The Buckeyes had to earn their trip to Pasadena. Ohio State blew a 14-point fourth quarter lead before the OSU defense stood tall in overtime and kicker Devin Barclay became the most celebrated player on campus for a night. The former walk-on made a 39-yard field goal to set off big celebration on the field that included fans that stormed the field.
"This team has handled adversity and worked hard to get better … and we're very proud of these seniors," OSU head coach Jim Tressel said after accepting the Rose Bowl's formal invitation. "None of our kids have gone to the Rose Bowl. I haven't been there for 25 years. There's nothing like it."
The Hawkeyes forced the Buckeyes to play their first overtime game in Ohio Stadium since a 16-13 win over Purdue in 2003 with a pair of fourth-quarter scores. Buckeye fans were probably already making preparations for Pasadena early in the final period when tailbacks Dan "Boom" Herron and Brandon Saine added touchdown runs of 11 and 49 yards to give Ohio State a 24-10 lead with 11:11 left in regulation.
Yet Iowa did not quit. After Saine's long touchdown run, the Hawkeyes answered quickly. Junior speedster Derrell Johnson-Koulianos returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, and with less than three minutes remaining redshirt freshman quarterback James Vandenberg tossed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Marvin McNutt to tie the game and eventually sent the contest to overtime.
In overtime, the Buckeye defense came through. Three seniors made big plays when Iowa started on offense. Vandenberg was forced to throw the ball away on first down, and senior linebacker Austin Spitler put the Hawkeyes in a third-and-long situation when he stuffed running back Adam Robinson for a 6-yard loss on second down. The Buckeyes then recorded their only sack of the game when senior lineman Doug Worthington broke through and dropped Vandenberg for a 10-yard loss. That forced Iowa out of field goal range, and Vandenberg's desperation throw on fourth down as picked off by senior safety Anderson Russell in the end zone.
With the Buckeyes needing only a field goal to win the game, Ohio State went conservative on offense. Herron was stopped for a 2-yard loss on first down, and gained 3 back on second down. Instead of running a third-down play, Tressel elected to send Barclay on the field for a field-goal attempt. The former Major League Soccer player's boot was true, sending many of the 105,455 fan in attendance to the Ohio Stadium turf.
"We did it, baby!" senior offensive lineman Jim Cordle shouted following the game as he poured a bottle of water over his own head. "We got five (Big Ten championship) rings and we did it! We're going to the Rose Bowl! I can't stop saying it!"
Defenses ruled the day in the first half. Both teams managed only a field goal apiece before Saine capped an eight-play, 74-yard drive with a 22-yard touchdown run to give the Buckeyes a 10-7 lead at halftime.
Iowa answered in the third quarter on a Vandenberg 9-yard touchdown pass to McNutt to tie the game 10-10 and set up the dramatic fourth quarter.
Saine finished with a game-high 103 yards to lead Ohio State. The Buckeyes finished with 322 yards of total offense, including 229 on the ground. That last figure represented the highest total given up by Iowa in 2009.
OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor was an efficient 14 for 17 in the passing department for 93 yards, completing passes to seven different receivers. Senior tight end Jake Ballard had three catches for 25 yards while Saine also had three receptions for 15 yards.
Vandenberg, who made his first career start in place of injured starter Ricky Stanzi, completed 20 of 33 attempts for 233 yards with two TDs and three interceptions. McNutt made six receptions for 78 yards. Robinson rushed for 74 yards on 20 carries.
Defensively, junior linebacker Ross Homan led the Buckeyes with eight tackles, including one for loss, and an interception. Russell had the other two picks.
1998: No. 7 Ohio State 45, Iowa 14 – The Buckeyes came to Iowa City wounded after losing their No. 1 ranking because of a shocking home loss Nov. 7 to Michigan State, but if there was any hangover left they didn't show it in routing the Hawkeyes.
"This makes me feel better," OSU cornerback Antoine Winfield said in the Nov. 14, 1998, edition of Buckeye Sports Bulletin. "Last week we really didn't have a good effort, but we came out today and played hard."
Ohio State (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten) used a late first-half touchdown to get the momentum necessary to rout Iowa. Ohio State scored three unanswered touchdowns to erase an early 7-0 Hawkeye lead, gained on the first play following a D.J. Johnson 73-yard interception return of a Joe Germaine pass. The Buckeyes answered 10 seconds later on an 80-yard touchdown run by Joe Montgomery on the first play of the ensuing drive.
"It was a counter trey," Montgomery said of the TD play. "I followed (right tackle) Tyson Walter through the hole. (Rob Murphy) crumbled the guy. I went down the sideline and I saw one more guy coming. (Wide receiver David Boston) did a good job of picking him up."
Boston caught a 54-yard touchdown pass to give the Buckeyes the lead, and Mike Collins built the lead with a 22-yard interception return early in the second quarter. Iowa answered with a 13-yard touchdown run by Kyle McCann, but Ohio State took momentum into halftime thanks to a quick-strike touchdown. A 17-yard TD pass from Joe Germaine to Boston with only 27 seconds left before the break capped a 4-play, 59-yard drive that took only 36 seconds.
Germaine threw another touchdown in the third quarter, this one going to Matt Keller for 16 yards. Dan Stultz and Jamar Martin capped the scoring with a 27-yard field goal and a 10-yard touchdown run, respectively, in the fourth quarter.
Defensively, Ohio State registered a season-best 11 sacks.
"It was a great performance – the defensive line, the linebackers and the secondary together," Winfield said. "We came in at halftime and made some adjustments and things worked out well."
1992: No. 19 Ohio State 27, Indiana 10 – The annual battle with archrival Michigan was still to be played, the Ohio State learned its postseason fate after blasting the host Hoosiers.
Ohio State (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten) formerly accepted a bid to play in the 47th annual Florida Citrus Bowl on New Year's Day.
"We have always strived to bring the highest ranked teams available, and we think Ohio State deserves this honor," Bob Moore, chairman of the Citrus Bowl selection committee, said in the Nov. 21, 1992, BSB. "We're looking forward to having Ohio State back. Their young men have certainly played their way here."
Part of that included the victory in Bloomington. Sophomore tailback Robert Smith rushed for a career-high 175 yards and two touchdowns, and senior linebacker Steve Tovar recorded 11 tackles with one interception and a blocked punt.
The win almost gave Ohio State a chance to battle Michigan with a Rose Bowl berth on the line. However, Michigan placekicker Peter Elezovic made a 39-yard field goal to salvage a 22-22 tie against Illinois, which gave the Wolverines the outright Big Ten title.
Tim Williams got Ohio State off to a good start against the Hoosiers, making a 24-yard field goal midway through the second quarter. That boot represented the only points of the first half, and the Buckeyes pulled away after the break. Indiana answered the field goal to tie the game early in the third quarter, but Smith scored on touchdown runs of 64 and 9 yards to pull ahead for good.
Indiana attempted to rally in the fourth quarter with a 12-yard touchdown reception by Scott McGowan from future NFL quarterback Trent Green. A 22-yard field goal boot by Williams halted any thoughts of a rally, however.
1987: Iowa 29, Ohio State 27 – The Buckeyes dropped their third-straight Big Ten game in difficult fashion, but the bigger story was happened the following day. Embattled Ohio State head coach Earle Bruce was informed of dismissal by athletic director Rick Bay shortly after Bruce declared his intentions to stay at his weekly postgame press conference.
"I'm staying at Ohio State. I like my job. I'm going to prepare and work hard this week on Michigan," Bruce said in the Nov. 21, 1987, BSB. "I'm going to stay and prepare for this team next year through the winter and through the summer so that we can have a Big Ten championship next year."
The turmoil did not end with Bruce's firing. Bay, who did not want to sever ties with Bruce, resigned as athletic director Nov. 16. University president Edward H. Jennings reportedly made the decision to fire Bruce without consulting the board of trustees.
"I'm resigning based on philosophical differences with the administration," said Bay, who said Bruce's firing was not rational considering the coach's record (126-60-1 at the time) and the football team's graduation rate. "I had told the president earlier when we were discussing all these rumors that I could not be a part of that. I understood people were trying to do the right thing and I had to do what I thought was the right thing."
Jennings issued the press release announcing Bruce's firing, but Bay was the one who addressed the press.
As for the loss to the Hawkeyes, it was déjà vu with another tough loss. Against Michigan State Oct 31, the Buckeyes rushed for only 2 yards and lost 13-7. The next week at Madison, the Buckeyes' offense got back on track with 514 yards and 24 points, but seven turnovers led to a 26-24 loss to the Badgers.
This time the loss came thanks to a 28-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-23 play with only six seconds left. The play shocked the Ohio Stadium crowd and sent Ohio State (5-4-1) to its third straight loss, its longest losing streak since 1982.
"I just don't quite understand it myself – how we can lose like we do," a stunned Bruce said after the game.
Bruce's last game as head coach of the Buckeyes would be in the Nov. 21 season finale at Michigan.
1981: Ohio State 70, Northwestern 6 – Two 28-point outbursts in the second and third quarters led the Buckeyes to a home victory. Much like the old jingle, Ohio State had Os on the end – in this case, seven points in the first and fourth quarters – with a "HI" in the middle.
Vaughn Broadnax started the scoring with a leap over the pile in a first-quarter goal line situation. That's how the score stood entering the second quarter, which was when the Buckeyes (7-3, 5-2 Big Ten) piled on the points and made sure Northwestern would lose its 33rd consecutive Big Ten game. Tim Spencer's 14-yard touchdown run early in the second stanza made it 14-0, and after a Northwestern touchdown cut the deficit to 14-6, Ohio State added a Spencer 9-yard touchdown run, a Cedric Anderson 42-yard scoring haul from Art Schlichter and a Mark Eberts 52-yard interception return for a touchdown. Those scores made it 35-6 at halftime and put the game out of reach.
Schlichter threw two more touchdown passes in the third quarter, a 36-yard strike to Victor Langley and a 48 yard pass to Williams. Jimmy Gayle and Tim O'Cain also ran for third-quarter scores, and Trent Penn caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Mike Tomczak to cap the scoring in the final quarter.
1970: No. 3 Ohio State 10, Purdue 7 – OSU improved to 8-0 with a win over the host Boilermakers. With a showdown against Michigan looming, the Buckeyes likely overlooked Purdue. Fullback John Brockington pushed into the end zone on a 26-yard run to give the Buckeyes a first-quarter lead, but the Boilermakers quickly answered when Stan Brown returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards for a score.
Neither team could score again until Fred Schram booted a 30-yard field goal into a strong wind with only 2:04 remaining. The OSU defense led the way to victory, holding Purdue to three first downs and 131 yards of total offense.
1964: No. 7 Ohio State 10, Northwestern 0 – The Buckeyes bounced back from a disheartening loss to Penn State a week earlier with a blanking of the Wildcats. The win at Ohio Stadium was OSU's first over Northwestern in three seasons.
The only touchdown of the day came from Will Sander on a 5-yard touchdown run. Bob Funk added a 37-yard field goal shortly before halftime. Ohio State improved to 7-1.
1959: No. 16 Iowa 16, Ohio State 7 – The Hawkeyes dominated play, but four turnovers kept the Buckeyes close for most of the afternoon before falling in the home finale.
A short touchdown drive by fullback Roger Detrick gave the Buckeyes (3-4-1) an early lead. Iowa rallied from the 7-0 deficit with a first-quarter touchdown and 10 more points in the fourth quarter. The Hawkeyes outgained OSU 338-181.
1953: Ohio State 21, Purdue 6 – The Buckeyes improved to 6-2 with a win over the Boilermakers in the home finale. Purdue led 6-0 in the first quarter, but Ohio State (6-2) rallied behind the running of Bobby Watkins and Hopalong Cassady.
1942: No. 10 Ohio State 44, No. 13 Illinois 20 – In front of a snow-covered crowd at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio State (7-1) crushed the "host" Illini. Illinois was suffering from low attendance, so when the Cleveland alumni of both Illinois and Ohio State suggested the '42 game be moved to the Forest City the schools agreed. A combined pep rally for alumni of both schools was held before game, and the East Cleveland Shaw band performed in place of both schools' bands because of wartime travel restrictions.
Les Horvath scored two touchdowns to lead Ohio State in a homecoming to his native Cleveland. Horvath attended Cleveland Rhodes.
1936: Ohio State 13, Illinois 0 – Sophomore fullback Johnny Rabb rushed for 144 yards and a touchdown to lead the visiting Buckeyes (4-3) to victory. Rabb started the scoring with a 30-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter. An Illinois transfer, Bill Booth, made the other trip to the end zone a 5-yard run on a Statue of Liberty play.
1931: Ohio State 6, Wisconsin 0 – In front of a homecoming crowd of 35,000 at Camp Randall Stadium, the Buckeyes (5-2) won their third straight. A heavy fog and wet field greeted the teams, and two linemen accounted for the game's lone touchdown. Martin Varner blocked a punt and tackle Bill Bell recovered it in the end zone.
1925: Michigan 10, Ohio State 0 – The Buckeyes (4-2-1) played their last game at Michigan's Ferry Field and finished with another loss. The Wolverines led in first downs (15-1) and total yards (260-72). OSU felt to 3-17-2 all time against Michigan.
1914: Ohio State 39, Oberlin 0 – Ohio State built on its impressive win at Indiana a week before with a rout of Oberlin. The Buckeyes (4-2) won their second straight after dropping a pair of games to Illinois and Wisconsin.
1908: Ohio State 17, Vanderbilt 6 – The football program traveled the Nashville and returned with its 100th victory. The win improved the school's all-time record to 100-62-12. The Buckeyes improved their '08 record to 4-4.
1903: Ohio State 27, Oberlin 5 – OSU bounced back from a shutout loss at Michigan with a win against Oberlin. The Buckeyes (7-2) had lost two of their last three games after starting the season with five straight wins.
1896: Wittenberg 24, Ohio State 6 – The Buckeyes (4-3-1) capped a span of four games in a span of 10 days with a loss to the Tigers. The game was marred by allegations that Wittenberg had used a ringer. Allegedly, 1895 Notre Dame graduate Nicholas Dinkle had returned to his native Springfield, Ohio, and was playing right tackle.
Ohio State went 2-1-1 in that 10-day span, defeating Ohio Wesleyan and Columbus Barricks, while losing to Wittenberg and tying Ohio Medical.
1891: Kenyon 26, Ohio State 0 – Poor field conditions and an alleged referee sent the Buckeyes to their second loss in November. Ohio State (0-2) was unhappy with the official, who was provided by Kenyon.
1890: Denison 14, Ohio State 0 – In Ohio State's second ever road contest, the Buckeyes fell to Denison. The Buckeyes (1-2) had won their first game away from Columbus – and first game overall – that May against Ohio Wesleyan.