Robert Smith decided to return to the football field in 1992 following a season off.
His departure in 1991 came as shock considering he left two weeks before the season started. Smith teamed up with Butler By'not'e, Raymont Harris and a hard-working freshman named Eddie George in the backfield in coach John Cooper's fifth season. The squad set out to end the program's four-game losing streak to Michigan and tally its first bowl win under Cooper.
|The 1992 Buckeyes|
|B1G Record||5–2–1, 2nd|
|Coach||John Cooper (5th year, 35–21–3)|
|CaptainS||Kirk Herbstreit, Steve Tovar|
Games of Note
September 5th • Louisville • Ohio Stadium
A non-sellout crowd of 89,653 watched the Scarlet and Gray play an ugly game in Ohio Stadium's 400th game. The Buckeyes had six penalties, threw two interceptions and lost a fumble in the fourth quarter.
In the second quarter, Joey Galloway took a reverse 50 yards for Ohio State's first touchdown of the season to push its lead to 10-0. With 11 seconds to go before halftime, Louisville's Jeff Brohm found Greg Brohm for a 3-yard touchdown pass. Steve Tovar blocked Ken Harden's point after try, a play that turned out to be a game-changer later on.
The Cardinals took a 13-10 lead late in the third when Ralph Dawkins capped a five-play, 59-yard drive with a 5-yard run through the left guard. The Buckeyes scored 42 seconds later as Jeff Cothran rumbled in from nine yards out. Smith's 24-yard kickoff return which turned into 39 yards after a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty against Louisville fueled the quick scoring drive.
Ohio State completed a 7:29 drive in the fourth quarter that ended with a Williams' field goal to grow the lead to 20-13 with only 3:09 left. The Cardinals did not roll over and Dawkins scored a touchdown with 33 seconds left.
Down 20-19, Howard Schellenberger elected to go for two and the win. Brohm dropped back, chased by Dan "Big Daddy" Wilkinson, and sailed a pass to Dawkins too far and out of the end zone. The Buckeyes recovered the onside kick and started the season with a closer than expected win.
Bowling Green represented the Week 2 opponent, the inaugural meeting between the schools and the first time Ohio State played an in-state program since defeating Western Reserve 76-0 in 1934. To go deeper, the Case game happened in Cleveland, so this was the first Ohio team the Buckeyes hosted since beating Ohio Wesleyan in 1932.
The Falcons scored first when quarterback Eric White ran in from the 9-yard line. They missed the point after and BG led 6-0. Ohio State's defense created six turnovers and Eddie George recorded his first collegiate touchdown as the Buckeyes scored 17 straight to win 17-6.
Galloway was lost for the season when he suffered a knee injury on a kickoff return in the second quarter.
|SEP. 5||LOUISVILLE||OHIO STADIUM||W, 20–19|
|SEP. 12||BOWLING GREEN||OHIO STADIUM||W, 17–6|
|SEP. 19||NO. 8 SYRACUSE||CARRIER DOME||W, 35–12|
|OCT. 3||WISCONSIN||CAMP RANDALL||L, 16–20|
|OCT. 10||ILLINOIS||OHIO STADIUM||L, 16–18|
|OCT. 17||NORTHWESTERN||OHIO STADIUM||W, 31–7|
|OCT. 24||MICHIGAN STATE||SPARTAN STADIUM||W, 27–17|
|OCT. 31||IOWA||KINNICK STADIUM||W, 38–15|
|NOV. 7||MINNESOTA||OHIO STADIUM||W, 17–0|
|NOV. 14||INDIANA||MEMORIAL STADIUM||W, 27–10|
|NOV. 21||NO. 6 MICHIGAN||OHIO STADIUM||T, 13–13|
|JAN. 1||NO. 8 GEORGIA||CITRUS BOWL||L, 14–21|
September 19th • #8 Syracuse • Carrier Dome
Following two lackluster offensive performances, questions arose about No. 21 Ohio State's fire power.
Both teams went three-and-out to start the game, but then the Buckeyes' offense came alive. Herbstreit directed touchdown drives on the next three possessions. He connected with Brian Stablein for a 46-yard score and George had two short touchdown runs to give Ohio State a 21-6 lead at halftime.
Marvin Graves 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter pulled Syracuse to within 21-12, but the two-point conversion failed. From there, Smith and George added two late touchdowns in the fourth and the Buckeyes got a little revenge for the Citrus Bowl loss.
Despite having a cracked rib, Smith rushed for a team-high 82 yards. George's three-touchdown performance secured the 35-12 victory.
The following week, No. 12 Ohio State traveled to Madison and lost 20-16. Barry Alvarez picked up his first win against the Buckeyes in his third attempt with Wisconsin.
October 10th • Illinois • Ohio Stadium
The Buckeyes searched for their first win against Illinois since 1987 in Week 5. Like Michigan, Cooper was winless against the Illini as Ohio State's head coach.
By'not'e gave the offense great field position when he returned the opening kickoff to the 41-yard line. Eight plays later, the Buckeyes had 3rd-and-goal from the 1.
Herbstreit handed to George but the Illini defense stood up the freshman as he tried to go over the left guard. He fumbled during the scrum and Illinois' Jeff Arenson scooped it up and raced 96 yards for the touchdown. Unfortunately for Ohio State, George would turn the ball over twice more on the afternoon.
A Williams field goal and George 4-yard touchdown run gave Ohio State a 10-7 lead. Early in the second quarter, the Illini pinned a punt at the Buckeyes' 1-yard line. On second down, Ken Blackman bolted through the offensive line and smacked Smith for a safety.
After the free kick, Illinois drove 54 yards in 14 plays and Jeff Kinney scored on a keeper. Illinois converted the point after, but officials whistled Ohio State for being offside. Lou Tepper elected to go for two, but the Buckeyes stopped the attempt. Trailing 15-10, Ohio State's next drive stalled at the Illini 14 and Cooper called on Williams for a 31-yard field goal. The attempt sailed wide left and Illinois had 1:05 to work with.
Kinney dropped back to pass six straight times, and on the final attempt, Tim Walton picked him off. Walton returned it down the right sideline for 59 yards to the Illini 5-yard line. With only five seconds on the clock, Cooper again called upon Williams for a field goal attempt. This time, Williams' 25-yard field goal sailed through the uprights to get Ohio State within 15-13 at the half.
Williams kicked his third field goal on the Buckeyes' first possession of the second half to push his team ahead 16-15. Neither team scored the rest of the period and Ohio State's clung to a one-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Early in the fourth, George lost his third fumble. This turnover led to Chris Richardson's game-winning 21-yard field goal.
Williams had a chance to put Ohio State up with 53 seconds left in the game, but his 44-yard field goal try went wide left. The loss pushed Cooper's record against Illinois to 0–5 and Eddie George became known as the freshman who could not hold onto the ball.
November 21st • #6 Michigan • Ohio Stadium
After the tough loss against Illinois, Ohio State (8–2) defeated Northwestern, Michigan State, Iowa, Minnesota and Indiana in successive weeks. Even with the five-game winning streak, some called for Cooper to lose his job if he did not defeat No. 6 Michigan (8–0–2).
With 4:24 left, Herbstreit connected with Greg Beatty on a 5-yard touchdown strike that made the score 13-12 in favor of the Wolverines. Cooper had to decide to either go for two or kick the extra point. He elected for the latter and the reliable Williams tied the game at 13.
The Buckeyes' defense forced Michigan into a three-and-out and a short 35-yard punt. Herbstreit and the offense took over at their own 45 and had 3:19 to get in position for the winning score.
On first down, Herbstreit dropped back to pass but suffered a six-yard loss on a sack. Herbstreit hit Cedric Saunders for a nine-yard gain on second down. Cooper called for another pass play on third-and-7 and Beatty caught the ball for a 3-yard gain. Facing 4th-and-4 from the Michigan 49, Cooper had another decision to make. Go for the first down, or punt. After the backlash he received for going for it on 4th-and-1 from his own 29 in 1990, Cooper elected to punt.
This time, the defense could not stop the Wolverines until Walter Taylor made an interception as time ran out.
Why did Cooper play it safe and not go for the two-point conversion? He said, "I thought if we held them, which we did, we would get the ball back and have a chance to go down and kick the winning field."
Cooper's explanation for punting on 4th-and-4 from the 49: "Everyone says, 'Gamble, coach,' then we lose, and all I hear is how many times we've lost to Michigan."
One person who viewed the tie as anything but a tie was Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee.
"This tie is one of our greatest wins ever," Gee said. "You don't need to read through the lines to see that this guy is doing a hell of a job, right?"
If there was any doubt about if the university still supported Cooper, this statement let the fans and supporters who wanted him out know that he wasn't going anywhere.
Herbstreit did not share the same sentiments as Gee following the tie.
"It feels like a loss to me," he said. "I haven't beaten Michigan yet, and now I'll never be on a team that beats them."
For the series, Ohio State trailed 33–50–6.
January 1st • Georgia • Citrus Bowl
The marquee matchup in the 1993 Citrus Bowl pitted Georgia running back Garrison Hearst against Robert Smith. Both backs sat high on NFL draft boards and each rushed for more than 100 yards in the New Year's Day bowl game.
A recap of the game between No. 8 Georgia and No. 15 Ohio State from the 2015 Ohio State Team Guide:
Ohio State and Georgia, two of college football’s most storied teams, were
paired against one another for the first time in the Florida Citrus Bowl. The two teams qualified for the trip to Orlando by virtue of second-place finishes in their respective conferences.
The two teams battled back-and-forth early and were tied at 14 at the end of the third quarter. Midway through the final quarter the Buckeyes drove deep into Georgia territory and appeared ready to take the lead. But a fumbled handoff, that Georgia recovered at its own 16-yard line, thwarted the OSU drive.
Given new life, the Bulldogs marched 84 yards in 11 plays, scoring the winning touchdown with 4:32 to play. All-America tailback Garrison Hearst had an All-America day for Georgia, rushing for 163 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries. But it was the passing of QB Eric Zeier, who threw for 241 yards, that kept the Buckeyes off balance.
Hearst finished the game with 163 rushing yards and two touchdowns, Smith had 112 yards and also had two touchdowns.
Cooper coached teams were now 0–9–1 against Michigan and bowl opponents.
- No. 17 Ohio State defeated Louisville 20-19 in Ohio Stadium's 400th game. Joey Galloway scored his first collegiate touchdown.
- Eddie George scored his first collegiate touchdown in the 17-6 win over Bowling Green. This game marked the first time the Buckeyes played an Ohio opponent since 1934.
- George recorded three touchdowns as Ohio State defeated No. 8 Syracuse 35-12.
- Wisconsin knocked off the 12th ranked Buckeyes 20-16 in Madison.
- Eddie George's three fumbles proved instrumental to Illinois' 18-16 upset of the Buckeyes. This was Ohio State's fifth straight loss to the Illini.
- Bobby Hoying threw his first touchdown pass as a Buckeye in the 31-7 rout of Northwestern. The Wildcats had not defeated Ohio State in 21 years.
- The offense racked up 412 yards and Steve Tovar had 13 solo tackles in the 27-17 victory over Michigan State in Spartan Stadium.
- Robert Smith rushed for 129 and two touchdowns as the Buckeyes defeated Iowa 38-15. Smith became the first player to run for over 100 yards since Carlos Snow in 1991.
- Kirk Herbstreit threw for a career-high 217 yards and Ohio State blanked Minnesota 17-0, its first shutout since Iowa in 1989.
- No. 19 Ohio State beat Indiana 27-10 on a snowy and cold day. Smith rushed for a career-high 175 yards and two touchdowns, his third straight 100-yard game.
- John Cooper chose to kick an extra point to tie The Game at 13 with 4:24 on the clock. He decided not to go for it on 4th-and-4 at the 49 with just over a minute remaining.
- A fumbled hand off between Herbstreit and Jeff Cothran at the Gerogia 16-yard line led to the Bulldogs game-winning, fourth-quarter drive.
- For the eighth straight season, Ohio State suffered two consecutive losses.
- Steve Tovar was named an All-American for the second consecutive year.
- Robert Smith, Roger Harper, Steve Tovar and Brain Stablein were selected in the NFL Draft.
- Ohio State started the season ranked 17th, rose to 12th, but finished No. 18.
For the first time in five seasons, Ohio State did not lose to Michigan. Despite Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee's proclamation, the tie did not resonate as a win for fans. Cooper was now 0–8–1 against the Wolverines and bowl opponents. The defense allowed 158 points, the lowest since the 1979 team gave up 126 points.
Robert Smith led the team in rushing (819) and finished his career with 1,945 yards in two seasons of play. Kirk Herbstreit threw for 1,904 yards and Brian Stablein had a team-high 643 receiving yards.
For the third consecutive year, Tim Williams led the team in scoring (79) and Steve Tovar led the team with 128 tackles. Tovar finished his career fourth on Ohio State's all-time tackles list (408).