Last Saturday was a great day for college football throughout the Midwest, and it was made even better by the fact that my youngest son, Ethan, was able to come home from college for a few days. Even though we weren’t able to see all of the game, we were able to watch the latter stages of the Ohio State game against Purdue.
It was a game that simply put, the Buckeyes just shouldn’t have won. The Boilermakers were in control throughout, and when backup quarterback Kenny Guiton of OSU threw an interception with 2:40 to go, it looked all but over.
I kept thinking at that point about the Ohio State game against Purdue 10 years earlier, late in the 2002 season. That was a game that has come to be known as the “Holy Buckeye” game, because of the phrase that Brent Musburger said when OSU somehow pulled that game from the throes of defeat to one of their greatest victories ever.
Back in 2002, the Buckeyes trailed 6-3, and faced a fourth & 1 at the Boiler 37 yard line, with no timeouts remaining, and just over a minute and half to play. Coach Jim Tressel had called a play that was supposed to be a short pass to the tight end. But when the pocket collapsed, quarterback Craig Krenzel stepped up and lofted a long pass towards Michael Jenkins who was streaking down the middle of the field. Jenkins caught the perfectly thrown ball in stride for the TD, and OSU held on for the 10-6 win. If that play doesn’t work, there is no national championship win over Miami at the end of the season.
Ethan & I both remember what we were doing when that play occurred. We had a DCBBL game at Waterloo Elementary School. We needed to get inside as our game time was quickly approaching, but we listened on the radio as the Krenzel to Jenkins catch unfolded, we hooted & hollered as the TD was scored, then went in to play our game (I was the coach).
So after the Guiton interception, even though all looked lost, I still had these eerie feelings about the 2002 game (sports fans know what I’m talking about). Could history somehow repeat itself? OSU got the ball back with 47 ticks of the clock remaining, and they were trailing by eight at 22-14. Guiton was playing because OSU starter and Heisman Trophy candidate Braxton Miller had been injured earlier in the contest. Guiton quickly connected on a couple of passes that had the Buckeyes facing a situation of having to score from the 2 yard line with under 10 seconds to play. Guiton threw a pass that was “low & outside” to wideout Chris Fields, who went down and cradled it just before it hit the ground. Then a beautifully conceived 2 point conversion pass to the tight end knotted the score with 3 ticks remaining on the clock.
OSU, now with all the momentum, scored first in OT on a short run by Carlos Hyde, and OSU held on to win 29-22. It kept their undefeated season alive in coach Urban Meyer’s first year at the helm.
The Buckeyes travel east today to take on the Penn State Nittany Lions in what a lot of people are calling the “ineligible bowl,” as neither team can take part in a post season bowl game because of NCAA sanctions.
All I know, is that any time the Buckeyes are playing Purdue, I will make sure that Ethan is spending time with us at home.