100 Teams in 100 Days: Archie Griffin Wins His Second Heisman in 1975 and Ohio State Plays in its Fourth Straight Rose Bowl

By Matt Gutridge on July 24, 2016 at 11:40 am
The 1975 Ohio State University football team.
Ohio State University Archives

Only nine starters returned from Ohio State's 1974 team, leaving change as the theme in Woody Hayes' 25th season as head coach.

41 days and counting.

However, the Buckeyes did not endure transition in the backfield. Brian Baschnagel, Cornelius Green, Pete Johnson and Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin all returned, giving Hayes worthwhile horses for his ground-and-pound offense. 

The 1975 Buckeyes
Record 11–1
B1G Record 8–0, 1st
Coach Woody Hayes (25th year, 180–52–8)
CaptainS Brian Baschnagel, Tim Fox,
Archie Griffin, Ken Kuhn

Games of Note

September 13th • #11 Michigan State • Spartan Stadium
The Buckeyes started the season on the road for the second straight year. This time, they traveled to East Lansing, the scene of the controversial and devastating loss in 1974.

The much-anticipated rematch started slowly. Michigan State's first-half drives ended with three punts and three turnovers. Ohio State didn't do much better and started with four consecutive punts.

After the Buckeyes' fifth drive concluded with a missed field goal, the team finally broke through when Johnson powered through with a 5-yard touchdown with 1:16 left in the half.

The Scarlet and Gray scored again on its first drive of the second half. On 3rd-and-9 on his own 36, Green found Lenny Willis for a 64-yard touchdown strike. Willis bobbled the ball near the 25, then sped past a Spartan defender for the score. 

Johnson finished the scoring four seconds into the start of the fourth quarter with a 9-yard touchdown rush. Griffin finished the day with 108 yards and extended his streak of 100-yard games to 22.

The play of Ohio State's rebuilt defense excited Hayes the most from the game. In the shutout, the Buckeyes forced five turnovers. Cornerback Craig Cassady intercepted Charlie Baggett three times and Bob Brudzinksi and Nick Buonamici each recovered a fumble. 

1975 Schedule
JAN. 1 NO. 11 UCLA ROSE BOWL L, 10–23
      11–1, 384–102

September 20th • Penn State • Ohio Stadium
No. 7 Penn State came to Columbus sporting a four-game winning streak against Ohio State. In fact, the Nittany Lions had never lost to the Buckeyes.

The last time the two teams played each other were 11 years earlier and the 1975 matchup was the first time Joe Paterno roamed Penn State's sideline in Ohio Stadium. 

Ohio State won the toss and elected to receive. The Buckeyes only threw one pass on the eight-play scoring drive. A 49-yard run by Baschnagle down the right sideline served as the drive's key play. From there, Green fed Johnson the ball three consecutive times and the big back powered his way into the end zone. 

Penn State immediately responded with a nine-play drive that ended with Matt Bahr's 55-yard field goal. A high scoring affair seemed imminent, as the Buckeyes' Tom Klaban kicked a 45-yard field goal their next possession.

However, the defenses buckled down and Bahr's second field goal was the last score of the first half. No. 3 Ohio State rushed for 203 yards, but only led 10-6 at intermission.

The Nittany Lions received the second half kickoff, and like the Buckeyes put points on the board on their opening drive. Bahr booted his third field goal to cut the lead to 10-9 after Penn State's drive stalled at the 8-yard line.

Near the midpoint of the third, Baschnagel fumbled a punt return and the Nittany Lions took over at the Ohio State 38. The Buckeyes' defense stiffened and forced Penn State backward with a tackle for loss and a sack. Bahr was sent out to give his team its first lead with a 57-yard field goal attempt. His struck the ball well, but it landed just short due to the wind.

The Buckeyes secured the win with a touchdown drive that started with 12:12 left in the fourth and ended when Johnson scored nearly eight minutes later.

After the 17-9 loss, Paterno said, "Ohio State is an awfully fine football team. I told my team after the game they'd learned something from this game. You can't make mistakes we made in the second half and beat a team like Ohio State."

September 27th • North Carolina • Ohio Stadium
North Carolina visited Ohio Stadium to close out September. The Buckeyes led 12-0 after a pair short touchdown runs by Johnson. The Tar Heels scored on the first drive of the second half to make it 12-7, but the rest of the game belonged to Johnson and the Scarlet and Gray.

Griffin kept his streak of 100-yard games alive and continued his climb up Ohio State's all-time rushing yards ladder. But Johnson had the biggest game. The bruising back rushed for 148 yards and scored five touchdowns.

North Carolina head coach Bill Dooley said this about Johnson after the game: "Offensively they have Griffin and everyone knows what a great back he is. But then, all of a sudden that big No. 33 comes at you with his strength and quickness. I guess what I am saying is that they can hurt you a lot of ways."

The 32-7 victory gave Ohio State a 3–1 lead in the series.

October 4th • #13 UCLA • LA Memorial Coliseum
On a perfect 73-degree day in Los Angeles, No. 2 Ohio State took on Dick Vermeil's 11th-ranked Bruins. The Buckeyes won the toss and in customary fashion received, but Griffin fumbled at UCLA's 26 yard-line. 

The game appeared to be one that could get away from Ohio State as the Bruins turned the turnover into points. John Sciarra completed a pass for 13 yards during the 73-yard drive, but it was for a touchdown to James Sarpy.

Griffin mishandled the ensuing kickoff and the Buckeyes had to start their next possession on their own 8. In 10 plays, Green propelled the team the 92 yards for the tying score. His 50 rushing yards led the way and the final two went for a touchdown. During the point after, officials assessed UCLA a personal foul.

The flag proved costly as the penalty moved Ohio State's kickoff to the Bruins' 45-yard line. Instead of booting it through the end zone, Hayes told Skladany to kick an onside. The trickery worked and the kicker recovered the ball on the 34. The Buckeyes took advantage of the field position when Johnson scored six plays later from the 3-yard line.

Johnson and Green added two more touchdowns and Ohio State took a comfortable 28-7 lead into halftime. Hayes' team dominated the first half statistically, outgaining UCLA in total yards 291-87. Green ran for 122 yards, threw for 54 and scored two touchdowns.

Griffin got in on the scoring act on the Buckeyes' first possession of the second half, bursting over right guard for a 17-yard touchdown. He finished as the game's leading rusher with 167 yards and one touchdown.

UCLA scored near the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth. Green's fumble set up the last touchdown. However, two Klaban field goals were enough insurance for Ohio State to leave Los Angeles with a 41-20 victory.

After the game Hayes made this memorable quote about Griffin: "I'm always amazed with the youngster, he's a better young man than he is a football player and he's the best football player I've ever seen."

Woody predicted the Buckeyes would see UCLA in the Rose Bowl.

UCLA W1 2–1
IOWA W11 24–10–2
WISCONSIN W16 34–7–4
PURDUE W4 17–7–2
INDIANA W12 39–10–4
ILLINOIS W8 41–19–4
MICHIGAN W2 28–39–5
UCLA L1 2–2

October 25th • Purdue • Ross-Ade Stadium
Following the UCLA game, the AP Poll ranked Ohio State as its No. 1. The Buckeyes then took on Iowa and Wisconsin and Buckeye fans took those as guaranteed victories. 

The fans were correct. Ohio State blanked Iowa 49-0 and Wisconsin 56-0, the program's 11th straight victory over the Hawkeyes and 16th consecutive win against the Badgers.

A total of 69,405 fans – the third largest in Ross-Ade Stadium history – were on hand to possibly witness history. Griffin entered the contest 115 yards behind Ed Marinaro's all-time career rushing record of 4,715 yards. 

On this 49-degree day in West Lafayette, No. 1 Ohio State jumped out to a 21-6 halftime lead. Johnson was the workhorse of the half and rushed for 108 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries.

Griffin only had 36 yards on nine carries. He had some work to do just to reach the century mark for the 28th straight game. It appeared the all-time record would have to wait for Indiana in Ohio Stadium.

Hayes called for Griffin to carry 11 times in the second half and he made the most of his opportunities. With 8:26 left in the game, Griffin took a first down handoff 23 yards over right guard. The carry would be his last of the game, but was enough to break the all-time career rushing record. 

After the game, Griffin said this about the achievement: "This is really great, I never thought about it until I started reading about it. But I owe a lot of praise to the offensive line and the guys in the backfield. 

"A lot of them don't get the recognition they should get and I wish you'd give them recognition," he continued Without them, there's no way in the world I could have ever gotten even close to getting it."

Ohio State won the game 35-6 and remained undefeated.

Griffin's run to break the all-time rushing record:

November 22nd • #4 Michigan • Michigan Stadium
Indiana, Illinois and Minnesota served as appetizers before The Game. The Hoosiers put up more of a fight than expected, but the Buckeyes prevailed 24-14.

Illinois kicked a field goal in the first quarter to lead 3-0, but from there, Ohio State scored 40 straight points to win 40-3.

In Griffin's last home game, he pushed his 100-yard streak to 31 games with 124 against Minnesota. The Buckeyes won 38-6 and headed to Ann Arbor with the Big Ten title on the line

No. 4 Michigan (8–0–2) was the only thing that stood between No. 1 Ohio State and its fourth straight Rose Bowl. The Wolverines sat undefeated in the Big Ten and had a 41-game home winning streak.

Schembechler's team – a six-point underdog – did everything in its power to prevent Griffin from winning the game. Michigan's plan to stop Griffin worked — he failed to rush for 100 yards and did not score. However, Schembechler's goal of keeping a Griffin from winning the game failed.

The Buckeyes led 7-0 after the first quarter after Green connected with Johnson on an 8-yard touchdown pass. Michigan tied it just before halftime when Gordon Bell took a pitch then threw the ball to Jim Smith, who made a sensational grab in the back of the end zone. The touchdown came with only 24 seconds left before half.  

Griffin then fumbled the kickoff at the 21-yard line and the Wolverines recovered. After three unsuccessful plays, Bob Wood was called upon to kick a 37-yard field goal. His kick sailed wide left and the Buckeyes dodged a big bullet.

Early in the third, Michigan attempted another field goal. This time, Schembechler called upon Gregg Willner to attempt a 53-yard kick. Willner's boot fell well short and the score remained 7-7.

At the start of the fourth quarter, The Wolverines pinned Ohio State at the 6-yard line with a stellar punt. The Buckeyes went three-and-out and, after a 39-yard punt, Michigan took over at the Ohio State 43. The Wolverines took advantage of the short field and Leach capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge. Michigan led 14-7 with 7:11 left.

Ohio State's comeback via the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Up to then, Ohio State could not move the ball, on the ground or through the air, since the first-quarter scoring drive. The Bucks had nine possessions and were forced to punt each time because of Michigan's stiff defense.

Then the tide turned.


It was Greene's aerials late in the game that brought Ohio State from the brink of defeat. The senior from Washington, D.C., moved the Buckeyes 80 yards in 11 plays that tied the score, with Johnson smashing over from the half-foot line on fourth down.

In the drive, Greene fired a 17-yard pass to wingback Brian Baschnagel and followed with two passes in a row to Lenny Willis for 14 and 18 yards. It was Baschnagel's pass that proved to be the key play, according to Hayes.


But the Buckeyes weren't through. They wrapped it up with 2:19 left in the game when Johnson crashed over from thee yards out after sophomore Ray Griffin picked off Michigan quarterback Rick Leach's pass on the Wolverine 32 and brought it back to the Michigan 3.

Johnson scored all three of Ohio State's touchdowns and Ray Griffin came up with the game-changing interception.

This marked the seventh time in eight seasons the winner of The Game doubled as Big Ten champion. The victory gave Hayes his 11th Big Ten title in 25 years.

The Buckeyes were now 28–39–5 against Michigan, and Hayes improved his record to 16–8–1.

January 1st • #11 UCLA • Rose Bowl
It's never easy to beat a team twice in the same season that rang true in the 1976 Rose Bowl. 

Ohio State dominated the first half and gained 174 yards and 11 first downs. The Bruins managed just 48 total yards, but only trailed the Buckeyes 3-0 at the break.

A brief recap of the action according to the 2015 Ohio State Team Guide: 

All-America quarterback John Sciarra led UCLA to 23 second-half points to upset top-ranked and previously unbeaten Ohio State. Sciarra hit on nine of 13 second-half attempts for 173 yards, helping the Bruins amass 366 yards in total offense in the half.

Despite the backfield of Big Ten MVP Cornelius Greene, two-time Heisman Trophy Award winner Archie Griffin and national scoring leader Pete Johnson, OSU was limited to 124 yards in the second half.

Johnson scored early in the fourth quarter and Ohio State trailed 16-10 with 11:46 remaining. Unfortunately, Wendell Tyler ended the comeback when he scored on a 54-yard run to give UCLA the 23-10 victory.

The Buckeyes' senior class played in four consecutive Rose Bowls, but only won one. Another chance at a national championship ended in Pasadena. 

1975 Recap

  • Ohio State made amends for 1974 by defeating Michigan State 21-0 in East Lansing.
  • The Buckeyes defeated No. 7 Penn State for the first time in program history. Joe Paterno lost 17-9 the first time he faced Ohio State.
  • No. 13 UCLA could not slow down the Buckeyes' offense as Hayes and the team won 41-20.  
  • Archie Griffin set the all-time rushing record against Purdue in West Lafayette.
  • The Buckeyes 40-3 victory against Illinois pushed OSU's record to 41–19–4 against the Illini.
  • Ohio State scored two late touchdowns to defeat No. 4 Michigan. It was the Wolverines' first home loss since Missouri beat them in 1969.
  • Dick Vermeil and UCLA defeated the Buckeyes 23-10 to snatch away a national championship. The loss left Ohio State's all-time record in the Rose Bowl at 5–5.
  • Ohio State was the No. 1 team in the nation for most of the season but finished 1975 at fourth in the AP Poll. 
  • Tim Fox, Archie Griffin, Tom Skladany and Ted Smith, were named All-Americans.
  • Tim Fox, Archie Griffin, Brian Baschnagel, Lenny Lewis, Ken Kuhn, Craig Cassady, Tom Klaban, Cornelius Green, Larry Kain, Pat Curto and Scott Dannelley were selected in the NFL Draft.

Archie Griffin won his second Heisman Trophy in 1975. He is the only player in college football history to win the award twice. Griffin finished his career with 5,589 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns.

For the second time in three years, Ohio State came one victory away from a perfect season and the AP Poll national championship. The senior class won four Big Ten titles, played in four Rose Bowls, and finished their careers with a 40–5–1 record.

View 42 Comments