Ohio State has a rich and storied history. We are 100 days away from the start of the 136th season of Ohio State football. To help pass the time until the opening game against Bowling Green let's take a look at the past 100 years of Buckeye football.
Entering the 28th season of Ohio State football, spirits were high as John Wilce entered his fourth year as head coach. Before Wilce's arrival, Ohio State only had two coaches make it to year four (Jack Ryder and A.E. Herrinstein). In fact, the Buckeyes burned through three coaches in three seasons before Wilce took over in 1913.
Ohio State was 14–5–2 with Wilce as head coach and all expectations were that his Buckeyes would continue to improve. Wilce also had a dynamic sophomore now eligible to play varsity – Chic Harley. The season kicked off in fine fashion on Oct. 7 with an opening game shutout victory over visiting Ohio Wesleyan at Ohio Field. The Buckeyes stringed together six more wins for the school's first Western Conference title, with Harley earning All-American honors.
|The 1916 Buckeyes|
|B1G Record||4–0, 1st|
|Coach||John Wilce (4th Year, 21-5-2)|
Games of Note
October 7th • Oberlin • Ohio Field
The second game of the 1916 season was one for the record books. Ohio State took Oberlin behind the woodshed and set the school record for largest margin of victory. in a 128-0 laugher. This was the sixth time in seven games Ohio State prevented Oberlin from scoring. The series would come to a merciful end in 1922.
October 21st • Illinois • Illinois Field
The day before the game, Illinois coach, Bob Zuppke, gave the Ohio State players a tour of the Illinois trophy room. Was this Zuppke being a gracious host? Or, was he trying to psyche the Buckeyes out with the Illini's winning ways? We'll come back to this later.
The field was in less than ideal conditions as it was pummeled with both rain and snow in the hours leading up to the game, making things slick and not ideal for running or kicking. The Illini might have been happy knowing Harley would be hampered, but the conditions wreaked havoc on Illinois' special teams, too.
|OHIO WESLEYAN||OHIO FIELD||W, 12–0|
|OBERLIN||OHIO FIELD||W, 128–0|
|ILLINOIS||CHAMPGAIGN, IL||W, 7–6|
|WISCONSIN||OHIO FIELD||W, 14–3|
|INDIANA||OHIO FIELD||W, 46–7|
|CASE||CLEVELAND, OH||W, 28–0|
|NORTHWESTERN||OHIO FIELD||W, 23–3|
The Illini led 6-0 at the end of the first half, but the lead should have been larger. Illinois was only 2-5 on field goals in the opening half and finished the game 2-6. Ohio State (Harley) was 0-1. The second half did not provide many scoring opportunities and the Buckeyes still trailed by six late in the fourth quarter.
With 1:10 remaining, Ohio State had advanced to the Illini 15-yard line but needed to convert on 4th-and-3. Chic Harley took the snap and faked a pass to the right, before running left where he evaded three Illini defenders on the way to the end zone. The score was now 6-6 and Ohio State was an extra-point away from taking the lead.
Harley called timeout so he could get his kicking shoe.
The shoe not only had a square-toe, but it was dry and more importantly, Harley was perfect with it. Considering the condition of the field and the magnitude of the extra-point Chic needed every advantage he could get. Harley was ankle-deep in muddy field when the snap was made. Chic took his steps and struck the ball. The ball sailed high, the ball sailed straight and the ball went through the middle of the uprights.
Ohio State won the game 7-6 and handed Illinois it's first home loss since 1913. As the teams were leaving the field a skirmish broke out after an Ohio State player asked Zuppke if he would like Harley's shoe for his trophy room. Now, that is a timeless burn.
November 4th • Wisconsin • Ohio Field
Ohio State entered the game with an 0-3 record against Wisconsin. For the Buckeyes (3-0) to continue their undefeated season they would have to defeat the Badgers (4-0) for the first time in school history. The game had the interest of the local fans as well, selling out with the 12,500 who attended the game at Ohio Field entering the books as the largest crowd to ever witness a football game in the state of Ohio.
The fans received their money's worth.
The game was a nail-biter, but the talented Harley put on a display. With Ohio State down 7-0 in the second quarter, Chic put the game on his shoulders. From The Official Ohio State Football Encyclopedia:
With the ball at the Badger 27, Harley darted around his own right end and found a small hole after barely getting past the line of scrimmage. He then made a sharp turn to his left and headed for the far corner of the end zone. With only Glenn Taylor to beat, Harley veered back to his right, then crossed the goal line directly under the goal post. Harley kicked the extra point to make it 7-7 at the half.
Later, Harley made the play of the game:
In the decisive fourth quarter, Harley made one of his most celebrated runs. Fielding a Taylor punt at his own 20, he headed diagonally toward the east sideline and...sped 80 yards for the all-important go-ahead touchdown. Harley's conversion was his 14th point of the afternoon.
Wisconsin scored late in the game, but failed to convert the extra-point. Ohio State's perfect season stayed intact with the 14-13 victory.
November 25th • Northwestern • Ohio Field
Northwestern entered Columbus with a 6-0 record. Yes, that Northwestern. The most points the Wildcats had given up was 13 in a 20-13 win over Iowa. Like Ohio State, the Wildcats were playing for a conference title and an undefeated season.
The Buckeyes were the best team on Ohio Field on this day. Ohio State dispatched Northwestern, 23-3, and claimed the school's first Western Conference title. Undefeated and untied, the Buckeyes were now on the map.
- Ohio State's first undefeated and untied season.
- First Big Ten title.
- Record-setting game for most points scored and highest margin of victory in the 128–0 win over Oberlin.
- The Buckeyes earned their first victory of Indiana.
- Ohio State defeated Wisconsin for the first time.
- Chic Harley and Bob Karch were named All-Americans.
The 1916 football season was the best ever for Ohio State. The fans and players had confidence in John Wilce and the legendary Chic Harley did the rest.