Flashback: Ohio State vs. Penn State, 1993

By Joe Beale on November 10, 2010 at 12:00 pm
Ooohhh...that knee needs some loosening.It was not a happy homecoming for Carter.

In 1953, after 13 seasons with only 9 teams, the Big Ten finally replaced Chicago in their ranks by adding Michigan State to the conference. After that, it was 40 years before the membership of the Big Ten would change, but change this time was momentous. Rather than replacing a departed school, the conference decided to expand to 11 teams by adding perennial football powerhouse Penn State to the ranks. The change was announced in 1990, but it wasn't until 1993 that Ohio State played the Nittany Lions as a conference rival.

Ohio State had not had a lot of success against PSU over the years. OSU's record against them was 2-6, losing their first four match-ups before gaining a measure of revenge with wins in 1975 and 1976. But the losing continued afterwards, as Penn State ruined Ohio State's home opener in 1978 by shutting out the Buckeyes 19-0. Then they threw a 31-19 shiner at OSU in the 1980 Fiesta Bowl. Still, fans in Columbus eagerly anticipated the Oct. 30, 1993 showdown between the two traditional powers. This time, OSU fans were confident that things would go their way.

At 7-0, Ohio State was ranked #3 in the nation and was on a roll like fans had not seen since 1979. They had crushed all opposition in their path, and coach John Cooper had even managed to throw the Illinois monkey off his back with a win in Champaign-Urbana. The team had dominated Northwestern, and after a close call against Michigan State they dismantled Purdue on the road and sat at 4-0 in the conference. RB Raymont Harris was having an outstanding senior season, leading the team in rushing. WR Joey Galloway had been putting up All-American numbers, and the QB tandem of sophomore Bobby Hoying and senior Bret Powers had directed the team to a score on the first possession of every game, taking advantage of Cooper's strategy of scripting the first 15 plays every week.

The game began in cold and snowy conditions that steadily grew worse throughout the game. Nevertheless, the 12th-ranked Lions took the opening kickoff and drove down the field methodically, led by the rushing of former Westerville South High School star Ki-Jana Carter and the clutch passing of junior QB Kerry Collins. But the drive stalled at the OSU 12 and Penn State was forced to settle for a 29-yard field goal. Ohio State now trailed in a game for the first time all season. However, it would not take long for the Buckeyes to grab the lead back and keep it.

Starting at their own 35, Hoying dropped back on the first play and hit fullback Jeff Cothran for a 30-yard gain down to the PSU 35. The home crowd, which had been somewhat dampened by PSU's first drive, suddenly came alive and rocked the stadium. From there OSU drove for a touchdown, with Harris carrying the final 4 yards on a sweep to the left for the score. The crowd went crazy, and the team seemed to not notice the weather. Undaunted, Collins drove the Lions down the field on Penn State's next possession, but once again the drive stalled and the Lions had to settle for a 49-yard field goal. Meanwhile, the OSU defense was starting to figure out how to defend the Penn State offense, taking advantage of the sloppy conditions to hem in Carter whenever he tried to go outside. 

Ohio State drove for a field goal of their own to start the 2nd quarter, and thus increased their lead to 10-6. Getting the ball back on their own 30 after the ensuing kickoff, Penn State decided to throw deep on the first play. With snow falling all around him, Collins lobbed the ball deep down the middle intended for WR Bobby Engram, but the ball was under-thrown and it was intercepted by OSU safety Walter Taylor at the Buckeye 35. On the ensuing possession, Ohio State drove right down the field and Powers hit Galloway for a 25-yard TD pass to put Ohio State up 17-6. 

On Penn State's next possession the Lions began driving but just as they were about to cross into Ohio State territory, Collins was intercepted again, this time by OSU CB Tim Walton. With the field becoming increasingly wet and sloppy, OSU's power running game became dominant. Starting the 3rd quarter with the ball, the Buckeyes pounded the smaller PSU defense into submission, running Harris repeatedly between the tackles, in a part of the field that was basically a mud pit. Reserve RB Butler By'not'e scooted around right end for a 4-yard touchdown to finish off the drive. On the ensuing possession, Penn State drove down the field but stalled again, and this time their field goal attempt was blocked by OSU's Marlon Kerner and the game was all but over.

Ohio State would force 5 turnovers on the day, and outgain the Nittany Lions 380-271 on their way to a 24-6 victory. Harris would finish the day with 151 yards rushing, which was a career high at the time. Carter had a decent game for PSU, but it was small consolation. The wide-open Penn State attack was no match for the combination of bad weather and OSU's outstanding secondary. Meanwhile, Ohio State used it's rushing attack to wear down PSU's defense and run out the clock in the 4th quarter.

Ohio State would finish the season 10-1-1, with the only loss a 28-0 loss at Michigan (the curse of Cooper strikes again). But the team rebounded to defeat BYU in the Holiday Bowl, as Harris bulled for 235 yards and 3 TD's on 39 carries. Penn State would finish the season with 5 straight victories, including a resounding 31-13 win over Tennessee in the Citrus Bowl. The following season, they would roll through their schedule undefeated and win the Rose Bowl against Oregon 38-20. The 1994 season would be Carter's last at Penn State, as he left early for the NFL. He would be the 1st overall pick in the 1995 NFL draft, but his career was quickly derailed by a serious knee injury suffered in pre-season. He would play for several seasons in the NFL, but never rushed for more than 500 yards in any of them.

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