Looking At Nonconference Classics At OSU

Ohio State's game with Texas marks just the 11th time in Ohio Stadium history that the Buckeyes will host a top-10 ranked nonconference team. Texas, ranked second, will also be the highest ranked nonconference opponent for the Buckeyes in the 85-year history of the Horseshoe. Click here for a look at some of OSU's biggest nonconference games at Ohio Stadium.

On Monday, an ESPN college football studio host surmised that No. 6 Ohio State's game this Saturday with No. 2 Texas could be the biggest nonconference game in college football in as long as 15 years.

The host pointed out a 1993 game, where No. 2 Notre Dame upset No. 1 Florida State 31-24 in South Bend as being comparable to this game.

As I look back at OSU's history, this game with Texas very well could be the biggest nonconference game in the 85-year history of Ohio Stadium.

This will be just the 11th time in Ohio Stadium history that the Buckeyes will host a top-10 ranked nonconference opponent. OSU is 4-5-1 in those previous games. The last time was 2002 against Washington State (W, 25-7). Keep in mind, the stadium has been there since 1921 and the AP rankings have existed since 1936.

Other games like this include: 1939, No. 7 Cornell (L, 23-14); 1944, No. 6 Great Lakes (W, 26-6); 1950, No. 10 SMU (L, 32-27); 1971, No. 10 Colorado (L, 20-14); 1975, No. 7 Penn State (W, 17-9); 1976, No. 4 UCLA (T, 10-10); 1977, No. 3 Oklahoma (L, 29-28); 1978, No. 5 Penn State (L, 19-0); 1988, No. 7 LSU (W, 36-33).

Texas, at No. 2, eclipses Oklahoma's No. 3 team in 1977 as the highest ranked nonconference opponent in Ohio Stadium history.

Including Big Ten games, OSU is 63-44-8 all-time against top-10 opponents. OSU's record in such games at Ohio Stadium is 24-22-4. The last home win over a top-10 team was last year against then-No. 7 Michigan (37-21).

Also including Big Ten games, Ohio State is 12-9-2 all-time at home against top-five ranked teams. But the Buckeyes have not welcomed a top-five team since 1996, when they beat then-No. 4 Penn State 38-7.

Here is a list of 10 of the biggest nonconference games in the history of Ohio Stadium (game day rankings, where applicable, are in parentheses):

* Nov. 2, 1935: Notre Dame 18, Ohio State 13 -- This game was known far and wide as the "Game of the Century." It was OSU's first-ever meeting with Notre Dame. A record crowd of 81,018 jammed into the 14-year-old Horseshoe and they saw an incredible comeback by the Irish, who rallied from down 13-0 in the fourth quarter.

Thirty-two seconds remained when left end Wayne Millner leaped to catch Bill Shakespeare's 19-yard pass in the end zone for the winning points.

"The roar that swept back and forth across the field sounded like the storm thunder that comes in unbroken waves," wrote Grantland Rice, immortal sportswriter of the first half-century.

This is game is still considered by some football historians as one of the most memorable college football games ever played.

* Sept. 20, 1975: Ohio State (3) 17, Penn State (7) 9 -- Coaching legends Woody Hayes and Joe Paterno went head to head at Ohio Stadium. OSU finally got past Penn State, winning on the rushing exploits of fullback Pete Johnson (23 carries, 111 yards, two TDs) and halfback Archie Griffin (24 carries, 128 yards). Griffin made a one-handed catch of a 23-yard Cornelius Greene pass that led to Johnson's second TD, which put the game away.

"That was almost an impossible catch," said Hayes, whose team finished 11-1.

* Oct. 2, 1976: Ohio State (8) 10, UCLA (4) 10 -- This was a long-awaited rematch from the 1976 Rose Bowl, where UCLA stunned OSU 23-10. But the Buckeyes could only salvage a tie, which came on Tom Skladany's 25-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.

* Sept. 24, 1977: Oklahoma (3) 29, Ohio State (4) 28 -- More than 88,000 were on hand to see this showdown of top-five ranked teams. Oklahoma broke out to a 20-0 lead, causing ABC to switch many viewers to another game. OSU rallied for a 28-20 lead. OU cut the lead to 28-26 with 1:29 left, then recovered an onside kick at midfield. That set the stage for Uwe von Schamann's game-winning 41-yard field goal with three seconds left, giving the Sooners and brash young coach Barry Switzer a landmark win at Ohio Stadium.

* Sept. 16, 1978: Penn State (5) 19, Ohio State (6) 0 -- Hayes shocked everybody in the season opener at Ohio Stadium by starting freshman quarterback Art Schlichter and returning starter Rod Gerald at flanker. For dramatic effect, he pulled them aside and sent them in together.

Hayes then shocked everybody again by letting the debuting Schlichter throw 34 passes. The result: five interceptions and an easy PSU win. Matt Bahr kicked four field goals and Matt Suhey scored the game's only touchdown.

"That was about as bad an opener as we have ever played," Hayes said. "When you get into the passing game, you can expect that sort of thing to happen."

* Sept. 14, 1985: Ohio State (9) 10, Pittsburgh 7 -- This game was hardly remarkable for the action. However, it was the first night game ever at Ohio Stadium.

* Sept. 12, 1992: Ohio State (22) 17, Bowling Green 6 -- OSU had a schedule opening and signed up Bowling Green to fill it. When the Falcons visited Ohio Stadium – and nearly pulled off the upset, which The Columbus Dispatch had predicted the day before the game – they became the first Ohio team to play in the Horseshoe since Ohio Wesleyan in 1932.

* Sept. 30, 1995: Ohio State (7) 45, Notre Dame (15) 26 -- The schools had agreed on another two-year series in the mid-1980s, so there was nearly a decade of build-up for this one. And Ohio State, playing before an Ohio Stadium-record crowd of 95,537, earned its first win ever over ND in three tries. The Buckeyes rolled up 533 yards total offense. Eddie George had 207 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries, while Bobby Hoying was 14 of 22 passing for 272 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. One of those TD passes was a breathtaking 82-yarder to Terry Glenn.

"Coach (John) Cooper talked about it at the beginning of the game," Hoying said. "He said it's a game you'll be talking about for the rest of your life. We're the first Ohio State team to beat Notre Dame. It's just phenomenal. I can't put it into words."

* Sept. 14, 2002: Ohio State (6) 25, Washington State (10) 7 -- Freshman running back Maurice Clarett carried 31 times for 230 yards and two touchdowns as the Buckeyes stymied Washington State and Heisman candidate Jason Gesser, who threw for 247 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

* Sept. 13, 2003: Ohio State (3) 44, N.C. State (24) 38, 3 OT -- This was the first ever overtime game at Ohio Stadium as the Wolfpack rallied from down 24-7 in the fourth quarter behind quarterback Philip Rivers. He threw for 315 yards and four touchdowns. But OSU quarterback Craig Krenzel shrugged off three interceptions to throw for 273 yards and four touchdowns.

After Krenzel found Michael Jenkins for a 7-yard TD in the third overtime, the Buckeye defense held on for dear life and linebacker A.J. Hawk and safety Will Allen teamed to stop N.C. State's T.A. McLendon just shy of the goal line on the final play.

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