After the Buckeyes cruised at Ryan Field, Daniel Murray booted a late field goal to give the Hawkeyes a 24-23 win that pulled OSU back into a tie with the Nittany Lions. Penn State had handed OSU its first conference loss in its last game two weeks earlier. Both Ohio State and Penn State trailed Michigan State, who held a 6-1 Big Ten mark.
“We still want to look up at the end of the year and see only two losses,” senior captain and cornerback Malcolm Jenkins said. “That’s the only thing we can control. With that, we’ve got to win all these games.”
The Buckeyes had little trouble in Evanston, thanks in large part to the one-two punch of Beanie Wells and Terrelle Pryor. Wells rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns while Pryor threw for 197 yards and three scores. The duo helped Ohio State earn its 14th consecutive conference road victory and its 16th win in the last 17 trips to Evanston.
Two weeks after losing 13-6 at Penn State, Ohio State's offense had a big bounce back. The Buckeyes scored 45 points and recorded 441 yards of total offense. That helped OSU continue its dominance of the Pat Fitzgerald-led Wildcats, who had lost four in a row to Jim Tressel in the Buckeyes by a combined score of 205-34. Tressel saw room for improvement, however.
“Offensively, I’m not sure we were as consistent as we would like to be,” he said. “We made more plays than perhaps we had in the last few outings, but it is definitely some progress.”
Ohio State opened the game with a touchdown on its first offensive possession. Wells rushed for a 2-yard score, and Ryan Pretorius added the extra point to make it 7-0 at the 10:48 mark of the first quarter. Northwestern answered, however, with a 13-play, 67-yard drive led by backup quarterback Mike Kafka. He rushed for 10 of those 13 plays, including a 1-yard TD plunge that helped knot the game 7-7 with 4:43 left in the opening period.
Wells and Ohio State retook the lead early in the second quarter. The tailback posted his longest run of the season to date, 55 yards, en rout to the end zone. Pretorius' PAT made it 14-7 with 14:03 remaining before halftime. The score changed the tone of the game.
“We got the run stopped and Beanie makes a nice run and comes out of it,” Fitzgerald said. “It goes from being a tackle for no gain to a long touchdown. I thought that was a really big play in the game. I thought we had a good attack – we just didn’t finish the play. Credit goes to him.”
The Buckeyes added two more first-half scored to take command of the game. The first came on a 33-yard Pretorius field goal with 10:04 left in the quarter. The second game at the end of a 12-play, 90-yard drive that was capped by a Pryor TD pass to Brian Robiskie of 15 yards. The PAT made it 24-7, which was the score at halftime. Northwestern scored first after the break, getting a 25-yard field goal by Amado Villarreal that made it 24-10 with 11:03 to go in the third quarter. Yet that was as close as the Wildcats would get.
Pryor tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to Rory Nicol with just 34 second left in the third quarter to make it 31-10 before the Buckeyes capped the win with two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter on another Robiskie TD catch and Boom Herron scoring run.
Robiskie finished with three receptions for 58 yards and two touchdowns. Brian Hartline added two receptions for 90 yards. Defensively, senior middle linebacker James Laurinaitis tallied 11 tackles and also had an interception, his second the season.
2003: No. 7 Ohio State 33, No. 14 Michigan State 23: The Buckeyes knocked the visiting Spartans out of a virtual first-place tie in the Big Ten and kept pace with fellow conference co-leaders Purdue and Michigan. Ohio State took control of its own destiny by beating Michigan State, as the Buckeyes had only Purdue and Michigan left on its schedule.
The win also kept Ohio State's hopes of returning to the BCS title game alive.
"Just keep winning," OSU defensive end Will Smith said. "That's all we're focused on right now. Just keep winning."
Ohio State piled up 395 yards of offense, 182 on the ground and 213 through the air. Starting quarterback Craig Krenzel, who was the subject of speculation on how much he would be able to play after suffering a rib injury and a slight concussion a week earlier at Penn State, led the way by accounting for 246 yards and throwing three touchdown passes.
Krenzel completed 12 of 23 passes after OSU head coach Jim Tressel touched off a mini quarterback controversy by intimating that backup Scott McMullen would see meaningful playing time following his performance against the Nittany Lions in OSU's 21-20 win. McMullen did play against the Spartans, but only in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach.
"I was more motivated offensively because we haven‘t done as well as we should have all year long," Krenzel said. "We know coming down the stretch here that we‘re going to need to put some points on the board."
The Spartans started the scoring with a 95-yard scoring drive that was capped by a 25-yard touchdown reception by Agim Shabaj from Jeff Smoker, but Ohio State rebounded with 14 second-quarter points behind touchdown receptions by Ben Hartsock and Santonio Holmes. The Buckeyes led 17-10 at halftime and pulled away in the second half behind a 2-yard touchdown reception by Ryan Hamby and three Mike Nugent field goals.
Lydell Ross led the Buckeye rushing attack with 125 yards on 24 carries. Krenzel added 33 rushing yards on 14 carries. Hartsock led the receiving efforts with three receptions for 54 yards.
1997: No. 7 Ohio State 31, Minnesota 3: The Buckeyes moved a game closer to a showdown against top-ranked Michigan with a rout of the host Golden Gophers.
The day featured several upsets, and with Michigan's 34-8 victory over then-No. 3 Penn State, the Wolverines moved up to No. 1 in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN polls. Ohio State improved to No. 4 by blasting Minnesota. The Buckeyes took advantage of early Minnesota turnovers and rode quarterback Joe Germaine to victory. Germaine, one of the Big Ten and national leaders in passing efficiency going into the game, connected on 17 of 21 passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns.
"I thought Joe did a great job today, particularly coming back to his second and third receivers," OSU head coach John Cooper said. "A couple times they were coming with a safety blitz and Joe got off his first read and got the ball to David (Boston) or Dee (Miller) or the tight ends."
Germaine came off the bench in the second quarter and led a pair of scoring drives as Ohio State cruised to a 24-3 lead by halftime. Boston caught eight passes for 94 yards and two scores. Miller added five receptions for 80 yards.
The Buckeyes took advantage of opportunities to build their lead. Jerry Rudzinski stripped Minnesota receiver Tutu Atwell of the football on an early Minnesota drive, and safety Damon Moore scooped up the ball and returned it to the Minnesota 18. After a defensive holding call moved the ball to the 9-yard line, Pepe Pearson got the Buckeyes on the scoreboard with a TD run on first down.
Another Gopher miscue set up the Buckeyes for their second score. Minnesota receiver Luke Leverson fumbled on his team's next drive, and safety Gary Berry recovered the ball and returned it to the Minnesota 27. Ohio State was held to a 38-yard field goal by Dan Stultz, but the Buckeyes had the momentum and never let up.
"I'm embarrassed with the way we played," Minnesota head coach Glen Mason said. "We didn't play very well. Ohio State is a talented team, but we are capable of playing better than that. We took a major step back today.
"You can't fumble and drop passes and compete at this level."
Boston added a 6-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter, and John Lumpkin added a 25-yard touchdown catch before halftime. Boston later scored again on a fourth-quarter, 4-yard TD strike to close the scoring.
Ohio State's defense held the Gophers to 157 yards of offense and notched a season-high seven sacks.
"I think the front seven came out ready to play today," said OSU linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer, who led the Buckeyes with eight tackles. "The safeties were coming up on support. (Cornerbacks) Antoine (Winfield) and Ahmed (Plummer) pretty much shut down their passing game."
Only a Senior Day game Nov. 15 vs. Illinois was left before a top-5 showdown at Ann Arbor.
1986: No. 11 Ohio State 30, Northwestern 9: Despite allowing 497 yards to the Wildcat offense, the Buckeyes still cruised to a Big Ten victory at Ohio Stadium.
Northwestern threw for 337 yards through the air, but three of quarterback Mike Greenfield‘s passes were intercepted by the Buckeyes. Two were caught by Greg Rogan, with the other by Sonny Gordon.
"I felt like I could have made a few plays I missed today, but I'm pretty happy with my performance," said Rogan, who also recorded 11 tackles in the win. "They were carrying out their fakes a lot, and running a lot of routes in front of our deep backs.
"We really played them tough, but we gave up way too many yards. We can do a lot of better than that."
The game was an example of how sometimes statistics lie. Not only did the Wildcats outgain the Buckeyes, 497-450, but Northwestern also had four more offensive plays than Ohio State and had the same number of first downs (27).
"I think that demonstrates a little bit that a team can move the ball from the 20 to the 20," OSU head coach Earle Bruce said. "Our defense did a good job of keeping them out of the end zone and only giving up three field goals."
While Northwestern struggled to find the end zone, Ohio State scored three touchdowns. Cris Carter started the game's scoring with a 20-yard touchdown reception from Jim Karsatos as the Buckeyes built a 10-0 first-quarter lead, which extended to 17-3 at halftime thanks to a Vince Workman 14-yard scoring run in the second quarter.
Workman later added a 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Matt Frantz made three field goals in the win from 41, 20 and 23 yards.
Northwestern was held to three John Duvic field goals from 32, 39 and 30 yards.
Karsatos completed 15 of 29 yards for 211 yards and a score, while Workman added 123 yards on 22 carries.
1980: No. 7 Ohio State 49, Illinois 42: The Fighting Illini scored the most points an OSU opponent had totaled since 1946, but the Buckeyes still had enough offense to earn the victory.
Ohio State built a 28-0 lead through the midway point of the second quarter before Illini quarterback Dave Wilson almost led his team to a major upset. Wilson completed 43 of 69 passes for 621 yards and had a hand in all six of Illinois' touchdowns (five passing, one rushing).
Wilson's efforts overshadowed an impressive afternoon by OSU signalcaller Art Schlichter, who completed 17 of 21 passes for 284 yards and four touchdowns. It was the only time during his 48 games at Ohio State that Schlichter threw four touchdowns in one game.
Illinois outgained OSU, 659-398, but seven Illini turnovers led the Buckeyes to victory.
1975: No. 1 Ohio State 40, Illinois 3: The Buckeyes spotted the Illini an early 3-0 lead before routing the hosts at Memorial Stadium.
Ohio State answered Illinois' score with 10 points in both the second and third quarters. The Buckeyes then broke the game open with 20 fourth-quarter points. Pete Johnson led the way in the victory and set what was then a Big Ten record with his 20th and 21st touchdowns of the season. His efforts broke the record of 20 set by OSU's Champ Henson in 1972.
Kicker Tom Skladany set a school record with a 59-yard field goal. Archie Griffin scored the game's first touchdown on a 30-yard run and finished with 127 yards.
1969: No. 1 Ohio State 62, Wisconsin 7: Even without an injured Rex Kern, the Buckeyes had little trouble with the Badgers.
Kern reinjured his shoulder in OSU's win over Northwestern a week earlier, but Ron Maciejowski made sure Ohio State did not miss a beat in Kern's absence. The backup accounted for 247 of OSU's 595 yards of total offense with two touchdown passes. He left the game early in the second half with the Buckeyes leading 34-0.
Six different Buckeyes scored touchdowns in the rout, and Ohio State outgained the Badgers 595-176. Only a late Wisconsin touchdown in the fourth quarter prevented a shutout.
1958: No. 16 Ohio State 14, No. 8 Purdue 14: Tackle Jim Marshall had an unforgettable afternoon as the Buckeyes managed a tie against the Boilermakers.
Marshall scored both of Ohio State's touchdowns. In the first quarter he scooped up a blocked punt and returned it 22 yards for a score. Later he added a 25-yard interception return for another touchdown.
Marshall's heroics were needed because of the struggles of Ohio State's offense. The Buckeyes managed only one first down and 37 total yards in the second half. Purdue scored twice in the fourth quarter to earn the tie and outgained OSU 374-180.
1952: Pittsburgh 21, Ohio State 14: Despite 282 passing yards from quarterback John Borton, the Panthers' defense did enough in a non-conference victory.
Borton had a hand in both of OSU's scores, but the Pittsburgh defense held OSU to only 51 yards rushing in the loss. Red Dawson's Panthers scored a touchdown in each of the first three quarters. Pitt's defensive unit was led by linebacker Joe Schmidt, who later gained fame with the NFL's Detroit Lions.
1947: Ohio State 7, Northwestern 6: The Buckeyes broke a two-game losing streak with a 1-point victory over the visiting Wildcats in a game that featured one of the most bizarre finishes in college football history.
Northwestern scored first on a 1-yard touchdown run by halfback Frank Aschenbrenner early in the fourth quarter, but Jim Farrar's conversion attempt was wide. For a while it looked like that score would hold up. The Wildcats even held OSU on downs at the NU 1 with only 1:47 remaining, sending many of the 70,203 fans at Ohio Stadium to the exits. However, they missed a memorable finish.
The OSU defense forced a punt and Bob Demmel put the Buckeyes in business when he returned the punt to the Northwestern 36 with 31 seconds remaining. On first down, quarterback Pandel Savic completed a 24-yard pass to Demmel to the Wildcat 12 with 13 seconds remaining. Savic's next pass was intercepted, though, and it appeared that the game was over. Even the Ohio State Marching Band started to come onto the field for its postgame show. However, Northwestern had 12 men on the field and the Buckeyes had one more shot.
The Buckeyes tried a reverse with Rodney Swinehart carrying the ball, but the Wildcats stopped him at the 2-yard line. Yet again the game was not over because of a Northwestern penalty. The third time was the charm for the Buckeyes, as Savic found Jimmy Clark in the end zone for a game-tying touchdown.
The drama was not over, however, as Emil Moldea's conversion attempt was blocked. But Northwestern was again penalized because two of its players were offsides. Moldea's second attempt was good, giving Ohio State a dramatic 1-point win.
1941: No. 20 Ohio State 46, Wisconsin 34: On Massillon Day at Ohio Stadium, the Buckeyes outlasted the Badgers.
Ohio State head coach Paul Brown and UW coach Harry Stuhldreher grew up in the Stark County city, and both coaches saw their offenses score a combined 12 touchdowns. Wisconsin scored first, but the Buckeyes rallied to take a 20-7 lead after the first quarter and never trailed again.
Fullback Jack Graf led the OSU offense with three touchdown runs. Dick Fisher scored twice and Tom Knikade and Bob Shaw both added a touchdown apiece.
The Massillon Washington High School band played at halftime and spelled out both PAUL and HARRY, and both coaches attended a Massillon High School Booster Club meeting in downtown Columbus following the game.
1930: Ohio State 27, Navy 0: Wes Fesler had one of his best games as a Buckeye in the win over the Midshipmen in Baltimore.
Fesler played both halfback and end, punted, played defense and even threw a touchdown pass to Dick Larkins.
With the victory, the Buckeyes broke a three-game winless streak that included two losses and a tie.
1924: Indiana 12, Ohio State 7: A late rally fell just short in OSU's loss to the visiting Hoosiers.
The Buckeyes drove 93 yards from their 4-yard line to the IU 3 but could not punch in a game-winning touchdown. Ohio State's lone score came on a short run by Ollie Klee.
Both Indiana touchdowns were scored by Lawrence Marks.
1919: Ohio State 20, Purdue 0: The host Buckeyes improved to 5-0 with a whitewash of the Boilermakers.
Chic Harley had a hand in two OSU touchdowns, one on a 30-yard run and the other on a 13-yard pass to Bill Slyker.
The game marked the first time the Buckeyes and Boilermakers met on the gridiron.
1913: Wisconsin 12, Ohio State 0: In the first meeting between the Buckeyes and Badgers, it was host Wisconsin taking the victory.
Ohio State was in the midst of a three-game winless streak with home games vs. Case and Northwestern still remaining on the schedule.
1902: Case 23, Ohio State 12: The Buckeyes lost for the final time in '02 in game vs. the instate rival Spartans.
It was one of only two losses Ohio State was suffer. The other came in an 86-0 drubbing at Michigan.