MADISON, Wis. — Defensive end John Simon earned a place in Ohio State football history with four quarterback sacks in the Buckeyes’ 21-14 overtime win at Wisconsin on Saturday.
He joins William Gholston, Bobby Carpenter and Jason Simmons as the only OSU players with four quarterback takedowns in a game.
But the history that felt like it was repeating itself more than Simon’s matching of those former Buckeyes was the history of the 2002 and 2003 Ohio State seasons.
With Saturday’s win, Ohio State is 11-0 with a chance to complete an unbeaten season at home against Michigan this Saturday.
To get to that point, they had to overcome a Wisconsin defense that bottled up quarterback Braxton Miller better than anyone else had this season. And they had to fight back from a deflating score by the Badgers that tied the game with just eight seconds left in regulation.
It was Ohio State’s second overtime win this season and its fifth by a touchdown or less.
In the 2002 national championship season, OSU won seven games by a touchdown or less and two of those wins came in overtime.
A year later in 2003, it won six times by a touchdown or less, two of those wins were in overtime and one of the overtimes was a three-overtime thriller.
Obviously, 2002 and 2003 weren’t on the minds of anyone on the sidelines. It wasn’t mentioned after the game. That’s ancient history.
But the comparison is interesting. Those teams were called the “Luckeyes” by some doubters, but just kept winning the close ones. This team, and the Big Ten as a whole, has a sizable crowd of doubters too.
But like those teams from a decade ago, they just keep finding a way to win.
Here’s another one from the history books. Ohio State is 7-2 all time in overtime games and its coach Urban Meyer has never lost in six overtime games as a head coach.
And here’s the next bit of history the Buckeyes hope to write. Only five Ohio State football teams have finished a season unbeaten and untied. One more win and that’s six teams.
OSU has played like a team with something to prove this season. What it has proved on that mission is that you never know quite what to expect from them, but that they never can be written off, no matter how uncertain their situation might appear.
“I have a saying that I just shared with them, that a team that refuses to be beat won’t be beat. Somehow, some way,” Meyer said after Saturday’s game.
SHIRTS NOW, RINGS LATER: Ohio State’s players got shirts honoring their clinching of the Big Ten Leaders Division title after Saturday’s game and Meyer said they also will get rings to recognize that achievement.
Even though OSU is ineligible for the Big Ten championship game because of NCAA sanctions, it was eligible to win the division title.
END OF A STREAK: Saturday’s game was the first time Wisconsin has lost a home game in November with Bret Bielema as coach. The Badgers were 10-0 at home in that month for Bielema before Saturday.
END OF ANOTHER STREAK: Before running for 191 yards Saturday, Wisconsin running back Montee Ball had run for more than 100 yards against every Big Ten team except Ohio State and Iowa.