Turning Points, Volume Thirteen: Pryor's Keeper

By Jeff Beck on July 25, 2013 at 4:00p
As the game turns

2008 was an interesting year for the Buckeyes. Coming off of two straight national championship appearances, the Scarlet and Gray began the season with an eye on a third. Ranked No. 2 in the country with a Heisman trophy candidate in Beanie Wells and incoming freshman phenom, Terrelle Pryor, the group felt they could make some noise.

Of course, exactly how much noise rested entirely on the third game of the season; a monster matchup against USC in the coliseum.

The Buckeyes’ opened up with Youngstown State. As expected it was a tea party with the Buckeyes racking up 43 points to the Penguins’ zero. The final score looked like a romp, but to Buckeye Nation it felt a lot more like a loss. That’s because Wells went down with an injury in the third quarter, and had to be helped off the field. Suddenly that matchup in the coliseum looked a lot more daunting.

In game two against the Ohio University Bobcats, the Buckeyes came out flat, ultimately having to rely on 14 points in the fourth quarter (including a Ray Small punt return) to eek out a win 26-14.

The Buckeyes then traveled out to LA to take on the Trojans. Without their star RB, they looked lost. The QB combo of Todd Boeckman and Pryor was only able to muster a FG as the fighting Carrolls put a hurting on the Scarlet and Gray 35-3.

The following week, Tressel pulled the rip-cord on Boeckman and started Pryor. The debut was an impressive one as TP went 10-16 for 139 yards and 4 TDs. In week five, Wells returned from injury to help power the Buckeyes past Minnesota 34-21. The duo of Wells and Pryor rushed for 203 yards and 2 TDs.

The Buckeyes were starting to find their groove. With a little bit of momentum, they headed to Madison to take on the #18 Badgers.

Setting the Stage

The game would be the Bucks' second night affair on the road. Pryor and company got off to a great start, taking the ball 71 yards on their first drive for a TD. The score would be the only points of the quarter.

Moving into the second, the Badgers put together an impressive 91 yard drive for a TD, tying the game at 7-7. To end the half, Wisconsin would tack on a FG to go into the locker room up 10-7.

On the Buckeyes first possession of the second half, Wells would take the first hand-off from scrimmage and rumble 54 yards all the way to the Wisconsin 26. The Scarlet and Gray got the ball all the way to the Badger 3, but were unable to punch it in, settling for a FG to tie the game at 10-10.

Getting it donePryor making things happen in Madison

Heading into the fourth, the Buckeyes would take advantage of their first possession, knocking through a 34 yard FG to go up 13-10. The Badgers would answer immediately via a P.J. Hill 2 yard TD rush to regain the lead at 17-13.

With 6:31 left on the clock and down 4, the freshman Pryor was charged with moving the Buckeyes 80 yards for a score.

On third and six, Pryor completed a 19 yard pass to WR Brian Hartline, but then fumbled the ball on the very next play. Pryor was able to recover the pigskin, but the Buckeyes weren’t done coughing it up as Hartline hauled in a 27 yard reception on the next play only to lose the handle.

Once again the Buckeyes were able to recover, but the dropsies forced Tressel to keep it in the dependable hands of Wells, going to him on the next two plays for a total gain of 11 yards. Two plays later, Pryor hit Small for a gain of 13 to get down to the Wisconsin 15. Three plays after that the Buckeyes had a second and eight with 1:13 left on the clock. Then this happened.

The Turning Point: Pryor Keeps It

Pryor caught the Badgers off-guard, quick snapping the ball and running the option to his left tailed by Wells. No. 2 slightly turned his shoulders suggesting a pitch, then kept it and knifed upfield largely untouched until he crossed the goal-line.

The score and extra point put the Buckeyes up 20-17 with 1:08 on the clock. On the very next Wisconsin play, Malcolm Jenkins picked off an Allan Evridge pass to seal the win.

The 2008 Buckeyes went on to win five of their last six games including a 42-7 victory over TTUN (the most lopsided win in 40 years). The 10-2 finish was enough for a B1G championship and BCS berth against No. 3 Texas. The Scarlet and Gray put up a fight, but would ultimately lose 24-21.

The defeat would be the third BCS loss in 3 years, but the future looked bright in Columbus.

Just one year later, fans would see a very different end to their season.

Until next week, Turning Points...out.


Comments Show All Comments

PlanningBuck12's picture

This season has a special place in my heart. Because it was my freshman year at OSU. I remember conversing in a kid on our floors dorm room and watching the Sconny game. We went out after to celebrate like we were on top of the world. That USC and Fiesta Bowl games stung a little. It's a shame that a player with so much talent and hype coming into OSU left it with bigger black eye in my opinion than his hype. And I was a HUGE TP bandwagon rider from NSD till his spring departure a couple years ago. 


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

gwalther's picture

 "Malcolm Jenkins picked off an Allan Evridge pass to seal the win."
Allan Evridge? LOL WHO

Class of 2008

buckeyeEddie27's picture

That USC loss still haunts my dreams.  Man 'o man did I put on a display of childish behavior that night.  Lodge Bar, lots of drinking, surrounded by ND fan friends, and a total melt down on my part.  My wife didn't leave me, but she didn't talk to me for a few days.   Yeah.  It was bad.   

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

Maestro's picture

That was turrible.  I was a literal diarrhea of excuses after that game.  It just crushed me into a place that I never want to re-visit................the next year hurt that much more because of how embarrassing that performance was.

vacuuming sucks

buckeyeEddie27's picture

Bless her heart, my wife actually agreed to Tailgate that game with me and some friends in spite of the the previous year's performance I put on.  
Then they lost.       Again.       
Then I almost lost it.      Again.         
But a year wiser and a year older self sucked it up and just pouted like a normal, slightly obsessed fan.
F'n Matt Barkley.  

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

GoBucks713's picture

I had knee surgery the day before the USC game. Good thing I was on some heavy drugs, or I probably would have slit my wrists. I watched the game a week later and was screaming at a DVR'ed version of Boeckman. Wow was that guy lost in that game.

-The Aristocrats!

Hovenaut's picture

That was one Bert's wurst, er worst, Badger teams.

But winning like that in Camp Randall....I'll take it.

northcampus's picture

As someone who has as much disdain (maybe more so) for Wisconsin fans as I do Michigan fans, this game was the highlight of the season for me.  Especially the way it played out in such a dramatic fashion in our favor.
Too bad Pryor couldn't resist the urges of those not looking out for his best interests. He would have went 4-0 vs UM and played for a national title.

bedheadjc's picture

I was at the USC game (stood in line to enter behind Benicio Del Toro (who is large!)). It was sooooo painful. The USC fans were nice enough after the game though. No a-holes. There were however a few Buckeye fans I wasn't proud of while walking to the game. Lot of loud trash talking and bragging. Most were fine.
If only Tressel wasn't so faithful to the seniors; Boeckman should never have started that game.

Dougger's picture

I was at the USC game as well and the fans were terrible. Flying out there for that sucked, the Texas loss hurt worse I'd say.
This game was awesome, however. I still have the Lantern front page in my apartment. Snapped right as the defender was taking out Beanie and you can see a clear path to the endzone. Good stuff.

I like football

buckskin's picture

This is the biggest turning point to date for 11W.  I remember watching that play and realizing everything has changed.  I believe this was our 1st night game on the road at Wisky since they ended our winning streak in 03, so it had extra significance.  I hate any conference road game at night, we always seem to struggle.
My buddy put that USC game on a wall in his house with his new projector, so I got to see a life size Boeckman running for cover all freaking game.  I was sick to my stomach watching their LBs pound him into the ground.  

ryanosu03's picture

I remember being very confident OSU would score on that drive.  Everybody i was watching the game with was yelling for Tress to use a time out, but i was worried about leaving too much time for Wiscy.  Turns out Jenkins made that inconsequential.

pjtobin's picture

My dad passed away shortly after kickoff against Texas in our bowl game. He was at peace. We watched the entire game on his tv. I don't remember much. Other than we lost. Both a great man. And a football game. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

unholy bucknut's picture

Texas was a kick in the pills at the end of that one. They ran hurry up and ran the same play threw to the same guy and we weren't ready. Broke my heart.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Ah, that Wisconsin game is a great memory!  I remember watching that one at home and feeling really tense all the way up to the INT. Great game!

el duderino's picture

This game will go down as one of my all-time favorite Buckeye memories. I piled into a car with 4 friends and road tripped up there, stayed with my friend's cousin (who happened to be roomies with one of the Bucky Badgers).  After scalping a ticket near the stadium for me, we ended up finding our way eventually to right behind the OSU bench, and even got some of the players to join in singing Sloopy during the 4th quarter. Then, right before Jenkins' game-sealing interception, the camera panned right by where me and my friends were sitting, which I found out through about a thousand subsequent text and picture messages. After the game, true to their word, the salty Wisky fans we were staying with made us drive home through the night because we won.

Pretty successful roadtrip, if you ask me.

"This is a very complicated case: a lot of ins, lot of outs, lot of what-have-yous."