"We talked going into this football game that if you want to win on the road in this league, the first thing you have to be is superior in the special teams, and we weren't," Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said in the Oct. 12, 2002, edition of Buckeye Sports Bulletin. "We always say you have to play relentless defense. I think when we were at the point where we had given up three field goals, we were OK. But it was disappointing to see that (third-quarter) touchdown.
"And then, offensively, we always say you have to be mistake-free on the road. You cannot go on the road in the Big Ten and make mistakes. We turned it over three times. That was disappointing."
Ohio State's players weren't happy after the game, either.
"I don't think anybody is happy with the way things ended up," tight end Ben Hartsock said. "Of course, we got the ‘W,' but we're not going to be able to play like this in weeks to come and be a contender for the Big Ten championship."
The performance by freshman tailback Maurice Clarett perhaps represented the entire night for the Buckeyes. Clarett rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns, but he lost three fumbles as Northwestern kept it close into the final minutes.
"I think everybody was in shock," Clarett said. "We looked at it statistical-wise and felt we were going to rip this team. I think we came out and took it kind of lightly. That's what I think I did.
"I didn't have my running style. I didn't have my feet under me or my explosive style. But we came out with the win. That's all that matters to me."
Northwestern led 6-0 after the first quarter thanks to a pair of David Wasielewski field goals. Ohio State (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) rebounded to take a 14-9 halftime advantage thanks to a 3-yard TD run by Lydell Ross and a 2-yard TD burst by Clarett with 2:43 left before halftime.
Mike Nugent booted a 41-yard field goal in the third quarter, and after Clarett added a 20-yard TD, Ohio State led 24-9. Northwestern did not quit, however, narrowing its deficit on a 9-yard touchdown run by tailback Jason Wright with 1:57 left in the third quarter.
Ohio State was able to withstand the Wildcats and closed the scoring with 11:28 remaining on a 30-yard Nugent field goal.
Clarett led the offense but got a boost from quarterback Craig Krenzel. The signal caller completed 11 of 22 passes for 170 yards and rushed nine times for 62 yards. Michael Jenkins caught four passes for 64 yards.
Defensively, Matt Wilhelm made 15 tackles and one for a loss. Cie Grant intercepted a pass and Donnie Nickey recovered a fumble.
1996 – No. 3 Ohio State 38, No. 4 Penn State 7: A showdown between a pair of top-five teams turned into a laugher for the host Buckeyes, who rode junior quarterback Stanley Jackson to victory.
Jackson threw for 169 yards and two touchdowns on 11-for-22 passing and added 53 yards on eight carries.
"I'm just sticking within the program," the junior QB said in the Oct. 12, 1996, edition of BSB. "The coaches make great calls and I know they're going to work as long as I do what I'm coached to do."
Jackson quickly set the tone for the afternoon. He completed eight of his first 13 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns as the Buckeyes raced out to a 17-0 lead midway through the second quarter. Penn State had stacked the box in order to stop Pepe Pearson, and Jackson made them pay.
"It's important for Stanley to get out to a good start and he did that today," offensive tackle Orlando Pace said. "Our offensive line also got off to a good start."
Jackson agreed with that last statement.
"The protection was tremendous," Jackson said. "I think a couple of times I was back there I was able to take three or four hitches. The protection is so good that if somebody gets back there and hits me, they come back and get them off me.
"As long as they are going to continue to play well, we're going to be hard to beat."
Ohio State, who outgained PSU 565-211, led 24-0 at halftime. Jackson started the scoring with a 42-yard touchdown pass to Dimitrious Stanley early in the first quarter. Josh Jackson added a 30-yard field goal later in the quarter.
In the second quarter, Jackson tossed a 24-yard TD pass to Matt Keller, and Joe Germaine added a scoring strike of 34 yards to Stanley. Pearson added a third-quarter 1-yard scoring run, and Germaine tossed another score on a 3-yard pass to Matt Calhoun in the fourth quarter.
Penn State closed the scoring with a 1-yard TD run by Anthony Cleary with 6:03 remaining.
Pearson finished with 141 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. Defensively, Ohio State held PSU standout tailback Curtis Enis to 34 yards on 11 carries. Damon Moore had 11 tackles to pace the defense, and four Buckeyes – Andy Katzenmoyer, Matt Finkes, Greg Bellisari and Mike Vrabel – recorded sacks.
"Today was our day," OSU head coach John Cooper said. "This was a great victory. I don't know if we can play much better than this."
1991 – No. 13 Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 16: The Buckeyes opened a season 4-0 for the first time in seven years and began Big Ten play with a win for the first time since 1987 thanks to a home win over the Badgers.
Despite those positives, many of the postgame questions surrounded Ohio State's quarterback situation – namely whether junior Kirk Herbstreit had overtaken senior Kent Graham for the starter QB spot.
"Nothing has changed yet until we announce it," Cooper said in the Oct. 12, 1991, edition of BSB. "We have two quarterbacks who can play, that we have confidence in right now."
The questions kept coming, however, irritating Cooper.
"Until we announce otherwise, without getting any controversy from any of you, we're 4-0, we're happy to be there," said Cooper, raising his voice. "We have two quarterbacks who can play and we'll let you know later on who's No. 1 and who's No. 2. Period. Case closed. Who's got another question? I don't want to talk about the quarterbacks."
Graham started the game and had a solid stat line – 9 of 12 passing for 119 yards and a touchdown. He led three scoring drives but also threw an interception and lost a fumble. Herbstreit entered the game with 6:21 left in the fourth quarter and OSU leading 17-2. He electrified the Ohio Stadium crowd with a 32-yard touchdown run and completed 1 of 3 passes for 13 yards.
No matter the quarterback, Ohio State fared well against the visiting Badgers. The Buckeyes scored a touchdown in both the first and second quarters to take a 14-2 halftime advantage. Raymont Harris started the scoring with a 1-yard run, and Graham connected with Bernard Edwards on a 22-yard TD with 8:51 left before the break that answered UW's safety.
The rest of the scoring came in the fourth quarter. Tim Williams made it 17-2 with a 41-yard field goal. Herbstreit's TD made it 24-2 before Wisconsin answered with a TD. Harris added his second score, coming on a 6-yard run, with 1:17 remaining before Wisconsin closed the scoring with a TD with 11 seconds remaining.
"There were some good things and bad things about this game, but hey, we're 4-0 and you won't hear me complain," Cooper said. "There are a lot of teams in the country who would like to be in our shoes right now. We're 4-0 and happy about that."
Scottie Graham led OSU's rushing attack with 63 yards on 10 carries, while Butler By'not'e added 62 on 21 carries. Edwards caught three passes for 53 yards. Defensively, Steve Tovar led OSU with seven tackles.
1985 – Illinois 31, No. 5 Ohio State 28: A game featuring several big momentum swings ultimately swung toward the Fighting Illini in Champaign.
Chris White made a 38-yard field goal as time expired to give Illinois the victory, dropping Ohio State to 3-1 (0-1 Big Ten). It also made his father, Illinois head coach Mike White, very proud.
"I've got a lot of faith in that son of mine," Mike White said in the Oct. 12, 1985, edition of BSB. "His temperament is unbelievable."
Ohio State trailed 14-0, then rallied to take a 28-14 lead and then eventually saw the Illini rally for the upset victory. All of OSU's touchdowns came in the second and third quarters. Jim Karsatos rushed for a 1-yard TD, and Vince Workman added a 35-yard scoring run to allow the Buckeyes to go into halftime tied 14-14.
The Buckeyes took the lead in the third quarter thanks to a pair of touchdown passes to Cris Carter. He caught scoring strikes of 24 and 23 yards from Karsatos. Illinois answered with a TD in the third quarter and another in the fourth quarter to tie the game before the younger White's heroics.
"It's a tough loss when you lose in the last four seconds of the ball game," OSU head coach Earle Bruce said. "That's tough. A fine win for Illinois and naturally, a tremendous defeat for Ohio State."
Workman finished with 100 yards on 15 carries, while Karsatos completed 7 of 17 passes for 147 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Carter caught seven passes for 147 yards. Defensively, Chris Spielman and Pepper Johnson both recorded 18 tackles.
1974 – No. 1 Ohio State 42, Washington State 7: Ohio State capped its nonconference slate with a road rout. The Buckeyes (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) led 35-7 at halftime, and Archie Griffin led the attack with 196 yards and a highlight reel-worthy 75-yard touchdown run – the longest of his career. Fullback Champ Henson scored two touchdowns in his first start of the season. The game was played at Huskie Stadium in Seattle to account for a larger crowd than what WSU could draw in Pullman. An estimated 50,000 packed the stadium.
1968 – No. 6 Ohio State 21, Oregon 6: Despite six turnovers, the Buckeyes cruised past the visiting Ducks. Mike Polaski opened the scoring with a 9-yard return of a blocked punt. In the second half, Jim Otis rushed for a 35-yard TD and Bruce Jankowski caught a 55-yard scoring strike from Ron Maciejowski.
1963 – Ohio State 21, Indiana 0: Ohio State (2-0) opened Big Ten play with a blanking of the Hoosiers in Bloomington. Quarterback Don Unverferth threw for two touchdowns – a 24-yard connection to Greg Lashutka and a 4-yarder to Paul Warfield. Dick VanRaaphorst made a pair of field goals, including a then-Big Ten record 48-yard boot. OSU capped its scoring with a fourth-quarter safety.
1957 – Ohio State 35, Washington 7: A 81-yard punt return for a touchdown by Don Sutherin broke a 7-7 halftime tie and sparked the Buckeyes to a lopsided win in Seattle. Ohio State outgained Washington 353-221 and recovered well from a season-opening 18-14 home loss to TCU a week earlier.
1946 – Ohio State 21, USC 0: A week after a disappointing tie against visiting Missouri in the season opener, Ohio State went to Los Angeles and pummeled the Trojans. Sophomore fullback Joe Whisler ran for all three of OSU's touchdowns and finished with 73 yards.
1940 – Ohio State 17, Purdue 14: The defending Big Ten champions got a scare from the visiting Boilermakers in the first conference game of the season. Ohio State (2-0) led 14-0 at halftime on TD runs by Dick Fisher and Jim Langhurst before Purdue rallied and tied the game with a pair of second-half scores. The Buckeyes earned the victory with a Charlie Maag 29-yard field goal with 19 seconds remaining.
1935 – Ohio State 19, Kentucky 6:1 Gomer Jones nabbed two interceptions and a fumble recovery in a season-opening victory. John Bettridge scored two touchdowns, and Joe Williams added another score.
1929 – Ohio State 19, Wittenberg 0: A sloppy-at-times performance still equaled a season-opening win for the Buckeyes. All 19 points were scored in the second half.
1918 – Ohio State 41, Ohio Wesleyan 0: The Battling Bishops were blanked in the first of three nonconference games Ohio State (1-0) would play before ending the year with three Big Ten games.
1912 – Ohio State 55, Otterbein 0: Ohio State opened the season on the road for the first time since 1893 and emerged with a shutout victory – the last against the Cardinals.
1907 – Ohio State 16, Muskingum 0: The Buckeyes improved to 2-0 with a win vs. the Fighting Muskies.
1904 – Ohio State 46, Muskingum 0: OSU played a rare Wednesday game, besting Muskingum to move to 3-0.
1901 – Ohio State 30, Wittenberg 0: Ohio State bounced back from a season-opening tie vs. Otterbein with a home win over the Tigers.
1895 – Ohio State 14, Akron 6: The Buckeyes opened the season with a home victory.