A crucial fourth-quarter turnover turned the tide against the Buckeyes (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten). Leading 6-3 early in the final quarter, Ohio State faced a third-and-1 at midfield. Freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor took the snap and rushed on a designed quarterback sneak up the middle. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, Pryor was stripped of the ball by Penn State safety Mark Rubin. Nittany Lions linebacker Navarro Bowman recovered the loose ball for the game's first turnover.
"I thought I was scoring a touchdown," Pryor said of the play. "I was looking at the end zone."
Seven plays later, the Nittany Lions were in the end zone with the game-winning touchdown on a 1-yard sneak by Penn State backup quarterback Pat Devlin. Pryor had one last shot to answer the TD, but after driving the Buckeyes to the PSU 43 in the final seconds, he was intercepted by PSU safety Lydell Sargeant. The quarterback was disheartened after the game.
“I’m close to this senior group and I let them down,” Pryor said. “That’s the way I feel. I’ve never faced adversity like this before in my life.”
“In a ballgame like that, it’s the slimmest of margins,” OSU head coach Jim Tressel said. “Tip your cap to Penn State. They came in and played extremely hard and didn’t make a whole bunch of mistakes.”
Yards were hard to come by for both teams. Ohio State narrowly outgained the Nittany Lions, 287-281. Beanie Wells was limited to a season-low 55 yards, and Pryor was held to 6 yards on the ground. He did complete 16 of 25 passes for a then-career-best 226 yards, however.
All of Ohio State's points came on Aaron Pettrey field goals. He booted a 41-yarder to help the Buckeyes go into halftime knotted 3-3. He later added a 36-yard field goal that gave Ohio State a 6-3 advantage.
2003: No. 8 Ohio State 35, Indiana 6: The Buckeye offense, ranked 114th out of 117 Division I-A teams coming into the game, broke out in a rout of host Indiana.
Lydell Ross rushed for a career-high 167 yards, including 113 in the first quarter, to lead the attack. Quarterback Craig Krenzel completed 15 of 19 passes for 204 yards by halftime and finished with 272 yards before giving way to backup Scott McMullen at the start of the fourth quarter.
Even though those numbers came against the 1-7 Hoosiers, whose only win came against Division I-AA Indiana State, the Buckeyes were pleased following the game.
"We always talk about the fact that we are seeking a balance on offense," OSU head coach Jim Tressel told Buckeye Sports Bulletin following the game. "I thought we did a good job of achieving that kind of balance today."
Ross had a big game in his return to Bloomington, the site of his 124-yard effort as a freshman in 2001. The Buckeyes relied on the junior tailback in their first drive. Ohio State drove 79 yards on eight plays, and Ross carried the ball on six of those plays. He capped the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run that gave the Buckeyes a 7-0 less than three minutes into the game.
Later in the first quarter, Ross had his only blight of the game when he fumbled on the Indiana 13 during another drive. He recovered quickly by scoring his second touchdown a minute into the second quarter. His 2-yard touchdown run was set up by a 49-yard bomb from Krenzel to Drew Carter.
The Buckeyes added another score right before halftime. Krenzel finished the seven-play, 49-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown strike to Santonio Holmes with 0:08 left before the break.
"That was a major turning point," Indiana head coach Gerry DiNardo said. "We could have gone in at halftime down 14-0, which is no fun. But 21-0, the way it happened, really hurt our guys emotionally. Our locker room (at halftime) was flat as a pancake."
Ross added a 1-yard touchdown in the third quarter, and Holmes caught a 47-yard touchdown pass from McMullen in the fourth quarter to close OSU's scoring. Indiana got on the scoreboard with 3:28 remaining on a 17-yard touchdown reception by tailback Chris Taylor from backup QB Graeme McFarland, but the extra-point attempt failed.
Holmes led all receivers with six receptions for 153 yards. Carter finished with three catches for 75 yards, but suffered a season-ending right knee injury in the second half.
Defensively, A.J. Hawk led the way with five tackles, two for a loss, with a sack. Ohio State substituted liberally on both sides of the ball.
1997: No. 9 Ohio State 49, Northwestern 6: What was a tight battle between 1996 Big Ten co-champions through the first half turned into a blowout thanks to five unanswered second-half touchdowns.
It was a dominant performance by the Buckeyes, who outgained the Wildcats 563 to 164 in total yardage. Ohio State also had 32 first downs compared to only nine for Northwestern.
"I thought we had a real good defensive game plan and held them without a touchdown," OSU head coach John Cooper said. "Offensively, we did what we had to do to win the game."
Both Stanley Jackson and Joe Germaine were solid in leading the offense. Jackson completed 8 of 15 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown and also ran for 44 yards. Germaine came off the bench and completed 8 of 12 passes for 177 yards and three scores.
"Both our quarterbacks did a great job of handling the football today," Cooper said. "They did a good job of getting the plays in, checking their receivers. I thought Stan did a good job of running the offense and throwing the boy. Joe - boy, he was hot."
Ohio State had a 14-6 lead at halftime thanks to second-quarter touchdowns by Pepe Pearson on a 13-yard run and Dee Miller on a 27-yard pass from Germaine. The Buckeyes then dominated the second half, reaching the end zone five more times. Pearson added a 6-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter, and Miller, David Boston, Tom Hoying and Ken-Yon Rambo caught touchdown passes to help OSU pull away.
Miller and Boston combined for 182 yards receiving, and Germaine went over the 1,000-yard passing mark for the season.
"Our defense was playing exceptionally well," Miller said. "We knew it would be up to the offense to score points. We were running the ball really well, Dave and I made some big catches, and we just felt the momentum shift toward us."
Kevin N. Johnson led the defense with 10 tackles, including one for a loss. Andy Katzenmoyer, Marcel Willis and Damon Moore each added six stops. Jerry Rudzinski notched two sacks, and Tony Eisenhard, Willis, Rodney Bailey, Johnson and Winfield Garnett each added a sack apiece.
1986: Ohio State 33, Minnesota 0: On a soggy Homecoming, the Buckeyes cruised past the Golden Gophers at Ohio Stadium.
Minnesota entered the game averaging 388.8 total yards per game, but was held to only 189 against Ohio State's defense. The Gophers only managed to cross the 50-yard line once.
"For some reason we've been getting better and playing better and looking better and feeling better about ourselves," OSU head coach Earle Bruce said. "That's a very important thing to happen for a football team this time of year. When you're going into November and you're going into the really meaty part of the schedule, that's very important."
The Buckeyes had to have felt good with a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and a 17-0 lead at halftime. James Bryant scored on touchdown runs of 2 and 33 yards in the first quarter, and Matt Frantz added a 36-yard field goal early in the second.
Cris Carter, who caught five passes for 127 yards, scored two second-half touchdowns from quarterback Jim Karsatos of 27 yards.
"Cris Carter is an exceptional receiver," Bruce said. "He really moves on people and does a great job even if he's getting double-covered."
The defense took care of the rest. Minnesota tailback Darrell Thompson was held to 85 yards, 65 of which coming after halftime, and the Buckeyes held the rest of the Gopher offense in check. It was OSU's second shutout of the season in Big Ten play, the other coming vs. Illinois.
"That‘s always our goal," linebacker Chris Spielman said of the shutout. "It doesn't come around that much and we get two in one year. But I was kind of surprised we shut them down the way we did."
Bryant finished with 99 yards on 25 carries to lead the OSU rushing attack. Karsatos completed 8 of 19 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns.
Spielman led the defense with 17 stops. Fellow linebacker Scott Leach added 13, including two for a loss.
1980: No. 10 Ohio State 21, Wisconsin 0: Temperatures in the mid-30s and intermittent snow flurries were not enough to stop the Buckeyes in a shutout victory over the host Badgers.
The OSU defense forced four turnovers and allowed Wisconsin's offense to get no closer to the end zone than the Buckeye 34. That occurred in the first quarter and after that the Badgers never crossed midfield.
All of the scoring took place in the first half. Art Schlichter scored the first two touchdowns on short runs, and Tim Spencer added a 50-yard scoring run in the second quarter.
1975: No. 1 Ohio State 35, Purdue 6: Archie Griffin became major college football's all-time rushing leader in a blowout win over host Purdue.
Griffin rushed for 130 yards to increase his career total to 4,730 yards, 15 more than the previous record holder, Cornell's Ed Marinaro. Griffin set the mark with a 23-yard burst inside tackle midway through the fourth quarter.
Ohio State started the scoring on its first offense play from scrimmage. Pete Johnson broke through for a 60-yard touchdown to put OSU head 7-0. Purdue answered the score with a field goal, but Griffin set up the Buckeyes by returning the ensuing kickoff 53 yards to the Purdue 37. Seven plays later, Johnson increased the Ohio State lead to 14-7 with his second touchdown, this one coming on a 3-yard plunge.
Again, Purdue answered with a field goal, but after that the Buckeyes scored the game's final 21 points. Cornelius Greene threw touchdown passes to Brian Baschnagel and Lenny Willis and added a 28-yard touchdown run to cap the scoring.
The crowd at Ross-Ade Stadium gave Griffin a standing ovation in the fourth quarter when the OSU starting offense came off the field, replaced by the second team.
1969: No. 1 Ohio State 41, Illinois 0: The Buckeyes celebrated Homecoming in style with a rout of the Fighting Illini in front of 86,576 fans at Ohio Stadium.
Ohio State scored in each quarter and dominated on the stat sheet, piling up 31 first downs and 564 yards of total offense. Rex Kern passed for 193 yards and two touchdowns, both to tight end Jan White. Jim Otis led the running game with 167 yards and a touchdown.
1958: No. 2 Ohio State 7, No. 13 Wisconsin 7: A soggy Homecoming at OSU was damped by a tie vs. the Badgers.
Wisconsin held a 7-0 lead into the third quarter thanks to a 64-yard punt return by Dale Hackbart for a touchdown. Ohio State finally answered on a 66-yard, 20-play drive, capped by a Bob White 1-yard score.
The Badgers drove to the OSU 8 in the final quarter, but the drive stalled when Jim Herbstreit intercepted a Wisconsin pass in the end zone.
1952: Iowa 8, No. 14 Ohio State 0: Under first-year head coach Forest Evashevski, the Hawkeyes pulled off a major upset on Iowa's Homecoming.
The Hawkeyes were three-touchdown underdogs, but all it took was a first-half safety and a fourth-quarter touchdown to knock off the Buckeyes. Ohio State never got its offense in gear and was held to only 215 yards of total offense, only 42 on the ground.
1947: Pittsburgh 12, Ohio State 0: The Panthers managed only one win in '47 and it came at the expense of the visiting Buckeyes.
The win snapped Pitt's 24-game losing streak against Big Ten opponents and featured two Panther touchdowns. Pitt managed only four trips to the end zone all season and finished 1-8.
Before coming to OSU, head coach Wes Fesler had led the program at Pitt and lost the '47 meeting to former assistant Walt Milligan.
1941: No. 13 Northwestern 14, No. 11 Ohio State 7: Northwestern's powerful offensive attack was too much to hand for host Ohio State.
The Wildcats took a 7-0 lead in the first half on a 40-yard pass play from tailback Otto Graham to end Bud Hasse, who took Graham's toss at the OSU 3 and dove into the end zone. It was the first time the Buckeyes had trailed all season.
Ohio State answered with a 65-yard drive for a score, capped by a 1-yard touchdown plunge by sophomore fullback Bob Hecklinger.
Northwestern scored the game-winning touchdown in the second half. The Wildcats took the lead for good on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Graham to Bob Motl.
The final margin did not tell the story of how dominant the Wildcats were in the win. Northwestern led 17-9 in first downs and outgained OSU 368-175.
1924: Ohio State 3, Chicago 3: An injury to fullback Marty Karow left a big hole in the OSU offense, and the Buckeyes could only manage a tie vs. Chicago.
Karow had suffered the injury in Ohio State's Oct. 18 win over Ohio Wesleyan. The tie was the second of three the Buckeyes would record in 1924.
1919: Ohio State 13, Michigan 3: After 15 unsuccessful tries, the Buckeyes finally earned their first win over the archrival Wolverines.
The win, in Ann Arbor no less, came after 13 losses and two ties against Michigan. Both teams entered the game undefeated and unscored upon. The Buckeyes scored the game‘s first points in the first quarter when tackle Iolas Huffman blocked a Michigan punt that end Jim Flowers recovered in the end zone.
Michigan cut into the lead before halftime on a 37-yard field goal by Clifford Sparks, but Ohio State quickly answered in the third quarter. After holding Michigan on downs in the first drive of the second half, the Buckeyes scored on a 42-yard dash by Chic Harley.
That final touchdown sealed the victory for the Buckeyes and enthralled the 5,000 Buckeye fans who made the trip to Michigan's Ferry Field.
1902: Michigan 82, Ohio State 0: The host Wolverines handed Ohio State its worst loss in school history on a memorable afternoon in Michigan.
The margin could have been far worse for the Buckeyes. Touchdowns were worth only five points in 1902. And the game officals stopped the contest midway through the second half because "the game was getting out of hand."
Wolverine halfback, and Ohio native, Albert Herrnstein scored six of Michigan's touchdowns. He would later become Ohio State's head coach in 1906.
The day wasn't a total loss for Buckeye fans. On the train returning to Ohio that evening, Fred A. Cornell wrote the lyrics to what later became OSU's official alma mater, "Carmen Ohio."