Ohio State won a share of the Big Ten title and its first Rose Bowl in 1949. Even with the success on the field, Wes Fesler considered quitting as head coach. Administrators talked him into staying, but the stress of the job weighed heavily.
The 1950 season is remembered for the Snow Bowl against Michigan. However, some forget Vic Janowicz won the Heisman Trophy and Wes Fesler resigned at the end of the season.
Unknown prior to the season, Woody Hayes was five months away from becoming the 19th coach at The Ohio State University.
|The 1950 Buckeyes
|Wes Fesler (4th year, 21–13–3)
Games of Note
September 30th • #10 SMU • Ohio Stadium
Between 1895 and 1949, Ohio State only lost one season opener. A crowd of 80,672 expected another OSU first game victory, this time against Southern Methodist.
Fesler's team led 24-7 in the middle of the third quarter. With Mustang offense struggling, SMU coach Rusty Russell inserted backup quarterback Fred Benners to the lineup. The personnel change resulted in success.
For the remainder of the contest, Southern Methodist went spread and threw the ball all over the field. Hapless against the air raid, Ohio State allowed Benner to 325 yards and four touchdowns.
The Buckeyes lost a stunner, 32-27.
|No. 10 SMU
|No. 15 WISCONSIN
|No. 8 ILLINOIS
October 7th • Pittsburgh • Ohio Stadium
Still stinging from a rare in the season opener, the Buckeyes turned their attention to Pittsburgh. Ohio State piled it on the Panthers early, scoring six touchdowns before halftime.
Janowicz had a fine game, completing all six of his passes for 151 yards and four touchdowns. He also averaged 55 yards per punt in the 41-7 blowout.
October 28th • Iowa • Ohio Stadium
Before hosting Iowa, Ohio State defeated Indiana and shut out Minnesota. The 48-0 rout of the Gophers in Minneapolis caught the attention of Minnesota athletic director, Ike Armstrong. He believed Ohio State was the best team he had ever seen.
Iowa did not argue with Armstrong after its tilt with Janowicz and the Buckeyes.
Janowicz, the junior from Elyria, returned a punt 61 yards for a touchdown, scored on an 11-yard touchdown run, threw a 12-yard touchdown pass, recovered two fumbles on defense, blasted two kickoffs out of the end zone and made three extra points against the Hawkeyes — all within the first five minutes of the game.
Janowicz finished with four touchdowns and made a Big Ten record 10 extra points. He also averaged 42 yards per punt.
No. 6 Ohio State scored 55 points in the first half and defeated Iowa 83-21 to improve to 4–1.
November 11th • #15 Wisconsin • Ohio Stadium
It was a bitterly cold Saturday afternoon when the 15th ranked Badgers introduced their new spread formation against Ohio State. The scheme caused confusion for the Fesler's defense and led to a 7-6 halftime advantage for Wisconsin.
After Fesler and his staff had a meeting of the brains, Ohio State slowed down Wisconsin quarterback John Coatta and the offense. The end result was a 19-14 Buckeye victory.
November 18th • #8 Illinois • Memorial Stadium
Now ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll, Ohio State made the familiar trip to Champaign. The pressure Fesler always alluded to seeped its way to the players. To the delight of the 71,119 Illinois fans at Memorial Stadium, the Buckeyes committed seven turnovers.
The offense never found a rhythm and Ohio State's only score came from Janowicz in the second quarter. Fred Major threw two touchdown passes earlier in the second for Illinois, who held on for a 14-7 upset.
November 25th • Michigan • Ohio Stadium
The loss to Illinois cost Ohio State a shot at the national championship, but the Buckeyes were still in the hunt for the Big Ten title. All they had to do was beat Michigan to secure consecutive conference titles for the first time in 33 years.
Fesler's crew was favored but miserable weather rid away Ohio State from any advantage it had over Michigan in what became known as the Snow Bowl.
A description of the conditions from Ohio State University Monthly:
The game was played in the teeth of a full-scale blizzard, five inches of snow on the ground and snow whistling through the air, borne on a 29-mile-per-hour gale. Despite the fact it was the worst blizzard in 37 years in Columbus, the Ohio capital easily defended its title as the football craziest town in the nation. A total of 50,503 persons braved the elements, staying below deck, under the Stadium, until just a few minutes before the kickoff.
Dick Larkins, Ohio State's athletic director, considered canceling the game. It didn't happen, though, a smart move both in terms of ticket sales and football ramifications.
The Buckeyes would have won the Big Ten title by default had The Game been canceled. Larkins and Ohio State officials did not want people to perceive the cancellation of the game as an easy way to claim the conference title.
The poor conditions turned the game into a mockery. Both teams punted on first, second and even third down, electing to take their chances defensively. Janwicz punted 21 times for 685 yards while MIchigan's Chuck Ortmann punted 24 times for 723 yards.
However, one punt by Janowicz was the difference in a win or a loss for Ohio State. With 47 seconds left in the first half, the Buckeyes led 3-2 and faced 3rd-and-6 from their own 13-yard line.
Fesler made the decision to punt instead of run a play and possibly go to halftime with a 3-2 lead. Janowicz received the snap, took his steps and punted the ball. But Michigan's Tony Momsen blocked it and the ball careened into the end zone. Momsen recovered and the Wolverines led 9-3.
Neither team threatened to score in the second half so Michigan won by that margin. The Wolverines captured the Big Ten title and earned a Rose Bowl berth.
Heisman for Janowicz
The Downtown Athletic club recognized Janowicz's rushing, passing, kicking, punting and defensive skills and awarded him the 1950 Heisman Trophy. At the time, he was the third junior to win the coveted honor.
Years later, Woody Hayes summarized the versatile Janowicz in two sentences, "He was not only a great runner but also passed, was a placekicker and punter, played safety on defense and was an outstanding blocker. Janowicz epitomized the 'triple-threat' football player."
- Ohio State lost a season opener for the second time in 56 years.
- The Buckeyes scored six first-half touchdowns in a 41-7 rout of Pittsburgh.
- 1965 is the next time Ohio State will play Minnesota.
- Vic Janowicz made a Big Ten record 10 extra points in the 83-21 beating of Iowa.
- Ohio State was ranked No. 1 in the nation when it defeated No. 15 Wisconsin.
- Seven turnovers and poor play led to a 14-7 loss to No. 8 Illinois.
- Ohio State lost to Michigan in the Snow Bowl. The Wolverines now led the series 31–12–4.
- Vic Janowicz won Ohio State's second Heisman Trophy.
- The Buckeyes finished the season 14th in the AP Poll.
- Vic Janowicz, Robert McCullough and Bob Momesen all received All-American honors.
- Bob Momsen and Bill Miller were selected in the NFL Draft.
The 1950 season was a blizzard away from ending with consecutive Big Ten titles for Ohio State. Instead, Fesler and the Buckeyes finished second in the league and 14th in the AP Poll.
Two weeks after his team's loss in the Snow Bowl, Fesler resigned. The pressure became too much and affected both his health and family. A few weeks later, Ike Armstrong of Minnesota offered Fesler the Gophers' head coaching position and he accepted.
The search for Ohio State's 19th head coach commenced. The man for the job changed the landscape of the college football world.