Every season has a number of Turning Points, but arguably no season saw more than 2002.
By the time the Purdue win rolled around (the 11th on the season) there was a feeling this team was a team of destiny. But before Holy Buckeye there was simply Holy S#%& .
The 2002 squad nearly dropped the ball against Cincinnati, played Northwestern to a closer than it looked 27-16 win, then almost saw their 8-0 season turn to 7-1 in Madison against the unranked Badgers.
All things considered, getting to their ninth game of the season undefeated was something of a miracle.
The way the year was going, Buckeye Nation was in “expect anything” mode as the fourth-ranked Scarlet and Gray suited up to face the 17th ranked Nittany Lions.
Setting The Stage
The Buckeyes received the ball and went to their bread and butter: pound the ball inside with Maurice Clarett.
OSU went to Clarett four times on the first six plays from scrimmage. Unfortunately on that sixth play Maurice suffered a left shoulder stinger that took him out of the game indefinitely.
Even without their star freshman RB, the Buckeyes continued to work the running game, handing the ball to Lydell Ross on four of the next nine plays.
The Bucks were able to move the ball all the way down to the PSU 1-yard line, but on fourth down QB Craig Krenzel fumbled the pigskin and it was returned 57 yards by CB Anwar Phillips.
Just two plays later, LB AJ Hawk got the ball back on an interception at the OSU 40, but the Buckeyes weren’t able to capitalize on the TO and were forced to give it back via an Andy Groom punt.
On Penn State’s next possession, Joe Pa’s Lions leaned heavily on RB, Larry Johnson, who eventually found pay-dirt from the OSU 5-yard line, making it 7-0 Penn State.
The touchdown lead would stand as the two teams traded possessions until roughly 6 minutes into the second quarter when Mike Nugent was able to knock through a FG to narrow the lead to four.
From there the Buckeyes would ride the paltry three points into the locker room down 7-3 at the half.
Penn State received the ball to start the second, and in just two plays fans witnessed…
The Turning Point: Gamble's Gamble Pays Off
QB Zack Mills rolled to his left and let the ball fly. This was the result:
Chris Gamble came into the game as Ohio State’s second-leading receiver, but was called upon to play CB due to an inexperienced secondary. The two-way start made him the first Buckeye since Paul Warfield in 1963 to start on both sides of the ball for the Scarlet and Gray
Despite playing only five snaps on defense, Gamble changed the game from the CB position. The pick made it 10-7 Buckeyes and that was all the breathing room the Silver Bullets needed. Through the next two quarters, the defense didn’t give up a point, culminating in a 13-7 win.
The pick was a clear Turning Point, and Gamble had this to say after the game:
"It feels good to get my name chanted by the crowd."
You earned it No. 7.
Until next week, Turning Points…out.