The Ohio State coaching staff remained the same. Kind of. Carroll Widdoes and Paul Bixler switched roles for the 1946 season.
Following the 1946 season, Ohio State's head coach, Carroll Widdoes, a quiet and reserved man, gladly stepped away from the spotlight, allowing assistant Paul Bixler to assume the job as the Buckeyes' 17th head football coach.
Bixler, a Cleveland native and Mount Union graduate began his career at Canton Central Junior High School. before quickly getting called up to Canton McKinley High School. He broke into the college ranks as an assistant at Colgate (1939–41) before arriving in Columbus.
The Ohio State job was Bixler's first as a head coach.
|The 1946 Buckeyes|
|B1G Record||2–3–1, 6th|
|Coach||Paul Bixler (1st year, 4–3–2)|
Games of Note
September 28th • Missouri • Ohio Stadium
The Buckeyes opened the season No. 14 in the AP Poll and welcomed the Missouri Tigers to open the season – the third-straight season they'd opened against MIzzou.
Ohio State had defeated the Tigers by a combined score of 101-6 in the previous two contests. Missouri played its season opener against Texas the week before and the Longhorns had demolished the Tigers, 42-0. The 65,004 on hand in Ohio Stadium expected a similar result against Don Faurot's team. However, this was new year and Ohio State had a new coach.
Bixler's debut did not go as planned.
The Buckeyes played sloppily, to the tune of four turnovers and seven penalties as the home crowd went home deflated, thanks to a 13-13 tie to open the 1946 season.
October 5th • USC • Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
In week two, the Buckeyes traveled to Los Angeles by plane to take on Southern California. Bixler spent the week of practice working out the kinks in his team with the hope it would show against the Trojans.
Joe Whisler, a sophomore fullback, was the stare of this one, rushing for 73 yards and all three touchdowns in Ohio State's 21-0 victory over USC.
After losing the first two games in the series, Ohio State now led the Trojans 3–2.
October 12th • #20 Wisconsin • Camp Randall
As great as the win over USC had been, the return home was just as bad for the Buckeyes. The plane flight home from Los Angeles was delayed in Albuquerque due to fog, and the team didn't make it back to Columbus until Monday night.
With the train for Madison leaving Thursday, that left Bixler two days of practice to prepare for Wisconsin.
As you would imagine, the travel weary Buckeyes were no match for Wisconsin that third Saturday in 1946. Harry Stuhldreher's squad handed the Buckeyes a 20-7 defeat, recording Wisconsin's third win in the series in 27 years.
|SEP. 28||MISSOURI||OHIO STADIUM||T, 13–13|
|OCT. 5||USC||MEMORIAL COLISEUM||W, 21–0|
|OCT. 12||#20 WISCONSIN||CAMP RANDALL||L, 7–20|
|OCT. 19||PURDUE||OHIO STADIUM||T, 14–14|
|OCT. 26||MINNESOTA||OHIO STADIUM||W, 39–9|
|NOV. 2||NO. 6 NORTHWESTERN||DYCHE STADIUM||W, 39–27|
|NOV. 9||PITTSBURGH||OHIO STADIUM||W, 20–13|
|NOV. 16||#9 ILLINOIS||MEMORIAL STADIUM||L, 7–16|
|NOV. 23||#8 MICHIGAN||OHIO STADIUM||L, 12–28–3|
October 19th • Purdue • Ohio Stadium
After starting the series 9–1 against Purdue, the Buckeyes were riding a two-game losing streak to the Boilermakers when the two teams met in week four.
Bixler's boys started quickly by building a 14-0 lead. However, Purdue cut the lead in half with a 95-yard scoring drive. Later, Purdue's Ed Cody knotted it up with a dazzling 78-yard touchdown run.
Ohio State still had chances in the fourth quarter to finish the game with a win. Fullback Pete Perini was inches away from the end zone when the ball slipped out his grasp. Later, Johnny Stungis missed a field goal.
The result went into the books as a 14-14 tie, but it felt like a loss to the now struggling Buckeyes.
October 26th • Minnesota • Ohio Stadium
Ohio State was now 1–1–2, but fans still showed up to support the team as over 76,000 packed Ohio Stadium to watch the Buckeyes right things a bit by beating on the hapless Gophers.
Bob Brugge rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns, Dave Bonnie scored and Ernie Parks caught a touchdown pass from Brugge as Ohio State rolled to a 39-9 win.
November 2nd • #6 Northwestern • Dyche Stadium
As it turned out, the most exciting game of the 1946 season was played in Evanston. The No. 6 Wildcats (4–0–1) were looking to give their coach, Pappy Waldorf, one last win against Ohio State in his final season at Northwestern.
In an exciting first half, the two teams matched each other score for score and went to the locker room tied at 13.
After several lead changes, the Buckeyes took a 32-27 lead in the fourth quarter. Tony Adamle's interception gave Ohio State the ball at the Northwestern 30-yard line. The ensuing drive led to the Buckeyes' final touchdown of the game.
Despite turning the ball over five times, Ohio State upset the favored Wildcats, 39-27, on the road to improve to 3–2–1 on the year.
November 16th • #9 Illinois • Memorial Stadium
After topping Pittsburgh, coached by former Ohio State assistant Wes Fesler, 20-13, Ohio State traveled to Champaign as the No. 13 team in the AP Poll. The Buckeyes were now riding a three-game winning streak, but would have their hands full facing No. 9 Illinois for the right to keep Illibuck.
On this rainy day, Illinois led 9-7 in the third quarter, and was looking to defeat Ohio State for the first time in 12 years.
Late in the fourth quarter, Spencer and the Buckeyes faced 4th-and-3 at the Illini four-yard line. Instead of attempting a field goal in the mud, Bixler decided to go for it. Spencer's pass to Tommy James was picked off by Illinois' Julius Rykovich, and he raced 98 yards to secure a 16-7 win for Illinois.
Illini head coach Ray Eliot had finally snapped Ohio State's winning streak against his program at 11. Illinois would go on to win the Big Ten and defeat UCLA in the Rose Bowl, 45-14, in the first game of the Big Ten–Pac 10 tradition of the conferences' two champions meeting in that game.
November 23rd • #8 Michigan • Ohio Stadium
Despite a lackluster season, 78,634 fans – making the fourth-largest crowd to see a game at the Shoe – filed into Ohio Stadium to watch the '46 version of The Game. Unfortunately, little went right on this November afternoon.
Michigan scored early and often, building an ugly 58-0 lead through four quarters of play.
Ohio State prevented the shutout when Bill Doolittle passed to Rodney Swinhard for a 63-yard touchdown with 59 seconds remaining in the game. The score came against backups for the Wolverines, but hey, the Buckeyes avoided a shutout.
The win marked the largest margin of victory ever recorded by Michigan while playing in Ohio Stadium. The Wolverines have not cracked 50 points against the Buckeyes since.
The blowout gave Michigan a 28–12–3 series lead.
- Paul Bixler became Ohio State's 17th head coach. He would last one season.
- Missouri stunned the Buckeyes by earning a tie in the season opener.
- Ohio State beat USC in Los Angeles to take a 3–2 series lead.
- The Buckeyes beat No. 6 Northwestern in Evanston.
- Illinois ended an 11-game losing streak to Ohio State.
- Michigan scored 58 points in Ohio Stadium and defeated the Buckeyes by 52. Both are stadium records that still stand today.
- Ohio State finished the season unranked in the AP Poll.
- The Rose Bowl began its alliance with the Big Ten and Pac-10.
- Warren Amling and Cecil Souders were All-Americans. This was Amling's second honor.
- Russ Thomas, Dante Lavelli, Tony Adamle, Tommy James and Hal Dean were selected in the NFL Draft.
The 4–3–2 record was disappointing for everybody involved with Ohio State football. In February of 1947, Bixler resigned as Ohio State's head coach after one season. He cited high pressure associated with the job as his reason for leaving and returning to Colgate.
The athletic department was in an all too familiar position as they searched for Ohio State's 18th head coach. 1947 would be the fifth time in eight years the football team was in need of a new leader.