The Buckeyes squandered a 17-0 first-half lead in a loss to the Badgers at Ohio Stadium.
Ohio State was coming off a 38-20 win over Northwestern a week earlier in the Buckeyes' first ever Big Ten night game at Ohio Stadium, while Wisconsin lost 63-32 to conference doormat Indiana. It did not matter seven days later, as the Badgers handed first-year OSU head coach Jim Tressel his first Big Ten loss and his first home loss in a game that could have kept the Buckeyes on top in the conference standings.
"It was disappointing, obviously, losing a ball game in our stadium, which we feel horrible about," Tressel said. "But also having a chance to have the lead (in the Big Ten) and then lose the ball game, I think, makes it feel even worse. But the facts are what they are.
"We made enough errors to allow a good, hard-fighting, tough Wisconsin team to stay in there and do what they do. You have to give them credit for playing the entire ball game."
The Buckeyes scored on their first three offensive possessions. Josh Huston started the scoring with a 44-yard field goal, and quarterback Steve Bellisari increased the lead with a 1-yard touchdown run. Lydell Ross helped make it 17-0 with a 3-yard touchdown run on OSU's third possession.
Ohio State looked ready to take its big lead into the halftime break, but disaster struck in the final minute of the second quarter. Long snapper Mike Jacobs had a punt snap go right of punter Andy Groom, who chased down the ball and fell on it at the OSU 23. Wisconsin needed only one play to take advantage of the miscue. Anthony Davis scored on a run around the right end to make it 17-7 at halftime.
"The touchdown we got just before the half, they made a mistake and we were able to capitalize on it," UW head coach Barry Alvarez said. "That gave us a little bit of momentum going into the half."
The Badgers took advantage of the momentum by scoring the game's final 14 points while holding the OSU offense to only 64 yards and five first downs in the second half. Nick Davis scored on a touchdown pass early in the third quarter to cut the lead to 17-14. He caught a quick pass in the left flat and ran past the OSU defense for a 42-yard score. Kicker Mark Neuser added two field goals in the fourth quarter – including the game-winning kick with 2:10 left.
1990 – Ohio State 27, No. 22 Indiana 27
The Buckeyes could not hold a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead, and conservative play calling at the end of the game sent OSU back to Columbus with a tie against host Indiana.
After the Hoosiers tied the game with 1:09 remaining, Ohio State started a drive from its own 20. Junior flanker Bernard Edwards dropped a first-down pass, and after Raymont Harris gained three yards on a second down delayed draw run, the Hoosiers called time out. OSU offensive coordinator Jim Colletto sent in a pass play, but head coach John Cooper overruled Colletto and called for a run. Harris was stopped for no gain, and the game ended in a tie.
"Everyone probably wonders why we didn't throw the ball," Cooper said following the game. "Well, my thinking was that throwing the ball was the only way we could have lost the ball game.
"If we throw the ball and it's incomplete, they were going to get the ball about midfield with one timeout left. So we took a chance with running the delayed draw play, trying to get a big play as we did earlier in the game."
It appeared that Cooper and Colletto had an argument on the sidelines near the end of the game, but both said there was no controversy.
"There wasn't any disagreement," Cooper said. "I called that play. Coach Colletto didn't call that play."
Added Colletto: "I did not question him. In fact, I told him, 'Yeah, I think you're right.' We had sent the play in, but then we had some time to think about it and we said, 'No way, Jose.' "
Ohio State rallied from a 17-7 second-quarter deficit to take its 10-point lead. Scottie Graham scored on a 1-yard run to help cut the deficit to three points, and Jeff Graham caught a 65-yard touchdown pass from Greg Frey in the third quarter to give Ohio State a 21-17 lead.
Tim Williams added a pair of third-quarter field goals from 29 and 27 yards to extend the lead. Indiana rallied with a 6-yard touchdown run by Vaughn Dunbar and a game-tying 20-yard field goal by Scott Bonnell with 69 seconds remaining.
1984 – No. 8 Ohio State 45, Illinois 38
Keith Byars broke OSU's single-game rushing record with a 274-yard performance on 39 carries, and the Buckeyes needed every yard.
Byars' final run resulted in a 3-yard touchdown run with under a minute remaining. He had broken the old record – set when Archie Griffin ran for 246 yards in 1973 vs. Iowa – with a 23-yard run that jump-started OSU's game-winning drive.
"I didn't break the record," Byars said of his historic effort. "I just happened to be the person running the football. I think the whole team broke the record.
"I didn't know I was even that close until I looked up at the scoreboard and it said 274. I was just amazed that I had done it."
The Buckeyes rode the Dayton Roth product to five touchdowns. His 30 points scored tied the Big Ten single-game scoring record. Pete Johnson of Ohio State (1975), Mike Northington of Purdue (1973), Ron Johnson of Michigan (1968) and Red Grange of Illinois (1924) were the others who had scored 30 in a game prior to Byars.
The Fighting Illini led 24-0 just 16 minutes into the game. Illinois drove 80 yards for its first touchdown and 57 on its next drive before settling for a field goal to increase the lead to 10-0. OSU quarterback Mike Tomczak then threw an interception that led to another Illinois touchdown, and a Byars' fumble led to yet another.
Byars was held to only 20 yards in the first quarter. Nonetheless, the Buckeyes fought back and rallied.
"I didn't see any eyes of defeat in the Buckeyes when we were down 24-0," OSU head coach Earle Bruce said. "I was looking for them."
Byars got the OSU rally going with the first of his five scores, this one on a 16-yard run. Cris Carter then caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Tomczak, and Byars added a 4-yard run to make it 24-21 at halftime.
"It's just funny how momentum changes so quickly," Tomczak said. "It was exemplified today."
Illinois' Ray Wilson fumbled the second-half kickoff, and the Buckeyes recovered at the Illini 26. Byars ran four times from there and gave OSU its first lead on a 1-yard touchdown dive. Both offense continued to score, but Ohio State never allowed Illinois to retake the lead. Illini kicker Chris White tied the game with 3:18 left with a 16-yard field goal, but Byars' late-game heroics gave OSU the win.
"It was a great college football game," Illinois head coach Mike White said. "It was our best performance of the year. We did not win because we could not stop them."
Both teams combined for 1,073 yards of total offense.
1979 – No. 8 Ohio State 47, Indiana 6
The Buckeyes continued their red-hot start to the 1979 season with a pasting of visiting Indiana.
Ohio State, in the midst of a four-game homestand, would go on the blank its next two opponents and would not be seriously challenged again until the regular-season finale at Michigan.
1973 – No. 1 Ohio State 24, Wisconsin 0
The Badgers' defense played well at home, but the undefeated Buckeyes were too much to handle.
Ohio State led only 7-0 at halftime, but the Buckeyes' defense allowed Wisconsin to enter OSU territory only four times and never allowed the Badgers past the OSU 34.
Griffin had 169 yards to lead the rushing attack. Quarterback Cornelius Greene added 81, and linebacker-turned-fullback Bruce Elia had 74. Elia also scored two touchdowns, and Greene added another score. Blair Conway connected on a 36-yard field goal in the final quarter.
1962 – No. 10 Ohio State 51, Illinois 15
Ohio State set a then-conference record with 517 yards rushing in a rout of the Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium.
Quarterback John Mummey led the ground attack with 114 yards on 12 carries. Eleven Buckeyes ran the ball and helped break the old league rushing mark of 465 yards, set by the Buckeyes in 1956 vs. Indiana.
Ohio State only attempted seven passes, completing two for nine yards.
Illinois scored a touchdown with 15 seconds remaining on the longest pass play ever against the Buckeyes. Illini quarterback Mike Taliaferro found end Mike Yavorski on a 90-yard touchdown play.
1956 – No. 5 Ohio State 26, Illinois 6
The host Fighting Illini scored the game's first touchdown, but Ohio State held Illinois' talented trio of halfbacks at bay in OSU's Big Ten opener.
Harry Jefferson, along with fellow halfbacks Abe Woodson and Bobby Mitchell, gave OSU some scary moments – including Jefferson's touchdown on a fourth-and-1 run for 44 yards. However, Ohio State used two long touchdown drives of 79 and 85 yards to halt the Illini's upset bid.
The Buckeye defense also set up scores with an interception and a fumble recovery.
Jim Roseboro led the Buckeyes with 101 yards, and junior fullback Galen Cisco added 98.
The win was Ohio State's 14th in a row in the Big Ten, one short of a record then held by Michigan.
1951 – No. 9 Ohio State 6, Wisconsin 6
Despite just 106 yards of total offense, compared to 346 for the Badgers, Ohio State still managed a road tie.
The Buckeyes scored in the fourth quarter on a 4-yard pass from Vic Janowicz to end Ralph Armstrong, but OSU squandered its chance to win the game. Ohio State was penalized five yards because it had only 10 men on the field prior to its conversion attempt. A bad snap from center then prevented Janowicz from making the extra point.
1945 – No. 4 Ohio State 12, Wisconsin 0
Touchdowns by Tom Watson and Paul Sarringhaus were all the Buckeyes needed to earn a win on a cold and windy day at Ohio Stadium.
Watson scored on a 10-yard pass from Dick Fisher with 1:42 remaining before halftime, and Saaringhaus added a 5-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter.
1934 – Illinois 14, Ohio State 13
The Fighting Illini handed Ohio State its lone loss of the 1934 season despite a fourth-quarter rally by the visiting Buckeyes.
After OSU's first touchdown, Regis Monahan's extra point was wide right. Ohio State was unable to overcome the miscue, failing on two golden opportunities earlier in the game. The Buckeyes were stopped at the Illinois 1 in the second quarter and at the Illinois 14 early in the second half.
The Illini scored the game-winning touchdown with their "flying trapeze" play, a variation of the flea flicker. Five different Illinois players touched the ball during the play, which included a hand-off, two laterals and a forward pass for a 36-yard score.
1928 – Ohio State 10, Northwestern 0
Ohio State earned a shutout win in the Buckeyes' first trip to Evanston, Ill., since 1915.
The win was the second of four straight Ohio State would earn to start the season. In those four games, the Buckeyes outscored their opponents 83-7.
1923 – Ohio State 23, Colgate 23
The Buckeyes tied eastern power Colgate in a non-conference game in front of 40,000 fans at Ohio Stadium.
Colgate led 23-10 after three quarters, but the Buckeyes rallied, capped by a Hoge Workman 15-yard touchdown run on fourth down with under two minutes remaining.
1917 – Ohio State 40, Northwestern 0
In what was supposed to be a showdown between two solid Big Ten teams, the Buckeyes throughly dominated the visiting Wildcats.
Northwestern had only only once in its last eight games, a 23-3 loss to Ohio State in 1916. It was not any better for NU a year later, as Pete Stinchcomb scored three times to lead the OSU attack.
1900 – Ohio State 29, Cincinnati 0
The Buckeyes continued to dominate the competition with a blanking of the Bearcats.
Ohio State's defense posted its third straight shutout. No foe would score against the Buckeyes until a Nov. 10 game vs. Case.
1894 – Wittenberg 18, Ohio State 6
The Buckeyes lost to the host Tigers for the second time in 1894 but did manage to score.
Ohio State fell to 1-3 with the loss. Wittenberg beat OSU 6-0 Sept. 7 in a game played at the Ohio State Fair.