With an exodus of starters from the 1998 squad, the next version of Ohio State football boasted 10 new faces in the lineup for the season opener.
Ohio State expected Austin Moherman, Reggie Germany and Key-Yon Rambo to replace Joe Germaine, David Boston and Dee Miller. Fans expected another top-10 season because of how the Buckeyes always reload.
|The 1999 Buckeyes|
|B1G Record||3–5, 8th|
|Coach||John Cooper (12th year, 103–39–4)|
|CaptainS||Matt Keller, Ahmed Plummer|
Games of Note
August 29th • #12 Miami • Giants Stadium
Miami struggled through mediocre seasons after being placed on probation, and coach Butch Davis tried to rebuild the program to dominance.
The Buckeyes led 9-7 for most of the half, but in the final 3:14 of the second quarter the Hurricanes scored 16 points. Kenny Kelly took a bootleg into the end zone from seven yards out, then with eight seconds on the clock, Kelly hooked up with Santana Moss for a 67-yard strike to give Miami a 23-9 halftime lead. Moss' long touchdown represented the turning point in the game.
A young Ohio State team could not find an offensive rhythm and only managed a Dan Stultz field goal in the final 30 minutes. Ohio State's 23-12 loss was its first opening game defeat since Alabama beat the Buckeyes in the 1986 Kickoff Classic.
Moherman ended the day 10-of-22 for 107 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Germany had a team-high 56 yards and four receptions, and Rambo had one catch for 1-yard.
After the game, John Cooper stated the obvious: "We need a lot of work. You name it, we need to work on it. Sometimes, the other team is better, but I don't feel we played as well as we could today."
|AUG. 29||NO. 12 MIAMI||GIANTS STADIUM||L, 12–23|
|SEP. 11||NO. 14 UCLA||OHIO STADIUM||W, 42–20|
|SEP. 18||OHIO||OHIO STADIUM||W, 40–16|
|SEP. 25||CINCINNATI||OHIO STADIUM||W, 34–20|
|OCT. 2||WISCONSIN||OHIO STADIUM||L, 17–42|
|OCT. 9||NO. 17 PURDUE||OHIO STADIUM||W, 25–22|
|OCT. 16||NO. 2 PENN STATE||BEAVER STADIUM||L, 10–23|
|OCT. 23||NO. 24 MINNESOTA||METRODOME||W, 20–17|
|OCT. 30||IOWA||OHIO STADIUM||W, 41–11|
|NOV. 6||NO. 19 MICH. ST.||SPARTAN STADIUM||L, 7–23|
|NOV. 13||ILLINOIS||OHIO STADIUM||L, 20-46|
|NOV. 20||NO. 10 MICHIGAN||MICHIGAN STADIUM||L, 17–24|
September 11th • #14 UCLA • Ohio Stadium
Despite the lackluster performance against Miami, the Buckeyes only fell four spots to No. 13 in the rankings.
The fourth night game in Ohio Stadium history brought the turning-point in Steve Bellisari's quarterback career. The Buckeyes trailed No. 14 UCLA 10-7 with 8:59 left before halftime. The offense struggled with Moherman in the early going, so Cooper turned to the sophomore from Florida.
On his first drive, Bellisari took the team 60 yards in five plays and threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Rambo. Germany set up the score with a leaping 39-yard reception that put the ball on the 7.
After the defense held the Bruins, Bellisari came back out on the field. This time, he used his legs to keep the drive alive. Facing 3rd-and-8 from the Bruins' 28, Cooper called a quarterback draw and Bellisari evaded UCLA defenders for an 11-yard gain. A few plays later Wiley rushed in from five yards out and Ohio State led 21-10 at intermission.
The Bruins pulled within four after they scored on their opening drive of the second half, but failed to get any closer the rest of the game.
On the possession after Jamar Martin's 3-yard touchdown run, Bellisari made the play of the game. Rambo took a reverse from Wiley and gained 12 yards. Bellisari's decleating block of defensive end Rusty Williams brought the sellout crowd of 93,283 to its feet on the run.
The Buckeyes outscored UCLA 21-10 in the second half and easily won 42-20.
"I am a happy coach tonight," Cooper said. "This is a good win for us. UCLA is an extremely good team, offensively and defensively."
October 9th • #17 Purdue • Ohio Stadium
No. 21 Ohio State (3–2) faced Drew Brees and No. 17 Purdue on a rainy and windy 66-degree Saturday. The Buckeyes entered on the heels of a 42-17 loss to Wisconsin in a game that the Badgers outscored them 32-0 in the second half. Brees and the Boilermakers readied to test the defense yet again.
Purdue's Larry Shyne received the opening kickoff, fumbled and Gary Berry recovered at the 30-yard line. The Buckeyes proceeded to run the ball and Derek Combs crossed the goal line from a yard out to give his team a 7-0 lead 2:40 into the game.
The Boilermakers scored the next 13 points and led 13-7 at halftime. A Bellisari fumble near midfield set up Travis Dorsch's field goal just before the horn.
Late in the third quarter, Ohio State scored the first 10 points of the second half and regained the lead 17-13. Brees responded and directed two quick scoring drives. Following Dorsch's 22-yard field goal, Willie Fells came up with the Boilermakers' second interception and returned it to the OSU 5-yard line. Montrell Lowe took the first down handoff and extended the lead to 22-17. Joe Tiller went for two, but the pass failed.
At the 10:26 mark, the Buckeyes started a 13-play, 76-yard scoring drive on their own 24. Three plays kept the game-winning drive alive. On 3rd-and-2 on his own 43, Wiley took a pitch and ran 17 yards for the first down. After two incompletions, Bellisari dropped back on 3rd-and-10 and connected with Germany for a 15-yard gain to the Purdue 25. Three plays later, Ohio State faced 4th-and-1 from the 16. Bellisari's sneak netted seven yards, and Wells recorded the game-winning touchdown with 5:13 on the clock. Wiley's 2-point conversion made the final score 25-22.
Brees did give Purdue a chance to tie the game. He had the Boilermakers on Ohio State's 12-yard line, but could not convert a first down. Tiller – in his first year at Purdue – sent his kick team onto the field. The snap and hold were good, Dorsch put his foot on the ball, but Brent Johnson blocked and recovered the field goal attempt.
October 23rd • #24 Minnesota • Metrodome
The last time Minnesota defeated the Buckeyes came in 1981. Heading into the fourth quarter, Glen Mason's No. 24 Gophers led 17-14.
With the offense struggling, Cooper used both Bellisari and Moherman at quarterback throughout the game. At the 8:14 mark – and still down 3 – Cooper turned to Bellisari. The sophomore directed the team to the Minnesota 10 but saw the drive stall after a personal foul pushed it back to the 25. Unfazed, Stultz nailed a 43-yard field goal to tie the game at 17 with 6:18 remaining.
Ohio State's defense forced the Gophers to punt and took over on its own 38 with 4:40 on the clock. Over the next nine plays, Cooper called for eight runs, enabling Wells and Wiley to power the ball to the Minnesota 22. With 1:15 left, Stultz calmly walked out and made the 40-yard game-winning field goal.
Matt Wilhelm clinched the victory when he recovered Tyrone Carter's fumble on the kick return.
"Coach Mason has done a good job with the team," Cooper said. "There's no question they'll win enough games to get into a bowl. We did not want them to beat us today."
The next week, Ohio State defeated Iowa and only needed one more victory over its last three games to become bowl eligible.
November 19th • #19 Michigan State • Spartan Stadium
Scott Edinger kicked a 45-yard field goal in the early stages of the second quarter to give Michigan State a 3-0 lead. Nick Saban's team never looked back.
Michigan State's defense limited No. 20 Ohio State's offense to 22 yards rushing and 79 yards passing — the entire game.
Ohio State's only scores came off of Spartan turnovers, two of which put the ball on the 3-yard line. Wiley's 4-yard touchdown catch made the score 17-7. Edinger kicked two more field goals as Michigan State won 23-7.
"What you saw today was just a good old-fashioned butt-kicking," said Cooper. "The game was not as close as the score indicates. We couldn't do anything on offense. Their blitzing killed us on defense and our special teams were horrible. Our team couldn't kick, pass or rush. We simply got embarrassed."
This was the final time a Saban-coached team played Ohio State until Jan. 1, 2015.
In Week 11, Illinois ruined the home finale by defeating Ohio State 46-20. The reeling Buckeyes had to defeat Michigan in order to become bowl eligible.
November 20th • #10 Michigan • Michigan Stadium
Unranked Ohio State had a lot riding on the line against its rival. A win put the Buckeyes in a bowl game and prevent the team from losing three straight games for the first time since 1988. A loss dropped Cooper to 2–8–1 in The Game and his team would be home for the holidays.
OSU led at 14-7 at halftime, but only managed a field goal in the final two quarters. With the game tied at 17 and a little over five minutes on the clock, Tom Brady had the Wolverines on the Buckeyes' 10 yard-line. In front of an NCAA record crowd of 111,575, Brady threw the winning touchdown pass to Marquise Walker.
"I knew they were coming with a blitz," said Brady. "I saw nobody was covering Marquise, but I didn't want to stare at them. I looked the other way and as soon as I got the ball, I threw it to him. He made a great move to get into the end zone."
Brady finished 17-of-27 for 150 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.
Cooper fell to 2–8–1 against Michigan but signed a five-year extension the Friday before the Purdue game to secure his job.
- No. 9 Ohio State lost to a resurgent Miami Hurricane team 23-12. The victory helped propel Miami to its dominant run in the early 2000s.
- Ohio Stadium's fourth night game ended with the 13th-ranked Buckeyes beating No. 14 UCLA 42-20.
- OSU scored in every quarter in a 40-16 rout of Ohio University.
- John Cooper earned his 100th career victory at Ohio State with a 34-20 win over Cincinnati.
- Ron Dayne rushed for 161 yards and scored a career-high four touchdowns as Wisconsin embarrassed the ninth-ranked Buckeyes 42-17.
- With 53 seconds left, Brent Johnson blocked a 30-yard field goal attempt to preserve Ohio State's 25-22 victory against Purdue.
- The Buckeyes only totaled 143 yards in a 23-10 loss to No. 2 Penn State.
- Dan Stultz's 40-yard field goal with 1:15 to play gave No. 22 a 20-17 win over 25th-ranked Minnesota.
- Ken-Yon Rambo caught seven passes for 179 yards and Ohio State defeated Iowa 41-11. Archie Griffin's jersey was retired.
- Michigan State held the Buckeyes to 22 rushing yards and 101 total and won 23-7.
- Kurt Kittner threw four touchdown passes and Illinois beat OSU 46-20, the Scarlet and Gray still led 52–21–2 in the battle for the Illibuck.
- Ohio State could not hold onto a 14-7 halftime lead and lost to Michigan 24-17.
- Na'il Diggs earned All-American honors.
- Ahmed Plummer, Na'il Diggs, Gary Berry, Michael Wiley, James Cotton and Kevin Houser were selected in the NFL Draft.
- Ohio State started the season ranked No. 9, but finished unranked.
For the second time during John Cooper's Ohio State career, his team failed to make a bowl game. Although he became only the second head coach in school history to win 100 games, his achievement was overshadowed by the 6–6 season.
The loss to Miami in the season opener served as an indicator that things might not be going in the right direction for Cooper and the Buckeyes. The 1999 team suffered from inexperience and inconsistency at the quarterback position. Unlike previous years, Ohio State did not reload and questions lingered for 2000.
A bright spot for the season was when Andy Geiger retired Archie Griffin's No. 45 during the Iowa game. It was the first number retired in any sport in Ohio State's history.