Eleven players from Ohio State's 1956 team became NFL Draft picks, littering Woody Hayes' roster with holes. But the 1957 club had other ideas.
The talent exodus tempered expectations slightly for the new season, especially because the Buckeyes finished their previous campaign with back-to-back shutout defeats. Ohio State started the year out of the rankings but ended the season atop college football.
|The 1957 Buckeyes|
|B1G Record||7–0, 1st, NATIONAL CHAMPS|
|Coach||Woody Hayes (7th year, 48–15–2)|
|CaptainS||Leo Brown and Galen Cisco|
Games of Note
September 28th • TCU • Ohio Stadium
Initially thought to serve as Ohio State's sacrificial lamb to open the season, the Horned Frogs of TCU instead had teeth.
TCU scored first to take an early 6-0 lead. Ohio State's Dick LeBeau answered with a scored from two yards out to put the Buckeyes in front 7-6 after one.
The lead did not last long, though. On the first play of the second quarter, TCU's Jim Shofner returned a Don Sutherin punt 90 yards for a touchdown. The Horned Frogs retook the lead 12-7.
The Buckeyes responded and Don Clark capped an 18-play drive with a short touchdown plunge. The score and extra point put Ohio State up 14-12 at intermission.
TCU scored in the third quarter to retake the lead once again in what ended up as the lone points in the second half.
The Horned Frogs won 18-14 and Ohio State started its season with a loss for the first time in 17 years.
|SEP. 28||TCU||OHIO STADIUM||L, 14–18|
|OCT. 5||WASHINGTON||HUSKY STADIUM||W, 35–7|
|OCT. 12||ILLINOIS||OHIO STADIUM||W, 21–7|
|OCT. 19||INDIANA||OHIO STADIUM||W, 56–0|
|OCT. 26||WISCONSIN||CAMP RANDALL||W, 16–13|
|NOV. 2||NORTHWESTERN||OHIO STADIUM||W, 47–6|
|NOV. 9||PURDUE||OHIO STADIUM||W, 20–7|
|NOV. 16||NO. 5 IOWA||OHIO STADIUM||W, 17–13|
|NOV. 23||NO. 19 MICHIGAN||MICHIGAN STADIUM||W, 31–14|
|JAN. 1||OREGON||ROSE BOWL||W, 10–7|
October 5th • Washington • Husky Stadium
The Buckeyes traveled to Seattle and faced Washington in Week 2, the first-ever matchup between the two schools.
The game started out as a tight one and the scored was tied at 7 at the start of the third quarter.
That's when Sutherin altered the
game season with one of its most exciting plays. The defensive back/kicker fielded a Washington punt at his own 19-yard line, made a few moves and broke free for a touchdown.
The Buckeyes piled on 21 more points to secure a 35-7 victory. The 1957 team credited Sutherin's big return as the turning point in the season.
Sutherin's season-changing punt return:
In the Big Ten opener against Illinois, Hayes put the game on Clark's capable feet, and the halfback responded with 133 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries.
A crowd of 82,239 fans left Ohio Stadium happy as the Buckeyes defeated the Illini 21-7. Ohio State now led the all-time series 23–9–1 in games played for the Illibuck Trophy.
October 25th • Wisconsin • Camp Randall
In Week 4, the Buckeyes walloped Indiana 56-0 to remain undefeated in the Big Ten. The offense gained 458 total yards and nine different players put points on the board. It would take 30 more years for the Hoosiers to earn a victory in the series.
Ohio State (3–1), now ranked for the first time in the AP Poll at No. 12, headed to Camp Randall to face Wisconsin (3–1). Second-year Badger coach Milt Bruhn did not have a victory against a ranked opponent in his career. The Badgers did not have a win against the Buckeyes in Madison since 1946.
The Badgers' Danny Lewis raced in for two touchdowns and gave the home team an early 13-0 lead. The 50,051 in attendance believed Wisconsin could end the streak this season.
Clark, however, got the Buckeyes right back in the game. He ripped off a 71-yard touchdown run to get Ohio State within six points. Galen Cisco's 3-yard score shortly thereafter tied the game at 13.
Sutherin broke the tie with a 20-yard field goal in the third quarter. Wisconsin threatened to regain the lead in the fourth, but fumbled its chance away. The Badgers were on the Buckeyes' 7 when Bob White picked up the loose football and secured his team's fifth win of the season 16-13.
The following Saturday, the Buckeyes hosted Northwestern on homecoming weekend. The No. 8 Buckeyes won easily, 47-6 as Clark recorded another fine game with 127 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
After the game, Northwestern's coach, Ara Parseghian, said this about Ohio State's Rose Bowl chances: "If they keep playing like they did today I don't have much doubt about what they'll be doing New Year's Day."
November 9th • Purdue • Ohio Stadium
On a crisp Saturday afternoon, the No. 6 Buckeyes slipped past Purdue 20-7.
Ohio State scored all of its points in the first half but lost the speedy Clark to injury for the remainder of the game.
The game was much closer than the final score indicated. The Boilermakers held Ohio State to one first down and 13 total yards in the second half. Three Buckeye fumbles didn't help the cause and the sloppy play put a conference title and Rose Bowl berth in doubt.
How close was Purdue to pulling off the upset? From the Columbus Citizen Journal:
Six times Purdue had the ball that second half and five times they shoved it deep into Buckeye territory. But only once could they dent Ohio's goal line.
On two occasions the Boilermakers were thwarted on Ohio's four-yard line; once they surrendered on the Buckeye 16 and another time a leaping (Dick) LeBeau interception stalled them after they'd penetrated to Ohio's 39.
With the victory, Ohio State only needed to beat Iowa to win the Big Ten Championship and head to its second Rose Bowl in four seasons.
November 16th • #5 Iowa • Ohio Stadium
With Vice President Richard Nixon among the then-record crowd of 82,935, Ohio State hosted the reigning Big Ten champions. The Hawkeyes (6–0–1) ended Ohio State's streak of 17 straight conference wins a year earlier, a loss that kept the Buckeyes from their third straight title.
Iowa looked ready to ruin another Ohio State season, leading 6-3 in the second quarter. Without the services of star running back Clark, the situation appeared dire for Ohio State.
Before the half expired, the decision making of Frank Kremblas and the powerful running of White charged the Buckeyes down the field. Kremblas ended the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run and the Buckeyes led 10-6 at the break.
Iowa regained the lead in the third when quarterback Randy Duncan scored from a yard out. The point after made the score 13-10 in Iowa's favor.
Ohio State's game-winning drive began with just under 8 minutes remaining. Hayes turned to White to cover 66 of the 68 yards needed to reach the end zone. The sophomore fullback carried the ball on seven of the drive's eight plays and punched it in from five yards out to give Ohio State the 17-13 victory.
The Buckeyes won their 11th Big Ten title and were headed to their fourth Rose Bowl.
November 23rd • #19 Michigan • Michigan Stadium
The Buckeyes defeated Michigan in front of the largest crowd ever to watch an Ohio State team play, home or away. Michigan led 14-10 at halftime, but Hayes rallied his troops in the second half.
The Buckeyes scored 21 unanswered points and defeated the Wolverines 31-14 to became just the second team in 44 years to win seven consecutive Big Ten contests.
White finished with 163 yards on 30 carries. Other key Buckeye contributors were LeBeau with 73 yards and Kremblas with 71 yards.
After the game coach Hayes had this to say to the Columbus Citizen Journal:
"By Gawd, if we're not national champions now, there's something rotten somewhere!" Woody Hayes wasn't talking, he was shouting.
The bulbous Ohio State coach had just taken a triumphant ride on the shoulders of big Jim Marshall, Dick Schafrath, Bill Jobko and Jim Houston from the battle field to the Buckeye dressing room.
Only one game remained for the Buckeyes to prove they were the best team in the nation.
January 1st • Oregon • Rose Bowl
On a sunny 75-degree New Year's Day, No. 2 Ohio State took the field as a 19-point favorite against unranked Oregon. Many predicted a Buckeye rout, but that was not to be.
Ohio State started the game with a 79-yard drive capped off by a Jim Houston 18-yard touchdown reception. Oregon responded with an 80-yard touchdown drive to tie the game.
In the second half, both teams had the ball four times and each had an opportunity for a field goal. In fact, the field goal attempts came from the exact same spot on the field. The difference was Ohio State's Sutherin made his attempt and Oregon's Jack Morris missed his wide left.
Ohio State did not play its finest game, but it did enough to win the school's third Rose Bowl and claim the UPI National Championship. Between 1954 and 1957 Woody Hayes won three Big Ten titles and two national championships.
- TCU gave Woody Hayes his first opening-game loss of his Ohio State career.
- Hayes stated that Sutherin's second half punt return against Washington saved the 1957 season. Ohio State won the game 35-7.
- The Buckeyes defeated Illinois 21-7 and improved to 23–9–1 in Illibuck Trophy games.
- Ohio State beat Wisconsin for the sixth straight time.
- The 17-13 victory over Iowa ensured the Buckeyes' 11th Big Ten title and fourth Rose Bowl berth.
- Ohio State defeated Michigan 31-14 and improved to 16–34–4 against its rival.
- The Buckeyes won their third Rose Bowl and third national championship with a 10-7 victory over Oregon.
- Ohio State finished the season No. 2 in the AP Poll, but No. 1 in the UPI.
- Leo Brown, Don Clark and Aurealius Thomas were named All-Americans.
- Bill Jobko, Don Sutherin and Russ Bowermaster were selected in the NFL Draft.
In a script familiar to modern Ohio State fans, the 1957 team dropped its first game of the season then won nine straight to claim a national championship.
Woody Hayes posted a 50–14–2 record in his first seven seasons at Ohio State, complete with three Big Ten titles and two national championships.
The 1957 team was honored in Ohio Stadium in 2007: