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The Buckeye National Championship Teams (and a few near misses)

Discussion in 'Buckeye Football' started by LordJeffBuck, Jan 1, 2007.

  1. LordJeffBuck

    LordJeffBuck Illuminatus Emeritus Staff Member

    In discussing Ohio State football, this question often arises: Just how many national championships have the Buckeyes won? College football experts say five, but the school claims seven, and some "homer" fans believe that the number is as high as nineteen. In this article, I'll do my best to sort it all out.
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  2. LordJeffBuck

    LordJeffBuck Illuminatus Emeritus Staff Member

    The Early Years - 1916, 1917, 1933

    The first major national championship poll was instituted by the Associated Press in 1936, with the voters being sports writers from across the country. Prior to the advent of the AP poll, various individuals and organizations (like Esso Gas) would from time to time name a college football national champion, but the fact remains that there was no generally accepted standard before 1936. In reality, most of the so-called national championships from the early days of college football were actually determined long after the fact by groups (often lead by computer geeks) interested in the history of college football (or simply "setting the record straight").

    One of the current CFB techies is Soren Sorensen, a physics professor at the University of Tennessee. Using his computer model, Dr. Sorensen has gone back to 1869, the year of the initial college football game between Princeton and Rutgers, and has named a national champion for every season since then. Under the Sorensen System, Ohio State won the national championship in both 1916 and 1917. Despite the fact that the Buckeyes were undefeated during both seasons, no other organization has recognized Ohio State as a national champion for those years.

    The 1916 squad was the first in Ohio State history to record a perfect (unbeaten, untied) season. Led by sophomore halfback Chic Harley, who would eventually become the Buckeyes' first three-time All American, Ohio State posted a 7-0-0 record and won the Big Ten championship outright (the first in school history). On the season, the Buckeyes outscored their opponents by a total of 258 to 29, and logged three shut-outs.

    :osu: The 1916 Ohio State Buckeyes :osu:
    10/07/16: Ohio State 12, Ohio Wesleyan 0
    10/14/16: Ohio State 128, Oberlin 0
    10/21/16: Ohio State 7, Illinois 6
    11/04/16: Ohio State 14, Wisconsin 13
    11/11/16: Ohio State 46, Indiana 7
    11/18/16: Ohio State 28, Case 0
    11/25/16: Ohio State 23, Northwestern 3

    The consensus national champion for 1916 was Pitt (8-0-0, coached by the legendary Glenn "Pop" Warner), with Army, Colgate, Georgia, and Georgia Tech each receiving recognition from some organization.

    If the 1916 team was great, then the 1917 edition was simply extraordinary. With All Americans Chic Harley (halfback), Gaylord Stinchcomb (halfback), Charles Bolen (end), Harold Courtney (end), and Kelley VanDyne (center) leading the way, the Buckeyes allowed only two field goals all year and outscored their opponents by a total of 292 to 6. The only blemish on Ohio State's near-perfect season was a 0-0 tie to Auburn University on a "neutral" field in Montgomery, Alabama, but the Buckeyes' 4-0-0 record in the Big Ten was good enough to earn them a second straight outright conference championship, a feat which Ohio State has accomplished only once since then (1954-55).

    :osu: The 1917 Ohio State Buckeyes :osu:
    09/29/17: Ohio State 49, Case 0
    10/06/17: Ohio State 53, Ohio Wesleyan 0
    10/13/17: Ohio State 40, Northwestern 0
    10/27/17: Ohio State 67, Denison 0
    11/03/17: Ohio State 26, Indiana 3
    11/10/17: Ohio State 16, Wisconsin 3
    11/17/17: Ohio State 13, Illinois 0
    11/24/17: Ohio State 0, Auburn 0
    11/29/17: Ohio State 28, Camp Sherman 0

    Georgia Tech (9-0-0, coached by the legendary John Heisman) is generally considered to be the national champ for 1917, although Pitt and Texas A+M were also awarded titles.

    The 1933 Buckeyes were awarded the national championship by the Dunkel Index, which was a mathemetical formula devised by Dick Dunkel, Sr. in 1929 for the express purpose of determining the best team in college football. The Dunkel Index is still around today (it was briefly part of the BCS computer rankings system), and it has been using essentially the same calculations for the past eight decades.

    Although the 1933 squad won the Dunkel championship, that team wasn't really one of the all-time Buckeye greats. Led by All American end Sid Gillman (later to become a Hall of Fame coach in the NFL) and guard Joe Gailus, the Ohio State defense managed to notch five shut-outs, but outside of a 75-point outburst in the season opener, the offense lacked potency throughout the entire campaign. After beating non-conference foes Virginia and Vanderbilt to start the year, Ohio State travelled to Ann Arbor where the Wolverines shut out the Buckeyes, 13-0, in front of a crowd of 82,606 fans. While Ohio State rallied to win its remaining five games, the loss to Michigan cost the Buckeyes both a conference and recognized national championship, as the 7-0-1 Wolverines took both crowns that year. After the Cooper-esque season, head coach Sam Willaman resigned due to pressure from both the local media and prominent alumni.

    :osu: The 1933 Ohio State Buckeyes :osu:
    10/07/33: Ohio State 75, Virginia 0
    10/14/33: Ohio State 20, Vanderbilt 0
    10/21/33: Michigan 13, Ohio State 0
    10/28/33: Ohio State 12, Northwestern 0
    11/04/33: Ohio State 21, Indiana 0
    11/11/33: Ohio State 20, Pennsylvania 7
    11/18/33: Ohio State 6, Wisconsin 0
    11/25/33: Ohio State 7, Illinois 6

    As mentioned above, Michigan was the recognized national champion for 1933, with Pitt, Princeton, and Southern Cal also receiving consideration.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2007
  3. LordJeffBuck

    LordJeffBuck Illuminatus Emeritus Staff Member

    1942 - Paul Brown Brings Home the Crown

    The Buckeyes' first recognized national championship came in 1942, when Ohio State was awarded the AP title after posting a 9-1-0 record. After losing 18 lettermen from the prior season, including the entire starting backfield, the 1942 squad was extremely young, with 24 sophomores, 16 juniors, and only 3 seniors (freshmen being ineligible back then). Ohio State was also young at head coach, where the 34-year old Paul Brown was entering his second season as the leader of the Buckeyes. After nine seasons at Massillon High, where he posted an amazing record of 80-8-2 with six consecutive state titles (1935-1940) and four national championships, Brown headed south to Columbus, where he became one of the youngest college head coaches in the nation. Although many were sceptical that Brown could reduplicate his success at the next level, he quickly vaulted Ohio State into national prominence. Stressing fundamentals and execution, and looking for players who were fast, intelligent, and enjoyed hitting, Brown led the 1941 squad to a 6-1-1 record with road wins over traditional powerhouses Pitt and Southern Cal, and a tie against Michigan in Ann Arbor. However, with such a young team returning in 1942, most pundits predicted that Ohio State would finish in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten.

    The season began well with a 59-0 rout of the Fort Knox Army Base service team. With World War Two in full swing, many young men were in the armed forces, and several military bases fielded football teams comprised of officers in training. The new Fort Knox squad was clearly unprepared for their opener, and the Buckeyes outgained them in total yards, 507 to minus-five, in a game that wasn't even as close as the blow-out score would suggest. In fact, Ohio State's second- and third-stringers scored 40 points in the second half of the game.

    After the easy victory in the opener, Ohio State faced a surprisingly tough Indiana team which was led by quarterback Lou Saban, who like Paul Brown later became a coaching legend in the NFL. Although IU led the game 21-19 at the end of three quarters, the Buckeyes scored thirteen unanswered points in the fourth to win the game.

    The following week, Ohio State beat Southern Cal 28-12, after which the Buckeyes were voted the #1 team in the country in the Associated Press poll. However, the Buckeyes claim on the top spot was short-lived. After handily beating Purdue at home and Northwestern (led by quarterback Otto Graham) on the road, Ohio State travelled to Madison, Wisconsin, to face the Badgers. The sixth-ranked Wisconsin team was coached by Harry Stuhldreher, a member of the Notre Dame "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" (he was "Famine", apparently) and, like Paul Brown, also a native of Massillon, Ohio. While Ohio State probably had the better team that year, Madison was a house of horrors even back in 1942. First, nearly half of the Ohio State team suffered from an attack of dysentery which had been contracted from drinking contaminated water on the train ride to Wisconsin. Then, the Buckeyes were housed on the sixth floor of a hotel without operational elevators. Finally, Halloween revellers from the nearby Wisconsin campus held loud pep rallies until the wee hours of the morning, which prevented the Ohio State players from getting a decent night's sleep. So, the stage was set for an upset, and the Badgers pulled it off, outlasting the Buckeyes 17-7 in a contest which has since been dubbed "The Bad Water Game". After the loss, Ohio State fell to sixth in the AP poll, and with the seemingly unstoppable Georgia Bulldogs now leading the pack, it appeared that the Buckeyes were out of the running for a national championship.

    The Buckeyes rebounded to finish the season with wins over Pitt, Illinois, Michigan, and Iowa Pre-Flight, but still needed plenty of help to reclaim the number one ranking. But luck was on the Ohio State's side in 1942, as several unlikely upsets propelled the Buckeyes back to the top spot in the AP poll. First, on the same weekend as Ohio State beat arch rival Michigan 21-7, previously unbeaten Georgia fell to a mediocre Auburn squad, 27-14, which left Boston College (#1 in the AP poll) and Georgia Tech (#2) as the only undefeated major programs in college football. However, with only one week left in the season, the third-ranked Buckeyes needed to cap their campaign with an impressive victory against Iowa Pre-Flight, a powerful military service squad which entered the game with a 7-1 record, and also needed both teams ahead of them in the polls to lose their respective season finales. Ohio State soundly defeated Iowa Pre-Flight, 41-12, and then waited for the other scores to come in. First, Georgia Tech was demolished by in-state rival Georgia, 34-0, thus ending the Yellow Jackets' title run (but ironically putting the Bulldogs right back in the thick of things). Then, the inconceivable happened: Unheralded Holy Cross beat heavily-favored Boston College in Fenway Park, 55-12, in what ESPN has called one of the greatest upsets in the history of college football.

    So, which team was more deserving of a national title, outright Big Ten champs Ohio State (9-1) with five All-Americans and a young genius for a head coach, or outright SEC champs Georgia (10-1) with Heisman Trophy winner Frank Sinkwich (from Youngstown, Ohio) and a shut-out victory over UCLA in the Rose Bowl? Well, according to the AP pollsters (voting prior to the bowl games), Ohio State was the slight favorite, earning 1,432 votes to 1,339 for Georgia (the Buckeyes also won the Dunkel Index title that year). However, the Bulldogs were named the best team in the land by several other organizations, and both schools are generally recognized as national champions for the year 1942.

    Even though they were young and inexperienced, several Buckeye players emerged as stars during the 1942 campaign, including All American selections Robert Shaw (end), Charles Csuri (tackle), Lindell Houston (guard), Paul Sarringhaus (halfback), and Gene Fekete (fullback); also on that team were wingback Les Horvath and lineman Bill Willis, each of whom would go on to bigger and better things at Ohio State.

    :osu: The 1942 Ohio State Buckeyes :osu:
    09/26/42: Ohio State 59, Fort Knox 0
    10/03/42: Ohio State 32, Indiana 21
    10/10/42: Ohio State 28, Southern Cal 12
    10/17/42: Ohio State 26, Purdue 0
    10/24/42: Ohio State 20, Northwestern 6
    10/31/42: Wisconsin 17, Ohio State 7
    11/07/42: Ohio State 59, Pitt 19
    11/14/42: Ohio State 44, Illinois 20
    11/21/42: Ohio State 21, Michigan 7
    11/28/42: Ohio State 41, Iowa Pre-Flight 12
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2007
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  4. LordJeffBuck

    LordJeffBuck Illuminatus Emeritus Staff Member

    1944 - The Civilian National Champions

    The year 1944 was the height of World War Two, and the United States was fighting on three fronts - in Italy and France against the Germans, and in the Pacific against the Japanese. With patriotism running high (and the draft in full force and effect), many young men were leaving college campuses to join the war effort. For that reason, most college football teams that year were comprised solely of freshmen who were too young to enlist or be drafted, together with a few older players who were physically unable to serve in the military and were granted "4F" status. With 31 of its 44 players being freshmen, Ohio State was no exception.

    In fact, the only colleges which were unaffected by the war were the military academies, whose students were obviously exempt from immediate military service because they were in school for the express purpose of receiving officer training. Led by future Heisman Trophy winners "Mr. Inside" Felix "Doc" Blanchard (1945) and "Mr. Outside" Glenn Davis (1946), and coached by the renowned Earl "Red" Blaik, the Army Black Knights were particularly strong in 1944, defeating its opponents by a combined score of 504 to 35 en route to a perfect 9-0-0 season and a well-deserved AP national championship.

    On April 12, 1944, Paul Brown left Ohio State to join the Navy, and interim coach Carroll Widdoes was left with a young team with little hope of competing for a Big Ten championship, much less a national title. However, the Buckeyes received some good news in August of that year when all-purpose back Les Horvath was granted an extra year of eligibilty. Horvath, then a 24-year old student at Ohio State's School of Dentistry, had last played football for the 1942 national championship squad. In addition to Horvath, two other Buckeyes - linemen Bill Hackett and Warren Amling - received military deferments after enrolling in veterinary school. Finally, Ohio State's excellent tackle Bill Willis had avoided the draft because he was declared 4F due to varicose veins. With four solid upper classmen now in the fold and a star freshman in fullback Ollie Cline (who would become an All American in 1945), Ohio State suddenly became a force to be reckoned with.

    The Buckeyes simply rolled through their 1944 schedule, easily beating their first eight opponents, and setting up a season-ending showdown against the highly-ranked Michigan Wolverines. On Homecoming Day at Ohio Stadium, the Buckeyes outlasted the Wolves, 18-14, in one of the best games in the classic rivalry. The victory gave Ohio State its second perfect season and it sixth outright Big Ten championship. However, because of Big Ten restrictions, Ohio State was not allowed to go to the Rose Bowl to face Pacific Coast Conference champion Southern Cal.

    An irony of the 1944 season occurred in game number four, when the Buckeyes faced the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, which was coached by none other than former Ohio State head man Paul Brown. The Great Lakes squad actually had two former Buckeye players - end Ernie Plank (1943) and tackle Jim Rees (1942) - and was led by fullback Ara Parseghian, who would become one of the greatest college coaches in history. Despite the presence of Brown on the sidelines, the Great Lakes team was completely overmatched by the Buckeyes, who won the game handily, 26 to 6.

    The 1944 season marked the first time that a Buckeye player would win the coveted Heisman Trophy, as quarterback/halfback Les Horvath brought the hardware to Columbus. That year, Horvath led the Big Ten in rushing (669 yards) and total offense (953 yards), while scoring 12 touchdowns. Horvath's jersey - number 22 - has been retired by Ohio State. In addition to Horvath, the following Buckeyes were named All Americans in 1944: guard Bill Hackett, end Jack Dugger, and tackle Bill Willis, who also earned that honor in 1943. In fact, Willis was one of the greatest football players of all time, and he is a member of the Ohio High School, Ohio State University, College Football, and Professional Football Halls of Fame. First year coach Carroll Widdoes was named Coach of the Year by the American College Football Association, the first Buckeye to earn that distinction.

    At the end of the season, Army was the AP champion, and Ohio State was second in the poll. However, recognizing the unfair advantage obtained by the service academies during the war years, the Buckeyes were dubbed the "Civilian National Champions" at the time; after the fact, Ohio State garnered some national championship honors, most notably from computer pollster Soren Sorensen and the National Championship Foundation, a college football research organization whose members retroactively selected national champions for every year from 1869 to 2001 (and whose goal was apparently to reward all deserving teams, as they also named Army as champs in 1944).

    :osu: The 1944 Ohio State Buckeyes :osu:
    09/30/44: Ohio State 54, Missouri 0
    10/07/44: Ohio State 34, Iowa 0
    10/14/44: Ohio State 20, Wisconsin 7
    10/21/44: Ohio State 26, Great Lakes 6
    10/28/44: Ohio State 34, Minnesota 14
    11/04/44: Ohio State 21, Indiana 7
    11/11/44: Ohio State 54, Pitt 19
    11/18/44: Ohio State 26, Illinois 12
    11/25/44: Ohio State 18, Michigan 14
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2007
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  5. LordJeffBuck

    LordJeffBuck Illuminatus Emeritus Staff Member

    1954 - Woody's First Championship

    In the decade between the magical 1944 championship season and 1953, the Buckeyes had four head coaches and posted a combined record of 48-27-7 (for a mediocre winning percentage of .628). In fact, Ohio State was becoming known as the graveyard of coaches, and the fourth head coach in the post-Brown era, a relatively young and unknown commodity who had had brief tenures at Denison University and Miami of Ohio before accepting the Buckeyes' post, was already on the hot seat after only three seasons (but an overall record of 16-9-2 will generally earn you a quick ticket out of Columbus). Fortunately for Buckeye fans, that coach got one more season, and he made the most of his final opportunity.

    Wayne Woodrow "Woody" Hayes was hired in 1951 to be Ohio State's head football coach when Buckeye legend Wes Fesler, a three-time All American fullback (1928-1930), resigned after losing to Michigan in the infamous Snow Bowl. Hayes was not the school's first choice (the hiring committee initially offered the job to Missouri head coach Don Faurot), nor a very popular selection amongst the fans (who wanted Paul Brown to return to Columbus). During his first three years on campus, Hayes did little to endear himself with either group, winning less than sixty percent of his games while suffering two shut-out losses to Michigan in three tries. 1954 was going to be Woody's "make or break" year, and most people were betting heavily on "break", as Ohio State was picked to finish no better than fifth in the Big Ten by most sportswriters and analysts.

    The Buckeyes opened the season on a high note with a 28-0 whitewashing of the lowly Indiana Hoosiers. The next week, however, Ohio State barely slipped past a below-average California squad at home, 21-13, and most observers felt that Hayes was headed for yet another three-loss campaign. Ohio State's erratic season continued, as the Buckeyes trounced highly-touted Illinois on the road, 40-7, but then squeaked by Iowa at home, 20-14; smashed second-ranked Wisconsin (led by eventual Heisman winner fullback Alan Ameche) on Homecoming, 31-14, but eked out a 14-7 victory against a very poor Northwestern team in Evanston. Two solid wins over Pitt and Purdue kept the Buckeyes' undefeated season alive and set up a showdown with a poweful Michigan squad. But the sceptics remained unconvinced, as the Wolverines had been Hayes' nemesis to date. However, Woody put all criticism to rest: With an outright Big Ten championship, a Rose Bowl invitation, and a potential national title on the line, the Buckeyes soundly defeated the Wolverines, 21-7, to finish the regular season a perfect 9-0-0.

    1954 was the rare college football season in which two major powers finished with perfect records. One was Ohio State, and the other was UCLA from the Pacific Coast Conference. Under the Rose Bowl contract, the Big Ten champ was obligated to play the PCC champ, so it appeared that the two best teams in the land would meet in the ultimate "winner take all" contest in the 1955 Rose Bowl. However, as luck would have it, the Rose Bowl had a "no repeat" rule in place, and UCLA had been the PCC representative the previous season and was thus barred from participation. Ohio State had to settle for PCC runner-up Southern Cal, and the Buckeyes easily dispatched of the Trojans to remain perfect for only the third time in OSU history. In voting for their respective champions, the AP and UP split the ballot, with the sportswriters selecting Ohio State and the coaches choosing UCLA. Incidentally, the 1954 Bruins squad earned the only football national championship of any kind for UCLA. Today, both schools are deemed "recognized" national champions for the year 1954, but college football historians wonder what would have happened if the two best teams in the land had been able to battle it out on the field of the Rose Bowl.

    Ohio State had three All Americans in 1954 - end Dean Dugger, guard Jim Reichenbach, and halfback Howard "Hopalong" Cassady, who would repeat as an All American and also win the Heisman Trophy the following year. On the season, Cassady rushed for 701 yards and 6 touchdowns, while catching 13 passes for another 148 yards. In addition, Hopalong made the play of the year with a dramatic 88-yard interception return for a touchdown to secure a victory against the previously unbeaten Wisconsin Badgers. As a Heisman winner, Cassady's number 40 jersey has been retired from Ohio State. Howard's son, Craig Cassady, also played for Woody Hayes, lettering from 1973 to 1975.

    Lineman Jim Parker was also a member of the 1954 squad. A three-year starter for the Buckeyes, Parker earned All American honors in both 1955 and 1956, and won the prestigious Outland Trophy after his senior campaign. After graduating from Ohio State, Parker went on to have an excellent career in the NFL (for the Baltimore Colts). He is a member of the Ohio State, College Football, and Professional Football Halls of Fame.

    :osu: The 1954 Ohio State Buckeyes :osu:
    09/25/54: Ohio State 28, Indiana 0
    10/02/54: Ohio State 21, California 13
    10/09/54: Ohio State 40, Illinois 7
    10/16/54: Ohio State 20, Iowa 14
    10/23/54: Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 14
    10/30/54: Ohio State 14, Northwestern 7
    11/06/54: Ohio State 26, Pitt 0
    11/13/54: Ohio State 28, Purdue 6
    11/20/54: Ohio State 21, Michigan 7
    01/01/55: Ohio State 20, Southern Cal 7 (Rose Bowl)
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2007
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  6. LordJeffBuck

    LordJeffBuck Illuminatus Emeritus Staff Member

    1957 - A Recognition from the Coaches

    The so-called coaches' poll, which was originally operated by United Press (International), was instituted in 1950, fourteen years after the advent of the AP poll. The coaches' poll is still around, although now it is run by USAToday and ESPN. While it is not as old as the AP poll of sportswriters, the coaches' poll is considered to be just as prestigious because it represents the collective wisdom of the very men who should have the most knowledge on the state of college football, namely the head coaches of the Division I teams. As we all know by now, the reality is much different, as those very same coaches are far too busy with important football matters to waste their time analyzing every team and formulating a top 25 list, and the actual voting generally gets passed off to an assistant equipment manager or reserve water boy. Despite its deficiencies, the coaches' poll still carries a lot of respect, and it did so in 1957 as well.

    The 1957 season began on a sour note for Ohio State, as Texas Christian University visited The Horseshoe and knocked off the Buckeyes, 18-14. The highlight of the game (at least to a neutral observer) was a 90-yard punt return for a tocuhdown by TCU's Jim Shofner, who later would become a player and coach for the Cleveland Browns; Shofner's jaunt remains the longest punt return in the history of Ohio Stadium. Scoring a touchdown for the Buckeyes that afternoon was halfback Dick LeBeau, who also played briefly for the Browns and coached NFL teams (in 2002, he led the Cincinnati Bengals to their worst ever season - two wins, fourteen losses - which was quite an accomplishment considering the franchise's long history ineptitude).

    Coming off of a mediocre 6-3 season which was lowlighted by a shut-out loss to Michigan and a one-year probation imposed by the NCAA for irregularities in the school's "jobs program for athletes", the disappointing TCU game was the worst possible way to start the new campaign. Many Buckeye fans were beginning to think that 1954 had been a fluke, and that Woody Hayes would never be a consistent winner in Columbus. With tough road games remaining at Washington, Wisconsin, and Michigan, the 1957 season was beginning to look like another three-loss affair.

    However, Woody was able to right the ship and guide the Buckeyes on another championship run. First, Ohio State travelled to Seattle and beat the Washington Huskies in impressive fashion, 35-7; ironically, in this game, an 81-yard punt return by the Buckeyes' Don Sutherin helped to seal the victory for the good guys. Then came two solid home wins against Big Ten foes Illinois and Indiana, and a come-from-behind squeaker against Wisconsin in Madison, a game in which the Buckeyes were down 13-0 at halftime but rallied to win, 16-13. Two more easy victories - against Northwestern and Purdue - set up a showdown with an undefeated Iowa team, with the winner being assured the outright championship of the Big Ten. In a game that was tight throughout, the Buckeyes beat the Hawkeyes, 17-13, to win the conference crown and keep their slim national title hopes alive.

    No Ohio State season can be a true success without a victory over arch rival Michigan, and 1957 was no exception to this long-standing and very important rule. Even though the Buckeyes had already won the Big Ten championship and earned a trip to the Rose Bowl, a win over Michigan is absolutely necessary to make a season truly special, and the Buckeyes did not disappoint in 1957. Despite being down 14-10 at the break, Ohio State scored 21 unanswered points in the second half to win going away, 31-14.

    The Buckeyes capped their near-perfect season with a 10-7 win over Oregon in the Rose Bowl. Ohio State's impressive run through a tough Big Ten schedule earned the Buckeyes a first-place finish in the UP coaches' poll (they were also given the nod by the Football Writers Association of America), but the AP selected undefeated Auburn (10-0-0) as the winner of their national title. Both teams are considered to be "recognized" national champions by college football historians.

    Ohio State had only one All American in 1957, guard Aurealius Thomas. However, several members of that team would earn All American honors in the following years, including ends Jim Marshall (1958) and Jim Houston (1958-59), and fullback Bob White (1958); tackle Dick Schafrath would have a succesful career for the NFL's Cleveland Browns. Head coach Woody Hayes won his first of three Coach of the Year awards in 1957.

    Guard Bill Jobko, who was the team's MVP for 1957, holds an interesting distinction - as a member of the Buckeyes' 1954, 1955, and 1957 teams, he is the only player in Big Ten history to participate on three outright Big Ten title teams with perfect conference records, as Ohio State went 20-0-0 during his tenure.

    :osu: The 1957 Ohio State Buckeyes :osu:
    09/28/57: Texas Christian 18, Ohio State 14
    10/05/57: Ohio State 35, Washington 7
    10/12/57: Ohio State 21, Illinois 7
    10/19/57: Ohio State 56, Indiana 0
    10/26/57: Ohio State 16, Wisonsin 13
    11/02/57: Ohio State 47, Northwestern 6
    11/09/57: Ohio State 20, Purdue 7
    11/16/57: Ohio State 17, Iowa 13
    11/23/57: Ohio State 31, Michigan 14
    01/01/58: Ohio State 10, Oregon 7 (Rose Bowl)
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2008
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  7. LordJeffBuck

    LordJeffBuck Illuminatus Emeritus Staff Member

    1961 - A Controversial Title and Unfinished Business

    Similar to 1957, the 1961 Ohio State squad opened the season at home against Texas Christian University. And, once again, TCU spoiled the Buckeyes' hopes for a perfect season, forcing a 7-7 tie that all but killed Ohio State's national championship aspirations. But just like 1957, the 1961 Buckeyes would run the table and force themselves back into the title hunt. This time, however, the pollsters would not be so kind to Ohio State.

    The Big Ten was absolutely loaded in 1961, with half a dozen teams seriously vying for the conference championship. At one point in the season, five of the top seven teams in the AP poll were members of the Big Ten. With the Big Ten being so tough, it looked nearly impossible for any one team to survive the conference schedule unscathed, but the Buckeyes were somehow able to do just that. Ohio State's first victim was Illinois, who fell 44-0. Then, the Buckeyes went on the road and won close contests at Northwestern (10-0) and Wisconsin (30-21), before returning home to manhandle an Iowa squad (29-13) that was ranked the ninth-best team in the nation. Ohio State finished the Big Ten slate on the road, posting a narrow victory at Indiana (16-7), and then simply blowing out Michigan in Ann Arbor, 50-20, while outgaining the Wolverines 512 yards to 271 yards. The Buckeyes' lop-sided victory gained even more notoriety when coach Woody Hayes elected to go for a two-point conversion with his team leading 48-20 late in the fourth quarter.

    As the Big Ten champion, Ohio State should have played in the Rose Bowl. However, in 1961, the league did not have a formal contract with the Rose Bowl, and thus its teams were not obliged to participate. After the football team won the conference title, Ohio State's faculty council, by a vote of 28-25, rejected the Rose Bowl invitation. In support of its decision, the council claimed that Ohio State had become too much of a "football school", and that athletics were overshadowing its academic reputation. The Buckeyes had to settle for a near-perfect 8-0-1 record, which placed them second in both major polls behind Alabama (11-0-0). Although the Buckeyes did not win either of the "recognized" national titles, they were named the champs by Football Writers Association of America; Ohio State claims a national championship for 1961.

    Leading the offense for Ohio State was fullback Bob Ferguson, who was probably the best Buckeye ever at that position, and one of the all-time greats in the history of college football. In 1961, Ferguson rushed for 938 yards and scored 11 touchdowns, both of which led the Big Ten. After his tremendous season, Ferguson was named an All American (he also received that honor in 1960), won the Maxwell Award as the nation's most outstanding college football player, and finished second in the Heisman voting to Ernie Davis of Syracuse; Ferguson is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. After a head injury prematurely ended his pro career, Ferguson returned to Ohio State where he earned his master's degree in sociology. Also starring on the 1961 squad were halfback Paul Warfield, who went on to great success in the NFL, eventually being elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame; and linebacker Gary Moeller, who would be the head coach of the University of Michigan from 1990-94.

    :osu: The 1961 Ohio State Buckeyes :osu:
    09/30/61: Ohio State 7, Texas Christian 7
    10/07/61: Ohio State 13, UCLA 3
    10/14/61: Ohio State 44, Illinois 0
    10/21/61: Ohio State 10, Northwestern 0
    10/28/61: Ohio State 30, Wisconsin 21
    11/04/61: Ohio State 29, Iowa 13
    11/11/61: Ohio State 16, Indiana 7
    11/18/61: Ohio State 22, Oregon 12
    11/25/61: Ohio State 50, Michigan 20
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2007
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  8. LordJeffBuck

    LordJeffBuck Illuminatus Emeritus Staff Member

    1968 - The Super Sophs Earn the Buckeyes' First Undisputed Championship

    The Buckeyes' first four national championships were "split" titles - in 1942 with Georgia; in 1954 with UCLA; in 1957 with Auburn; and in 1961 with Alabama. The 1968 season would mark the first time that Ohio State would be the undisputed champs of college football.

    Entering the 1968 season, the Buckeyes hadn't won or shared a Big Ten Championship in six years. In fact, from 1962-67, Ohio State's overall record was a substandard 35-18-1, and the Buckeye faithful were once again beginning to grumble. 1968 looked to be another ho-hum season, as the young Buckeyes would start as many as twelve untested sophomores, including Rex Kern at the all-important quarterback position. By the end of the season, however, these fine rookies would prove their worth and would become known as the "Super Sophs".

    As in 1957 and 1961, the Buckeyes began their 1968 national championship run against a team from Texas, namely Southern Methodist University, which was coached by Hayden Fry (later the head coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes). Unlike those earlier seasons, however, the Buckeyes won their opening contest by a comfortable 35-14 margin. After defeating the Oregon Ducks 21 to 6, Ohio State began its conference slate with a game against Purdue. The Boilermakers had won the Big Ten crown in 1967, and they were favored to repeat in 1968; at that early point in the season, Purdue also held the number one ranking in the AP poll. With tailback Leroy Keyes and quarterback Mike Phipps, the Boilermakers were a solid 13-point favorite, but the Buckeye defense was not intimidated by the high-powered Purdue offense. Led by defensive backs Jack Tatum and Ted Provost, the Buckeyes held Keyes to just 18 yards rushing, and Phipps to 10 of 28 passing for 106 yards and a "pick six" (courtesy of Provost), all while holding the Boilermakers scoreless. On the other side of the ball, Ohio State rolled up 411 yards of offense, including a 14-yard touchdown run from back-up quarterback Bill Long. The final score: Ohio State 13, Purdue 0.

    After a blow-out of Northwestern on Homecoming, the Buckeyes had narrow victories in three of their next four contests, edging Illinois, Michigan State, and Iowa by a combined 18 points. Then came The Game, featuring a showdown between the second-ranked Buckeyes and the fourth-ranked Wolverines. Although the teams appeared to be fairly even on paper, on the field Ohio State was clearly superior, and the Buckeyes won a laugher, 50-14; the offense rolled up 467 total yards, 28 first downs, and 7 touchdowns (including four from fullback Jim Otis), while the defense had three interceptions and held the Wolverines to just 311 yards. The Buckeyes were the outright Big Ten Champs, and were headed to Pasadena to face undefeated Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl.

    The Trojans opened up an early 10-0 lead on an 80-yard touchdown run by Heisman Trophy winner O.J. Simpson, but the Buckeyes had evened the score by halftime. Leading 13-10 after three stanzas, Buckeye quarterback Rex Kern threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes, one each to halfbacks Leo Hayden and Ray Gillian. Once again, the Buckeye defense played masterfully, forcing five Trojan turnovers (three fumbles, two interceptions), and holding the mighty USC offense to just 16 points. With a perfect 10-0-0 record, the Buckeyes won both the AP and UPI titles, and were regarded as the undisputed champions of college football.

    Ohio State had only two All Americans in 1968, senior offensive tackles Dave Foley and Rufus Mayes. However, many of the young players on that team - such as defensive back Jack Tatum and defensive lineman Jim Stillwagon - would eventually earn All American honors and win major awards in the following years. Woody Hayes won his second National Coach of the Year honor in 1968.

    :osu: The 1968 Ohio State Buckeyes :osu:
    09/28/68: Ohio State 35, Southern Methodist 14
    10/05/68: Ohio State 21, Oregon 6
    10/12/68: Ohio State 13, Purdue 0
    10/19/68: Ohio State 45, Northwestern 21
    10/26/68: Ohio State 31, Illinois 24
    11/02/68: Ohio State 25, Michigan State 20
    11/09/68: Ohio State 43, Wisconsin 8
    11/16/68: Ohio State 33, Iowa 27
    11/23/68: Ohio State 50, Michigan 14
    01/01/69: Ohio State 27, Southern Cal 16 (Rose Bowl)
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2007
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  9. LordJeffBuck

    LordJeffBuck Illuminatus Emeritus Staff Member

    A Decade of Disappointment

    From 1969-1979, Ohio State had arguably the greatest program in college football, but the Buckeyes failed to win even a single major national championship during that time, despite having had six excellent opportunities to have done so.

    Coming off of their undisputed national championship in 1968, the Super Sophs were expected to repeat in 1969, and for most of the season, it looked like they would do just that. Going perfect through their first eight games, the 1969 squad outscored their opponents by a combined score of 371-69, with no game being closer than 27 points. However, in the season finale in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines, under first-year head coach Bo Schembechler, shocked the Buckeyes, winning the contest handily, 24-12. The upset victory cost Ohio State an outright Big Ten championship and a chance to repeat as national champs. Texas is the recognized national champion for 1969, having won both the AP and UPI crowns; Ohio State fans can always claim a sliver of the pie, as both Matthews Grid Ratings and Montgomery Full Season Championship considered the Buckeyes to be the best team in the land.

    The Super Sophs were still around in 1970, and after the disappointing finish of the previous season, they were once again favored to win it all. The 1970 team rolled through the regular season unscathed, despite a narrow victory at Purdue (10-7) and a hard-fought victory over Michigan (20-9) to wrap up the campaign. However, the Buckeyes inexplicably lost the Rose Bowl to Stanford, who was a heavy underdog despite being led by their brilliant quarterback, Jim Plunkett. Nevertheless, the Buckeyes were the outright Big Ten champs, and were awarded the title by an organization known as the National Football Foundation (for what it's worth, they operate the College Football Hall of Fame), which the University claims as a national championship; it should be noted that the NFF voted for its champ prior to the Rose Bowl debacle. Texas, which was also undefeated until an upset loss in the Cotton Bowl, was awarded the UPI crown (which was also voted on prior to the bowl games). In retrospect, Nebraska, the winner of the AP poll (taken after the bowl games), is generally considered to be the national champion for 1970, although Notre Dame (of course) claims that season as one of its three dozen titles (give or take a few).

    In the end, the Super Sophs had a three-year record of 27-2 (for an amazing .931 winning percentage), but each of their two losses cost them a recognized national championship.

    The following Buckeye players were named All Americans in 1969 and/or 1970: defensive lineman Jim Stillwagon (1969-70; also Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award in 1970); defensive back Jack "The Assassin" Tatum (1969-70; National Defensive Player of the Year in 1970); quarterback Rex Kern (1969); fullback Jim Otis (1969); defensive back Ted Provost (1969); tight end Jan White (1970); fullback John Brockington (1970); defensive back Mike Sensibaugh (1970); and defensive back Tim Anderson (1970).

    :osu: The 1969 Ohio State Buckeyes :osu:...........................:osu: The 1970 Ohio State Buckeyes :osu:
    09/27/69: Ohio State 62, Texas Christian 0.........................09/26/70: Ohio State 56, Texas A+M 13
    10/04/69: Ohio State 41, Washington 14............................10/03/70: Ohio State 34, Duke 10
    10/11/69: Ohio State 54, Michigan State 21........................10/10/70: Ohio State 29, Michigan State 0
    10/18/69: Ohio State 34, Minnesota 7................................10/17/70: Ohio State 28, Minnesota 8
    10/25/69: Ohio State 41, Illinois 0.....................................10/24/70: Ohio State 48, Illinois 29
    11/01/69: Ohio State 35, Northwestern 6...........................10/31/70: Ohio State 24, Northwestern 10
    11/08/69: Ohio State 62, Wisconsin 7................................11/07/70: Ohio State 24, Wisconsin 7
    11/15/69: Ohio State 42, Purdue 14...................................11/14/70: Ohio State 10, Purdue 7
    11/22/69: Michigan 24, Ohio State 12.................................11/21/70: Ohio State 20, Michigan 9
    No bowl game................................................................01/01/71: Stanford 27, Ohio State 17 (Rose Bowl)

    Led by two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, the 1974 and 1975 squads were two of the greatest in Ohio State history. In spite of a controversial loss at Michigan State, the Buckeyes still had an outside shot at a national championship. A narrow 12-10 victory over an undefeated Michigan team earned Ohio State a spot in the Rose Bowl, where the second-ranked Buckeyes would face the third ranked Trojans from Southern Cal. In one of the best Rose Bowl games ever played, the two powerhouse programs proved to be nearly equal, but the Trojans scored a late touchdown and two-point conversion to go up 18-17, and the Buckeyes narrowly missed a desperation 62-yard field goal as time expired. Ohio State ended the season at 10-2, good enough for fourth place in the AP poll and third place in the UPI; the Buckeyes did win the Matthews Grid Ratings title that year. Oklahoma (11-0-0) won the AP crown, but because the Sooners were on probation that season and thus inelgible for the UPI poll, the coaches awarded their championship to Southern Cal (10-1-1).

    In 1975, Ohio State cruised through its regular season (including a 21-14 victory over Michigan), but once again the number one team in the country fell to a huge underdog in the Rose Bowl. This time, an 8-2-1 UCLA team was the culprit, as Dick Vermeil's Bruins knocked off the Buckeyes by the final score of 23-10. (Ironically, OSU had easily beaten UCLA in Los Angeles in October of that year). Ohio State finished fourth in both the AP and UPI polls, but snagged several minor trophies, including those from Matthews Grid Ratings and the Washington Touchdown Club. Oklahoma (11-1) was the undisputed national champion, having finished in the top spot in both major polls.

    The 1974-75 Buckeyes had a record number of All Americans, including thre-time selections running back Archie Griffin (1973-75) and punter Tom Skladany (1974-76); other honorees were defensive end Van DeCree (1973-74); defensive tackle Pete Cusick; offensive linemen Kurt Schumacher (1974); Steve Myers (1974); and Pete Smith (1975); and defensive backs Neal Colzie (1974) and Tim Fox (1975). In addition, Woody Hayes was named the National Coach of the Year for the third time.

    :osu: The 1974 Ohio State Buckeyes :osu:...........................:osu: The 1975 Ohio State Buckeyes :osu:
    09/14/74: Ohio State 34, Minnesota 19..............................09/13/75: Ohio State 21, Michigan State 0
    09/21/74: Ohio State 51, Oregon State 10. ........................09/20/75: Ohio State 17, Penn State 9
    09/28/74: Ohio State 28, Southern Methodist 9...................09/27/75: Ohio State 32, North Carolina 7
    10/05/74: Ohio State 42, Washington State 7.....................10/04/75: Ohio State 41, UCLA 20
    10/12/74: Ohio State 52, Wisconsin 7................................10/11/75: Ohio State 49, Iowa 0
    10/19/74: Ohio State 49, Indiana 9...................................10/18/75: Ohio State 56, Wisconsin 0
    10/26/74: Ohio State 55, Northwestern 7...........................10/25/75: Ohio State 35, Purdue 6
    11/02/74: Ohio State 49, Illinois 7.....................................11/01/75: Ohio State 24, Indiana 14
    11/09/74: Michigan State 16, Ohio State 13.......................11/08/75: Ohio State 40, Illinois 3
    11/16/74: Ohio State 35, Iowa 10.....................................11/15/75: Ohio State 38, Minnesota 6
    11/23/74: Ohio State 12, Michigan 10................................11/22/75: Ohio State 21, Michigan 14
    01/01/75: Southern Cal 18, Ohio State 17 (Rose Bowl)..........01/01/76: UCLA 23, Ohio State 10 (Rose Bowl)

    Woody Hayes left Ohio State after the disappointing 1978 season, in which the Buckeyes finished 7-4-1 with a fourth-place finish in the Big Ten standings, a loss to Michigan in The Game, and a loss to Clemson in the Gator Bowl. Woody's replacement, Earle Bruce, had inherited a messy situation, and no one really expected him to get the Buckeyes back to national prominence any time soon. However, in his first year on the job, Bruce's squad had a perfect regular season; with tight victories on the road at Minnesota (21-17), UCLA (17-13), and Michigan (18-15), Ohio State seemed to be a team of destiny. The Buckeyes entered the Rose Bowl as the number one team in the land with an 11-0-0 record, but their opponent was the third-ranked Southern Cal Trojans (10-0-1), who were essentially playing a home game. Ohio State fought hard and led much of the second half, but USC, behind the running of tailback Charles White, scored a late touchdown and won by a single point, 17-16. Alabama (12-0-0) won both major polls, while Ohio State placed fourth in each; the Buckeyes won a lone national championship designation, from a research organization called 1st-N-Goal.

    Two Buckeyes were named All Americans in 1979, quarterback Art Schlichter and guard Ken Fritz; other players of note were linebacker Marcus Marek (an All American in 1982), defensive back Todd Bell, linebacker Jim Laughlin, tailback Calvin Murray, wide receiver Gary Williams, flanker Doug Donley, and place kicker Vlade Janakievski. In his rookie season, Earle Bruce was named the National Coach of the Year.

    :osu: The 1979 Ohio State Buckeyes :osu:
    09/08/79: Ohio State 31, Syracuse 8
    09/15/79: Ohio State 21, Minnesota 17
    09/22/79: Ohio State 45, Washington State 29
    09/29/79: Ohio State 17, UCLA 13
    10/06/79: Ohio State 16, Northwestern 7
    10/13/79: Ohio State 47, Indiana 6
    10/20/79: Ohio State 59, Wisconsin 0
    10/27/79: Ohio State 42, Michigan State 0
    11/03/79: Ohio State 44, Illinois 7
    11/10/79: Ohio State 34, Iowa 7
    11/17/79: Ohio State 18, Michigan 15
    01/01/80: Southern Cal 17, Ohio State 16 (Rose Bowl)

    Now let's back up a few years, to 1973, which was quite possibly the greatest year in the history of college football, as several major programs had outstanding seasons: Notre Dame (12-0-0) defeated a previously-unbeaten Alabama squad (11-1-0) by a single point in a classic Sugar Bowl; the Domers won the AP trophy, while the Tide garnered the UPI crown (which was awarded prior to their bowl loss). The Oklahoma Sooners, under rookie coach Barry Switzer, roundly defeated powerful squads from Texas and Nebraska, finished the season 10-0-1, and won more than a dozen minor championship trophies. Penn State (12-0-0) posted a perfect season, but their easy schedule prevented them from garnering any major accolades, and the Nittany Lions ended up with only the coveted Mel Smith Trophy as a consolation prize. Southern Cal, the defending national champion, posted a solid 9-1-1 regular season record and once again won the Pac 8 title and an invitation to the Rose Bowl.

    Two other teams which had outstanding years in 1973 were Ohio State and Michigan. Each team burned through its regular season, and they met in Ann Arbor with perfect records on the line. Prior to The Game, Ohio State had posted nine straight victories, having outscored its opponents 361 to 33 in the process. In its ten previous games, Michigan had had similar success, winning all of its games by a combined score of 320 to 58. Entering the classic showdown, Ohio State was ranked first in the nation, while Michigan was fourth. Although the Buckeyes were able to open up a 10-0 halftime lead, the Wolverines scored ten points of their own after the intermission, and predictably The Game between the evenly-matched titans ended in a 10-10 deadlock. Because both teams had identical 7-0-1 league records, the Big Ten athletic directors held a vote to determine which school would represent the conference in the Rose Bowl; Ohio State won that vote by a count of 6 to 4, and headed west to face Southern Cal. The Buckeyes throttled the Trojans, 42-21, to finish the season at 10-0-1, the eighth undefeated team in the history of Ohio State football (discounting their inaugural 1889 season, in which they went 1-0-0 after posting a 20-14 win over Ohio Wesleyan).

    In my opinion, the 1973 squad was Ohio State's greatest team ever, and most certainly one of the best teams in the history of college football that did not win a major national championship. The Buckeyes were simply dominating all season long, except for a mediocre second half against a very powerful Michigan squad on the road. Although the pollsters favored Notre Dame and Alabama, who finished their regular seasons with unblemished records, some college football historians believe that Ohio State (and Michigan for that matter) rightfully deserve a share of the title. The National Championship Foundation retrospectively awarded the 1973 national championship equally to Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Michigan, which only seems fair as each team went through a difficult schedule undefeated; Ohio State received five other minor trophies for their outstanding performance in 1973.

    As you might imagine, the 1973 team was simply loaded with stars. Sophomore tailback Archie Griffin, who would go on to win Heisman Trophies in each of the following seasons, led the team in rushing with 1,577 yards and was named an All American; Griffin finished fifth in the Heisman vote as a sophomore. The quarterback of the team was Cornelius Greene, who ran the Buckeyes' option offense to perfection; the remainder of the offensive backfield consisted of fullback Champ Henson and wingback Brian Baschnagel. Offensive tackle John Hicks was named an All American (he was similarly honored in 1972), won both the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award, and finished second in the Heisman voting (to Penn State running back John Cappelletti); he is now a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Linebacker Randy Gradishar was a two-time All American (1972-73), and went on to become a perennial All Pro for the Denver Broncos; he finished sixth in the 1973 Heisman voting. Defensive end Van DeCree was also an All American in 1973, a distinction which he repeated in 1974. Tight end Fred Pagac, Sr. would later become an assitant coach of the Buckeyes (1982-2000). Several other players (Tom Skladany, Tim Fox, Neal Colzie, Pete Johnson, etc.) would emerge as stars in the next three seasons. Simply put, the Buckeyes were loaded with talent, and I believe that they were as good (or better) than any team in the country in 1973.

    :osu: The 1973 Ohio State Buckeyes :osu:
    09/15/73: Ohio State 56, Minnesota 7
    09/29/73: Ohio State 37, Texas Christian 3
    10/06/73: Ohio State 27, Washington State 3
    10/13/73: Ohio State 24, Wisconsin 0
    10/20/73: Ohio State 37, Indiana 7
    10/27/73: Ohio State 60, Northwestern 0
    11/03/73: Ohio State 30, Illinois 0
    11/10/73: Ohio State 35, Michigan State 0
    11/17/73: Ohio State 55, Iowa 13
    11/24/73: Ohio State 10, Michigan 10
    01/01/74: Ohio State 42, Southern Cal 21 (Rose Bowl)
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2007
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  10. LordJeffBuck

    LordJeffBuck Illuminatus Emeritus Staff Member

    The Cooper Years - More Near Misses

    When head coach John Cooper took over the reins at Ohio State prior to the 1988 season, the program was in disarray and decline. With a distinct lack of talent in the pipeline, it was generally understood that Cooper would need several years to re-build the Buckeyes to a championship level. Nevertheless, Coop's record through his first five seasons was an unimpressive 35-21-3, with no noticeable upward trend.

    However, the 1993 team began a tremendous renaissance for Ohio State football which saw the Buckeyes in the national title hunt several times during the decade of the 1990's. The '93 squad won its first eight games before suffering a 14-14 tie at Wisconsin. A narrow win over Indiana the next week kept the undefeated season alive, but then Ohio State totally collapsed in an embarrassing loss to Michigan; the Wolverines shut out the Buckeyes 28 to zip, and outgained them in total yardage, 421 to 212. Even with the loss, Ohio State was the co-champ of the Big Ten, and the Buckeyes earned a berth in the Holiday Bowl, where they edged a spunky BYU team, 28-21. Although most viewed the season as a let down considering the strong start and the pathetic showing in The Game, an organization known as the Annual Football Predictions actually awarded the Bucks a national title for their effort. Florida State won both the AP and coaches' poll, and is generally considered to be the national champion for 1993.

    In 1993, the Buckeyes had two All Americans, offensive tackle Korey Stringer and defensive tackle Dan "Big Daddy" Wilkinson.

    :osu: The 1993 Ohio State Buckeyes :osu:
    09/04/93: Ohio State 34, Rice 7
    09/11/93: Ohio State 21, Washington 12
    09/18/93: Ohio State 63, Pitt 28
    10/02/93: Ohio State 51, Northwestern 3
    10/09/93: Ohio State 20, Illinois 12
    10/16/93: Ohio State 28, Michigan State 21
    10/23/93: Ohio State 45, Purdue 24
    10/30/93: Ohio State 24, Penn State 6
    11/06/93: Ohio State 14, Wisconsin 14
    11/13/93: Ohio State 23, Indiana 17
    11/20/93: Michigan 28, Ohio State 0
    12/30/93: Ohio State 28, BYU 21 (Holiday Bowl)

    In 1996, the Buckeyes won their first ten games in impressive fashion, including a 29-16 victory at Notre Dame. Once again, however, Michigan was the stumbling block. Although the Buckeye offense entered the contest averaging nearly 43 points per game, they could manage only three field goals against the Wolverines; the only touchdown for either side was a 69-yard pass play from quarterback Brian Griese to wide out Tai Streets, who was wide open after Buckeye cornerback Shawn Springs slipped on the play. The final verdict: Michigan 13, Ohio State 9.

    Even with a loss to end the regular season, the Buckeyes still had some hope for a national title. Although unbeaten Florida State was assured of a berth in the championship game, there was some controversy over who would be their opposition. Most favored Florida, even though the Gators had already lost to the Seminoles in their regular season finale; when all of the votes were counted, the two Sunshine State teams were at the top of the polls and set for a re-match in the Sugar Bowl.

    Meanwhile, Ohio State, as the Big Ten co-champions, would travel to the Rose Bowl to face the Pac 10 champs, an undefeated Arizona State team. In a close contest that literally came down to the final play, Ohio State prevailed 20-17. The highlight of the evening for the Buckeyes was a touchdown pass from Joe Germaine to true freshman receiver David Boston with just 19 seconds left on the clock.

    The following day, Florida beat Florida State in the Sugar Bowl, and claimed the consensus national championship with a 12 and 1 record. At 11-1, Ohio State finished second in both major polls, but was awarded three minor titles.

    The Buckeyes had three All Americans in 1996: offensive tackle Orlando Pace (also 1995; Lombardi Award, 1995-96; Outland Trophy, 1996); defensive back Shawn Springs (Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, 1996); and defensive end Mike Vrabel (also 1995; Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year, 1995-96); all three players have gone on to have successful careers in the NFL.

    :osu: The 1996 Ohio State Buckeyes :osu:
    09/07/96: Ohio State 70, Rice 7
    09/21/96: Ohio State 72, Pitt 0
    09/28/96: Ohio State 29, Notre Dame 16
    10/05/96: Ohio State 38, Penn State 7
    10/12/96: Ohio State 17, Wisconsin 14
    10/19/96: Ohio State 42, Purdue 14
    10/26/96: Ohio State 38, Iowa 26
    11/02/96: Ohio State 45, Minnesota 0
    11/09/96: Ohio State 48, Illinois 0
    11/16/96: Ohio State 27, Indiana 17
    11/23/96: Michigan 13, Ohio State 9
    01/01/97: Ohio State 20, Arizona State 17 (Rose Bowl)

    Most people who followed college football were firmly convinced that Ohio State would finally win a national championship in 1998. The Buckeyes were absolutely loaded with talent at every position, and they were the pre-season #1 team in both major polls. But once again, a team from the state of Michigan would dash the Buckeyes' title hopes.

    Through their first eight games (all relatively easy victories), the Buckeyes outscored their opponents 306 to 72. Then came Michigan State.... Playing at home against a middle-of-the-road Spartan team, the Buckeyes were 28-point favorites; and, until halfway through the third quarter, Ohio State actually played like it. With OSU leading 24 to 9, MSU was punting from the shadow of its own goal post. The Sparty punter (some guy named Craig Jarrett) shanked one, meaning that the Bucks would get the ball in Michigan State territory with an excellent chance to pad the already lopsided score. Or would they? Freshman defensive back Nate Clements wasn't paying attention, and the ball hit him in the foot - FUMBLE! (or should I say MUFF!) An alert Spartan player fell on the ball, and Michigan State was back in business. Sparty quarterback Bill Burke then went unconscious and channelled the spirit of Bobby Layne, who took over his body and made throws that Burke could only dream of. Michigan State promptly drove down the field and scored, closing the gap to 24-15, OSU. Another Ohio State fumble resulted in a Michigan State field goal: 24-18, OSU. After an Ohio State punt down to the MSU seven, Bobby Layne Burke led the Spartans on a 93-yard touchdown drive, completing four straight passes for 78 yards in the process: 25-24, MSU. Yet another Ohio State fumble (one of four on the day) preceded yet another Michigan State field goal: 28-24, MSU. With 5:45 left to play, the Buckeyes were stuffed on 4th-and-1, and the Spartans began to run some clock. The OSU defense forced a punt, and the offense took over at midfield with less than two minutes to find paydirt and reclaim the victory. Buckeye quarterback Joe Germaine hit two straight passes, getting the ball down to the MSU 15-yard line, but then somehow misfired on four straight - game over, season over, career over. Although head coach John Cooper managed to hang on for a couple of more years, his Buckeye career officially ended on November 7, 1998, the day that 28-point underdog Michigan State invaded The Shoe and beat the unbeatable Buckeyes.

    After suffering the most maddening, gut-wrenching loss in the history of Ohio State football, the Buckeyes somehow managed to recover and win their remaining two regular season games to finish a solid 10 and 1. However, the pollsters once again selected a one-loss Sunshine State team (this time, Florida State) over a one-loss Ohio State team to play in the title game. Tennessee, which led a charmed life in 1998, ended up beating FSU to complete a perfect 13-0 season and win the inaugural BCS championship; the Buckeyes beat Texas A+M in the Sugar Bowl and wound up second in both major polls, but won a handful of minor titles.

    The Buckeyes had four All Americans in 1998: wide receiver David Boston (several career receiving records); offensive lineman Rob Murphy (also 1997); safety Damon Moore; and cornerback Antoine Winfield (also 1997; Thorpe Award, 1998); quarterback Joe Germaine was named the MVP of the Big Ten; junior linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer was an All American and winner of the Butkus Award in 1997.

    :osu: The 1998 Ohio State Buckeyes :osu:
    09/05/98: Ohio State 34, West Virginia 17
    09/12/98: Ohio State 49, Toledo 0
    09/19/98: Ohio State 35, Missouri 14
    10/03/98: Ohio State 28, Penn State 9
    10/10/98: Ohio State 41, Illinois 0
    10/17/98: Ohio State 45, Minnesota 15
    10/24/98: Ohio State 36, Northwestern 10
    10/31/98: Ohio State 38, Indiana 7
    11/07/98: Michigan State 28, Ohio State 24
    11/14/98: Ohio State 45, Iowa 14
    11/21/98: Ohio State 31, Michigan 16
    01/01/99: Ohio State 24, Texas A+M 14 (Sugar Bowl)

    Ironically, Cooper's most talented team was probably the 1995 squad that won its first eleven games, then dropped contests to Michigan and Tennessee (Citrus Bowl) to end the season. The 1995 Buckeyes had Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George (a team record 1,927 yards rushing, 24 TD's); Lombardi Award winner Orlando Pace; Biletnikoff Award winner Terry Glenn (64 receptions, 1,411 yards, 17 TD's); Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year Mike Vrabel; and Draddy Award (for best student-athlete) winner Bobby Hoying (also All Big Ten; 3,269 yards passing, 29 TD's). With the late-season melt down, the 1995 Ohio State team did not receive any national title recognitions.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2007
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  11. LordJeffBuck

    LordJeffBuck Illuminatus Emeritus Staff Member

    2002 - The Lucky Buckeyes Win a BCS Championship

    The 2002 Buckeyes were characterized by a tenacious defense, a strong running attack, and an ability to win close games late in the contest (some might call this final quality "luck", but I prefer the term "preparation meeting opportunity"). Ohio State opened the 2002 season at home against Texas Tech, and they routed the Red Raiders, 45-21 (and the game wasn't even that close). In the opener, true freshman tailback Maurice Clarett rushed for 175 yards and 3 touchdowns (59, 45, and 2 yards) as the Buckeyes amassed 318 yards on the ground. Next up was Kent State, a game which the Buckeyes won with ease, 51-17. In that contest, senior safety Mike Doss and true freshman linebacker A.J. Hawk each had a "pick six"; at the end of the season, Doss would become the Buckeyes seventh three-time All American, and Hawk would eventually become a two-time All American (2004-05), win the Lombardi Award (2005), and become a first-round selection of the Green Bay Packers in the 2006 NFL draft.

    The first true test for the sixth-ranked Buckeyes would come the following week, when Washington State visited The 'Shoe. The Cougars entered the game as the nation's tenth best squad according to the AP, and their quarterback, Jason Gesser, was a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy. Despite the hype, the game wasn't much of a contest, as the Buckeye defense shut down Gesser, and Clarett rushed for 230 yards, 194 of them in the second half. The final score: Ohio State 25, Washington State 7.

    Next on the schedule was Cincinnati, a game which the Buckeyes were expected to win handily. However, with Clarett on the sidelines with an injury and the Bearcats playing inspired football, Ohio State escaped Paul Brown Stadium with a 23-19 victory. The Buckeye defense came to the resuce, forcing three fourth-quarter turnovers, including a game-saving interception in the end zone by saftey Will Allen with just 26 seconds remaining. This would be the first of several "lucky" (or "opportunistic") victories for the 2002 Buckeyes.

    After routine wins against Indiana (45-17), Northwestern (27-16), and San Jose State (50-7), the fourth-ranked Buckeyes travelled to Madison, Wisconsin, where they edged the Badgers, 19-14, in a hard-fought affair that featured several big plays on both sides of the ball. Then came another close call, this time against Penn State, whom the Buckeyes defeated 13-7; Ohio State's only touchdown came on a nifty 40-yard interception return by sophomore cornerback Chris Gamble, one of three Buckeye picks on the day. Two more "lucky" victories in the books....

    After shellacking Minnesota, 34-3, the Buckeyes had their closest of many close calls. Ohio State travelled to Purdue to face a middle-of-the-pack Boilermaker squad that had no reasonable hope of winning. But, with Maurice Clarett once again out with an injury, the Buckeyes could not generate any offense, and they found themselves down 6-3 late in the fourth quarter. With under two minutes to play in the game, Ohio State faced a fourth-and-one at Purdue's 37-yard line. Even with an anemic running attack, most everyone assumed that the Buckeyes would try to pound the ball up the middle for a first down to continue the drive. But quarterback Craig Krenzel, using a no-huddle offense, called a pass play at the line of scrimmage, looked short, stepped up in the pocket to avoid a heavy rush, and then found wide receiver Michael Jenkins streaking deep down the left sideline. Krenzel threw a perfect pass and Jenkins made a beautiful over-the-shoulder grab for the touchdown, and Ohio State had survived, 10-6. Holy Buckeye!

    The next opponent, Illinois, also proved to be tougher than expected, as Ohio State needed overtime to come away with a 23-16 victory. Still a perfect 12-0, the Buckeyes had one final test, which would undoubtedly be their most difficult to date - the Michigan Wolverines, who were looking to avenge a loss in the previous edition of The Game. Michigan led the game 9-7 late in the fourth quarter, and it seems that the Wolverines were set to spoil yet another Buckeye perfect season (as they had done in 1969, 1973, 1995, and 1996). But down the stretch, Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel went deep into his playbook to set up the final score. First he called a seldom-used "wheel route", and quarterback Craig Krenzel found tailback Maurice Clarett wide open for a 26-yard gain which took the ball down to the Michigan six-yard line; two plays later, Maurice Hall scored a four-yard touchdown on a rare option play which caught the Wolverine defense completely off-guard. Now leading 14-9 with less than five minutes remaining in the game, the Buckeye defense preserved the victory by forcing two Michigan turnovers, including an interception by Will Allen at the goal line as time expired. After all of the disappointments of the Cooper years, Ohio State had finally won The Game when it counted the most.

    Although Ohio State had a perfect 13-0 record, most pundits felt that the Buckeyes had no chance to beat the Miami Hurricanes in the Fiesta Bowl, which was the 2002 BCS championship game. The national media types discounted Ohio State as a serious contender because the Buckeyes had won six of their games by seven points or less, and the Hurricanes were simply too powerful on offense, which had stars such as quarterback Ken Dorsey, running back Willis McGahee, wide receiver Andre Johnson, and tight end Kellen Winslow, Jr. But the Buckeye defense was simply too physical for Miami, and the offense made big plays when it needed them, including a pass from Craig Krenzel to Michael Jenkins to convert a fourth-and-fourteen in the first overtime period; that touchdown drive was extended by a "lucky" pass interference call, also on fourth down, against Miami defensive back Glenn Sharpe. The Buckeyes scored the go-ahead touchdown in the second overtime, and then the defense made a tremendous goal-line stand to secure the victory. After 34 years, the Buckeyes were once again the undisputed national champions of college football!

    Ohio State had four All Americans in 2002: saftey Michael Doss, middle linebacker Matt Wilhelm, punter Andy Groom, and place kicker Mike Nugent (also 2004; Lou Groza Award winner in 2004). In addition, defensive end Will Smith and safety Will Allen would earn All American honors in 2003. Sophomore Chris Gamble, who started at wide receiver, cornerback, and punt returner, became Ohio State's first "two-way" player in decades. Head coach Jim Tressel was named the AFCA Coach of the Year.

    :osu: The 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes :osu:
    08/24/02: Ohio State 45, Texas Tech 21
    09/07/02: Ohio State 51, Kent State 17
    09/14/02: Ohio State 25, Washington State 7
    09/21/02: Ohio State 23, Cincinnati 19
    09/28/02: Ohio State 45, Indiana 17
    10/05/02: Ohio State 27, Northwestern 16
    10/12/02: Ohio State 50, San Jose State 7
    10/19/02: Ohio State 19, Wisconsin 14
    10/26/02: Ohio State 13, Penn State 7
    11/02/02: Ohio State 34, Minnesota 3
    11/09/02: Ohio State 10, Purdue 6
    11/16/02: Ohio State 23, Illinois 16 (OT)
    11/23/02: Ohio State 14, Michigan 9
    01/03/03: Ohio State 31, Miami 24 (2 OT) (Fiesta Bowl)
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2007
    osugrad21 likes this.
  12. LordJeffBuck

    LordJeffBuck Illuminatus Emeritus Staff Member

    So, How Many Titles Do the Buckeyes Really Own?

    After the above recap, the question still remains: Just how many national titles do the Buckeyes really own? Well, no rational person (and very few irrational computers) would deny the Buckeyes the outright championship for their perfect seasons in 1968 and 2002. And regardless of its deficiencies, the AP poll has been the standard for seventy years, so you can add 1942 (pre-coaches') and 1954 split championship (UCLA won the coaches' poll) to Ohio State's list of titles. Although the coaches' poll has not been around as long, it is almost as prestigious as the AP poll, so the Buckeyes' 1957 UP title should count as well (Auburn took the AP that year). So, Buckeye fans can proudly proclaim at least five national championships.

    The other fourteen "unrecognized" national titles, however, are a bit squirrelly, and claiming too many of them will make you seem like a Michigan or Notre Dame fan. Let's forget about 1916 and 1917, as it doesn't really make sense to argue about who was best during the dark ages of college football. And 1933 is a bit of a stretch, as the Buckeyes lost to a team that was generally considered to be the champ that season. And no team deserves to be crowned a national champion after losing its season finale, so you can toss out the so-called titles for 1969, 1970, 1974, 1975, and 1979 without further ado. I have no idea who the Annual Football Predictions people are or what they were smoking, but the 1993 Ohio State squad which tied Wisconsin, got shut out by Michigan, and barely beat BYU in the Holiday Bowl was in no way, shape, or form a national championship team.

    So, that leaves us with 1944, 1961, 1973, 1996, and 1998 still under consideration. The 1944 Buckeye team had a perfect record, four All-Americans, the Heisman Trophy winner, and the AFCA Coach of the Year, and was named the "Civilian National Champions" at the time. Given the adverse circumstances under which non-military schools were operating in 1944, it is truly amazing that Ohio State was able to put together such a special season that year. In my opinion, the Buckeyes deserve to share the 1944 national championship with Army, and The Ohio State University should claim the Civilian National Championship title for that season.

    The 1961 and 1973 teams were both undefeated, but each had a tie which marred an otherwise perfect record. Although an unbeaten season is generally enough to earn at least a share of the national title, the 1961 and 1973 squads were each outshone by a recognized national power which posted a perfect season (Alabama in 1961 and Notre Dame in 1973), and thus neither Buckeye team earned any serious national championship accolades. However, in retrospect, both the 1961 and the 1973 teams were probably the best in college football for their respective seasons, so I would lean toward counting each as a national title for Ohio State.

    The 1996 and 1998 teams each lost one game late in the regular season, but finished strongly with bowl victories over worthy opponents. Although the Rose Bowl champs of 1996 have a somewhat better argument for national title recognition, I'm not really going to go to bat for a one-loss team, especially when both squads were clearly the most talented in college football and really should have finished their respective seasons with an unblemished record. Each was a good team, but ultimately not worthy of a national championship, in my humble opinion.

    So, by my count, Ohio State has two undisputed national championships (1968 and 2002), three other major (AP or coaches) titles (1942, 1954, and 1957), three additional minor but worthy recognitions (1944, 1961, and 1973), and eleven completely arbitrary championships that only a total homer could feel comfortable claiming on behalf of his school. There you have it - that's my opinion - now let me know what you think.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2007
  13. LordJeffBuck

    LordJeffBuck Illuminatus Emeritus Staff Member

    ImFrigginFly, osugrad21 and OsUPhAn like this.

    BUCKYLE Washed

    I don't have the time to get into reading all of this tonight...but I will a.s.a.p. Thanks for doing all that research. I love history, and Buckeye history especially. Greenies for you.
  15. BuckeyePride

    BuckeyePride All-Ohio

    Thank you very much for the info.

    We could easily claim these NCs by current standards (My opinion)


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