Ohio State won five of its final six games in 2004. The strong finish and an early season matchup with Texas had fans excited for 2005.
The contest with the No. 2 Longhorns in Ohio Stadium dominated headlines all offseason. The first meeting between the two powerhouse programs oozed with national championship implications. Ohio State had explosive weapons at wide receiver, a dominant defense and the makings of a championship team.
|The 2005 Buckeyes|
|B1G Record||7–1, 1st|
|Coach||Jim Tressel (5th year, 50–13)|
AJ Hawk, Nick Mangold,
Nate Salley, Rob Sims
Games of Note
September 10th • #2 Texas • Ohio Stadium
An early season showdown that had all the makings of a national championship game, No. 4 Ohio State hosted Texas and its star quarterback Vince Young.
The Buckeyes opened the game on offense and promptly left the field after a three-and-out due to Justin Zwick failing to complete either of his pass attempts. Young started Texas' first drive at his own 12-yard line and marched 64 yards in 11 plays to set up a David Pino 42-yard field goal.
Following another stalled drive by Zwick, Texas had the ball on its own 16. This time, Young guided his team 84 yards and finished the 10-play drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Billy Pittman.
Troy Smith then entered the game at quarterback and on his first possession led the offense to three points in the form of a Josh Huston 45-yard field goal. The defense finally held Young and the Longhorns and got the ball back to Ohio State's offense with a chance to even the score.
This time, Smith started on his own 20 and finished the drive with a 36-yard scoring strike to Santonio Holmes on 3rd-and-8. Another key play in the drive came from Anthony Gonzalez, whose 12-yard reception on 3rd-and-5 from Ohio State's 39 kept the drive alive. The score tied the game at 10 with 8:11 left in the half.
Linebacker A.J. Hawk intercepted Young at the Longhorns' 42-yard and returned it 24 yards to the 18. On 3rd-and-3 from the 11, Texas sacked Smith for an eight-yard loss and Huston came on to kick his second field goal.
On the Longhorns' next drive, Jay Richardson forced Selvin Young to fumble on the second play. Hawk recovered the ball and the Buckeyes were back in business at the Texas 30. After Smith hit Gonzalez for a 21-yard gain, he hooked up with Holmes for a 12-yard pass that gave Ohio State a 1st-and-goal from the six.
Smith lost two yards on first down, missed Holmes on second down, and his third down pass to Hamby was broken up by defenders. Huston made a chip shot 25-yard kick for his fourth field goal of the game. The Buckeyes now led 16-10.
With 35 seconds remaining in the half, Tarell Brown returned the ensuing kickoff to the 31-yard line and Antonio Smith's personal foul moved the ball to the 46. Young hit Jamaal Charles on a crossing pattern that the speedy back took all the way down to the OSU 18. After a six-yard rush by Young, Hawk sacked him for a loss of eight yards. With two seconds left, Pino kicked another field goal to make the score 16-13.
On the second play of the second half, Nate Salley intercepted Young at the 37. Antonio Pittman rushed for a first down, but Ohio State's drive stalled at the 26. Huston made his fourth field goal to extend the lead to six.
Texas answered again. Billy Pittman ran a crossing route and caught Young's pass then raced 63 yards to the Ohio State 5-yard line. After a false start on first down, Young ran the ball twice and Texas had 3rd-and-goal from the 4. Bobby Carpenter contained the star quarterback and dropped him for a four-yard loss. Pino made a 25-yard field goal to make the score 19-16.
The field goal barrage continued on Ohio State's next possession. Ted Ginn Jr. returned the kick 46 yards to put the offense in great field position at the 47. Zwick re-entered at quarterback and hit Roy Hall for an incredible 22-yard catch that took the ball to the Longhorns' 13.
After a five-yard Pittman run and an incomplete pass, Ohio State faced 3rd-and-5 from the 8-yard line. Zwick took the snap and fired a quick pass to Hamby over the middle. The tight end had the ball bounce off his chest, he tried to grab it, but threw it up in the air. A streaking Cedric Griffin popped him hard before he could complete the catch.
Jim Tressel called upon Huston for the fifth time and the kicker made a 26-yard kick to stretch the lead to 22-16. Ten minutes later, he had a chance to make a program record sixth field goal, but his 50-yard attempt sailed wide left. Had the try been true, Ohio State would have had a two-score lead with five minutes remaining.
Young took advantage of the decent field position. Seven plays later, he connected with Limas Sweed on a 24-yard scoring strike on the left side of the end zone. The Longhorns' took a 23-22 lead with only 2:37 to play.
"Sweed came off the ball real good and I threw the ball to the outside so he could go out of bounds or make the great play and Sweed made a great play for us," Young said.
"Obviously, he's a great runner," Hawk said. "Tonight he showed us he's a great passer."
On the first play from scrimmage after the Sweed touchdown, Zwick rushed left and fumbled. Texas' Brian Robison recovered and took the ball to the OSU 21. Eventually, the Longhorns faced 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line with 29 seconds remaining. Mack Brown elected to go for it, but Ohio State stopped Henry Melton short.
Down one, with 25 seconds left and needing close to 65 yards, Texas tackled Smith in the end zone for a 1-yard loss and a safety. Texas won 25-22 and went on to defeat USC in the Rose Bowl for the national championship.
|SEP. 3||MIAMI, OH||OHIO STADIUM||W, 34–14|
|SEP. 10||NO. 2 TEXAS||OHIO STADIUM||L, 22–25|
|SEP. 17||SAN DIEGO STATE||OHIO STADIUM||W, 27–6|
|SEP. 24||NO. 21 IOWA||OHIO STADIUM||W, 31–6|
|OCT. 8||NO. 16 PENN ST.||BEAVER STADIUM||L, 10–17|
|OCT. 15||NO. 16 MICH. ST.||OHIO STADIUM||W, 35–24|
|OCT. 22||INDIANA||MEMORIAL||W, 41–10|
|OCT. 29||MINNESOTA||METRODOME||W, 45–31|
|NOV. 5||ILLINOIS||OHIO STADIUM||W, 40–2|
|NOV. 12||NO. 25 N'WESTERN||OHIO STADIUM||W, 48-7|
|NOV. 19||NO. 17 MICHIGAN||MICHIGAN STADIUM||W, 25–21|
|JAN. 2||NO. 5 NOTRE DAME||FIESTA BOWL||W, 34-20|
September 24th • #21 Iowa • Ohio Stadium
Revenge sat on the minds of the Buckeyes due to the 33-7 loss suffered in Iowa City a year earlier. On this 68-degree day with scattered rain, No. 8 Ohio State put it to the Hawkeyes.
"This was a tough one," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "We took it right on the chin."
The OSU defense held Iowa to negative nine yards rushing in the game. After three quarters, Kirk Ferentz's team only had 70 yards of offense. The team averaged 428 yards per game entering this game, but finished with only 137. Pittman rushed for 171 yards, Smith threw for 191 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns in the 33-6 victory.
This marked the first time since 1976 that a tailback and quarterback back both rushed for over 100 yards in the same game. Jeff Logan and Cornelius Green reached the milestone in a win over Michigan State.
"We'll be able to go to the film and find a lot that wasn't perfect, but I thought we played the best we've played thus far," Tressel said. "That's what you hope to do each week, get a little bit better."
October 8th • #16 Penn State • Beaver Stadium
On a cold, wet night in State College, No. 16 Penn State hosted the sixth-ranked Buckeyes. In a game highlighted by defensive play, a span of just under three minutes determined the game's outcome.
With 10:20 left in the first half, Derrick Williams rushed in from 13 yards out to give PSU a 7-3 lead. On the third play of Ohio State's next drive, Calvin Lowry intercepted Smith and returned the ball to the Buckeyes' 2. Three plays later Michael Robinson rushed in to give the Nittany Lions a 14-3 lead.
The Buckeyes responded with an 81-yard, 14-play touchdown drive that ended with a Smith 10-yard run with 33 seconds left in the first half. However, those were the last points scored by Ohio State as Joe Paterno's team won 17-10.
Ohio State had a chance to tie the game, but on 2nd-and-7 from the PSU 45, Tamba Hali sacked Smith and the quarterback fumbled on the play. Scott Paxson recovered for the home team and all but sealed the victory.
After the game, Dan Connor – who had 12 tackles and a sack – had these bold words: "Everyone feels that Penn State is back," Connor said, "We're back on the map."
|SAN DIEGO STATE||W3||3–0|
October 15th • #16 Michigan State • Ohio Stadium
Michigan State came calling the week following the disappointing loss to Penn State.
This game turned on one play just before halftime. The Spartans led 17-7 and had the ball with time running out in the first half. Confusion on the Michigan State sideline led to the field goal unit getting sent on the field late. The rushed attempt was blocked by Salley and Ashton Youboty scooped it up and raced it back 72 yards for a touchdown and a 10-point swing.
Spartans' coach John L. Smith was understandably not happy about the gaffe, especially because there were only 10 players on the field during the blocked kick.
"It was a mess – a total mess," Smith said. "That's a coaching blunder."
The Buckeyes used the momentum shift to score 21 points in the second half and claim a 35-24 victory.
Smith threw for 249 yards and three touchdowns and Holmes caught five passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns. Pittman added 101 yards and averaged 5.6 yards per carry.
November 19th • #17 Michigan • Michigan Stadium
With a share of the Big Ten title on the line, No. 9 Ohio State traveled to Ann Arbor to take on the 17th-ranked Wolverines. The Buckeyes needed a win to tie Penn State for a share of the conference title.
Tressel's team led 12-7 at halftime, but an 11-point third quarter gave Michigan a lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Details of the deciding period from USA TODAY:
Smith started the winning drive at the Buckeyes 12 with 4:18 left and perhaps his biggest play was a 26-yard pass to a leaping Anthony Gonzalez to Michigan's 4 after he was almost sacked.
"Guys came off the edge, and I was just trying to stay alive," Smith said. "I saw Gonzalez pop open down the sideline, and I just tried to get him the ball as fast as I could."
Michigan got to midfield on its last drive, but its comeback hopes ended when receiver Tyler Ecker caught a short pass and tried to gain yards instead of running out of bounds.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock, the Buckeyes ran across the field and celebrated with their fans in the corner of the Big House.
Ohio State was able to overcome two turnovers and a poor punt that led to Wolverine scores. Other Buckeye errors included two pass interference calls, muffed punt returns, a missed extra-point and field goal. It turned out Ohio State didn't need Tressel ball to beat Michigan when it had No. 10 orchestrating the offense.
Smith finished the day with 300 passing yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 37 yards and a score. In two contests against the Wolverines, Smith had 686 passing yards and four touchdowns.
January 2nd • #5 Notre Dame • Fiesta Bowl
For the third time in 11 years, No. 4 Ohio State and the sixth-ranked Irish faced each other on the gridiron. Outside of the BCS National Championship Game, the Fiesta Bowl received the most attention nationally due to the storied history of each program.
The talk leading into the game was how Charlie Weis would use Brady Quinn and the Notre Dame offense to outscore the Buckeyes.
A recap of the 2006 Fiesta Bowl from the 2015 Ohio State Team Guide:
Led by Troy Smith and Ted Ginn Jr. on offense and All-America A.J. Hawk on defense, Ohio State ran roughshod over Notre Dame in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, downing the Irish 34-20 in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.
After Notre Dame opened with a 20-yard run by Darius Walker, it was all Ohio State. Smith and Ginn saw to that. First they hooked up on a 56-yard scoring pass. Then Ginn gave the Buckeyes the lead for good on a dazzling
68-yard reverse. Smith connected with Santonio Holmes on an 85-yard pass that gave the Buckeyes a 21-7 lead at intermission. Had it not been for two fumbles and a blocked field goal, the margin might have been greater.
A 60-yard TD run by Antonio Pittman sealed the win. Smith was the MVP of the game. A.J. Hawk was the defensive MVP with 12 tackles, including 3.5 TFLs.
Quinn finished with 286 passing yards but did not throw a touchdown pass. Ohio State's defense made the Irish one-dimensional as they held Notre Dame to 62 rushing yards.
Smith proved to be the better quarterback as he threw for 342 yards, two touchdowns and added another 66 yards on the ground. Holmes and Ginn Jr. combined for 291 receiving yards and two scores.
"We were lucky for it to be 21-7 at halftime," Weis said. "It very easily could have been a three-score game. The bottom line is they came up with the big play to put the game away."
Tressel improved to 4–1 in bowl games and 3–0 in BCS contests. The result also marked Notre Dame's eighth straight loss in a bowl game.
- Ted Ginn Jr. had a 42-yard touchdown reception and Donte Whitner had a 26-yard pick-six as No. 6 Ohio State routed Miami (OH) 34-14.
- Limas Sweed caught a 24-yard touchdown pass from Vince Young to give No. 2 Texas a 25-22 victory over the fourth-ranked Buckeyes.
- San Diego State scored on the first play from scrimmage, but Ohio State scored 27 straight in the 27-6 win.
- Revenge was served with a 33-6 incineration of Iowa. Antonio Pittman (171) and Troy Smith (127) became the first OSU tailback and quarterback to rush for over 100 yards in the same game since 1976.
- Michael Robinson's and Derrick Williams' rushing touchdowns three minutes apart in the second quarter were enough for No. 16 Penn State to defeat the sixth-ranked Buckeyes 17-10 in State College.
- Santonio Holmes caught five passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns in the 35-24 victory over Michigan State. Just before halftime, Nate Salley blocked a rushed MSU field goal attempt that Ashton Youboty scooped and scored on for a 10-point swing.
- Troy Smith ran for two touchdowns and threw for another to lead in the 41-10 beating of Indiana.
- No. 12 Ohio State and Minnesota were tied 17-17 at halftime, but the Buckeyes scored four touchdowns in the second half in the 45-31 win. Antonio Pittman rushed for 186 yards and two touchdowns.
- The Buckeyes defeated Illinois 40-2 and for the third straight game scored at least 40 points.
- A.J. Hawk returned a blocked punt for a touchdown, recorded eight tackles, a sack and forced a fumble in the 48-7 victory over Northwestern. The Wildcats scored first, but No. 10 Ohio State scored 48 straight.
- Troy Smith passed for 300 yards and a touchdown and rushed for a touchdown in the 25-21 win over the Wolverines. A key play was a 26-yard pass to Anthony Gonzalez that took the ball to the Michigan 4 on the game-winning drive.
- No. 4 Ohio State extended Notre Dame's bowl losing streak to eight as Troy Smith threw for 342 yards and two touchdowns.
- A.J. Hawk, Nick Mangold and Donte Whitner earned All-American honors. That was Hawk's second honor.
- A.J. Hawk, Donte Whitner, Bobby Carpenter, Santonio Holmes, Nick Mangold, Ashton Youboty, Anthony Schlegel, Nate Salley and Rob Sims were selected in the NFL Draft.
- Ohio State started the season ranked No. 6, fell to 15th but finished ranked fourth.
Ohio State claimed its 30th Big Ten title and finished with a 10–2 record in 2005. The team finished on a seven-game winning streak including victories over Michigan and Notre Dame. The Fiesta Bowl win marked Ohio State's third BCS bowl victory under Tressel, and the program's fourth straight victory in the postseason.
The 2005 team ended as one of the hottest teams in the nation. With a majority of its talented players returning, Ohio State was favored to run the table and win another national championship in 2006.