The 2009 Ohio State football team completed its regular season with a 21-10 victory in Ann Arbor against its archrivals. The Buckeyes had already clinched a trip to the Rose Bowl a week earlier but still earned their sixth straight win over the Wolverines and clinched their third outright Big Ten title in four years.
"I have been concentrating on the Michigan-Ohio State game," he said, "but (an outright championship) is nice, too."
It was not always pretty offensively for either side, but both teams did top the 300-yard mark in total offense with the Buckeyes outgaining Michigan 318-309. The difference was the one-two rushing punch of Dan "Boom" Herron and Brandon Saine. They combined for 180 yards (Herron with 96 and Saine with 84) and the Buckeyes ran for 251 yards against the Wolverines. Meanwhile, the OSU defense gave up some yardage but also caused five Michigan turnovers. Starting quarterback Tate Forcier threw four interceptions and also lost a fumble in the end zone for Ohio State's first touchdown.
"He's a young guy and he threw some balls he shouldn't have," Tressel said, "but he threw the football hard and they played hard. Our guys played hard as well, but turnovers and rushing will always be the key to this game."
The Buckeyes set the tone early when their defense scored the game's first points. After a Jon Thoma punt pinned Michigan at its own 7-yard line, Forcier lost control of the football near the goal line on a third-down play. OSU defensive end Cameron Heyward fell on the loose ball in the end zone for a Buckeye touchdown at the 10:44 mark of the first quarter.
The Wolverines had their first scoring attempt later in the first quarter when Forcier led the Wolverines to the OSU 7 before kicker Jason Olsnavage pushed his 24-yard field goal attempt outside the right upright. Olsnavage later redeemed himself, however, with a 46-yard field goal with 7:59 left before halftime to cut the deficit to 7-3.
Ohio State responded on its next possession with a six-play, 80-yard march that was capped with a 29-yard touchdown by Saine. That score, and an ensuing PAT by Devin Barclay, gave Ohio State a 14-3 lead it took into halftime.
Foricer gave fans at Michigan Stadium hope early in the third quarter when he tossed an 18-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Smith to make it 14-10. However, the Buckeyes answered yet again. The Buckeyes traveled 89 yards on 11 plays en route to another touchdown. Herron caught a screen pass from Pryor and went 12-yards for a touchdown that set the final score at 21-10 with 4:46 left in the third quarter.
The Wolverines dropped to 5-7 and finished below .500 for the second straight season – the first time U-M had done that since 1962-63. Rich Rodriguez also became the first Michigan head coach to lose his first two games in the Ohio State series.
"You've got to give (Ohio State) credit," Rodriguez said. "They made the plays, but it's unfortunate because our guys gave great effort. We had a lot of opportunities – we just didn't get it done. We had a lot of plays today that had Michigan beating Michigan."
Forcier completed 23 of 38 passes for 226 yards with a touchdown and four picks. Redshirt freshman Ray Roundtree was Michigan's leading receiver with game-high totals of nine receptions for 116 yards. Smith had 32 yards on eight carries to lead U-M's struggling rushing attack.
Pryor completed 9 of 17 passes for 67 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He carried 19 times for 74 yards. Sophomore DeVier Posey was the Buckeyes' leading receiver with five catches for 38 yards. Defensively, junior linebacker Ross Homan led Ohio State with a game-high 12 tackles. Senior safety Kurt Coleman snagged two of the Buckeyes' interceptions while junior defensive end Thaddeus Gibson and junior cornerback Devon Torrence each grabbed his first career pick.
1998: No. 7 Ohio State 31, Michigan 16 – The Buckeyes showed they had moved past their upset loss to Michigan State two weeks earlier by capping winning their 28th Big Ten championship with a win over their archrivals.
Ohio State raced out to a 14-0 lead, took advantage of Michigan miscues and stopped the Wolverines' rushing attack.
"I felt like we were going to win the game all week," OSU head coach John Cooper said in the Nov. 28, 1998, edition of Buckeye Sports Bulletin. "I had great confidence in our football team, I thought our assistant coaches did a great job of preparing the football team and I was probably as relaxed around here this week as I've been in a long, long time – certainly the most relaxed I've been before the Michigan game.
"I think the approach we took this week really paid off."
Ohio State quarterback Joe Germaine threw three touchdown passes and for 330 yards.
"It definitely is a great feeling," the captain said. "It's the first time I've experienced it. This is what it's all about. This is why you come to Ohio State and Michigan, to be able to come to these kind of games. This is what it's all about. It teaches you things, not only for football but for life."
The Buckeyes took control of the game early, building a two-touchdown advantage by the end of the first quarter. Running back Michael Wiley started the scoring on OSU's first offensive possession with a 53-yard touchdown burst. Dee Miller added a 16-yard TD reception from Germaine minutes later.
Michigan answered with 10 points in the second quarter with a Jay Feely 27-yard field goal and a Tai Streets 3-yard touchdown pass by future NFL star Tom Brady. Sandwiched in between those scores, however, was a 30-yard touchdown reception by David Boston. Ohio State led 21-10 at halftime.
The offense kept humming in the second half. Boston helped extend OSU's lead to 28-10 with a 43-yard touchdown catch early in the third quarter. The Buckeyes finished their scoring later in the frame when Stultz nailed a 39-yard field goal.
Wiley finished with 120 yards rushing on 12 carries, and Boston caught 10 passes for 217 yards. Defensively, Damon Moore finished with a team-high 12 tackles and a tackle for a loss. Antoine Winfield and Andy Katzenmoyer each had 10 stops, and Brent Johnson had two sacks. Ahmed Plummer and Jerry Rudzinski each intercepted passes.
Brady threw for more yards than Germaine but also had two passes intercepted. The future Super Bowl MVP completed 31 of 56 yards for 375 yards.
1992: No. 17 Ohio State 13, No. 6 Michigan 13 – Speculation on the future of Cooper overshadowed an impressive effort against the visiting. Cooper was the subject of a Columbus Dispatch article that said if OSU did not defeat Michigan the remaining three years on Cooper's contract – which was signed in the previous offseason – would be bought out.
The Buckeyes stormed back from a 13-3 fourth-quarter deficit to earn the tie. Ohio State got a 30-yard field goal from Tim Williams in the first three minutes of the frame and tied the game with a touchdown with 4:24 remaining. Kirk Herbstreit threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to split end Greg Beatty, and Williams booted the extra point to end the scoring.
Both teams had a final chance to break the tie in the final minutes but never were able to capitalize. Michigan punt returner Derrick Alexander dropped a punt but OSU linebacker Steve Tovar's dive for the loose ball was a split second too late. U-M freshman Shawn Collins fall on the loose ball. Michigan's final drive was halted, and a final Hail Mary pass was intercepted by OSU's Walter Taylor. The safety had some blockers and made it all the way to the Michigan 35 before being hauled down to end the game.
Michigan quarterbacks Elvis Grbac and Todd Collins led the Wolverines to a 13-3 by running for touchdowns. Grbac ran 3 yards for a score on a draw play, while Collins scored on a 1-yard bootleg.
The Buckeyes had 362 yards of total offense and limited U-M to 271. Ohio State outplayed the Wolverines, but was that enough to save Cooper?
"If you're asking does it bother me, sure it does," Cooper said of the Dispatch article, written by sports editor George Strode. "I have more concern, to be honest with you, about my assistant coaches and their families."
Then, at the end of his press conference, Cooper walked out of the room and noticed Strode.
"Appreciate your timing this week, George. It really helped us out a lot."
The Buckeyes finished the season with an 8-3-1 mark after losing to Georgia in the Florida Citrus Bowl.
1987: Ohio State 23, Michigan 20 – In one of the most memorable moments in Ohio State football history, the Buckeyes made sure ousted head coach Earle Bruce went out a winner.
Despite being fired five days earlier by university president Edward H. Jennings, Bruce led Ohio State to an impressive victory in Ann Arbor. After the final seconds clicked off the Michigan Stadium scoreboard, thousands of Ohio State fans stormed the field to celebrate with Bruce, who was lifted onto the shoulders of his players and carried off the field.
"There's no sweeter victory in the world than one over Michigan in our last game at Ohio State," Bruce said in the Nov. 28, 1987, edition of BSB. "But the real thrill of that football game was for our football team, down 13-0, to come back and win after the week they've had. They showed me a lot by sticking together and playing as a team. You talk about coming back from adversity, coming back from almost disaster. Most certainly they're made of the right stuff."
The Buckeyes showed their solidarity with their head coach before the game, taking the field in matching white headbands that read "EARLE" on the front in black marker.
"You know I don't believe in headbands, but I didn't see them until they went on the field," Bruce said. "But being the last game, I guess you've got to let your hair down a little bit."
After falling behind 13-0 in the second quarter, Everett Ross gave Ohio State some life before halftime with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Tom Tupa with 1:36 left before the break. Ohio State took the lead early in the third quarter when Tupa threw his second TD pass of the afternoon, a 70-yard score to Carlos Snow. Tupa later added to the lead with a 1-yard run with 7:11 left in the third quarter, but Matt Frantz's extra point failed and kept the score 20-13.
Michigan tied the game with 1:14 left in the third quarter when Leroy Hoard scored on a 10-yard run and Mike Gillette booted the extra point through the uprights.
The score remained that way until Frantz made a 26-yard field goal with 5:18 remaining. The Ohio State defense made sure that stood as the final scoring play of the game.
"It felt good. I hit it good," Frantz said of his game-winning kick. "We went through a living hell this week because of everything that's happened. It's obvious no one thought about the players when they made the decisions they did."
Standout linebacker Chris Spielman led the defensive effort with 16 tackles and a sack.
"I was thinking of the firing all week," Spielman said. "I felt so bad for Coach Bruce. We're pretty close. But it was done. He was fired. What are you going to do? I think Coach Bruce doesn't want to get any of his players involved. But he knows, and I told him, ‘Anything I can do for him in the future I'd be more than happy to oblige.'
"The only thing he told me to do was go out and win the football game. I feel I did my part. I'm with him all the way and I have been since August 1984. He's my coach and he will always be my coach."
Bruce left the Buckeyes after teaching them one final lesson.
"Every now and then the lessons you learn on the football field come back," Bruce said. "And when you get knocked down and hit real hard, if you stay down that's sad. When you try to teach that to your kids, how can you not do that when it happens to you?
"You can't always be taken back by the fact you got hit. You can get hit, (but) you've got to do something about it. You can't fold up. I hope every one of our kids learned a little lesson today about coming back. I don't want any wimps on the football field. You don't want any guys who aren't going to fight."
The Buckeyes finished the season 6-4-1 and was invited to play in the Sun Bowl on Christmas Day. New athletic director Jim Jones, who took over after Rick Bay resigned after Bruce's firing, turned down the bid after consulting with Jennings.
1981: Ohio State 14, No. 7 Michigan 9 – Art Schlichter's 6-yard touchdown run with 2:50 remaining gave the Buckeyes an upset victory in Ann Arbor and a share of the Big Ten title.
One superb drive in the fourth quarter was all Ohio State needed to pull off the upset. The Buckeyes, trailing 9-7, drove 80 yards on 13 plays and Schlichter provided the game-winning score in his final regular season game. Michigan outgained Ohio State on the ground (231-126) and through the air (136-131) and dominated play. However, it was the Buckeyes who came back to Columbus win the victory.
"We hung together and got two drives, two great drives out of our offensive football team," Bruce said in the Nov. 28, 1981, edition of BSB. "Eighty-yard drives against Michigan are unheard of. That's a truly great offensive thing. Two 13-play drives for 80 and 82 yards and no mistakes, no mistakes, well-executed plays."
Schlichter gave Ohio State a 7-3 lead at halftime with a 1-yard touchdown run with 9:57 left before the break. That came at the end of a 13-play, 82-yard drive. Michigan responded in the third quarter with two of Ali Haji-Sheikh's three field goals of the afternoon. That set up Schlichter's late heroics.
Bruce gave credit to his much-maligned secondary and its coach, Nick Saban, in keeping Michigan out of the end zone.
"They played exceptionally well," Bruce said of his defense. "I'm so proud of our defensive secondary coach. Our defensive secondary coach has put his arm around these young players and he's brought them along and he's coaches them and he's not criticized them and he's helped them and he's been in their corner. He's done a tremendous job under a lot of pressure."
Schlichter provided the touchdowns, but Tim Spencer led the offense. He rushed for 110 yards on 25 carries and was only the second rusher to reach the century mark against the Wolverines in 1981.
Bruce also credited the Ohio State fans that made the trip north to support the Buckeyes.
"Six thousand of those fans up there were ours," Bruce said. "Six thousand and they yelled like hell. They really did a great job."
The Buckeyes accepted a bid to play in the Liberty Bowl after the game. Ohio State win that contest against Navy, 31-28, and finished the season 9-3.
1970: No. 5 Ohio State 20, No. 4 Michigan 9 – OSU clinched the Big Ten title and a trip to Pasadena with a dramatic win at Ohio Stadium.
A national television audience and 87,331 at the stadium watched Ohio State take a quick 3-0 lead on a field goal after Michigan fumbled the opening kickoff. U-M tied the game with a field goal in the second quarter, but Ohio State took command when Rex Kern drove the Buckeyes 53 yards on 10 plays for a go-ahead touchdown. Kern capped the drive with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Bruce Jankowski. Michigan scored a touchdown in the third quarter, but Tim Anderson blocked the extra point to keep Ohio State ahead 10-9.
The Buckeyes (9-0) pulled away with 10 points in the fourth quarter. Fred Schram made a 27-yard field goal, and after OSU linebacker Stan White returned an intercepted pass to the U-M 9, Leo Hayden took a Kern pitch at the 4 and raced into the end zone. Schram's extra point closed the scoring.
Ohio State lost the Rose Bowl to Stanford on New Year's Day but was still selected as the National Football Foundation's national champion.
1964: No. 6 Michigan 10, No. 7 Ohio State 0 – Michigan clinched its first Big Ten title in 14 seasons and broke a four-game losing streak to the Buckeyes with a shutout win at Ohio Stadium. Cold weather kept the scoring down. Ohio State had only 10 first downs and 180 yards, with Michigan notching nine first downs and 160 yards. Despite the loss, Ohio State (7-2) still finished the season ranked in the AP Top 10 at No. 9.
1959: Michigan 23, Ohio State 14 – The Wolverines handed the Buckeyes a loss the dropped OSU to 3-5-1 and gave Woody Hayes his first losing season as Ohio State's head coach. Michigan quarterback Stan Noskin had a big afternoon, throwing a touchdown pass, running for another and setting up the third with a pair of crucial third-down pass conversions.
The Buckeyes actually outgained U-M 358-306 but three interceptions and two lost fumbles halted any offensive momentum OSU had. The defeat clearly upset Hayes, who made reporters wait 30 minutes after the game before holding his shortest press conference in his nine seasons as head coach – 73 seconds. He gave a statement and took no questions.
1953: Michigan 20, Ohio State 0 – Hayes' club was the pregame favorite but failed to win its first game at Michigan since 1937. Ohio State (6-3) threw five interceptions, lost a fumble and gained only 98 yards on the ground.
Many fans called for Hayes' removal as head coach following the season.
1942: No. 5 Ohio State 21, No. 4 Michigan 7 – One of the most significant editions of The Game ended with the host Buckeyes boosting their hopes for their first national championship. The forward pass led Ohio State (8-1) to victory and the outright Big Ten crown. A crowd of 71,896 – and a national audience thanks to NBC and CBS broadcasts – watched Ohio State throw for a touchdown in the second, third and fourth quarters. Les Horvath caught a 10-yard pass from Paul Sarringhaus for the first TD, followed by a Bob Shaw haul of a 60-yard score from Sarringhaus. Finally, Horvath and Sarringhaus connected again to cap the scoring on a 32-yard trip to the end zone.
Paul Brown's defense and special teams also shined. The Buckeyes blocked a punt to set up the first score, and the defense stopped a Michigan drive at the OSU 1-yard line right before halftime.
Ohio State clinched the national title a week later with a win over the Iowa Pre-Flight Seahawks, a naval cadet service team comprised of former pro and college football stars. While the Buckeyes took care of business in a 41-12 victory, top-ranked George was upset by Auburn. That gave Ohio State its first national championship, edging Georgia Tech for the top spot in the final Associated Press poll.
1936: No. 18 Ohio State 21, Michigan 0 – Ohio State capped its season with a thrilling shutout of Michigan at Ohio Stadium. After stopping a Michigan drive at the OSU 4-yard line in the first quarter, the Buckeyes took command. Quarterback Tippy Dye started the scoring with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Frank Cumiskey, and 31-yard lateral pass to Johnny Rabb from Dye resulted in the second score.
Nick Wasylik was the last player to reach the end zone, coming on a 10-yard sweep around left end.
The victory came in the 400th game in the history of the Ohio State football program. The Buckeyes improved to 249-120-31 overall and ended the 1936 season 5-3.
1931: Ohio State 40, Illinois 0 – The Buckeyes scored 20 points in each half to prevent the Illini from notching a conference victory in 1931. Ohio State (6-2) handed Illini head coach Bob Zuppke his worst loss in his 29 seasons in Champaign.
The '31 season ended a week later with a charity game at Minnesota. The Buckeyes fell 19-7 and all the net proceeds were donated to unemployment relief funds among the seven Big Ten states. The top six teams in the league played that afternoon and donated to the cause.
1925: Illinois 14, Ohio State 9 – In front of a huge crowd of 84,295 at Ohio Stadium, Red Grange made his final Ohio Stadium appearance a memorable one. Neither team was in contention for the Big Ten title, but Ohio State gave its all before dropping its season finale. Grange's running set up Illinois' first touchdown and later put the Illini ahead 14-2 with a 13-yard touchdown pass to end Charles Kassel right before halftime.
The Buckeyes (4-3-1) attempted to rally after the break, cutting the deficit with a 22-ayrd touchdown pass from quarterback Windy Wendler to halfback Elmer Marek. But Grange proved to be the difference. He intercepted a fourth-quarter pass at the Illinois 20 to end the last scoring threat of the afternoon. Two minutes later, he picked off a pass at midfield on the game's last play.
Grange signed a contract the next day to play professional football for coach George Halas and the Chicago Bears.
1914: Ohio State 27, Northwestern 0 – The 1914 season ended with a blanking of the visiting Wildcats. The Buckeyes finished the campaign 5-2 and senior end Boyd Cherry became the school's first All-American and first All-Big Ten selection following the season.
1908: Ohio State 14, Oberlin 12 – The Buckeyes beat Oberlin, but the more notable story was the official renaming of OSU's home field. The school's University Field was dedicated as Ohio Field during the Buckeyes' victory. The wife of OSU president William Oxley Thompson, christened the field with a flask of water.
The Buckeyes (5-4) finished the season with a Thanksgiving Day victory over Kenyon.
1903: Ohio State 29, Ohio Wesleyan 6 – Ohio State won for the second straight time after losing at Michigan on No. 7. The Buckeyes (7-3) ended the season five days later with a Thanksgiving Day loss to Indiana in Columbus.
1896: Ohio State 12, Ohio Medical 0 – The Buckeyes improved to 5-4-1 with a win over the Medics. Ohio State would lose its finale a week later to Kenyon and head coach Charles A. Hickey left the team following the season.