The Almanac: OSU Rarely Blue After Dem Win

On Saturday, Ohio State will be playing its first game after a presidential election for the 30th time in its gridiron history. Does the election of a Democrat predict good things for the Scarlet and Gray? The Almanac checks it out, plus there's a recap of a wild weekend from around the Big Ten.

Followers of both the Democratic party and the Ohio State football team can rejoice: a win by the former in a presidential election usually means one on the gridiron in the following days for the latter.

Democrats have won 13 presidential elections in the years since the Ohio State football program began in 1890, and Ohio State is 11-2 all-time in its first game after said elections.

Perhaps another Buckeye victory can bring Ohioans, who voted 51-47 in favor of Barack Obama, together in this time of partisanship.

Overall, Ohio State generally is a solid pick in the days after a presidential election. The Buckeyes hold a record of 19-9-1 in their first game after such an event, though the winning percentage drops to 7-7-1 when a Republican has won the office.

So perhaps Obama's message of hope and change will ring true at least for the Scarlet and Gray, who could use a dose of each during what has been a disappointing season as the Buckeyes sit at 7-2 and ranked 12th after opening as a presumed national title contender.

The Buckeyes often have had an easy road, though, when facing off against their post-election opponents. Of the 29 games, only No. 5 Iowa of 1960 was ranked, and the Hawkeyes defeated No. 3 Ohio State 35-12 in Iowa City. Saturday's opponent of Northwestern is not ranked in the Associated Press poll.

That 1960 loss, which came four days after the election of John F. Kennedy as President, was just one of two to happen after a Democrat was chosen. The other came four years later, as the second-ranked Buckeyes were blanked 27-0 by Penn State in 1964 just days after Lyndon B. Johnson's successful reelection campaign.

In fact, Ohio State's second-biggest win all-time in these cases came four days after the last Democrat was chosen when Bill Clinton won a second term in 1996. Second-ranked Ohio State made quick work of Illinois that year, posting a 48-0 win in Champaign.

The Buckeyes were 2-0 after Clinton wins, but perhaps their luckiest president was another Democrat in Franklin D. Roosevelt. The nation's only four-term president earned Ohio State four victories, as the Buckeyes dispatched Pennsylvania (19-0, 1932), Chicago (44-0, '36), Illinois (14-6, '40) and Pittsburgh (54-19, '44) while confetti was being swept away from FDR victory rallies. That game against the Fighting Illini is the only one that came 11 days after an election because of an open week.

Ohio State enters its game against Northwestern ranked, and such Buckeye teams are 9-3 on election Saturdays. The last time an Ohio State team lost after an election came in 1972, where Woody Hayes' friend Richard Nixon's second term proved to be bad mojo not just for the country but for the Buckeyes when they were upset 19-12 at Michigan State.

The one tie came in 1988 when, after George H.W. Bush's victory, Ohio State tied Iowa 24-all.

The Buckeyes posted their biggest post-election win in 1984 against Northwestern. During the only game against the Wildcats that fell as part of this study, No. 13 OSU drubbed the Wildcats 52-3 in Evanston.

This is not to say the Buckeyes have not had success after America has gone Republican. The Buckeyes beat both Michigan State (2004) and Illinois (2000) after George W. Bush won office, and Reagan's victories in 1984 and '80 also boded well for Ohio State. In addition to the previously discussed win over NU, No. 7 Ohio State won a 49-42 barnburner in Ohio Stadium after Reagan's first win.

Hayes was never one to shy away from politics, but he should have shied away from post-election games as he compiled just a 3-4 record despite being ranked in all but one contest. Woody must not have liked Ike after the Buckeyes lost at home 21-14 to Pittsburgh after Eisenhower's 1952 win, and the irascible former coach also was the skipper during the 1960 loss to ranked Iowa, the '64 home defeat against Penn State and the '72 loss in East Lansing after Nixon's second win.

While Ohio State will be playing in the state of Illinois against Northwestern, the Wildcats' southern rivals have been the Buckeyes' most common post-vote opponent. The Buckeyes are 5-0 against the Fighting Illini.

Finally, the Buckeye State is known for its ability to produce presidents – eight in all – but Ohio State is just 2-2 in such occurrences. The Buckeyes defeated Michigan – its only game against the Maize and Blue after a vote – in 1920 days after Warren Harding was chosen, and OSU also won 24-10 vs. Case after William McKinley's fateful election triumph in 1900.

Losses came in 1908, by an 18-8 score vs. Case after William Howard Taft's win, and in 1896 when the Buckeyes lost to Ohio Wesleyan 10-4.

And although Grover Cleveland was not from Ohio – despite his famed name, he was a New Yorker – he was the president-elect for the Buckeyes' first post-election contest, an 1892 win by a 42-4 score against Dayton YMCA.

Here are the results year-by-year:

2004: election Nov. 2 (R-Bush); OSU W 32-19 at MSU Nov. 6
2000: election Nov. 7 (R-Bush); (13) OSU W 24-21 at Illinois Nov. 11
1996: election Nov. 5 (D-Clinton); (2) OSU W 48-0 at Illinois Nov. 9
1992: election Nov. 3 (D-Clinton); (22) OSU W 17-0 vs. Minnesota Nov. 7
1988: election Nov. 8 (R-Bush); OSU T 24-24 at Iowa Nov. 12
1984: election Nov. 6 (R-Reagan); (13) OSU W 52-3 at Northwestern Nov. 10
1980: election Nov. 4 (R-Reagan); (7) OSU W 49-42 vs. Illinois Nov. 8
1976: election Nov. 2 (D-Carter); (8) OSU W 42-10 vs. Illinois Nov. 6
1972: election Nov. 7 (R-Nixon); (5) OSU L 19-12 at Michigan State Nov. 11
1968: election Nov. 5 (R-Nixon); (2) OSU W 43-8 at Wisconsin Nov. 9
1964: election Nov. 3 (D-Johnson); (2) OSU L 27-0 vs. Penn State Nov. 7
1960: election Nov. 8 (D-Kennedy); (3) OSU L 35-12 at (5) Iowa Nov. 12
1956: election Nov. 6 (R-Eisenhower); (7) OSU W 35-14 vs. Indiana Nov. 10
1952: election Nov. 4 (R-Eisenhower); OSU L 21-14 vs. Pittsburgh Nov. 8
1948: election Nov. 2 (D-Truman); OSU W 41-0 vs. Pittsburgh Nov. 6
1944: election Nov. 7 (D-Roosevelt); (2) OSU W 54-19 vs. Pittsburgh Nov. 11
1940: election Nov. 5 (D-Roosevelt); OSU W 14-6 at Illinois after open week (Nov. 16)
1936: election Nov. 3 (D-Roosevelt); OSU W 44-0 vs. Chicago Nov. 7
1932: election Nov. 8 (D-Roosevelt); OSU W 19-0 vs. Penn Nov. 12
1928: election Nov. 6 (R-Hoover); OSU L 14-7 vs. Iowa Nov. 10
1924: election Nov. 4 (R-Coolidge); OSU L 12-7 vs. Indiana Nov. 8
1920: election Nov. 2 (R-Harding); OSU W 14-7 vs. Michigan Nov. 6
1916: election Nov. 7 (D-Wilson); OSU W 46-7 vs. Indiana Nov. 11
1912: election Nov. 5 (D-Wilson); OSU W 23-17 vs. Oberlin Nov. 9
1908: election Nov. 3 (R-Taft); OSU L 18-8 at Case Nov. 7
1904: election Nov. 8 (R-Roosevelt); OSU L 4-2 at Oberlin Nov. 12
1900: election Nov. 6 (R-McKinley); OSU W 24-10 vs. Case Nov. 10
1896: election Nov. 3 (R-McKinley); OSU L 10-4 vs. Ohio Wesleyan two days after, Nov. 5
1892: election Nov. 8 (D-Cleveland); OSU W 42-4 vs. Dayton YMCA Nov. 12

Around The Big Ten
The Big Ten's highest-ranked teams, No. 3 Penn State and No. 13 Ohio State, were both off from play on Nov. 1, but that didn't stop the league from having one of its most exciting weekends in quite some time. All four games matching conference teams were decided during the final minute, while the lone nonconference game was in doubt until late in the fourth quarter.

**Michigan and Purdue met in a game that made up for its lack of importance with excitement. With 26 seconds to go, Purdue converted a successful hook-and-ladder play, with Greg Orton shoveling Justin Siller's pass to Desmond Tardy for a touchdown covering 32 yards total, to account for the winning points in a 48-42 thriller. Siller threw for three touchdowns, and Purdue running back Kory Sheets ran for a trio of scores. Michigan's Brandon Minor ran for three scores and 155 yards.

**Not to be outdone, Michigan State scored the winning points with seven seconds to go on a 44-yard field goal by Brett Swenson as the Spartans defeated Wisconsin 25-24. Swenson finished with four field goals on the day and Javon Ringer had two touchdowns for MSU.

**Also winning on a late field goal was Illinois, which defended its home turf with a 27-24 win over Iowa clinched by a 46-yard field goal by Matt Eller with 24 seconds to go. Juice Williams threw for 272 yards for Illinois, which ran for just 60 yards, and Shonn Greene had 103 and a score on the ground for Iowa.

**But the most improbable finish of all might have occurred in the Metrodome, where Northwestern's Brendan Smith ran back an Adam Weber interception 48 yards with 12 seconds to go to give NU a 24-17 win over Minnesota. Weber threw for 327 yards, but he might have been outshone by Wildcat Mike Kafka, who ran for 217 yards on 27 carries.

**In nonleague play, Indiana fell 37-34 to Central Michigan. The Chippewas scored the final points with 8:52 to go on a 1-yard touchdown run by backup quarterback Brian Brunner. Starting in place of the injured Dan LeFevour, Brunner threw for a school-record 485 yards and four touchdowns. Indiana's Marcus Thigpen ran for 109 yards and two touchdowns.

What is interesting about those games is just how many teams were forced to play a backup quarterback, and how many of those were successful. Purdue defeated Michigan behind the running and passing of Siller, a tailback until a few games ago who was making his first career start, when injuries to Curtis Painter and Joey Elliott pushed him into the lineup. Kafka hadn't started since 2006 but got the win in relief of the injured C.J. Bacher.

Losers using new quarterbacks included Wisconsin, which started Dustin Sherer for the third game in a row after Allan Evridge was benched; Iowa, which has turned its starting role over from original starter Jake Christensen to Ricky Stanzi; and Indiana, which actually saw Ben Chappelle and returning starter Kellen Lewis, who had been injured, splitting time.

Michigan could join the list this week, with Steven Threet battling through an injury.


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