No one seems to realize that the Buckeyes are seeking program win No. 800 when the Ohio Bobcats come to town. Unfortunately, most fans don't seem to understand just how big of a deal it is to win 800 games on the college level. Only four other programs in the long history of the sport have ever broken through that plateau and young men have been playing college football in one form or another for the past 139 years.
With its 800th victory, OSU will join an elite club that includes only Michigan (869), Notre Dame (824), Texas (821) and Nebraska (818).
For the Buckeyes, everything started on a May afternoon in 1890 when the university's first organized team notched its first victory in its first-ever game. Ohio State traveled the short distance to Ohio Wesleyan and came home with a 20-14 victory. The squad would have to wait another 18 months for its first win at home, an 8-4 decision over Denison on Nov. 28, 1891.
Win No. 100 was achieved on the road at Vanderbilt on Nov. 14, 1908. The Buckeyes erased a three-game losing streak with a 17-6 victory over the Commodores, putting the program's overall record at 100-62-12, a winning percentage of .609. Since that game, OSU has posted a 699-242-41 mark, a .733 winning percentage.
Twenty years later, Ohio State achieved win No. 200 in Columbus with a 41-0 win over Wittenberg in the 1928 season opener. It began the final season of head coach John W. Wilce, who piloted the program for 16 seasons that included the team's first Western Conference championship and the program's first-ever victory over Michigan. The same day the Buckeyes were beating Wittenberg, old rival Ohio Wesleyan upset Michigan, 17-7, marking the Wolverines' first loss on opening day in 46 seasons.
OSU chalked up win No. 300 on Oct. 27, 1945, with a 20-7 upset win over fifth-ranked Minnesota. Ollie Cline, Dick Fisher and end Bud Kessler all scored touchdowns for the Buckeyes that afternoon, and Max Schnittker kicked a pair of extra points. Schnittker's brother Dick also played football and basketball for the Buckeyes, going on to a six-year NBA career, mostly with the Minneapolis Lakers. Their cousin, Brandon Schnittker, also played for Ohio State from 2002-05.
One of the sweetest milestone victories for the Ohio State program was No. 400. That game was played Nov. 25, 1961, in Ann Arbor and the Buckeyes pounded out a 50-20 victory over their archrivals. Fullback Bob Ferguson rushed for 152 yards and scored four touchdowns for the Buckeyes, while halfback Paul Warfield raced 69 yards for a score, the second-longest run from scrimmage in an OSU-Michigan game.
That was also the contest in which Woody Hayes went for a two-point conversion near the end of the game with his team firmly in command at 48-20. At the time, Hayes explained that he wanted the final score to add up to 70, honoring longtime assistant coach Ernie Godfrey, who would turn 70 years old the next spring. However, years later, when pressed about the subject, Hayes admitted that he was trying for a little payback from 1946 when the Wolverines ran up a 58-6 score on the Buckeyes. When asked why he went for two, the old coach replied, "Because I couldn't go for three."
The Buckeyes' 500th victory came during a late September afternoon in 1975. OSU rolled to a 32-7 win over North Carolina, the team's 20th consecutive win at home. It was a record-setting day for two Ohio State players. Fullback Pete Johnson set a single-game mark by scoring five touchdowns and tailback Archie Griffin rushed for 157 yards and became the school's all-time leader in total offense.
OSU put an exclamation point on win No. 600 with a 64-6 whipping of Utah in September 1986. The Buckeyes rolled up 715 yards of total offense to set the modern-day record for a single game. The all-time mark is 718 against Mount Union in 1930.) The team totaled 394 of those yards on the ground and 321 through the air marking the first time in program history the team had ever topped the 300-yard mark in rushing and passing in the same game. Vince Workman ran for 168 yards and three TDs, Jaymes Bryant added 145 yards and fullback George Cooper tacked on four touchdowns.
Win No. 700 came on Nov. 15, 1997, when the Buckeyes rolled to a 41-6 victory over Illinois during a Columbus snowstorm. Pepe Pearson ran for 111 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and the quarterback tandem of Stan Jackson and Joe Germaine combined to throw for 189 yards and three scores.
About a decade or so from now, someone will be chronicling these games again along with win No. 800 as the program looks toward 900 victories.
OHIO STATE-OHIO TIDBITS
• Jim Tressel chalked up his 74th victory as Ohio State head coach last week, getting him to within five wins of taking over fourth place on the school's all-time list. Woody Hayes is the far and away the winningest OSU coach in history with 205 victories from 1951-78. He is followed by John Cooper (111, 1988-2000), Earle Bruce (81, 1979-87) and John W. Wilce (78, 1913-28).
• Frank Solich, who grew up in Cleveland and played his high school ball at Holy Name, is in his fourth season as head coach at Ohio. His record with the Bobcats stands at an even 19-19. That loss total equals the number of defeats he had in six seasons at Nebraska, where he posted a 58-19 record.
• This marks the sixth meeting between the two instate rivals. Ohio State has won all six, including the last time the two teams met – a 40-16 victory for the Buckeyes in 1999. In that game, Michael Wiley rushed for 98 yards and two touchdowns while Steve Bellisari threw for 243 yards and a pair of TDs. Both went to receiver Ken-Yon Rambo, who finished with seven catches for 171 yards.
• The 1999 game renewed the series that had been dormant for 97 years. OSU and Ohio had met one another for four consecutive seasons from 1899-1902 with the Buckeyes scoring a shutout win every time – 41-0 in 1899, 20-0 in 1900, 17-0 in 1901 and 17-0 in 1902.
• Ohio University is looking for its first win ever in 14 tries against a ranked opponent. After last week's narrow 21-20 loss at Wyoming, the team is also looking to avoid its first 0-2 start since the 2002 season.
• Ohio State sports a 175-48-15 record all-time against instate opponents and hasn't lost to an Ohio school since a 7-6 defeat to Oberlin in 1921. The closest any instate rival has come since was a 7-7 tie achieved by Wooster in 1924.
• September has always been a good month for the Buckeyes. In their history, they sport a 142-21-5 record during the month, good for a .860 winning percentage.
• The Buckeyes registered their first season-opening shutout last week since 1977. The team hasn't recorded back-to-back shutouts to open a season since 1963 when it took a 17-0 win over Texas A&M and followed with a 21-0 victory at Indiana.
• This is Hall of Fame weekend in Columbus with a new group of 12 inductees being formally enshrined in the Ohio State Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday night. The inductees, which include former Buckeye football standouts Bobby Hoying and Jeff Uhlenhake, will also be honored at halftime of the OSU-Ohio game.
• Kickoff against the Bobcats is set for 12:06 p.m. Eastern. ESPN has the telecast with Pam Ward handling play-by-play duties and Ray Bentley providing color commentary.
• Next week's game at USC will be ABC's national Saturday night game. Kickoff is scheduled for shortly after 8 p.m. Eastern. (That, of course, is 5 p.m. local time if you're going to the game.)
AROUND THE COUNTRY
• Even if Joe Paterno doesn't return to Penn State next season, senior quarterback Daryll Clark probably will. The school announced Wednesday that the NCAA had granted Clark a fifth year of eligibility, allowing him to return for the 2009 season. Clark did not qualify academically as a freshman and spent a year at a prep school before enrolling at Penn State. He spent two years as Anthony Morelli's backup before winning the starting job this season. Last week during the Nittany Lions' 66-10 win over Coastal Carolina, Clark completed 11 of 14 passes for 146 yards and one touchdown.
• Congratulations to Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald. His team's 30-10 win over Syracuse last weekend made Fitzgerald a perfect 3-0 in season openers since he took over for the late Randy Walker in 2006. The last time a Northwestern head coach won his first three season openers was more than 70 years ago when Lynn "Pappy" Waldorf did it in 1935, '36 and '37.
• Miami (Ohio) got swamped last week by Vanderbilt, surrendering 360 total yards and committing three turnovers in a 34-13 loss. The RedHawks actually had the lead in that game at one time, a 3-0 advantage early in the first quarter courtesy of a 37-yard field goal from kicker Nathan Parseghian. If the last name sounds familiar, that is because Nathan is the great-grandnephew of former Miami, Northwestern and Notre Dame head coach Ara Parseghian.
• Speaking of kickers, Alex Henery of Nebraska last week became the first kicker in NCAA history to make four field goals in four tries from the exact distance in the same game. Henery booted four field goals of 44 yards each during a 47-34 win by the Cornhuskers over Western Michigan.
• Florida teams helped a pair of Big 12 members set home attendance records last week. Texas defeated Florida Atlantic 52-10 in front of a crowd of 98,053 in Austin, said to be the largest crowd ever to see a football game in the Lone Star State. Meanwhile, Kansas welcomed 52,112 fans to Lawrence to watch a 40-10 win over Florida International.
• Thirty-four years ago this weekend, ABC tried something new for its college football telecasts – a roving sideline reporter to provide news from field-level. On Sept. 7, 1974, the network employed Jim Lampley during the Tennessee-UCLA game in Knoxville, a game that ended in a 17-17 tie. Volunteers QB Condredge Holloway, who had torn knee ligaments on the second play of the game, returned from a hospital emergency room to rally his team to an 80-yard touchdown drive that tied the score.
• Also occurring this week in college football: On Sept. 5, 1987, the first night game ever played in Spartan Stadium resulted in a 27-13 win for Michigan State over USC, ending a 17-game win streak for the Trojans over Big Ten teams; and on Sept. 6, 1975, the first college football game ever played in the Louisiana Superdome produced a 27-3 victory from Grambling over Alcorn State. Leading Grambling to the win was quarterback Doug Williams, who later led the Washington Redskins to victory in Super Bowl XXII.
There's nothing like starting the season off in the win column and that's exactly what the forecast did last week. Straight-up, we went 6-1 that included an upset of upsets with UCLA taking down Tennessee in overtime. The one loss? We thought that Michigan would buck up in Rich Rodriguez's debut. We obviously thought wrong.
We also went 4-2 against the spread, which is an excellent start. Here are the tastiest treats on the tray for this weekend.
Miami (Ohio) at Michigan: It seems difficult to believe the Wolverines could play much worse than they did last weekend. Then again, they did lose by only three points to a team that is considered to be one of the best from a non-BCS conference. Moral victories aside, Rodriguez needs to settle on a quarterback and get some kind of production from his running game. That could happen this week against the RedHawks, who gave up 269 rushing yards in last week's 34-13 loss to Vanderbilt. Quite honestly, if U-M doesn't win this one, they could be staring at the same kind of season Notre Dame had last year … Michigan 24, Miami 17. (12 noon EDT, ESPN2)
Cincinnati at No. 4 Oklahoma: The Bearcats take a big, big step up in competition when they report for duty in Norman on Saturday. The Sooners, one of the preseason favorites to play in the BCS National Championship Game, are 27-2 against nonconference opponents at Owen Field since Bob Stoops took over in 1999. I see no reason why that record doesn't go to 28-2 … Oklahoma 41, Cincinnati 14. (3:30 p.m. EDT, ABC Regional/ESPN GamePlan)
Miami (Fla.) at No. 5 Florida: The Hurricanes have down in recent years, but they're still proudly working on a six-game winning streak over their instate rivals. They also have the services of QB Robert Marve, who broke most of the Florida high school passing records set by some guy named Tebow. Unfortunately for him, Marve doesn't have the supporting cast that the defending Heisman Trophy winner has. Look for the Urban Legends to make a statement … Florida 42, Miami 7. (8 p.m. EDT, ESPN)
No. 8 West Virginia at East Carolina: Are the Pirates for real? If you think last week's upset of Virginia Tech was a fluke, you must have forgotten that ECU toppled Boise State last year in the Hawaii Bowl. The Mountaineers will need to shore up their shaky defense, but I still think QB Pat White makes the difference … West Virginia 26, East Carolina 21. (4:30 p.m. EDT, ESPN)
Oregon State at No. 19 Penn State: The Beavers were supposed to be a dark horse candidate in the Pac-10 this season, but three turnovers cost them last week in a 36-28 loss to Stanford. This week, they come cross-country to test a pretty good offense against the Nittany Lions, who have a pretty good defense … Penn State 24, Oregon State 17. (3:30 p.m. EDT, ABC Regional/ESPN GamePlan)
Ohio at No. 3 Ohio State: It will be interesting to see if the Buckeyes continue to run on all cylinders as they did in their opener last week. Distractions include the availability of Wells along with how much Ohio State is focused on the Bobcats as opposed to looking ahead to next week's showdown with Southern Cal … Ohio State 41, Ohio 7. (12 noon EDT, ESPN)
Here are the early-week spreads for the aforementioned games: Miami (Ohio) at Michigan (-14½) ; Cincinnati at Oklahoma (-22); Miami (Fla.) at Florida (-21½); West Virginia (-7½) at East Carolina; Oregon State at Penn State (-16½); Ohio at Ohio State (-34½).