The Buckeyes rallied from a surprising halftime deficit in a non-conference win over the Aztecs.
Ohio State, coming off a homecoming loss to Wisconsin, heard boos as it went into the break trailing 12-6. However, the Buckeyes took advantage of San Diego State turnovers in the second half to pull out the victory.
"It's a win," said OSU head coach Jim Tressel. "That's good. We had a chance to come back and play after being disappointed with our performance a week ago.
"And I don't think there is any misconception from anybody in our locker room that we're wonderful all of a sudden."
The OSU defense forced turnovers on SDSU's first five second-half possessions with four interceptions and a fumble. Three of those five turnovers resulted in points for the Buckeyes, who pulled away to improve to 4-2 overall.
"Before the game, I don't think we were focused," defensive end Darrion Scott said. "At halftime, we talked. We knew we weren't playing Buckeye football."
Quarterback Steve Bellisari gave the Buckeyes the lead for good when he scored on a 4-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Jonathan Wells added a 1-yard touchdown run just over two minutes later. Lydell Ross capped the scoring in the fourth quarter with a 51-yard touchdown run in which he had a highlight-reel juke of SDSU defensive back Garret Pavelko.
"The offensive line did a great job opening the hole to get that touchdown," Ross said. "It was there and I took it. I had to make a couple moves to get out. I was determined to get that touchdown."
Bellisari rebounded from a rough performance against the Badgers by completing 15 of 28 passes for 198 yards. He was also intercepted once. Wells and Ross each had 60 yards rushing.
Mike Doss led the defense with eight tackles, and Scott had seven stops. Joe Cooper, who had an interception early in the third quarter to help swing the momentum, added six.
The game was originally scheduled for Sept. 15, 2001, but was postponed after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
1990 – Ohio State 42, Purdue 2
Flanker Jeff Graham caught two touchdowns and threw another in a rout of the host Boilermakers.
Graham caught four passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns and threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to quarterback Greg Frey in the win.
"It has been a long time since we had a game like this one, and it feels pretty good," said Frey, who completed eight of 11 passes for 172 yards and three touchdowns. "It's been a real long time since I came out in the third quarter. It was something we needed, and I'm glad we got it. It gives us a lot of confidence."
Frey was used to throwing touchdown passes, but on this date he caught one. He handed the ball to Graham on an apparent reverse, but the flanker stopped, turned and threw the ball back to Frey. The quarterback then outran Purdue defenders for about 40 yards before diving headfirst into the end zone.
"We put that play in earlier in the week," Frey said. "It's just one of those plays that you might call and you might not, depending upon the situation. Purdue likes to overrun a lot of things, and we caught them. They were in a zone and left me wide open while they all collapsed on the other guys.
Running back Robert Smith got the scoring started with a 69-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Unfortunately for OSU, Smith was also involved in Purdue's lone score of the game when he was tackled in the OSU end zone for a safety. Twenty-one second-quarter points helped put the game out of reach. Rich Huffman helped make it 14-2 OSU with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Frey, who caught his touchdown pass from Graham to help make it 21-2. Graham added his two touchdowns, and Butler By'not'e capped the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
The Buckeye defense intercepted Scott Hoffman five times, two by OSU senior cornerback Vinnie Clark. Hoffman was making his first career start because Big Ten passing leader Eric Hunter was out with a separated shoulder.
"We had a good game plan against them," said Clark, who also led the OSU defense with six solo tackles. "They've played some good teams, but we beat them worse than Notre Dame or Illinois or Washington. That has to give your team confidence, and I believe it does."
Ohio State held Purdue to four yards of rushing on 16 attempts and out-gained the Boilermakers 475-321.
1984 – No. 8 Ohio State 23, Michigan State 20
The Buckeyes found themselves in a tie with Iowa atop the Big Ten after escaping East Lansing, Mich., with a three-point win.
Ohio State (6-1, 4-1) had to hold off the upset-minded Spartans (3-4, 2-3) as they tried to rally late in the fourth quarter. After MSU cut the lead to three with five minutes remaining, the Buckeyes took over at their own 12 with 4:32 left on the clock. After two Keith Byars carries resulted in only three yards, quarterback Mike Tomczak dropped back to pass on third down. His pass, intended for Byars, ended up in the hands of MSU cornerback Tony Manley, who was making his first start. Manley dropped the likely touchdown, however, and the Buckeyes dodged a bullet.
Tom Tupa then punted for Ohio State, and his 36-yard punt was returned 12 yards, giving the Spartans the ball at the OSU 39 with 2:56 left. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, the defense held Michigan State to a long field-goal attempt with six seconds left on the clock. The 43-yard attempt by Ralf Mojsiejenko was wide and short – his first miss of the season – and Ohio State held on for the win.
While MSU's kicker missed a key field goal, as well as an extra point earlier in the game, the Buckeyes got a strong performance from their place kicker. Rich Spangler made three first-half field goals from 36, 42 and 30 yards and made two extra points in the win.
As OSU head coach Earle Bruce left the interview room following the win, he stopped his kicker and said, "Congratulations, Rich. That was a tremendous effort."
Spangler had lost his job midway through the 1983 season and missed two field goals and an extra point early in the 1984 season. However, he told Buckeye Sports Bulletin that he never lost his confidence.
"After the first kick I missed at Purdue (a 19-yard try from a tough angle), I've been hitting the ball well," Spangler said. "I was hitting the ball well before the Purdue game, too. But I missed one kick. If you're a kicker, one kick can cause the whole team a whole lot of discomfort."
In addition to Spangler's three field goals, Ohio State had a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs in the second half by Byars and Tomczak. Byars carried the ball 40 times for 121 yards, and Tomczak completed 16 of 27 passes for 256 yards.
Defensively, Pepper Johnson led the Buckeyes with 12 tackles.
1979 – No. 6 Ohio State 59, Wisconsin 0
The Buckeyes continued to dominate the Big Ten with a rout of the visiting Badgers.
Ohio State moved up to No. 4 after the dominating win, its first shutout of the season. The 59 points the Buckeyes scored was a season-high.
1973 – No. 1 Ohio State 37, Indiana 7
The top-ranked Buckeyes scored in every quarter in silencing the 53,183 at IU's Memorial Stadium – at least those not cheering the Scarlet and Gray.
Bruce Elia scored twice and ran for a career-high 123 yards. Archie Griffin added a game-high 130 yards, and quarterback Cornelius Greene added two short touchdown runs.
Neal Colzie gave the OSU defense a score when he intercepted a pass and ran it back 55 yards for a touchdown.
The Hoosiers, coached be Lee Corso, scored the game's final points on a reverse pass by Mike Flanagan to end Trent Smock. Flanagan's father, Dick, was the starting halfback on OSU's undefeated National Civilian Championship team in 1944.
1962 – No. 8 Northwestern 18, No. 6 Ohio State 14
The up-and-coming Wildcats spoiled homecoming with a tight win at Ohio Stadium.
Bob Klein got the crowd on its feet early with a 90-yard touchdown on the kickoff return, and the Buckeyes built the lead to 14-0 on a 9-yard touchdown run by fullback Dave Francis.
Unfortunately for the 84,376 in attendance, the rest of the game belonged to Northwestern. Sophomore quarterback Tom Myers, a native of Troy, Ohio, completed 18 passes for 177 yards and led his team to victory.
The Wildcats defeated Notre Dame the next week and rose to No. 1 in The Associated Press poll.
Two penalties cost OSU touchdowns, and head coach Woody Hayes complained about the officiating on his Sunday television show. That got him in trouble with Big Ten Commissioner Bill Reed. Hayes sent Reed a letter apologizing for the remarks.
1956 – Penn State 7, No. 5 Ohio State 6
The visiting Nittany Lions shocked the Buckeyes in the first meeting between the two schools since 1912.
Both defenses played well, and both offenses struggled to put points on the scoreboard until the fourth quarter. Penn State used good field position following a short OSU punt to score the game's first points. PSU quarterback Milt Plum led a 13-play scoring drive, capped by a short touchdown run by Bruce Gilmore. Plum made the extra point conversion to make it 7-0 with 3:35 remaining.
The Buckeyes answered with an 80-yard touchdown drive in only five plays. Don Clark finished the drive with a 3-yard run over right tackle.
As the Buckeyes got ready for the conversion attempt, Hayes sent Leo Brown on the field. The coach thought OSU had only 10 players on the field. Unfortunately, they had 11, making Brown an illegal 12th man. The Buckeyes were penalized five yards, and their extra-point attempt from the PSU 15 went wide left.
1951 – Indiana 32, No. 17 Ohio State 10
The Buckeyes fell to 1-2-1 after a stunning loss to the 17-point underdog Hoosiers.
Ohio State turned the ball over five times, and three of those led to Indiana touchdowns. Hoosier quarterback Lou D'Achille threw for two first half touchdowns, and Indiana took a 26-3 into halftime.
1945 – No. 9 Purdue 35, No. 4 Ohio State 13
The Boilermakers ended OSU's 12-game conference winning streak and handed head coach Carroll Widdoes his first loss.
Purdue built a 28-0 lead before the Buckeyes responded with two fourth-quarter touchdowns. However, that was far from enough. Purdue running back Ed Cody ran for 146 yards and three touchdowns, and quarterback Bob DeMoss added 138 yards passing and two touchdown passes to Bill Canfield.
1934 – Ohio State 10, Colgate 7
The Buckeyes exploded for 10 points in a win over the Red Raiders.
Colgate, a team with national championship aspirations, had not given up that many points since a 13-0 loss to New York University in 1931. Ohio State got a 1-yard touchdown plunge from Jack Smith, who was playing with an injured knee. Regis Monahan added the game-winning field goal from 22 yards.
1928 – Ohio State 19, Michigan 7
Ohio State ended a six-game losing streak to the Wolverines in front of 72,439 at Ohio Stadium.
The Buckeyes scored eight minutes into the game when Alan Holman threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to West Fesler. The extra point failed, and Michigan rallied for a 7-6 lead. The U-M touchdown was the first points allowed by OSU in 1928.
OSU retook the lead, 12-7, following a 21-yard touchdown run by Byron Eby. Again, the extra point failed, but it did not matter. The Wolverines never scored again, and Holman added to the OSU lead with a touchdown pass to Charles Coffee for 21 yards in the fourth quarter.
The Buckeyes dominated the game, leading in total yards (157-50) and first downs (13-1).
1923 – Michigan 23, Ohio State 0
The Buckeyes fell to 1-1-1 on the season with a whitewash at Michigan.
The game was OSU's first road contest of the season. The Buckeyes would lose all but one of their three road games.
1906 – Michigan 6, Ohio State 0
The Wolverines handed the Buckeyes their lone loss of the season in a game in Columbus.
OSU head coach Albert E. Herrnstein – a former Michigan football standout – had scouted his alma mater earlier in the season, but the Buckeye offense struggled all game against Michigan's defense.
1900 – Ohio State 47, Ohio Wesleyan 0
The Buckeyes improved to 4-0 with a blanking of the Battling Bishops.
Through the OWU game, Ohio State had outscored opponents 116-0.
1894 – Ohio State 30, Columbus Barracks 0
After losing three of its first four games, Ohio State got back on track with a shutout win at Columbus Barracks.
The win was one of two shutouts the Buckeyes would post in 1894. OSU also blanked Antioch 32-0 Oct. 13. Ohio State would finish the 1894 season 6-5.