Thursday, December 12, 2002

List of Ohio State's close calls

A game-by-game look at Ohio State's 13-0 season in 2002:

Texas Tech at No. 13 Ohio State

Aug. 24, Ohio Stadium

Tech's Kliff Kingsbury entered the Kickoff Classic as a Heisman contender and left as just another harassed quarterback. He passed for 341 yards and three touchdowns, but most of his yards came after the game was decided and he was sacked seven times. Maurice Clarett made his Ohio State debut with 175 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Ohio State 45, Texas Tech 21.

Kent State at No. 8 Ohio State

Sept. 7, Ohio Stadium

The Golden Flashes had more first downs (22-17) and held the ball twice as long, but Ohio State had far too many weapons. The Buckeyes led 38-0 after freshman A.J. Hawk's 34-yard interception return midway through the second quarter - and none of the six scoring drives took as much as 3 minutes. Ohio State 51, Kent State 17.

No. 10 Washington State at No. 6 Ohio State

Sept. 14, Ohio Stadium

"Today told us that there's a buzz about us nationally, that we're not a fluke," linebacker Matt Wilhelm said. Controlling the play up front, Ohio State outgained the Cougars 292-17 on the ground, with Clarett gobbling up 230 yards on 31 carries with two scores. WSU quarterback Jason Gesser passed 44 times but his 25 completions netted just 247 yards and a touchdown. Ohio State 25, Washington State 7.

No. 6 Ohio State at Cincinnati

Sept. 21, Paul Brown Stadium

The first big scare of the season found the Bearcats putting together four sustained drives against Ohio State's defense, including an 80-yard march on their first possession. Cincinnati had a 19-17 lead and a first down at the OSU 15 but Chris Gamble picked off Gino Guidugli's pass in the end zone. After Craig Krenzel scored on a 6-yard keeper with 3:44 left, the Bearcats drove to the OSU 15 again. Again they came up with nothing when receivers dropped two passes in the end zone and backup defender Will Allen intercepted a deflected pass on the final play. Ohio State 23, Cincinnati 19.

Indiana at No. 6 Ohio State

Sept. 28, Ohio Stadium

Ahead 21-10 at the half, the Buckeyes sprinted away with a 24-0 blitz after Script Ohio. Clarett again scored three TDs to make the work that much easier for the defense, which limited the Hoosiers to 2 yards per carry on 28 attempts. Ohio State 45, Indiana 17.

No. 5 Ohio State at Northwestern

Oct. 5, Ryan Field

The Buckeyes beat the Wildcats for the 23rd consecutive time, dating back to 1971. The final score was misleading, since Northwestern missed two field goals and settled for two others inside the Ohio State 10. The Wildcats also had a touchdown erased by a questionable call in the second quarter. In the second half the Buckeyes played keep away as Clarett racked up 140 yards. Ohio State 27, Northwestern 16.

San Jose State at No. 5 Ohio State

Oct. 12, Ohio Stadium

Krenzel threw three touchdown passes and Clarett chipped in with 132 rushing yards and two scores as the Buckeyes won a rare midseason non-conference game. Cornerback Dustin Fox had nine solo tackles, recovered a fumble and batted down two passes. Ohio State 50, San Jose State 7.

No. 4 Ohio State at Wisconsin

Oct. 19, Camp Randall Stadium

The Buckeyes' road blues continued, but again they had enough to win. Clarett suffered a shoulder injury on his final carry that would limit his effectiveness the rest of the season. But before he left he picked up 133 yards on 33 carries. Faced with a third and 6 at their own 16, the Buckeyes went deep with Krenzel finding Michael Jenkins for a 45-yard gain that resulted in Krenzel's short touchdown toss to tight end Ben Hartsock. After overturning a 14-13 deficit, the Buckeyes held on. Gamble, seeing more and more action on defense along with starting on offense, had a key interception at the goal line on the Badgers' last threat in the fourth quarter. Ohio State 19, Wisconsin 14.

No. 18 Penn State at No. 4 Ohio State

Oct. 26, Ohio Stadium

Gamble again supplied the game's biggest play, intercepting a Zack Mills pass and zig-zagging for a 40-yard touchdown return in the third quarter for the Buckeyes' lone touchdown. The Nittany Lions had the ball seven times in the second half - and mustered a total of 65 yards on the 28 plays. Penn State managed just eight first downs and 179 total yards. Larry Johnson, who would finish the year with more than 2,000 rushing yards, was limited to 66 on 16 attempts. Ohio State 13, Penn State 7.

No. 23 Minnesota at No. 6 Ohio State

Nov. 2, Ohio Stadium

The Golden Gophers scored first, but the rest of the day belonged to the Buckeyes. Wilhelm, Darrion Scott and David Thompson led a defensive charge that force Minnesota to punt on nine of its final 11 possessions. The Gophers had one first down in the last two quarters. With Clarett still hurting, Lydell Ross ran for 89 yards and two scores and Maurice Hall added a score and 93 yards. Ohio State 34, Minnesota 3.

No. 3 Ohio State at Purdue

Nov. 9, Ross-Ade Stadium

Trailing 6-3 with little more than 90 seconds left and facing a fourth and 1 at the Purdue 47, coach Jim Tressel took a chance. With an ineffective ground game, the Buckeyes elected to go with a play-action pass. Krenzel dropped back, stepped up to avoid being sandwiched by rushers and lofted a long spiral toward the end zone at the left hashmark. Jenkins got behind a defender and pulled the ball in over his shoulder, barely hanging on, for the go-ahead score and perhaps the most memorable play of a memorable season. Ohio State 10, Purdue 6.

No. 2 Ohio State at Illinois

Nov. 16, Memorial Stadium

"Nobody said winning the Big Ten championship would be easy," Jenkins said. Here was more proof. Despite a 4-7 record, Illinois hung with the Buckeyes all day. John Gockman's 48-yard field goal with no time left on the clock sent the game to overtime. Ohio State took the ball first and scored when Hall bounced inside for an 8-yard touchdown run. Next it was the Illini's turn. They drove to a first down at the OSU 11. After a 2-yard run, quarterback John Beutjer threw three times into the end zone - and all three were incomplete. Ohio State 23, Illinois 16 OT.

No. 12 Michigan at No. 2 Ohio State

Nov. 23, Ohio Stadium

Before the largest crowd ever to witness an Ohio State home game (105,539), Michigan's Adam Finley kicked three field goals for a 9-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Buckeyes mounted their final drive after a punt and a penalty gave them the ball at their own 43. Destiny was on their side. A Krenzel pass meant for a teammate was caught by fullback Brandon Schnittker for a key 15-yard gain - only his second catch of the year. Krenzel ran for 12 yards on three carries and then found Clarett alone at the right sideline for a 26-yard gain. Hall scored two plays later on a 2-yard run with 4:55 left. Twice Michigan put together marches deep into Ohio State territory, but each time turned the ball over. Allen's interception near the goal line set off pandemonium.

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