100 Teams in 100 Days: A Controversial Ruling and a Two-Point Conversion Mar the 1974 Season

By Matt Gutridge on July 23, 2016 at 11:40 am
The 1974 Ohio State University football team.
Ohio State University Archives

Exactly 100 days before the 1974 season began, Woody Hayes suffered a heart attack. His future and the future of Ohio State football were in doubt.

42 days and counting.

Expectations shot through the roof in 1974, until Hayes endured his health issue. The coaching legend turned out to be fine, so the fans returned their focus to the field. They saw was 16 starters returned from the 1973 squad. The biggest question mark was a large hole at linebacker.

Randy Gradishar, Vic Koegel and Rick Middleton were gone. Bruce Elia took over the first spot, but Hayes used him at fullback the year prior when Champ Henson went down. Others to fill in at linebacker: Brian Bowers, Arnie Jones, Ken Kuhl and Ed Thompson.

The 1974 Buckeyes
Record 10–2
B1G Record 7–1, 1st
Coach Woody Hayes (24th year, 169–51–8)
CaptainS Neal Colzie, Pete Cusick, Archie Griffin,
Arnold Jones, Steve Myers

Games of Note

September 14th • Minnesota • Memorial Stadium
No. 4 Ohio State's season opener against Minnesota featured nuances the programs had not experienced in 62 years. The Buckeyes found themselves on the road for the first time since they defeated Otterbein 55-0 in 1912. This also marked the first time Ohio State played its opener outside the state of Ohio. 

The change of scenery didn't matter. The Buckeyes won the toss and elected to receive and Cornelius Green proceeded to guide the offense on an 11-play, 77-yard scoring drive. Archie Griffin ended the possession with an off tackle 4-yard touchdown.

In the second quarter, Ohio State extended its 7-3 lead to 21-3 when Pete Johnson and Champ Henson scored on short touchdown runs. The game appeared to be out of reach when the Buckeyes scored the only points in the third period to make the score 28-3.

With just over 10 minutes remaining, Griffin broke Ohio State's all-time rushing record. Unfortunately, he fumbled on the record-setting play and Minnesota took over. It took three plays for the Gophers to take advantage of the turnover. Rick Upchurch scored from 36 yards out on an option run. Quarterback Tony Dungy threw to tight end Bill Simms to convert the two-point conversion. 

The Buckeyes were still in control but went three-and-out on the ensuing drive. Tom Skladany readied to punt, but the snap rolled to him and he couldn't gather it. Skladany then tried to run with it, but several Minnesota players tackled him and the Gophers over at the Ohio State 16.

Dungy again led the Gophers for a quick score when he cashed in from the 6. Another successful two-point conversion made the score 28-19 with 5:14 on the clock. At this point, the fans in Memorial Stadium sensed an upset.

That's when Green displayed his skill. On 3rd-and-5 from his own 43, the quarterback faked the entire defense with his ball handling, then ran to the right for an easy 57-yard touchdown.

Griffin ran for 133 yards and a touchdown in the 28-19 victory. He ended the game with 2,577 career rushing yards, 35 more than Jim Otis. After the game, Hayes said: "Archie played the second half with strained knee ligaments, but he'll be alright. He's just a great competitor."

When asked about his own healthy, Hayes said he felt tired, "but no more than usual after a game. I was hoping we could score a couple more times in the early part of the third quarter and we'd get to 35-3 or so and I could go over, sit down in a chair and watch the second team."

1974 Schedule
JAN. 1 NO. 5 USC ROSE BOWL L, 17–18
      10–2, 437–129

September 21st • Oregon State • Ohio Stadium
In the home opener, Ohio State played Oregon State for the first time on a perfect day for football. Ten different Buckeyes combined to run for 386 yards in the 51-10 victory.

Griffin accounted for 134 yards and a touchdown as he broke the century mark for the 13th consecutive time. Archie called it a day halfway through the third quarter.

Another Griffin put his name in the books. Freshman Ray Griffin – Archie's younger brother – saw playing time for the first time in his career and rushed for 37 yards and two scores. 

The play of the contest came on the second half kickoff. Lenny Willis, a junior college transfer, raced 97 yards through a large hole created by Ohio State's wedge. He used his 9.3-second 100-yard dash speed to outrace the Beavers' players. 

The following week, SMU came in town. The now No. 1 ranked Buckeyes scored on the game's opening drive. From there, the offense struggled a bit, but the Buckeyes only led 14-0 at the half. 

Hayes' team scored a touchdown in every quarter to beat the Mustangs 28-9, but the performance did not please the head coach. He felt the team did not improve from the previous week and the Buckeyes lost senior safety Rich Parsons for the season with a broken arm.

Although Hayes was not happy with the overall performance, he couldn't complain about two players. Griffin rushed for a game-high 156 yards and two touchdowns and Brian Baschnagel gained 140 yards and a score.

October 12th • #13 Wisconsin • Ohio Stadium
In Week 4, Ohio State's players kept Hayes' ticker safe as the Buckeyes beat Washington State 42-7 in Seattle. The Cougars moved the game to Husky Stadium in anticipation of a large crowd.

The estimated 50,000 on hand witnessed Griffin score on a 75-yard run, the longest of his collegiate career. Ohio State didn't commit a turnover in its best performance of the season.

Back in Columbus, the top-ranked Buckeyes (4–0) hosted No. 13 Wisconsin (3–1). 

Wisconsin received the opening kickoff and promptly drove 80 yards for a touchdown. The ease of the six play drive made some of the 87,717 – a new Ohio Stadium record – think Ohio State's 13-game winning streak against the Badgers was in trouble. They were very wrong.

The Buckeyes responded with a field goal, followed by three consecutive touchdown drives. In the first half, Wisconsin's defense focused on stopping Griffin. Hayes took advantage and turned Green loose. The elusive quarterback carried 12 times for 102 yards and a touchdown in the first half.

At the start of the third, Ohio State received the kick with a 24-7 lead. Green ran for 30 yards and threw for 24 more on the 69-yard drive. Champ Henson made the score 31-7 when he plowed in from the 2-yard line.

The Buckeyes recorded touchdowns on their first four possessions of the second half and buried the Badgers 52-7. Green finished the day with 146 yards rushing and 81 yards passing and three total touchdowns. Griffin added 112 yards on the ground to extend his 100-yard game mark to 16 straight. Safety Bruce Ruhl intercepted three passes and earned a game ball.

The victory was Ohio State's 15th straight at home. Northwestern's victory in the home finale of 1971 represented the program's last loss in Columbus.

SMU W6 6–1
WISCONSIN W15 33–7–4
INDIANA W11 38–10–4
ILLINOIS W7 40–19–4
IOWA W10 23–10–2
MICHIGAN W1 27–39–5
USC L1 9–7–1

October 19th • Indiana • Ohio Stadium
Ohio State honored the 1954 national championship team's 20th anniversary during the Indiana game.

The Hoosiers (1–4) were not very good. At the half, the Buckeyes amassed 207 rushing yards, with Griffin totaling 116 yards and two touchdowns. Ohio State finished with 568 total yards with 333 coming on the ground. 

Archie finished the day with 146 yards and the Big Ten record for most rushing yards in a career. His 3,321 yards surpassed Otis Armstrong's 3,315 yards for Purdue from 1970-72.

The Buckeyes beat Lee Corso's Hoosiers 49-9. Indiana's head coach said this about Griffin and Green: "Those two are super athletes. Green adds some new dimensions to their offense. He runs through holes that aren't even on the blackboard. What can you say about Griffin that hasn't already been said? Ohio State just intimidates you."

The Hoosiers finished the season 1–10.

Following the Indiana win, the Buckeyes traveled to Evanston and defeated Northwestern 55-7. Hayes' team scored on eight of its 10 possessions, and Griffin averaged 9.6 yards per carry while he racked up 173 more yards. Elia led the defense with 15 total tackles, seven being solo.

November 9th • Michigan State • Spartan Stadium
No. 1 Ohio State whooped Illinois 49-7 before it headed north to East Lansing. The game featured two milestones. Hayes grabbed his 200th victory and Griffin became the first player to rush for at least 100 yards in 18 straight games.

The Buckeyes were now 40–19–4 against the Illini.

Heading into the Week 9 matchup with Michigan State (4–3–1), No. 1 Ohio State outscored its first eight opponents 360-75. The Buckeyes looked unstoppable. 

Ohio State led 13-3 with 9:03 left in the game after Henson scored the game's first touchdown. It looked like the Buckeyes would extend their unbeaten streak to 19 in front of the 78,533 at Spartan Stadium. But Michigan State had different plans.

Tom Skladany booted the ensuing kickoff through the back of the end zone. Starting on his own 20, quarterback Charlie Baggett drove the Spartans to Ohio State's 44-yard line. On 2nd-and-8, Baggett connected with Mike Jones on a 44-yard scoring strike. The two-point conversion failed, and the Buckeyes led 13-9.

Ohio State proceeded to run the ball three straight times and could not convert a 3rd-and-3. After the punt, Levi Jackson started right, then cut to his left through a big hole in the center and went the distance for an 88-yard touchdown. The Buckeyes now trailed 16-13 with 3:17 on the clock.

Ohio State used Griffin and Green to get inside Michigan State's 10. With 40 seconds remaining, the Buckeyes faced 2nd-and-5 from the 6, but did not have a timeout. The last plays of the game as described by The Toledo Blade:

OSU drove quickly down the field, burning its final timeout on a five-yard run by Griffin on first down to the Spartans' 6 with 40 seconds left. Champ Henson then muscled to the 1 and, after the clock stopped for a measurement, was called upon to finish the job. The 231-pound fullback was ruled inches short — Henson later insisted he scored — which left the Buckeyes scrambling to run a final play.

Problem was, the Buckeyes contended, MSU wouldn't let them run it. Henson was stopped with about 13 seconds remaining, but not until another 10 seconds passed had the last Spartans defender gotten up from the goal-line scrum.

"The thing I resent is that no effort was made to get them to unpile," Hayes said of that night. "It's just as grossly unfair as it can be. I'm just as bitter as the devil. … But if you take something like this lightly, you'll be laughing more than you'll be winning."


"Michigan State refused to get up so the officials could set the ball," Pete Cusick said. "Nowadays they would stop the clock."

The final play was a bitter footnote, with the Buckeyes frantically snapping it just before or just after time ran out. (Nobody seemed to agree.) The ball slipped through the legs of quarterback Cornelius Greene and into the clutch of Baschnagel, who dove into the end zone. One official said touchdown, another said no.

The ABC broadcast ended 10 minutes later without the announcers declaring a winner.

It took 46 minutes after the game for Big Ten commissioner Wayne Duke to announce the winner. Duke ruled Ohio State failed to snap the ball before time expired.

Below is video of the last 40 seconds of the game. Coach Hayes finished his days believing the Buckeyes were robbed. What do you think?


November 23rd • #3 Michigan • Ohio Stadium
After the controversial loss to Michigan State, the Buckeyes traveled west to play Iowa and its new head coach, Bob Cummings. Ohio State defeated the Hawkeyes 35-10.

In what became an annual tradition, No. 3 Michigan (9–0) and No. 4 Ohio State (9–1) faced each other for the Big Ten title. A new stadium record of 88,243 fans watched a thrilling, low-scoring affair on this unseasonably warm 63-degree November day.

In 1973, The Game ended in a 10-10 tie after the Wolverines' Mike Lantry missed two field goals in the final minutes. In a cruel twist of fate, kickers played a role in the end of the 1974 edition in a very familiar way.

Just over three minutes into the game, Michigan scored the game's only touchdown on its fourth offensive play. Dennis Franklin's play-action pass fooled the Buckeyes' defense as he found Gil Chapman for a 42-yard touchdown. Later in the first quarter, the Wolverines' extended their lead to 10-0 after Lantry nailed a 37-yard field goal.

The second quarter featured the foot of Tom Klaban. Ohio State's soccer-style kicker connected on field goals of 47, 25 and 43 yards to make the score 10-9 at halftime.

Ohio State took the lead when Klaban booted a 45-yard field goal early in the third quarter. The two teams were unable to create any realistic scoring chances. Michigan attempted a 59-yard field goal at the midway point of the fourth quarter, but Lantry's kick fell well short.

With 57 seconds left, the Wolverines started their final drive with great field position. In four plays and 41 seconds, Michigan moved from its own 47 to the Buckeyes' 16 to set up a 33-yard game-winning field goal attempt.

Lantry's last chance to be a hero:

Lantry did not take advantage of his chance to atone for his two late misses the season before. This time, his kick went wide left and Ohio State held on for a 12-10 victory. The pain in Bob Ufer's voice almost matched the jubilation from the Ohio Stadium crowd.

The Buckeyes won the Big Ten for the 18th time and earned a trip to their ninth Rose Bowl.

January 1st • #5 USC • Rose Bowl
No. 3 Ohio State faced No. 5 USC for the third straight time in Pasadena. The winner of the previous two contests scored 42 points in blowout victories. The third battle proved to be much closer.

Ohio State led 7-3 after three quarters, but the margin should have been larger. In the third, the Buckeyes advanced inside the Trojans' 10-yard line twice and came away without points. The missed opportunities set the stage for an exciting, high-scoring fourth quarter. 

Pat Haden found Jim O'Bradovich on a 9-yard touchdown toss to give USC a 10-7 lead early in the final period. Ohio State responded 10 straight points after Green rushed for a touchdown and Klaban kicked a 32-yard field goal.  

Following Klaban's field goal, the Trojans responded with a nine-play, 83-yard scoring drive. The touchdown pass as written in The Columbus Dispatch:

With Ohio State leading 17-10, the rifle-armed Haden pegged 38 yards to (John) McKay, who made a brilliant catch in the back corner of the end zone with 2:03 remaining.

Down one, coach John McKay decided to go for two and the win. From the 2015 Ohio State Team Guide:

Flanker Shelton Diggs made a diving catch of a Haden pass for a two-point
conversion with slightly more than two minutes left in the game to bring the Trojans from behind and spoil Ohio State’s national championship hopes. It ended a wild final stanza in which 25 of the game’s 35 points were scored.

Ohio State fought back, but Tom Skladany's 62-yard field goal attempt fell short.

1974 Recap

  • Ohio State started the season on the road for the first time in 62 years.
  • The Buckeyes defeated Oregon State 51-10 in the first game between the schools.
  • Washington State moved its home game from Martin Stadium to Husky Stadium in Seattle to have more eyeballs witness Ohio State beat them 42-7.
  • No. 13 Wisconsin was no match for Hayes and the Scarlet and Gray. The Buckeyes scored 52 straight points in the 52-7 victory. 
  • Michigan State defeated No. 1 Ohio State on a controversial last second play.
  • Mike Lantry missed a field goal in the last seconds to give the Buckeyes a 12-10 victory. Ohio State improved its record to 27–39–5 against Michigan.
  • Ohio State started the season as the No. 4 team in the nation, climbed to No. 1, but finished 1974 ranked fourth in the AP Poll. 
  • Neal Colzie, Pete Cusick,  Van DeCree, Archie Griffin, Steve Myers, Kurt Schumacher and Tom Skladany were named All-Americans. It was the second honor for DeCree and Griffin.
  • Kurt Schumacher, Doug France, Neal Colzie, Pete Cusick, Steve Luke, Champ Henson, Bruce Elia, Jim Cope, Dave Hazel, Steve Myers, Doug Plank, Larry O'Rourke and Mike Bartoszek were selected in the NFL Draft.

Woody Hayes rebounded from a heart attack to lead Ohio State to its 10th Big Ten title and third consecutive Rose Bowl under his guidance. The 1974 squad lost two games by a combined four points. 

Archie Griffin won the Heisman Trophy, the fifth non-senior to win the coveted award. The 13 players selected in the NFL Draft tied the school record set by the 1970 team.

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