First-year Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel told fans at Value City Arena Jan. 18 during halftime of the OSU-Michigan men's basketball game that Buckeye fans would be proud of his team "in the classroom, in the community and, most especially, in 310 days in Ann Arbor, Mich., on the football field."
And 310 days later, the Buckeyes made sure to prove Tressel was a man of his word with a 26-20 win at Michigan Stadium.
Senior tailback Jonathan Wells and sophomore quarterback Craig Krenzel helped push the Buckeyes to their first win in Ann Arbor since 1987. Ohio State silenced the Michigan Stadium crowd by scoring 23 unanswered points in the first half and holding on for the victory. Wells scored on three first-half touchdown runs of 1, 46 and 11 yards and finished with 129 yards on 25 carries.
"We thought we could run the football," Tressel said. "We weren't going to pile up hundreds and hundreds of yards, but we thought we would be able to effectively run it."
Added Wells: "I just wanted to come out and play the best football I could play. I was feeling like I was getting better every game this year. My offensive line just came together. They were giving me creases, and when I get creases I can punish people or run around them."
Things went the Buckeyes' way from the start. Disaster struck the Wolverines on their first possession. U-M quarterback John Navarre threw an interception to Mike Doss – one of two the safety would have – on third-and-9 from the Michigan 29. Doss returned the interception to the 4, and Wells scored on a 1-yard touchdown plunge two plays later.
After the Wolverines were halted on their next drive, Krenzel led the Buckeyes on an eight-play, 85-yard scoring drive. Wells once again capped it off with a 46-yard touchdown run in which he broke through the Michigan defensive line and outraced Cato June for the score.
Later in the second quarter, the OSU defense set up the offense again. Navarre had a pass tipped by defensive end Darrion Scott and Tim Anderson caught it for the Buckeyes and returned it to the U-M 28. Krenzel found Jamar Martin on a key screen pass for 10 yards on third-and-8 from the U-M 26, and Wells helped make it 21-0 Ohio State with an 11-yard run with 4:34 left in the half.
The Buckeyes took a 23-0 lead into halftime thanks to a late safety. Michigan backup quarterback Jermaine Gonzalez replaced Navarre, and Gonzalez was not looking when center Kurt Anderson's shotgun snap went over his head. Gonzalez raced back into the end zone and batted the ball out of the back of the end zone for a safety with 35 seconds left in the second quarter.
"Jermaine took his eyes off the ball," Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr said of the safety. "He wasn't ready."
Michigan rebounded in the second half. Marquise Walker caught two touchdown passes, and B.J. Askew added a 2-yard touchdown run. All the Buckeyes could manage offensively was a fourth-quarter 33-yard field goal by Mike Nugent, but that was more than enough.
Still Tressel said he was nervous when Michigan mounted its challenge.
"The last 15 minutes? It felt like 310 days," Tressel said.
Krenzel had a solid effort in his first start at quarterback. The Michigan native completed 11 of 18 passes for 118 yards.
"It was special to come out here in front of my family and play well enough to win as a team," Krenzel said. "To come in here with the way everyone views the rivalry, to get things done, that was a great game."
Navarre completed 21 of 47 passes for 206 yards, but he threw four interceptions and lost one fumble. The Buckeyes cost Michigan a BCS bowl bid, which went to Illinois instead.
"The defense made some plays," Krenzel said. "They got some turnovers and gave us good field position. They made it easier on us."
1990 – No. 15 Michigan 16, Ohio State 13
The Buckeyes lost a chance at their first Big Ten title and Rose Bowl berth since 1984 thanks in part to a key fourth-down stop by the Wolverines.
Quarterback Greg Frey was stopped at the line of scrimmage at the OSU 29 with 1:38 remaining in the fourth quarter, and Michigan took the ball down the field and won the game on a 37-yard field goal by J.D. Carlson with no time remaining.
The loss sent Iowa to the Rose Bowl despite the Hawkeyes' season-ending loss to Minnesota. Four teams finished the season with 6-2 Big Ten records – Michigan, Illinois, Michigan State and the Hawkeyes, who defeated all three of the other co-champions.
Following the game, OSU head coach Jim Cooper commented on why he went for it on the key fourth down play.
"I've been telling this football squad ever since the Indiana game (Oct. 13, a 27-27 tie vs. the No. 22 Hoosiers) that I really felt like we had a chance to go ahead and win out and go to the Rose Bowl," Cooper said. "So, why not follow up on that? Why not go for broke? A tie didn't do us any good at all. All a tie would have done would have been to put us in the Gator Bowl.
"But if I would have played for a tie and then Minnesota beats Iowa, I wouldn't have been able to face my football team."
The Buckeyes almost did not need the fourth-down play. On third-and-1 from the OSU 29, Frey connected with Bobby Olive on a 15-yard pass play. However, as Olive struggled for extra yards, Jeff Graham was called for a clipping penalty. That left OSU third-and-1 again, but this time Michigan's defense stood tall twice.
Said OSU offensive coordinator Jim Colletto: "I'm not worried about (the fourth-down play), though. I'm worried about the ... clipping penalty when we had the ball on the 44-yard line and first down. Everybody will talk about about the play I called on fourth down, but what about the one before that that got us 15 yards. The same guy called both plays. One was good and the other was bad because of execution."
The game was tightly contested. Ohio State outgained Michigan 284-248 and both teams were close in terms of offensive plays (a 62-56 OSU advantage) and time of possession (30:52 for OSU, 29:08 for Michigan). For seniors like Frey, it was an especially tough loss to take.
"It's certainly not the way I wanted to go out," said Frey, who fell to 0-3 as a starter vs. Michigan. "We wanted to go for the win, no question. What else can you do? They called the right defense (on the fourth-down play) and stuffed it."
Ohio State started the scoring with a 33-yard field goal by Tim Williams in the first quarter and led 10-6 at halftime thanks to a 12-yard touchdown reception from Graham with 44 seconds remaining in the second quarter. Williams added a 43-yard field goal in the third quarter, but that was the last time the Buckeyes scored.
"I'm proud of our team," Cooper said. "I'm not happy with the losses we had, but I thought we played through a lot of adversity. I thought the players played hard, especially today. I think we're a better football team this year.
"I think we're closing the gap on the other teams in the Big Ten. We beat Iowa, played Michigan down to the final play and were extremely competitive with Illinois. I think we're heading in the right direction."
Following the Buckeyes accepted a bid to play in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn. to take on Air Force.
1973 – No. 1 Ohio State 10, No. 4 Michigan 10
In a classic matchup between the two archrivals, the Buckeyes and Wolverines could only manage a tie in a de-facto Big Ten championship game at Michigan Stadium.
Both teams were 7-0 in the conference going into the game and the contest lived up to the pregame hype. Ohio State scored all of its points in the first half, and the Wolverines scored 10 points in the second half.
A 21-yard field goal by Blair Conway and a 5-yard touchdown run by Pete Johnson gave OSU the lead at halftime. After neither team did much on offense throughout the third quarter, the game changed when OSU's Cornelius Greene was stopped on a fourth-and-2 play at the Michigan 42. The Wolverines then marched to the OSU 13 before settling for a 30-yard Mike Lantry field goal. After the Buckeyes were halted on their next possession, Michigan took advantage of good field position and drove 49 yards for the game-tying touchdown. One a fourth-and-inches play at the OSU 10, U-M quarterback Dennis Franklin faked a handoff and ran around OSU's left end for the score.
Neither team scored again. Franklin broke his collarbone when he fell on his right shoulder on U-M's next drive, and the Wolverines missed two long field goal attempts before time ran out.
The tie set up a problem for the Big Ten. Ohio State and Michigan were tied atop the conference standings. In years past, Michigan would have earned the Big Ten's Rose Bowl bid because Ohio State represented the conference in the previous season's Rose Bowl. However, the conference had abolished the "no-repeat" rule in 1972. That set up a vote of conference athletic directors to determine which team would go to Pasadena. To the surprise of many, Ohio State won the vote.
1962 – Ohio State 28, Michigan 0
Senior fullbacks Dave Francis, Dave Katterenrich and Bob Butts all made their last games as Buckeyes count by each scoring touchdowns in a rout of the Wolverines.
The trio combined to score all of OSU's touchdowns, and kicker Chuck Mamula added the four extra points. The Buckeyes dominated offensively, leading in first downs (19-9) and outgaining Michigan 337-142.
Michigan never advanced beyond the OSU 21.
The Buckeyes finished the season 6-3 and won their last three games.
1956 – Michigan 19, No. 12 Ohio State 0
Six OSU turnovers ruined any chance the Buckeyes had at sharing the Big Ten championship.
Michigan built a 13-0 lead in the first quarter and stifled the OSU running attack by putting all 11 of its defenders on the line of scrimmage. The Buckeyes threw the ball only five times and completed just one pass for 10 yards.
1951 – Michigan 7, Ohio State 0
First-year head coach Woody Hayes' first game vs. the Wolverines was one of the dullest.
The nationally-televised game had very little offense, save for U-M's lone touchdown drive of only 49 yards in the second quarter. The Buckeyes never drove beyond the U-M 24.
The Buckeyes finished 4-3-2 in Hayes' first season.
1945 – No. 8 Michigan 7, No. 7 Ohio State 3
Sophomore halfback Hank Fonde scored the game's lone touchdown in the Buckeyes' season finale.
Fonde capped the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter after Ohio State had led 3-0. Robin Priday intercepted a U-M pass in the third quarter at the OSU 30, and the Buckeyes drove all the way to the Michigan 10 before having to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Max Schnittker.
Ohio State finished the season 7-2.
1934 – Ohio State 40, Iowa 7
Six different players scored touchdowns for OSU as the Buckeyes ended the season on a high note.
The Buckeyes finished the season 7-1 and placed second in the Big Ten behind unbeaten Minnesota.
1923 – Illinois 9, Ohio State 0
Harold "Red" Grange scored the game's lone touchdown in a season-ending Homecoming loss to the Fighting Illini at Ohio Stadium.
Ohio State's Frank "Pete" Honaker appeared to have scored on a fourth-down run from the six-inch line. However, the referees ruled that Honaker did not cross the line and the Buckeyes were held scoreless.
Grange's touchdown run was a 31-yard scamper that capped a 10-play, 82-yard drive.
Illinois would share the national title with Michigan.
1917 – Ohio State 0, Auburn 0
With many members of the 37th division of the Ohio National Guard in attendance at the game in Montgomery, Ala., the Buckeyes failed to gain any traction on offense.
The Ohioans were in Alabama training at Camp Sheridan. The Buckeyes struggled on offense with several key players out with injuries. Ohio State's record moved to 7-0-1 with the tie.
1910 – Ohio State 53, Kenyon 0
Ohio State ended the season with a rout of Kenyon.
The Buckeyes finished the season 6-1-3 – it's only under head coach Howard Jones. Jones is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and led Southern California to five Rose Bowls – all victories. He also coached Iowa and led the Hawkeyes to their first two outright Big Ten titles in 1921 and 1922.
1906 – Ohio State 12, Wooster 0
The Buckeyes handed Wooster its first loss of the season as OSU improved to 7-1.
Ohio State was also the first team to score a touchdown against the Fighting Scots.
1904 – Carlisle Indians 23, Ohio State 0
Pop Warner's Indians defeated the Buckeyes on Thanksgiving Day in OSU's season finale.
Ohio State lost five of its last seven games after starting the season 4-0.
1900 – Ohio State 0, Michigan 0
Approximately 900 fans made the trip with the Buckeyes to Ann Arbor and watched OSU gain a bit of respect against its archrival.
The game was played in a driving snowstorm that caused the field to become muddy in the second half.
Afterwards Michigan agreed to play the 1901 game with OSU in Columbus for the first time.
1898 – Ohio State 24, Ohio Wesleyan 0
For the second straight Thanksgiving, the Buckeyes hosted Ohio Wesleyan. The difference this time was the final score.
After losing to OWU 6-0 in 1897, the Buckeyes cruised in their season finale a year later.
Ohio State finished the 1898 season 3-5. The win over OWU snapped a four-game losing streak.
1894 – Ohio State 46, 17th Regiment 4
The Buckeyes won their second straight game for their first winning streak of the season.
Ohio State had started the season 3-5 but would end the season by winning its last three, including this rout of the 17th Regiment.
1892 – Ohio State 26, Kenyon 0
Host Ohio State earned a profit of $1,049 in winning a Thanksgiving Day game.
The Buckeyes knocked off a solid Kenyon team with its new "Ryder wedge" offensive formation.
The money earned from the game was a big lift to OSU's athletic budget.