Mike Nugent, on the other hand, wasn't so sure at first.
The sure-footed Nugent was called upon to attempt a career-long 55-yard field goal with two seconds left in the fourth quarter of a tied game against Marshall. He had made nearly 90 percent of his field goals in 2002 and '03, including all three of his attempts from beyond 50 yards, but Nugent had some doubt when he connected with the football.
"I don't know how other guys are when they hit a ball, but every time I hit a solid ball it goes back and forth a little bit," Nugent said in the Sept. 18, 2004, edition of BSB. "It kind of scared me at first. First, it was going dead center, and then it started going back in. I was just telling it to go in, and in that last second, it made it by about two inches."
Nugent also had a 53-yard miss the previous week against Cincinnati on his mind.
"Right when I hit this one, before I picked my head up, it was kind of like that 53-yarder I missed last week," he said. "Before I picked my head up I felt amazing about it, but this one, I kind of sat there before I picked my head up like, ‘That felt good, but I missed the last one I thought I felt good on.' "
Fortunately for Nugent, his teammates and the 104,622 at the Horseshoe, the kick gave the Buckeyes a hard-fought victory over the Thundering Herd. The dramatic final seconds capped a long, hot afternoon in Columbus. The game lasted more than 3½ hours, featured 13 penalties, 68 passes and 138 offensive plays.
The Thundering Herd had a chance to take a lead before Nugent's late heroics. Marshall kicker Ian O'Connor had a 35-yard field goal attempt sail wide to the left with 3:17 remaining. O'Conner later made another crucial miscue when he shanked a punt in the final minute that allowed Ohio State to provide Nugent a final opportunity.
The Buckeyes started their final drive at their own 45-yard line with 25 seconds remaining and no timeouts. Quarterback Justin Zwick advanced the ball to the Marshall 38 after back-to-back sideline pattern passes to Santonio Holmes. That only eight seconds off the clock, but then things got hairy for Ohio State. Zwick found right end Ryan Hamby over the middle for a 5-yard gain, but with no timeouts, a pair of Marshall defenders took their time in getting off Hamby and allowing the Buckeyes to line up.
"I thought we had plenty of time, but then I saw those guys not letting Ryan up," Ohio State center Nick Mangold said. "I kept looking at the clock, then looking back at Ryan. I was beginning to wonder whether we were going to get the snap off in time."
Once Hamby finally got up, the Buckeyes rushed to the line to allow Zwick to spike the ball and stop the clock, which he did with the clock reading 0:02. Unfortunately for Ohio State, Hamby had not set himself on the line by the time the ball was snapped and was whistled for a penalty, making Nugent's final kick from 55 yards away.
The win extended Ohio State's home winning streak to 18 games. It was also the 14th win by seven points or less in its last 29 games.
"I can't really explain how we can win so many close games," Ohio State senior tailback Lydell Ross said. "We just do. We find a way. It's a mind-set, really, that we're somehow going to find a way.
"And through all of those close games, it's usually never the same way. We just get down to the end and have confidence we'll find a way. It happened again today. It looked like we were going down but we found a way."
Despite all the late drama, Ohio State never actually trailed. The Buckeyes drew first blood on an 80-yard touchdown pass from Zwick to Holmes early in the first quarter. Marshall answered the score with a 2-yard TD run by Earl Charles, but Holmes and Zwick again connected in the final quarter on a 47-yard pass to give the Buckeyes a 14-7 lead heading into the second quarter.
Marshall again answered when the Thundering Herd forced a fumble that was returned for a 27-yard score by linebacker Jonathan Goddard with 5:36 left before halftime. The Buckeyes did answer before the break, however, on another TD pass by Zwick. This one was caught for a 20-yard score by Roy Hall.
After a scoreless third quarter, Marshall tied the game with 8:40 left in the fourth on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Stan Hill to Brad Bates, setting up the dramatic final minutes.
Zwick and Holmes starred for the OSU offense. Zwick completed 18 of 30 passes for 318 yards with two interceptions and three touchdown passes. Holmes caught 10 passes for 218 yards. Defensively, linebackers Bobby Carpenter and A.J. Hawk led the way with 13 and 12 tackles, respectively.