The 2007 Buckeyes squad was in an interesting position. Just coming off an embarrassing loss in the National Championship Game a year before, there was a sense that many of the players on that 12-1 team had something left to prove.
The squad lost a number of players from the 2006 group including Teddy Ginn Jr., Anthony Gonzalez, Quinn Pitcock, Antonio Pittman, and Heisman trophy winner, Troy Smith. Even with the heavy losses, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, the 2007 team returned formidable talent.
On defense the Bucks welcomed back LBs Marcus Freeman and James Laurinaitis as well as DE, Vernon Gholston and CB Malcolm Jenkins.
The offense returned WR Brian Robiske, LT Alex Boone, LG Steve Rehring, and RT Kirk Barton. QB Todd Boeckman was tasked with the unsavory job of replacing Smith, however he would be backed by the former freshman phenom Beanie Wells who had proven he could provide a number of yards on the ground.
The team started the season at No. 11 in the country. The ranking seemed unfavorable for a squad coming off a National Championship berth the year prior, but it was unclear to pollsters what their offensive identity would be heading into the 2007 season. Troy Smith was the engine that made 2006 run, without him there was a great deal of uncertainty.
The Bucks came out and waxed Youngstown State 38-6. The following week they did the same to Akron, 20-2. In week three they traveled to Washington to take on the Huskies who they defeated 33-14. The game was the first real test for the team and the Boeckman/Wells duo passed with flying colors combining for 360 yards and 3 TDs.
Relying on a stout defense and a veteran offensive line to clear holes for Wells, the Buckeyes went on to win their next six games by a combined score of 220 to 58.
Their 9-0 record combined with a number of teams ahead of them dropping games resulted in a No. 1 ranking for the Scarlet and Gray; a position they held for three weeks leading up to their Nov. 3rd tilt with Wisconsin in Columbus.
Setting the Stage
Ohio State received the ball and immediately executed like a No. 1 team, needing only 7 plays to find the end-zone via a Boeckman to Robiske 30-yard toss.
Wisconsin answered with a FG on their next drive to make it 7-3 Buckeyes. That’s where the score would stay heading into the second quarter.
The two teams would go on to trade possessions until OSU kicker, Ryan Pretorius nailed a 27-yard FG with roughly 2 minutes left before the half to increase the lead at 10-3.
To start the 3rd, Wisconsin quickly found pay-dirt powered by a Zach Brown rush for 22 yards and a Tyler Donovan pass to Paul Hubbard for 50-yards. The drive was capped by a Donovan to Travis Beckum TD for 28 yards to tie the score at 10.
Unable to answer on their next drive, the Buckeyes were forced to give the ball back to the Badgers after a three-and-out. Once again QB Donovan went to work hitting Hubbard for 17, Beckum for 46 and then Chris Pressley for a 2-yard score. All of a sudden it was 17-10 and silence fell over the ‘Shoe. With the exception of their opening drive, the Bucks had mustered only 3 points for the better part of three quarters.
With a No. 1 ranking and undefeated season hanging in the balance, Coach Tressel went to his bread and butter: Chris Wells. On the team’s next nine plays, JT ran Wells five times moving the ball all the way to the Wisconsin 31-yard line. On the 10th play, Tressel handed it to Wells again.
Turning Point: Wells For 31
Boeckman wheeled and gave it to #28 who saw nothing on the right side then quickly cut it up the gut. This was the result…
The score knotted the game at 17 and the Buckeyes never looked back. On their next possession Wells would reel off another 30 yard TD run to make it 24-17. The Buckeye D would go on to stuff a Badgers fake punt attempt on 4th and 3 at the Wisconsin 27 then use the short field to their advantage scoring via a Boeckman to Robiske 8-yard pass. 31-17 Buckeyes and the rout was on in Columbus.
Wells would add one final score with roughly three minutes left to make it 38-17, and the Buckeyes improved to 10-0.
The win would mark a B1G best 20th straight conference win as the Buckeyes looked primed and ready to make another run at a National Championship. Unfortunately their string of conference wins would come to an end the following week with a 28-21 loss to Illinois, dropping them to 7th in the polls.
A defeat so late in the year would normally spell GAME OVER for any title hopes, but a win over Michigan in the final week of the season followed by the defeat of Oregon, Oklahoma, Kansas, LSU, Missouri and West Virginia over the next two weeks catapulted OSU right back to the top of the rankings.
We all know what happened next, but let’s not think about that. Let's remember this fondly instead.
Thanks for the stiff-arm and the Turning Point Beanie.
Until next week, Turning Points…out.