2005: No. 9 Ohio State 25, No. 17 Michigan 21: Another year, another special performance by Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith against Michigan.
Smith led two spectacular touchdown drives in the fourth quarter that helped the Buckeyes erase what was a 21-12 Wolverine lead with less than eight minutes remaining. A touchdown run by tailback Antonio Pittman with 24 seconds left gave Ohio State a dramatic victory – its fourth against U-M in five years – and another trip to the desert to face Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.
"People are going to talk about this one for a while," junior safety Donte Whitner said in the Nov. 26, 2005, edition of Buckeye Sports Bulletin.
The game was close, but the final stats were not. Ohio State rolled up 25 first downs and 418 yards of total offense while Michigan had 17 first downs and only 255 yards of offense. Yet Buckeye mistakes helped the Wolverines tremendously. Two fumbles – one by freshman tailback Maurice Wells and another by Smith when he was attempting to pass – gave Michigan the ball inside OSU territory and the Wolverines turned both turnovers into points.
In fact, Michigan's four scoring drives averaged 38 yards.
"We were in some tough spots, but that's no excuse," OSU senior safety Nate Salley said. "As a defense, we take that as a challenge. They got a couple of touchdowns on us, but we held them to field goals, too, and that made the difference."
Smith also made a big difference. He outshined counterpart Chad Henne and completed 27 of 37 passes for a then-career-high 300 yards and a touchdown. Smith added another 37 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Ohio State looked to be in good shape early. The Buckeyes led 12-7 at halftime thanks to a 4-yard Smith TD run (and a missed extra point) in the first quarter and a pair of Josh Huston field goals of 47 and 25 yards in the second.
Michigan built its lead by scoring 13 unanswered points in the second half. Garrett Rivas made a 27-yard field goal with 10:01 left in the third quarter to cut OSU's lead to 12-10, and a 2-yard TD run by Kevin Grady late in the quarter gave Michigan the lead. That advantage was extended to 21-12 when Rivas added a 19-yard field goal with 7:49 left in the fourth quarter.
After that point, however, Smith added another chapter to his story of domination against Michigan. He started OSU's comeback by moving the offense 67 yards in just over a minute to get within two points. Smith ended the march with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes, one that ended with Holmes diving into the end zone between Michigan defenders. Holmes was flagged for excessive celebration on the play, forcing Ohio State to kick off from its 20-yard line.
Michigan took over near midfield but the OSU defense held the Wolverines to no points. The drive was stalled at the OSU 34, and U-M head coach Lloyd Carr opted to have Rivas punt out of a field-goal formation.
Rivas' punt went out of bounds at the 12-yard line, leaving 88 yards between Smith and a go-ahead score with 4:18 left on the clock.
Smith started the drive with a 9-yard completion to Ted Ginn Jr. in the right flat. Then after a 2-yard rush by Pittman to secure the first down, Smith spun away from the grasp of Michigan linebacker Pierre Woods and found Ginn again, this time for 11 yards.
After going to the right side of the field, Smith looked to his left on the next three plays, hooking up with Ginn again for 6 yards and then with Holmes on back-to-back passes that netted 8 and 10 yards.
Following a 5-yard scramble and a 7-yard pass to Holmes that gave OSU a first down at the U-M 30, Smith and Gonzalez hooked up for the play of the game – one Buckeye fans won't soon forget.
The OSU quarterback rolled to his right, getting away from linebacker David Harris. As he did, Gonzalez cut toward the sideline, and was actually forced out of bounds by Michigan cornerback Grant Mason. But Gonzalez continued his route and turned upfield.
Smith then threw on the run and Gonzalez made a leaping, twisting catch over Mason at the 3-yard line.
"In the end, Smith made too many plays," Carr said. "He scrambled out of there when we thought we had him sacked, and he made the pass. Give him credit."
Two plays later, as Ohio State appeared to be centering the ball for a game-winning field-goal attempt, Pittman ran around left end, getting a huge pancake block from Stan White Jr. on U-M linebacker Prescott Burgess, and scored a 4-yard touchdown with only 24 seconds remaining.
The Wolverines had one last offensive possession following Pittman's score, but time ran out when tight end Tyler Ecker caught a Henne pass and failed to get out of bounds.
Pittman finished with 85 yards rushing on 23 carries. Ginn caught nine passes for 89 yards. Defensively, Anthony Schlegel made 10 tackles. Freshman James Laurinaitis had one tackle and was forced into action when senior linebacker Bobby Carpenter suffered a right leg injury on the Buckeyes' first defensive play.
Carpenter remained with his teammates after the injury and celebrated after the win on the Michigan Stadium turf.
"This is my last Ohio State-Michigan game," a teary-eyed Carpenter said. "I'm not leaving the field until everyone else does."
1994: No. 22 Ohio State 22, No. 15 Michigan: 6: The Buckeyes' victory at Ohio Stadium produced one of the most memorable cover headlines in BSB history.
"Hail To The Victors!," it read, right above a photo of junior tailback Eddie George celebrating with fans as he made his way back to the Ohio State locker room.
"This is the greatest thrill of my life," OSU quarterback Bobby Hoying said in the Nov. 26, 1994, edition of BSB. "This is one of the reasons why you come to Ohio State. You come here with several goals in mind and at the top of that list is beating Michigan. The feeling is just indescribable."
On an uncharacteristically warm November afternoon, OSU head coach John Cooper got his first win over the Buckeyes' archrivals. Cooper, who was so emotional and fired up at halftime that he put his fist through a blackboard, was given a postgame ride off the field on his players' shoulders.
He gave the credit to his players following the game.
"I didn't beat Michigan today," Cooper said. "Our football team beat Michigan. This football program beat Michigan today and we beat an outstanding Michigan football team."
It was an emotional day from the start. Archie Griffin, Rex Kern, Jim Stillwagon and a host of other former OSU players formed a tunnel of pride for the Buckeyes to run through to start the game. That helped provide a spark that produced a 12-3 Ohio State lead by halftime.
The Buckeyes scored the first points of the game on a mistake by the Wolverines' offense. Following a 53-yard punt by Scott Terna that was downed at the U-M 1-yard line, Michigan quarterback Todd Collins tripped over one of his offensive linemen in the end zone and fell for a safety. Ohio State then turned the ensuing free kick into points. Shawn Springs returned the boot to the Michigan 40, where the offense took over and drove 40 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown. Hoying called his own number at the end of the march, diving into the end zone on a 4-yard run. Josh Jackson's extra point gave the Buckeyes a 9-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Jackson later added a 26-yard field goal with 6:22 left before halftime to give OSU a 12-0 lead. U-M kicker Remy Hamilton closed the first-half scoring with a 22-yard field goal with 3:52 left before the break.
The Ohio State offense sputtered in the third quarter, posting only 10 yards of offense, but the defense did its job in holding Michigan at bay. The Wolverines could only add another 22-yard field goal from Hamilton during the quarter, cutting OSU's lead to 12-6.
That set up a dramatic fourth quarter, one in which senior cornerback and co-captain Marlon Kerner and sophomore nose guard Luke Fickell played the heroes. Kerner blocked a 32-yard Hamilton field-goal attempt early in the final quarter, and that play set up the OSU offense on a drive that ended in an important 32-yard field goal by Jackson that extended the Buckeye advantage to 15-6.
On the next play from scrimmage, Fickell took center stage. With Collins back to pass, the Ohio State nose guard batted Collins' pass attempt high into the air and then caught it for his first career interception.
The Buckeyes cashed in on that turnover, too, getting a 2-yard touchdown run from George that closed the scoring and sealed the victory.
"Every year I've heard the same thing: ‘When are you going to beat Michigan? When are you going to beat Michigan?' Well, now I've got an answer to that question," Kerner said. "It was a long time coming, but that makes it just that much sweeter."
Kerner and Fickell weren't the only Buckeyes to have big games. Linebackers Lorenzo Styles and Greg Bellisari combined for 23 tackles, including 16 solo stops. Defensive end Matt Finkes recorded two sacks, giving him 11 on the season – a new OSU single-season record. Fellow defensive end Mike Vrabel added a sack and three tackles for loss.
Offensively, Hoying completed 11 of 18 passes for 125 yards. He got some major help from George, who rushed for 71 hard-earned yards on 27 carries. Senior split end Joey Galloway was the top receiving target, hauling in four catches for 46 yards.
"It doesn't get any better than this," Cooper said. "It's been a long, long time coming, but maybe that's what makes it so special. These players out here and these assistant coaches have worked their butts off for this moment and I am so proud of them. I can't even put it into words.
"It was a great, great, great team victory."
1988: No. 12 Michigan 34, Ohio State 31: The Buckeyes rallied from a 20-point deficit but blew their second-half lead in a loss to the Rose Bowl-bound and visiting Wolverines.
Michigan led 20-0 at halftime and piled up 313 yards before the break. Ohio State then rebounded and held leads of 21-20, 24-20 and 31-27 in the second half. Behind a 170-yard rushing performance from tailback Carlos Snow, Ohio State outgained Michigan 353-186 after halftime but still couldn't come away with a win at Ohio Stadium.
"Obviously, I was proud of our football team," Ohio State head coach John Cooper said in the Nov. 26, 1988, edition of BSB. "The comeback we made was, I guess, about as good as any I've ever been around."
The Wolverines simply outslugged Ohio State. The teams combined for 65 points and 968 yards of total offense. The combined point total was then the third largest in the then-85-game series.
"It used to be the defenses that gave no quarter," U-M head coach Bo Schembechler said. "Now, offense is dominating the series. I'd like to see that stopped."
Schembechler had to be happy with the win, however. His team scored 10 points and both the first and second quarters and then added two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to preserve the victory. The game-winning score came on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Demetrius Brown to John Kolesar with 1:37 left on the clock.
Ohio State scored 24 unanswered points during the third and fourth quarters to erase its first-half deficit. Snow and senior fullback Bill Matlock rushed for touchdowns of 4 and 9 yards, and Bobby Olive caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Greg Frey to give OSU a 21-20 lead. A 21-yard field goal from Pat O'Morrow with 8:30 remaining gave the Buckeyes a 24-20 advantage.
Michigan finally answered when fullback Leroy Hoard rushed for an 8-yard score with 4:20 left. The Buckeyes briefly took the lead back when Matlock reached the end zone with a 16-yard run with 2:02 left. Unfortuately for OSU, Michigan answered less than a minute later with Kolesar's game-clinching TD.
Frey completed 14 of 29 passes with a touchdown and an interception. Defensively, linebacker Orlondo Craig was the OSU leader with 12 tackles. Nose guard and tackle Pat Thomas added 10 stops.
1983: No. 8 Michigan 24, No. 10 Ohio State 21: In the end, it was another close loss in a season full of them for the Ohio State football team. For the first time since 1971, the Buckeyes lost three conference games. Those losses were by six points at Iowa, four points vs. Illinois and three points at Michigan.
"It's been three tough losses if you think about it," OSU head coach Earle Bruce said in the December 1983 edition of BSB. "We've been just a few plays from victory, and we've lost three games. We're a very good 8-3 football team, but that's what we are."
Two second-half turnovers cost Ohio State. With Ohio State leading 14-10 and having momentum after erasing a 10-0 Michigan lead, U-M's Brad Cochran intercepted a Mike Tomczak pass and returned it to the OSU 28-yard line with 34 seconds left in the third quarter. Six plays later, U-M quarterback Steve Smith rushed for a 1-yard touchdown. It gave Michigan the lead for good at 17-14.
Still, the biggest play of the game came with 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Bruce called for a trick play – Tomzcak was to touch the snap, then the center would drop the ball and the guard would come around and run with the ball. But the play backfired when Michigan middle guard Al Sincich charged through the line, causing a pile up at the site of the ball.
The trick play was a big bust, as the Wolverines came out of the pile with the football.
"You take a chance at a big play, and it's either going to go or not go," Tomczak said. "It didn't go."
Michigan took over at its own 40 and drove for another touchdown in a 10-play drive. It was capped with an 8-yard TD pass from Smith to tight end Eric Kattus.
Tomczak led OSU to a late touchdown, a 32-yard connection with Cedric Anderson with 1:52 left, but Ohio State could get no closer.
It was a bitter loss for the Buckeyes, who outgained Michigan 448-415. The loss also took away from what was another good day for tailback Keith Byars. He gave Ohio State its 14-10 lead with a pair of touchdown runs. He finished with 115 yards on 26 carries. Tomczak completed 21 of 40 passes for 298 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Tight end John Frank caught 10 of Tomczak's passes for 123 yards. David Morrill led the OSU defense with 10 stops, including one for a loss.
Ohio State (8-3) could have earned a Sugar Bowl berth with the victory but instead would head west for the Fiesta Bowl against Pitt.
1977: No. 5 Michigan 14, Ohio State 6: The Buckeyes played well but could not pull off the upset in Ann Arbor. Ohio State (9-2, 7-1 Big Ten) led in first downs, 23-10, and in total offense, 352-196, but were hurt by two lost fumbles. Michigan scored its second touchdown on a drive that started when OSU's Ron Springs lost a fumble at the U-M 20-yard line in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter with Michigan holding a 14-6 lead, OSU fumbled on a first-and-goal play from the Wolverine 8. Derek Howard recovered the loose ball and all but ended OSU's hopes of winning.
1966: Michigan 17, Ohio State 3: The Wolverines scored touchdowns in the second and third quarters to break an early 3-3 tie and win a game that was for little more than bragging rights. Ohio State finished the season 4-5, while Michigan improved to 6-4. It was the second and final season under Woody Hayes in which the Buckeyes finished with a losing record.
1960: No. 10 Ohio State 7, Michigan 0: A 17-yard touchdown run by Bob Ferguson was all the scoring the Buckeyes would need to win at Ohio Stadium. His score capped a 42-yard drive in the fourth quarter and prevented what would have been the first scoreless tie between Ohio State and Michigan since 1900. The Buckeyes finished the season 7-2 (5-2 Big Ten).
1955: No. 9 Ohio State 17, No. 5 Michigan 0: Ohio State earned some new fans in East Lansing by knocking off the host Wolverines. The Buckeyes finished atop the Big Ten standings with a 6-0 mark (7-2 overall), but because of the conference no-return rule could not go to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl. The Spartans earned the trip West thanks to OSU's victory against U-M.
Ohio State's defense starred, only allowing Michigan to cross midfield once – on a penalty. End Fred Kriss made a 13-yard field goal in the second quarter, and Hopalong Cassady and Don Vicic scored on short touchdown runs. The Buckeyes missed the point-after attempt after both TDs but got a safety on defense.
1949: No. 7 Ohio State 7, No. 5 Michigan 7: The Buckeyes earned a trip to the Rose Bowl thanks to a tie at Michigan Stadium. Ohio State (6-1-2, 5-1-1 Big Ten) earned its trip to its first Rose Bowl since the Big Ten-Pacific Coast agreement was installed in 1946 by scoring a tying touchdown in the fourth quarter. Fullback Curly Morrison rushed for a 4-yard score and placekicker Jimmy Hague knotted the score with an extra point – on his second attempt. Hague missed his first attempt, but thankfully for OSU, Michigan was offside.
1938: No. 17 Michigan 18, Ohio State 0: The Wolverines earned their first win in the series since 1933 in dominating fashion at Ohio Stadium. Michigan finished the season, its first in its famed winged helmets, by riding halfback Tom Harmon to victory. Harmon rushed 1-yard for a touchdown and threw for another. Ohio State finished the season 4-3-1.
1932: Ohio State 3, Illinois 0: The Buckeyes (4-1-3) won their third straight against the Fighting Illini for the first time. In the final minutes, Mickey Vuchinich converted a field goal from the Illinois 17-yard line on a muddy field at Memorial Stadium in Champaign. Only 6,718 was on hand to watch the game.
1927: Illinois 13, Ohio State 0: Ohio State capped a disappointing 4-4 season with a shutout loss on homecoming in Columbus.
1921: Illinois 7, Ohio State 0: The Buckeyes (5-2) outgained Illinois, 251-128, but squandered scoring opportunities in a season-ending upset loss at Ohio Field. The game was notable for being the reason why Illinois gained the Fighting Illini nickname. Chicago Tribune writer Harvey Woodruff gave the Illini the added adjective in his Sunday column following the contest.
1910: Ohio State 0, Oberlin 0: The Buckeyes earned their third tie of the year in their penultimate game of the season. Ohio State would finish its slate five days later with a 53-0 win against Kenyon, ending the year with a 6-1-3 record.
1904: Ohio State 11, Kenyon 5: Ohio State earned its last win of the season with a win at home. The Buckeyes would finish the season 6-5 after dropping a game against the Carlisle Indians five days later.
1898: Kenyon 29, Ohio State 0: OSU lost for the fourth straight time. The Buckeyes (2-5) were outscored 111-5 in that span, but did finish the season with a 24-0 win against Ohio Wesleyan.
1892: Western Reserve 40, Ohio State 18: The Buckeyes fell to Western Reserve in their final loss of the season. Ohio State ended the season 5-3 after beating Kenyon, 26-10, on Thanksgiving.