Trailing unranked Purdue with a perfect season hanging in the balance, the Buckeyes found themselves staring defeat square in the eyes. Facing a 6-3 deficit, Ohio State regained possession with 3:10 remaining in the game. Three plays later, they were in a fourth-and-one situation from the Purdue 37-yard line.
Seconds later, wide receiver Michael Jenkins was hauling in the game-winning and season-saving touchdown pass from quarterback Craig Krenzel and from his vantage point in the coaches box at Ross-Ade Stadium, OSU's quarterbacks coach said he almost immediately saw Jenkins get open.
"What I remember probably more than anything else was when the ball was snapped, within three steps Michael Jenkins had the guy beat and I'm up in the press box screaming, ‘Throw it to Michael' like Craig would hear me. I happen to do that a lot," Daniels said. "Michael had him beat within three steps, and it was just like, ‘Go for it. Go for it, Craig, let's go.' He did, he hit it, it was a great throw, a great catch and bang, it was done."
Lined up in a strong-I formation, Krenzel had Jenkins on the near side of the field matched up in single coverage. The wideout took two steps and a few stutter-steps, gained the outside on his defender and raced down the sideline, angling toward the middle of the field.
To get to him, though, Krenzel had to check off a few other targets first.
"Everyone thought that was just a wonderful play call throwing for that touchdown and that have the fourth choice in his progression," head coach Jim Tressel said. "He was a decoy, but the first three were covered and Craig Krenzel was far enough along in his maturity that he wasn't going to throw it to the covered guys."
The play was called after a consensus was reached among the coaching staff, Daniels said.
The play is just one example of how playing at Purdue has not been kind to the Buckeyes in recent seasons. Two years after the play dubbed the "Holy Buckeye" by announcer Brent Musberger, the Boilermakers pulled out a 24-17 victory over OSU on their home turf.
This time, the Buckeyes will be looking to improve to 6-0 while preventing unbeaten Purdue from doing the same thing. Should it come down to a big play that requires a big receiver, though, OSU can draw some comparisons to the lanky Jenkins.
Where the current Atlanta Falcon stands 6-4, OSU junior wide receiver Brian Robiskie is listed at 6-3. Tressel said his current top wideout reminds him of the school's all-time leading receiver.
"He's a little bit like Michael," Tressel said. "They were both 200/400-meter runners coming out of high school, long striders.
"It means you can be off by a little more. If the guy has short arms, you've got to put it right there. If the guy has long arms, you can be 12 inches off, but he just does a great job of playing the ball and that's critical for a quarterback."
But regardless of how the 2007 Purdue game turns out, the Buckeyes can look back at the 2002 game as one of many close encounters that worked out in their favor.
"It was unbelievable," Daniels said. "It has to be right up there simply because without that play we're not where we got. The whole atmosphere about it, the whole situation, the game – it was a good game, it was a tough game, it was a physical game. It was one of those that both teams were hard to move the ball and all that. That one play was a heck of a play."