Lost amid the mass hysteria surrounding Beanie Wells’ big toe is the fact that Ohio State is playing for history on Saturday.
No one seems to realize that the Buckeyes are seeking program win No. 800 when the Ohio Bobcats come to town. Unfortunately, most fans don’t seem to understand just how big of a deal it is to win 800 games on the college level. Only four other programs in the long history of the sport have ever broken through that plateau and young men have been playing college football in one form or another for the past 139 years.
With its 800th victory, OSU will join an elite club that includes only Michigan (869), Notre Dame (824), Texas (821) and Nebraska (818).
For the Buckeyes, everything started on a May afternoon in 1890 when the university’s first organized team notched its first victory in its first-ever game. Ohio State traveled the short distance to Ohio Wesleyan and came home with a 20-14 victory. The squad would have to wait another 18 months for its first win at home, an 8-4 decision over Denison on Nov. 28, 1891.
Win No. 100 was achieved on the road at Vanderbilt on Nov. 14, 1908. The Buckeyes erased a three-game losing streak with a 17-6 victory over the Commodores, putting the program’s overall record at 100-62-12, a winning percentage of .609. Since that game, OSU has posted a 699-242-41 mark, a .733 winning percentage.
Twenty years later, Ohio State achieved win No. 200 in Columbus with a 41-0 win over Wittenberg in the 1928 season opener. It began the final season of head coach John W. Wilce, who piloted the program for 16 seasons that included the team’s first Western Conference championship and the program’s first-ever victory over Michigan. The same day the Buckeyes were beating Wittenberg, old rival Ohio Wesleyan upset Michigan, 17-7, marking the Wolverines’ first loss on opening day in 46 seasons.
OSU chalked up win No. 300 on Oct. 27, 1945, with a 20-7 upset win over fifth-ranked Minnesota. Ollie Cline, Dick Fisher and end Bud Kessler all scored touchdowns for the Buckeyes that afternoon, and Max Schnittker kicked a pair of extra points. Schnittker’s brother Dick also played football and basketball for the Buckeyes, going on to a six-year NBA career, mostly with the Minneapolis Lakers. Their cousin, Brandon Schnittker, also played for Ohio State from 2002-05.
One of the sweetest milestone victories for the Ohio State program was No. 400. That game was played Nov. 25, 1961, in Ann Arbor and the Buckeyes pounded out a 50-20 victory over their archrivals. Fullback Bob Ferguson rushed for 152 yards and scored four touchdowns for the Buckeyes, while halfback Paul Warfield raced 69 yards for a score, the second-longest run from scrimmage in an OSU-Michigan game.
That was also the contest in which Woody Hayes went for a two-point conversion near the end of the game with his team firmly in command at 48-20. At the time, Hayes explained that he wanted the final score to add up to 70, honoring longtime assistant coach Ernie Godfrey, who would turn 70 years old the next spring. However, years later, when pressed about the subject, Hayes admitted that he was trying for a little payback from 1946 when the Wolverines ran up a 58-6 score on the Buckeyes. When asked why he went for two, the old coach replied, “Because I couldn’t go for three.”
The Buckeyes’ 500th victory came during a late September afternoon in 1975. OSU rolled to a 32-7 win over North Carolina, the team’s 20th consecutive win at home. It was a record-setting day for two Ohio State players. Fullback Pete Johnson set a single-game mark by scoring five touchdowns and tailback Archie Griffin rushed for 157 yards and became the school’s all-time leader in total offense.
OSU put an exclamation point on win No. 600 with a 64-6 whipping of Utah in September 1986. The Buckeyes rolled up 715 yards of total offense to set the modern-day record for a single game. The all-time mark is 718 against Mount Union in 1930.) The team totaled 394 of those yards on the ground and 321 through the air marking the first time in program history the team had ever topped the 300-yard mark in rushing and passing in the same game. Vince Workman ran for 168 yards and three TDs, Jaymes Bryant added 145 yards and fullback George Cooper tacked on four touchdowns.
Win No. 700 came on Nov. 15, 1997, when the Buckeyes rolled to a 41-6 victory over Illinois during a Columbus snowstorm. Pepe Pearson ran for 111 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and the quarterback tandem of Stan Jackson and Joe Germaine combined to throw for 189 yards and three scores.
About a decade or so from now, someone will be chronicling these games again along with win No. 800 as the program looks toward 900 victories.
Today’s Buckeye birthday belongs to former OSU receiver Drew Carter. Born Sept. 5, 1981, in Solon, Ohio, Christopher Drew Carter was a standout in football, basketball and track for his hometown high school, and signed with the Buckeyes in 1999. Injuries plagued him through his college career – he missed all of the 2001 season with an ankle injury and the last five games of his senior year in ’03 after tearing up a knee. Carter totaled 41 catches for 632 yards and one touchdown as a Buckeye. He was a fifth-round selection by Carolina in the 2004 NFL draft and missed that entire season with another knee injury. Carter finally made his pro debut in 2005 and since then has totaled 71 receptions for 977 yards and eight TDs. This past March, Carter left the Panthers as a free agent and signed with Oakland.
Also blowing out candles on their birthday cakes today are such luminaries as: former U.S. Reserve Bank chairman Paul Volcker; Hall of Fame second baseman Bill Mazeroski; former MLB pitcher and current Cincinnati Reds analyst Jeff Brantley; former NFL quarterback Billy Kilmer; former NFL receiver, world-class hurdler and Olympic bobsledder Willie Gault; television and film actor William Devane; TV and film actress Rose McGowan; one-time Bond actor George Lazenby (he portrayed 007 in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”); longtime soap actress Kristian Alfonso (Hope Williams Brady on “Days Of Our Lives”); cartoonist Cathy Guisewite (“Cathy”); versatile actor Michael Keaton (“Night Shift,” “Mr. Mom,” “Batman,” “Batman Returns,” “Beetlejuice”); musician Dweezil Zappa; former WNBA player and current ESPN sideline reporter Stacey Dales; one of my all-time favorite comedians Bob Newhart; and another of my all-time favorites (for different reasons, obviously) actress Raquel Welch.
TWENTY YEARS AGO TODAY
While Lazenby celebrates his 69th birthday today, Sept. 5 has other significance where fans of the James Bond movie series are concerned.
On this day in 1988, actor Gert Fröbe died in Munich, Germany, of a heart attack at the age of 75. Fröbe portrayed one of the greatest Bond villains of all-time, tycoon Auric Goldfinger in the 1964 classic “Goldfinger.”
Fröbe was born Feb. 25, 1913, in eastern Germany and made his film debut in his home country shortly after World War II ended. He appeared in his first Hollywood movie in 1953, a drama called “Man of a Tightrope” directed by Elia Kazan and starring Fredric March.
The portly Fröbe appeared in several more films, including the star-studded “The Longest Day,” before being cast as Goldfinger. Due to his thick German accent, Fröbe’s voice was dubbed in the movie to make his character better understood. So when Sean Connery’s Bond asks Goldfinger, “Do you expect me to talk?” it is British actor Michael Collins’ voice you hear replying, “No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.”
** Even if Joe Paterno doesn’t return to Penn State next season, senior quarterback Daryll Clark probably will. The school announced Wednesday that the NCAA had granted Clark a fifth year of eligibility, allowing him to return for the 2009 season. Clark did not qualify academically as a freshman and spent a year at a prep school before enrolling at Penn State. He spent two years as Anthony Morelli’s backup before winning the starting job this season. Last week during the Nittany Lions’ 66-10 win over Coastal Carolina, Clark completed 11 of 14 passes for 146 yards and one touchdown.
** Congratulations to Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald. His team’s 30-10 win over Syracuse last weekend made Fitzgerald a perfect 3-0 in season openers since he took over for the late Randy Walker in 2006. The last time a Northwestern head coach won his first three season openers was more than 70 years ago when Lynn “Pappy” Waldorf did it in 1935, ’36 and ’37.
** Miami (Ohio) got swamped last week by Vanderbilt, surrendering 360 total yards and committing three turnovers in a 34-13 loss. The RedHawks actually had the lead in that game at one time, a 3-0 advantage early in the first quarter courtesy of a 37-yard field goal from kicker Nathan Parseghian. If the last name sounds familiar, that is because Nathan is the great-grandnephew of former Miami, Northwestern and Notre Dame head coach Ara Parseghian.
** Speaking of kickers, Alex Henery of Nebraska last week became the first kicker in NCAA history to make four field goals in four tries from the exact distance in the same game. Henery booted four field goals of 44 yards each during a 47-34 win by the Cornhuskers over Western Michigan.
** Florida teams helped a pair of Big 12 members set home attendance records last week. Texas defeated Florida Atlantic 52-10 in front of a crowd of 98,053 in Austin, said to be the largest crowd ever to see a football game in the Lone Star State. Meanwhile, Kansas welcomed 52,112 fans to Lawrence to watch a 40-10 win over Florida International.
** Thirty-four years ago this weekend, ABC tried something new for its college football telecasts – a roving sideline reporter to provide news from field-level. On Sept. 7, 1974, the network employed Jim Lampley during the Tennessee-UCLA game in Knoxville, a game that ended in a 17-17 tie. Volunteers QB Condredge Holloway, who had torn knee ligaments on the second play of the game, returned from a hospital emergency room to rally his team to an 80-yard touchdown drive that tied the score.