As we count down the rich and storied history of Ohio State football, we look back at the 1919 Buckeyes, who welcomed back the great Chic Harley.
The Buckeyes entered their 30th season of football with renewed confidence. World War I was over and many of the players who left to fight were back on the team for the 1919 season. Key among them was senior Chic Harley who had never lost a game in an Ohio State uniform.
The year was to be a pivotal one, for both the team, and a future stadium, and Harley was to play a huge role.
|The 1919 Buckeyes|
|B1G Record||3–1, 2nd|
|Coach||John Wilce (7th Year, 38–9–3)|
Games of Note
October 18th • Kentucky • Ohio Field
Kentucky traveled to Columbus for the first time for the third game of the 1919 season. The two schools had met once before – in 1895 – with the Buckeyes topping the Wildcats, 8-6, in Lexington.
The second matchup wasn't nearly as close as Wilce and his team rolled, 49-0.
October 25th • Michigan • Ferry Field
The following week, Ohio State met the Michigan Wolverines and Harley led the Buckeyes to their first-ever victory over Michigan, 13-3.
From The Ohio State University Monthly:
On October 25 was accomplished that which made the heart of every alumnus joyous- the defeat of Michigan at football. Accompanied by 3500 rooters, about half of whom were alumni, the Buckeyes invaded Ann Arbor and returned a 13-3 count against the clan of Yost. The Maize and Blue had no excuse to offer, as the Michigan team was one of the strongest ever put out at Ann Arbor and was in good trim at the start. The Wolverines were fortunate to escape with the score as low as it was for they were completely outclassed after the first period, failing to make a first down in the last three quarters and making but one in the entire game.
|OCT. 4, 1919||OHIO WESLEYAN||OHIO FIELD||W, 38–0|
|OCT. 11, 1919||CINCINNATI||OHIO FIELD||W, 46–0|
|OCT. 18, 1919||KENTUCKY||OHIO FIELD||W, 49–0|
|OCT. 25, 1919||MICHIGAN||FERRY FIELD, ANN ARBOR||W, 13–3|
|NOV. 8, 1919||PURDUE||OHIO FIELD||W, 20–0|
|NOV. 15, 1919||WISCONSIN||CAMP RANDALL, MADISON||W, 3–0|
|NOV. 22, 1919||ILLINOIS||OHIO FIELD||L, 7–9|
The same publication went on to describe Harley's efforts to put the Buckeyes over the top:
After Michigan was held for downs on the Ohio State thirty-six yard line at the start of the second half, Stinchomb went through Michigan's line on a sneak for twenty-two yards. On the next play, Harley took the ball around Peach. Vick and Weston dove at "Chic" and missed, Sparks awaited him with outstretched arms, but missed, and Harley traveled the forty-two yards to touchdown successfully.
Wolverines slayed. Finally.
Following the game, legendary Michigan coach Fielding Yost took the unusual step of addressing the visiting team.
“You deserve your victory, you fought brilliantly,” Yost told the Buckeyes. “You boys gave a grand exhibition of football strategy and while I am sorry, dreadfully sorry, that we lost, I want to congratulate you. And you, Mr. Harley, I believe, are one of the finest little machines I have ever seen.”
Here's footage from that game via 11W moderator GrandTheftHarley:
November 8th • Purdue • Ohio Field
Ohio State took the first ever matchup between two longtime Big Ten members, 20-0. It was the first of many, many wins over the Boilermakers, as the series currently stands in favor of the Buckeyes at 39–14–2.
November 22nd • Illinois • Ohio Field
In the final game of the regular season, the 6–0 Buckeyes were on the verge of capturing their third league championship in four years. All that stood in the way were the 5–1 Illinois Fighting Illini.
The Ohio State defense, which had given up just three points in its six previous games, surrendered a first quarter touchdown to the visiting Illini. The Buckeyes battled back to take a 7-6 lead in the third quarter following a Chic Harley touchdown and extra point.
The lead would hold until late into the fourth quarter, when the Illini started their final drive from their own 20. Illinois head coach Robert Zuppke made the decision to try and throw for the win and the strategy worked as his team passed on every down, making their way inside the Ohio State 20.
With eight seconds to play, Illinois' Bobby Fletcher kicked a 25-yard field goal to give the Buckeyes their only loss of the Chic Harley era. It would be the last time the fans in Columbus would see Harley in an Ohio State jersey.
- Ohio State defeated Michigan for the first time. #BeatMichigan
- Outscored first three opponents 133-0.
- Defense only allowed one touchdown in 1919.
- Chic Harley and Pete Stinchcomb were named All-Americans.
- Harley became Ohio State's first three-time All-American.
Harley's incredible Ohio State career ended with a 21–1–1 record, with his only loss coming in his final home game. Harley's exploits on the field put Ohio State on the football map and led to a public financing campaign for the creation of Ohio Stadium, leading to over $1.1 million in pledges by January 1921.
“The House that Harley Built” would see its first football game played on October 7, 1922.