Flashback: Ohio State vs. Illinois, 1995

By Joe Beale on September 29, 2010 at 1:00p
The Heisman train is rolling! ED-DIE!!! ED-DIE!!! ED-DIE!!!

When you think of memorable games from the past, normally you think of bowl games, games against That School Up North, games that go down to the wire, and maybe big upsets. It's unusual for a game that ends with a score of 41-3 to be thought of as one for the ages. But that is exactly what happened on November 11, 1995. And the reason for that can be summed up in one word: Eddie.

Eddie George came to Ohio State after spending 5 years at Fork Union Military Academy. He could have left after the normal 4 years, but decided to stay an additional year, presumably to enhance his resume for college recruiters. As a freshman at OSU in 1992, he made a big splash in a non-conference road win at Syracuse, scoring 3 touchdowns. However, he would soon be in coach John Cooper's doghouse after fumbling twice in critical situations against Illinois. One fumble came at the Illinois 4 yard line, and the Illini ran it back the other way for a TD. The other fumble happened as he was leaping over the Illini goal line. The 14 potential points would have come in handy in an 18-14 home loss. After that, George carried only 12 times the rest of the season.

After spending 1993 as a back-up to Raymont Harris, George established himself as the starting RB on the 1994 team. He had an excellent season in 1994, rusing for 1442 yards and 12 touchdowns. In the process, George solved his fumble problems and said goodbye to the Cooper doghouse forever. Entering the 1995 season, George was a solid running back, but it remained to be seen whether he could take the next step into greatness.

In 1995, the Ohio State football team had high expectations for success. Senior QB Bobby Hoying was considered a Heisman Trophy candidate, and the veteran offensive line returned to open holes for George and fullback Nicky Sualua. But the most excitement was reserved for the passing game, where new QB coach Walt Harris had added lots of new wrinkles to the offense led by OC Joe Hollis. One of those wrinkles was to throw more to the backs, which would put the spotlight on George even more. Over the first few games of the season, it became apparent that George, and not Hoying, was the team's primary Heisman candidate.

Running against the Illini was supposed to be a difficult task. Coming into this, the 10th game of the season, Illinois was ranked 10th in the nation in run defense, giving up barely more than 100 yards per game. Linebackers Simeon Rice and Kevin Hardy were All-American caliber, and both would eventually have stellar NFL careers. But this was going to be George's day from start to finish. He had over 100 yards in the 1st quarter alone, and over 180 at halftime. On Ohio State's first play of the 2nd half, George took a handoff from Hoying and burst through a hole on the left side, then sped down the sideline for a 64-yard touchdown. George finished the day with 36 carries for a new school record 314 yards, to go with 3 TD's. And Ohio State took out years of frustration with the blowout victory in which they averaged over 7 yards per offensive play and did not punt the entire game. 

For the season, George rushed for a school record 1927 yards and 24 touchdowns. He was named team MVP, Big Ten MVP, 1st team All-American, and he won the Heisman Trophy in a close vote over Nebraska's Tommie Frazier. Hoying set new school records for career completions, touchdowns, and 200-yard passing games. He also set the record for 200-yard passing games in a season with 11. In addition to George, WR Terry Glenn, OT Orlando Pace, and DE Mike Vrabel were named All-Americans, with Glenn also winning the Fred Biletnikoff Award and Pace winning the Lombardi Award. Despite their eventual loss to Michigan and the bowl loss to Tenne-cheat, the 1995 OSU team is generally regarded as one of Cooper's best and one of the best offensive teams in the school's history.


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Bucksfan's picture

Was at this game...my first Ohio State game...I was 13 years old...it was freezing frickin' cold and windy.  Have the tickets signed by #27.


I was there also.. B-deck near the 40 Yd line on the Ohio State Side.  It got colder as the day went on and it was sleeting.  That remains the single most impressive performance that I have ever seen by 1 player.  Eddie had 400 all purpose yds that game as he caught several balls and scored a receiving TD also.  I still have the ticket stubs as well.  EDDIE, EDDIE.... man, that place was rocking!

anon's picture

was also my first... and my only Ohio State game. which means an eventual OSU Heisman winner has broken the school (and at the time I believe national) rushing record at every game I have been to... if anyone wants to take advantage of the amazing good luck I bring and would like to see TP rush for over 400 yards - guaranteed - just get me a ticket...

Jason Priestas's picture

Interesting way of looking at it. I have a similar story, but on the baseball front. I've only been to one White Sox game in my life, but saw Mark Buehrle toss a perfect game (2009).

Luckily I'm not a huge baseball fan, so it's no sweat to say I won't be going back to US Cellular Field ever again.

Joe Beale's picture

I'm 2 for 2 going to Bengals games, but the last one I attended was in 1991.  I'm also 1 for 1 attending Browns games, but that 1 game was in 1989. 

ToledoBuckeye's picture

Since I was just a kid I barely remember that 1995 team.  Did Peyton Manning play in the Bowl game?

"Anything easy ain't worth a damn." - Woody Hayes

Joe Beale's picture

Yes, Manning played for Tenne-Cheat in the bowl game.

BuckeyeChief's picture

Yes, with long cleats! Read the article! Manning was great, SEC speed and blah blah blah, but it's okay to cheat so you can beat the Buckeyes. (And before you Bama, Gator, Tiger x2 and COCK trolls come on and start talking, I'm talking about 1 isolated incident. And Ryan Brewer, and a BS "excessive celebration" flag).

"2014 National Champions...deal with it!!!"

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

I was a senior in highschool at this time and thought Eddie was the best thing ever at that time.  I don't understand how they didn't win it all. What a dissapointing end to a great season.  Coop crushed the Buckeye part of my soul pretty much every single year.  Don't know if this year or '98 hurt worse.

ToledoBuckeye's picture

I remember the Michigan game.  That was the one wear Biakabutuka turned into a runaway freight train right?

"Anything easy ain't worth a damn." - Woody Hayes


why bring bad memories into a happy one???   lol

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

The Cooper years left scars on our memories....

BacknBlack's picture

Sualua was a wrecking machine. I'd miss Eddie hitting the hole because I was watching the carnage left after Nickys block. By the time I looked up #27 is 10 yrds. downfield. Good times!

Poe McKnoe's picture