While the Ohio State offense continued to struggle, the Buckeye defense registered its first shutout in nearly five years. The Buckeyes (5-0) allowed Northwestern only two legitimate scoring opportunities and both of those resulted in missed field goals.
"I can't say enough about our defense," OSU head coach Jim Tressel told Buckeye Sports Bulletin. "They have worked very hard and did a good job today against an offense that was a pretty good one."
The Wildcats were held to 185 yards of total offense. Northwestern QB Brett Basanez threw for 283 yards against Ohio State in 2002, but the Buckeyes held him to 64 yards passing in '03. Basanez completed only 10 of his 24 passes.
"I thought we had a good scheme for stopping them," OSU defensive tackle Tim Anderson said. "We knew they had some players on offense just based upon what they were able to do against us last year. But we were ready for them and shut them down for the most part."
The Buckeyes drove 59 yards in 10 plays for the game's first score on OSU's first drive. Lydell Ross capped the drive with a 12-yard scoring run.
Quarterback Scott McMillen threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Hamby, and kicker Mike Nugent added field goals of 32 and 42 yards. McMillen completed 16 of 25 passes for 166 yards with a touchdown and interception. Ross led the rushing attack with 43 yards on nine carries.
Other than redshirting freshmen, only injured seniors Craig Krenzel, Alex Stepanovich and Darrion Scott did not play. Even redshirt freshman quarterbacks Justin Zwick and Troy Smith saw action.
1997: No. 7 Ohio State 31, Missouri 10 - Junior quarterback Joe Germaine had his best showing to date by completing 8 of 12 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-10 win at Missouri.
That, however, did not mean Germaine would be the starter a week later vs. Iowa. Offensive coordinator Mike Jacobs said both Germaine and senior starting quarterback Stanley Jackson would see playing time.
"We're going to get things out of both quarterbacks," Jacobs told BSB. "We're going to play a couple of running backs and we're going to play a couple of wide receivers.
"When you have two good players at a position, you've got to take advantage of it. We're just interested in them keeping us happy as a coaching staff. Both played well and they have to keep playing well."
Germaine entered the game midway though the second quarter with OSU trailing 10-7 and rallied the Buckeyes (4-0) to a road non-conference victory. Jackson, still struggling with a strained knee suffered in OSU's previous game vs. Arizona, completed 3 of 6 passes for 56 yards. He was sacked twice and lost 21 yards on the ground.
"When this whole thing started last year, it was something to see who would separate themselves and step forward to take charge," Germaine said. "I guess that hasn't happened yet. But, hey, we're winning, and that's all that matters.
"I am unable to say right now what will happen. I'd like to be in there as much as possible, but Stan does a great job of getting this team ready for the game."
Germaine sparked Ohio State from the first play he was in the game. He connected on a 43-yard strike to a leaping Dee Miller to start his first drive, one that would end with a 5-yard touchdown pass to David Boston that gave OSU the lead for good.
Two third-quarter touchdowns put the game out of reach. Boston caught a 28-yard touchdown strike from Germaine, and Michael Wiley added a 1-yard scoring run late in the quarter. Dan Stultz added a 28-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring.
Pepe Pearson led the OSU rushing attack with 101 yards on 18 carries and a first-quarter touchdown run. Antoine Winfield led the defense with 13 tackles, including one for a loss. Gary Berry and Rolland Steele both intercepted Missouri passes.
1986: Ohio State 64, Utah 6 - Freshman tailback Jim Bryant, wearing No. 41, looked like Keith Byars in his first collegiate start.
Bryant ran for 145 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown as the Buckeyes routed the visiting Utes. Bryant earned the start in place of Vince Workman, who responded to losing his start spot by running for 168 yards of his own on 16 carries with two touchdowns.
"We got a very fine game from Bryant early, and Workman seems to do well in competition with the young man," OSU head coach Earle Bruce told BSB. "He excites our football team. He also excites Vince Workman, and I think (Workman) was better because of that today."
Workman admitted Bruce was right.
"He got me pumped up," Workman said. "Jimmy's a good back and he really got us going today. I wanted to show the press and the fans that we are a good football team."
Ohio State built a 14-0 lead before Utah's offense had a chance to make a play from scrimmage. Four plays into Utah's first offensive drive, Ohio State had built a 21-0 lead. The Buckeyes (2-2) never let up.
"They did an outstanding job today, both offensively and defensively," Bruce said. "We capitalized on some mistakes early by Utah and got the game out of hand."
The game got out of hand thanks in large part of a rebounding OSU rushing attack. Ohio State had only 304 yards rushing in its first three games but ran for 394 against Utah. The Buckeyes' offense finished with a school- and Big Ten-record 715 yards of total offense.
The win was Ohio State's 600th in program history.
1980: No. 2 Ohio State 38, No. 20 Arizona State 21 - The Buckeyes and Sun Devils combined for 51 first downs and 1,031 yards of total offense, but it was Ohio State taking a home victory in a non-conference battle.
Quarterback Art Schlichter threw three touchdown passes for the first time in his collegiate career. Doug Donley caught two of them for 23- and 10-yard scores, and Gary Williams caught the other for a 13-yard .
1975: No. 2 Ohio State 32, North Carolina 7 - Pete Johnson and Archie Griffin set school records as the Buckeyes improved to 3-0 with a home win over the Tar Heels.
Johnson scored all five of Ohio State's touchdowns, setting an OSU single-game scoring record with 30 points (a total later equaled by Keith Byars against Illinois in 1984). Griffin ran for 157 yards on 22 carries and became the school's new leader in total offense with 4,532 yards.
The game was scoreless after the first quarter, but the Buckeyes broke it open after that. Eddie Beamon led Ohio State's defense with 15 tackles.
1969: No. 1 Ohio State 62, TCU 0 - In its first game after Ohio State won the 1968 national championship, the Buckeyes routed the visiting Horned Frogs.
Head coach Woody Hayes played every player available in the blowout. The margin of victory was the largest for any Hayes-coached team. Quarterback Rex Kern connected with Bruce Jankowski for a 58-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage and the rout was on.
Ohio State compiled 565 yards of total offense and set a school record with 101 offensive plays.
1958: No. 1 Ohio State 23, No. 20 SMU 20 - A then-record Ohio Stadium crowd of 83,113 watched the Buckeyes hold off Southern Methodist.
Don Clark scored Ohio State's first two touchdowns, and the Buckeyes led 15-14 at halftime. Bob White added a 5-yard touchdown plunge in the third quarter for the game-winning points.
SMU was led by quarterback Don Meredith, who completed 19 passes for 213 yards. He later gained fame as a quarterback with the Dallas Cowboys and as a commentator for ABC's Monday Night Football.
Halfback Dick LeBeau made history in the game, converting the school's first two-point conversion when he caught a pass from quarterback Frank Kremblas. The two-point conversion option was added to college football in '58.
1952: No. 20 Ohio State 33, Indiana 13 - Freshman Howard "Hopalong" Cassady had an impressive debut in the Buckeyes' victory.
Cassady scored three touchdowns and thrilled the crowd at Ohio Stadium with his rushing and receiving efforts. Ohio State scored first with a touchdown pass from John Borton to Fred Bruney. Indiana rallied to take a 7-6 lead, and the Hoosiers remained close at halftime with the game tied 13-13. The game stayed tied after a scoreless third quarter, but Ohio State took control with a 20-point fourth quarter. Cassady added two of his touchdowns in the final quarter on runs of 5 and 3 yards.
The win atoned for Ohio State's 32-10 loss to Indiana in 1951 in Hayes' first season.
1947: Ohio State 13, Missouri 7 - Ohio State won its season opener in the first game under new head coach Wes Fesler. Fesler was a former Buckeye three-sport athlete and a three-time All-American end and fullback from 1928-30.
Drives of 75 and 84 yards capped by short touchdown runs by fullback Joe Whisler gave the Buckeyes the win. Whisler led all rushers with 65 yards.
1941: Ohio State 12, Missouri 7 - The Buckeyes won their season opener vs. the Tigers in Paul Brown's first game as head coach. Yet the more interesting story happened before the game.
When the bus carrying the Buckeyes to Ohio Stadium arrived, Brown got off and stopped to say hello to friends from Massillon. The bus and its police escort went inside, leaving Brown out. The guard at the gate did not recognize Brown and asked for a ticket. Brown said, "I don't have a ticket. I'm the new coach." Replied the guard: "Is that right? Well, I'm President Roosevelt, but you must have a ticket if you want to see today's game."
Brown then went to the southeast corner of the stadium below the OSU locker room and began throwing stones at the windows. Finally a trainer peered down and noticed Brown. The trainer ran down and explained that Brown was, in fact, the new coach and not someone trying to sneak into the game. Brown was finally allowed in and the Buckeyes defeated Missouri with Brown's Split-T formation. Fullback Jack Graf scored both of Ohio State's touchdowns.
1930: Ohio State 59, Mount Union 0 - Three major position changes did not slow Ohio State down in a season-opening whitewash of Mount Union.
Two-time All-America end Fesler moved to fullback, Dick Larkins moved from tackle to end and Stu Holcolm moved form fullback to halfback. The Buckeyes didn't miss a beat against the Purple Raiders, winning the first September game played at Ohio Stadium in front of a crowd of 16,000. Fesler scored the game's first touchdown from his new fullback position. Including Fesler, eight players scored touchdowns for the Buckeyes.
1902: Ohio State 5, Otterbein 0 - The Buckeyes opened the '02 campaign with a shutout of Otterbein. It was the first game for new head coach Perry Hale, a former player at Yale.