68,291 at Ohio Stadium, the largest gathering in the nation that weekend, watched the Buckeyes grind out a victory. With many Big Ten scouts in attendance, Ohio State kept things simple. Fullback Johnny Rabb scored on a 3-yard touchdown run, and halfback Jim Miller caught a 38-yard pass from Mike Kabealo for a third quarter TD that capped the scoring.
TCU quarterback Davey O'Brien did not have a memorable game, but he would later go on to win the Heisman Trophy a year later as the Horned Frogs went 11-0 and won the national champion.
1909: Ohio State 14, Otterbein 0 – Ohio State opened the season with a whitewash of the visiting Cardinals. The Buckeyes would open the season with three straight in-state foes before traveling to Ann Arbor to play Michigan on Oct. 16.