Joe Paterno won for the 324th time as Penn State's head coach in a 29-27 come-from-behind victory over the Buckeyes at Beaver Stadium.
Paterno passed Alabama's legendary Paul "Bear" Bryant thanks to 21-unanswered points in the second half. The win was cause for a big celebration in Happy Valley. Paterno was given a ring with "324" engraved on it. The school also announced plans to erect a state of Paterno at Beaver Stadium.
"It's just overwhelming," said Paterno, who improved to 324-94-3 all-time with the win. "It will take me a long time. I'm overwhelmed now. ... You never think it's going to be a big deal until it happens the way it did. You see so many people who helped you get to this point."
For the Buckeyes it was the second Big Ten game in which they blew a double-digit, second-half lead. Ohio State had a 27-9 lead early in the third quarter after junior cornerback Derek Ross returned a Zack Miller interception 45 yards for a touchdown.
"I don't know if I'd put a phrase like 'killer instinct' on it or whatever, but we have to do things all the time that you need to do to win," OSU first-year head coach Jim Tressel said.
Mills responded after the mistake and led PSU on three touchdown drives to earn the victory. He got things started himself with a 69-yard touchdown run that swung the momentum back to the Nittany Lions. Mills kept the ball on an option run, hurdled a PSU blocker and evaded OSU safety Mike Doss on the touchdown run.
"They got the momentum in the second half," said OSU safety Donnie Nickey. "We have to stop them and not let them do that. Mills had the long run. That's the play that changed things and they never lost momentum after that."
Mills added two more touchdown passes to complete the comeback. He connected with Tony Johnson on a 26-yard score and helped PSU take the lead early in the fourth quarter on a 14-yard pass to Eric McCoo for another touchdown with 14:47 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Ohio State had a chance to win the game in the final minutes when freshman kicker Mike Nugent lined up for a 34-yard field goal with just under three minutes left. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, the low line-drive kick was blocked by Jimmy Kennedy, sealing the win for the Nittany Lions.
The Buckeyes led most of the game, starting with a quick-strike touchdown pass of 66 yards to Michael Jenkins from Steve Bellisari on the first play of an OSU drive early in the first quarter. Ohio State led 13-9 at halftime thanks to a pair of second-quarter field goals by Nugent. Jonathan Wells, who led the Buckeyes with 143 yards on 19 carries, extended the lead less than a minute into the second half with a 65-yard touchdown run. Ross' interception return finished the scoring for OSU.
1990 – Ohio State 52, Minnesota 23
For the second straight Saturday, the Buckeyes blew out a Big Ten opponent. There was a major difference in this win, however.
While OSU's 42-2 win over Purdue seven days earlier was aided by an injury ravaged Boilermaker lineup, the Buckeyes dominated a Golden Gophers team that was unbeaten in the Big Ten. Ohio State dominated Minnesota in a 52-23 win at Ohio Stadium.
"I never expected us to have that kind of success moving the ball against their defense, to be honest with you," OSU head coach John Cooper said. "Their defense had really improved the last three weeks. I never thought we'd have as much total yardage or make as many big plays as we did against them."
Ohio State had 551 yards of total offense and used 21 first-quarter points to pull away quickly. Quarterback Greg Frey erased an early 3-0 Minnesota lead with a 1-yard touchdown run. He added a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Graham to make it 14-3, and Raymont Harris added a third opening-quarter touchdown on a 7-yard run to make it 21-0.
"We thought it was important to get a quick start," Cooper said. "This was the first time a lot of Minnesota's players have played in our stadium, because we've played them at their place the last two years."
Frey completed 16 of 28 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns. The 257 yards gave him 5,577 for his OSU career, moving him past Mike Tomczak (5,569) on OSU's all-time passing list.
Gary Lickovitch caught a 7-yard touchdown pass and Bobby Olive hauled in a 52-yard score for Frey's other throwing touchdowns. Raymont Harris and Robert Smith also added second half touchdown runs of 15 and 24 yards, respectively.
Smith finished with 120 yards on 11 carries.
1984 – Wisconsin 16, No. 6 Ohio State 14
The Badgers beat the Buckeyes for the third time in four years in front of 78,606 fans at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis.
Wisconsin built a 10-0 halftime lead as the Buckeyes struggled offensively. Ohio State marched down the field on the game's first drive, but a fumbled snap ended the scoring threat. The offensive continued to sputter, forcing Tom Tupa to punt seven times as the Buckeyes fell to 4-2 in the Big Ten.
"Our second loss in the conference has devastated us," OSU head coach Earle Bruce said. "Both teams made mistakes, but they were able to capitalize and get three field goals and put 16 points on the board. As you always say, 14 points is not going to win a football game – not in this league. You just have to score more points. They did an exceptional job on us today defensively."
The Badgers built their halftime lead with a pair of second-quarter scores. Quarterback Mike Howard connected with Thad McFadden for a 34-yard touchdown pass, and Todd Gregoire added a 27-yard field goal.
Gregoire added two more field goals of 35 and 34 yards, respectively, in the second half. That proved to be enough for the Badgers. Mike Lanese scored on a 32-yard touchdown run for Ohio State in the third quarter, and Keith Byars added a 2-yard touchdown score in the fourth quarter.
Byars led OSU in rushing (26 carries for 142 yards) and receiving (five catches for 91 yards). Quarterback Mike Tomczak completed eight of 21 passes for 106 yards.
Leading Wisconsin was rusher Marck Harrison, a Columbus native, who rushed for 202 yards in his first start.
Defensively, Pepper Johnson led the Buckeyes with 20 tackles – 12 solo.
1979 – No. 4 Ohio State 42, Michigan State 0
A homecoming rout of the Spartans ended a very successful four-game homestand for Ohio State.
The Buckeyes outscored Northwestern, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan State 164-13, with the Wildcats and Hoosiers being the only teams to score against OSU.
Ohio State faced two road games at Illinois and rival Michigan, with a home game vs. Iowa sandwiched in between, to finish the regular season.
1973 – No. 1 Ohio State 60, Northwestern 0
Ohio State earned its most lopsided victory of the season on homecoming.
Seven different Buckeyes scored touchdowns, and including cornerback Tim Fox on a blocked kick and Neal Colzie on a 19-yard interception return – his second in as many games.
The Wildcats held OSU scoreless in the first quarter, but the Buckeyes scored 27 points in the second quarter and 26 more in the third.
Fullback Bruce Elia was injured after only three carries and did not return. Wingback Brian Baschnagel moved to fullback, and Pete Johnson saw his first significant playing time. Johnson ran for 37 yards on six carries.
1962 – Ohio State 14, No. 5 Wisconsin 7
Seven days after a tough 18-14 home loss to Northwestern, the Buckeyes rebounded by handing the Badgers their only loss of the season.
Ohio State scored a first-quarter touchdown when Joe Sparma threw a 21-yard score to Paul Warfield, who beat three UW defenders on the way to the end zone. The Badgers tied the game just before halftime, but OSU quarterback John Mummey scored the game-winning touchdown from a yard out following a 57-yard drive in the fourth quarter.
1956 – No. 9 Ohio State 21, Wisconsin 0
Again, the Buckeyes rebounded from a loss to beat Wisconsin.
Ohio State, which had lost to Penn State the week before, dominated the Badgers on homecoming at Ohio Stadium. Don Clark ran for 151 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown that started the scoring. Frank Ellwood scored OSU's other two touchdowns on a pair of 1-yard runs.
1951 – Ohio State 47, Iowa 21
Ohio State's offense got back on track following a disheartening 32-10 loss to Indiana a week earlier.
First-year head coach Woody Hayes moved Tony Curcillo from quarterback to fullback and put junior Bill Wilkes in at quarterback. The switch did not last, as Wilkes left the Iowa game with an injury in the first quarter, and Curcillo returned to quarterback. He responded by throwing four touchdowns and amassing 292 passing yards.
It was OSU's first win since its season opener Sept. 29 vs. SMU.
1945 – No. 12 Ohio State 20, No. 5 Minnesota 7
Ollie Cline, Dick Fisher and Bud Kessler each scored touchdowns as the Buckeyes rebounded from a 35-13 loss at Purdue a week earlier.
The win was OSU's 300th in program history.
1934 – Ohio State 28, Northwestern 6
The Wildcats scored the game's first points, but the Buckeyes still left Evanston, Ill., with a win on a cold and windy day.
George Potter gave NU the lead with a 90-yard touchdown return of the opening kickoff. Ohio State responded with three third-quarter touchdowns to pull away.
The Buckeyes out-gained the Wildcats 317-59.
1928 – Ohio State 13, Indiana 0
The OSU defense intercepted four Hoosier passes in the Buckeyes' third-straight Big Ten
The Buckeyes improved to 4-0 on the season with a mid-season homecoming showdown with Princeton on the horizon.
1923 – Iowa 20, Ohio State 0
The Buckeyes followed up a 23-0 loss at Michigan a week earlier with an equally ugly loss at Ohio Stadium to the Hawkeyes.
Ohio State fell to 1-2-1 with the loss.
1917 – Ohio State 67, Denison 0
In OSU's first game since Oct. 13, the Buckeyes dominated overmatched Denison on a rainy day at Ohio Field.
It was the first game between the two schools in five seasons, and it was OSU's fourth-straight shutout to begin the season.
1900 – Ohio State 17, Oberlin 0
The Buckeyes' defense continued to be the story, but Oberlin did keep it close.
The Columbus Citizen's account of the game claimed the umpire was biased toward the Yeomen.
1894 – Western Reserve 24, Ohio State 4
Ohio State fell to 2-4 on the season with a home loss to Western Reserve.
The Buckeyes would respond following the loss, winning four of their last five games.