Jim Naveau: An elite eight of Ohio State football openers

By Jim Naveau - jnaveau@limanews.com

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Exactly how Ohio State’s opening game against Indiana on Thursday night will be remembered is a matter of opinion and that opinion could take a while to come together.

Until then, here’s a look at some of the most memorable Ohio State openers going back to the days when Woody Hayes was on the Buckeyes’ sideline.


Ohio State 42, Virginia Tech 24

This game started out to be about revenge for the only loss during the 2014 national championship season and turned into a celebration of Braxton Miller.

After sitting out all of the 2014 season with a shoulder injury, Miller was reincarnated as a wide receiver and caught a 54-yard touchdown pass early in the game. But one of the most memorable plays of his career came on a spinning, twisting 53-yard touchdown run when he lined up as a quarterback.


Ohio State 34, Navy 17

Miller had suffered a season-ending shoulder injury three weeks earlier and all most people knew about J.T. Barrett was that he missed most of his senior season in high school with a knee injury and that he didn’t look awful in the 2014 spring game.

After starting slowly, Barrett threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns to help Ohio State come back from a 7-6 halftime deficit. By the end of the year he was fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting.


Ohio State 31, Navy 27

Ohio State appeared to have this opener locked up with a 29-14 lead and having the ball at Navy’s 15-yard line with 6 ½ minutes left in the game.

But instead of kicking a short field goal, Jim Tressel decided to have running back Dan Herron try to get a first down on fourth and two at Navy’s 15-yard line.

Navy stopped Herron and scored two touchdowns in the next four minutes to cut the lead to 29-27 and had quarterback Ricky Dobbs throw the ball to try to get a game-tying two-point conversion with 2:23 to play.

But linebacker Brian Rolle stepped in front of the pass and ran 99 yards to the other end zone to give OSU two points and a 31-27 win.


Ohio State 34, West Virginia 17

The Buckeyes came into the game at Morgantown, W. Va., ranked No. 1 and West Virginia was No. 11.

It was one of the biggest games in years at West Virginia and the Mountaineers and their fans thought they could pull off an upset.

But OSU rolled up 549 yards of offense, led by Joe Germaine, who threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns and Michael Wiley, who rushed for 140 yards on 17 carries.


Ohio State 38, Boston College 6

OSU was ranked No. 12 and Boston College came in ranked No. 22 but the Buckeyes made B.C. look like it should have been ranked closer to No. 122 in a Kickoff Classic game.

Shawn Springs returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, Bob Hoying threw for 269 yards and Eddie George’s 99 yards rushing effort was the only time he was held below 100 yards on the ground during his Heisman Trophy winning season.


Ohio State 20, Louisville 19

Louisville came into the game as a 17-point underdog. But, led by quarterback Jeff Brohm – now Purdue’s coach – the Cardinals threw a scare into No. 17 Ohio State at Ohio Stadium.

Louisville scored with 33 seconds left to cut Ohio State’s lead to 20-19. Overtime was not part of the rules of college football in 1992, so coach Howard Schnellenberger decided to go for the win and called for a pass to try to get a two-point conversion.

Defensive lineman Dan Wilkinson got good pressure on Brohm, though, and his pass was incomplete.


Alabama 16, Ohio State 10

This Kickoff Classic match-up remains the only regular-season game between Ohio State and Alabama.

The No. 5 Crimson Tide scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to win the game. Ohio State had a chance to win on the game’s final play but Jim Karsatos’ pass intended for Cris Carter in the end zone was incomplete.


Ohio State 7, SMU 0

Ohio State won its 1951 opener to give Woody Hayes a victory in his first game as the Buckeyes coach.

What makes this game truly unique, though, is how OSU won. Hayes was known throughout his long career for disdaining the passing game. But on this day, Ohio State scored its only touchdown on a 21-yard pass play.


By Jim Naveau


Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.

Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.

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