For the second year in-a-row now, sophomore wide out Anthony Gonzalez made a huge play that helped to secure a victory in Thee Game.
Last year Gonzalez was on the receiving end of a 68-yard scoring strike from Troy Smith to help start the Michigan game off in fine fashion for Ohio State. And against the Wolverines this season, Gonzalez, once again, was involved in another big play, making a spectacular catch of another Smith aerial, in an unbelievable come-from-behind Buckeye conquest of their main Big Ten rivals.
"It's one of those things when you're a little kid and you're thinking, ‘so and so rolls out and he's got a man open...,' you're talking to yourself, you're five-years-old, who knows," said Gonzalez referring back to the back-yard dreams he obviously had as a kid. "And then to have it happen like this...! It really was a dream come true because every little kid thinks about that."
But when Gonzalez was a little kid he was more likely thinking about making a big catch in the Big House for the Michigan Wolverines, the school that his father, Eduardo, attended during his playing days.
"Ironic would be the word I guess," he said. "The hotel that we actually stayed at was the one that we used to stay at when I was a little kid and we used to come to games here. (Eduardo) doesn't root for Michigan though, he's my fan. Wherever I went he would have been happy. He roots for the Buckeyes and he was, I'm sure, just as happy as anyone."
Last year's big catch, however, was nothing compared to the one Gonzalez went up and grabbed out of the clear blue skies that were omnipresent throughout the game on just a glorious afternoon for the best rivalry game in college football in the entire country last Saturday.
"Yeah it was a broken play. I actually didn't run the proper route. I should have probably faded from the beginning but I ran an out," Gonzalez dead panned. "And then what ended up happening was that you saw Troy having excellent protection again, it's critical always, and then he rolled out to his right a little bit and then it was pitch and catch. Just that easy."
Gonzalez spoke of that catch and even his role in the Ohio State offense in rather ordinary measures, as if anyone could do the extraordinary things that he's very capable of doing when he's given an opportunity.
"My role, I would say, is that when everyone else is covered - which isn't very often - to kind of try to make a difference somehow, whether it's in the passing game, blocking, whatever," he said. "I'm just one of 11 guys trying to do the right thing."
As far as his 26-yard clutch catch is concerned, one of four that he reeled in during the game for 75 yards, Gonzalez didn't even realize the magnitude of the play he had just made at the time.
"Nah you don't really think about that. I didn't even think about it till they called timeout," Gonzalez said. "I wasn't even sure what part of the field I was on. I didn't know I was on the four. So it was one of those things you don't even think about it."
Not until he was hugged by a teammate during the ensuing timeout did Gonzalez have at least a clue about the importance of the play that he had just made.
"Santonio (Holmes) came up to me and gave me a big hug and I'm like, ‘What the heck,' I didn't know what was going on really," Gonzalez said. "And then I looked up and saw that yeah we actually are on the four and it was a decently big play."
It was indeed a history-making grab that Gonzalez made, one that he will likely be seen on television describing throughout the ages. The leaping part of the catch is what made it all the more spectacular.
"I honestly have no idea of how high up I was," Gonzalez said. "I know I don't jump very high so if I was up pretty high then that's an aberration I guess because I'm not usually up very high."
And with all of the hoopla going on around him after he came down with the catch, Gonzalez had the presence of mind to speak with the side judge after the play.
"I made sure I told the ref that he pushed me out because, I think, if you voluntarily go out you can't be the first one to touch the ball," Gonzalez said. "And the first thing I did after I caught it, I ran over to the ref because I saw his hat was off and I said, ‘he pushed me,' and (the ref) said, ‘you're okay don't worry about it.' "
Of course, after the game, Gonzalez gave Smith credit for not only having a part in his catch but also for the last two drives of the game that resulted in touchdowns.
"Troy showed what I've known about Troy since the day I met him pretty much," Gonzalez said. "He is a great leader and a great athlete who is going to make the big play when you need to have it. And that's Troy Smith right there. That's Troy Smith in a nutshell."
Together, Smith and Gonzalez have now combined on two of the biggest pass plays in the history of the biggest college rivalry game of them all. And they say that the third time is the charm.