In 2007, Ohio State was predicted to finish third in the Big Ten. The loss Buckeyes had to replace a Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback and a pair of first-round NFL Draft picks.
No one knew much about Todd Boeckman, the incumbent starter at quarterback, and a Brian Robiskie had large shoes to fill at receiver. However, Chris "Beanie" Wells returned and appeared ready for a big season.
Star linebacker James Laurinaitis again led the defense, joined by Vernon Gholston and Jay Richardson in the front seven. Malcolm Jenkins and Donald Washington secured the secondary. The team was talented, but it was young and raw.
|The 2007 Buckeyes|
|B1G Record||7–1, 1st|
|Coach||Jim Tressel (7th year, 73–16)|
Kirk Barton, Dionte Johnson,
Games of Note
September 15th • Washington • Husky Stadium
For the first time in 13 years, No. 10 Ohio State played Washington in Seattle. In 1994, the Buckeyes left the Emerald City with a 25-16 loss.
On a 62-degree and cloudy day, Tressel rode the legs of Beanie Wells to get the ball to the Huskies' 27-yard line on the opening drive of the game. Ryan Pretorius missed wide left on a 44-yard field goal attempt, the long scoring opportunity for either team in the opening quarter.
Ohio State's second possession stalled at the Washington 11 but this time, Pretorius' kick was true to give his team a 3-0 lead. The Huskies drove in the middle of the second quarter and faced 3rd-and-goal from the 5. Jake Locker tried a shovel pass, only to have it intercepted by Laurinaitis.
Washington had the last possession of the second half and Locker marched his team 80 yards in 4:45. The Huskies' quarterback ran or threw on eight of the nine plays that led to a touchdown. From the Buckeyes' 23-yard line, Locker connected with Anthony Russo for a 23-yard touchdown pass with three seconds left. The home team went to the locker room with a 7-3 lead and momentum.
The Huskies received the second half kickoff and started right where they left off. Curtis Shaw returned the kick 35 yards to his own 41. With a short field, Locker proceeded to get his team to the Buckeyes' 19. Ohio State's defense stiffened and pushed Washington back 10 yards following two tackles-for-loss and a five-yard sack. Ryan Perkins attempted a 46-yard field goal, but Larry Grant blocked it and the Buckeyes took over at the 25.
Two plays after the blocked field goal, Boeckman and Robiskie hooked up for a 66-yard touchdown. Ohio State completed a 10-point swing and now led 10-7. On the ensuing kickoff, Devon Torrence forced Washington's Curtis Shaw to fumble and Scott James recovered at the Huskies' 25. Two Wells runs later and Ohio State led by 10.
Brian Hartline and Brandon Saine added touchdowns and Pretorius kicked another field goal as the Buckeyes went on to win 33-14. Ohio State and Washington have not played since.
|SEP. 1||Y'TOWN STATE||OHIO STADIUM||W, 38–6|
|SEP. 8||AKRON||OHIO STADIUM||W, 20–2|
|SEP. 15||WASHINGTON||HUSKY STADIUM||W, 33–14|
|SEP. 22||NORTHWESTERN||OHIO STADIUM||W, 58–7|
|SEP. 29||MINNESOTA||METRODOME||W, 30–7|
|OCT. 6||NO.23 PURDUE||ROSS-ADE||W, 23–7|
|OCT. 13||KENT STATE||OHIO STADIUM||W, 48–3|
|OCT. 20||MICHIGAN STATE||OHIO STADIUM||W, 24–17|
|OCT. 27||NO. 24 PENN ST.||BEAVER STADIUM||W, 37–17|
|NOV. 3||WISCONSIN||OHIO STADIUM||W, 38-17|
|NOV. 10||ILLINOIS||OHIO STADIUM||L, 21-28|
|NOV. 17||NO. 23 MICHIGAN||MICHIGAN STADIUM||W, 14–3|
|JAN. 7||NO. 2 LSU||BCS CHAMPIONSHIP||L, 24-38|
October 6th • #23 Purdue • Ross-Ade Stadium
An unseasonably warm 84-degree day greeted No. 4 Ohio State in West Lafayette.
The Buckeyes started the game as hot as the temperature and scored on their first possession. Ray Small capped a 9-play, 87-yard drive with a 26-yard touchdown catch.
Following Ohio State's score, the defense didn't allow Purdue to gain a yard and the Boilermakers punted after three snaps. Five plays later, Boeckman hit Hartline for a 6-yard touchdown. After two series and just over seven minutes, the Buckeyes led 14-0.
Pretorius made a 44-yard field goal early in the second quarter and Ohio State took a 17-0 lead into halftime. In the second half, the South African kicker booted two more field goals and the Buckeyes left Ross-Ade with a 23-7 victory.
"I didn't think that their offense had seen a defense like ours," Tressel said, "but still, it was their place, it was a big game, and they were all fifth-year seniors that have played against everything. Our guys did a great job."
Ohio State improved to 12–7 in games played in West Lafayette.
"If we keep winning, then the rankings will take care of themselves," Boeckman said. "If we win the Big Ten, we know we're going to have a shot at the national championship."
November 10th • Illinois • Ohio Stadium
No. 1 Ohio State entered this game with several streaks on the line. The team won its last 28 regular season games and defeated Illinois seven straight times when it held the top spot in the nation.
The Buckeyes only needed to defeat Ron Zook's Illini and Michigan to guarantee a spot in the BCS National Championship game. The odds looked good as Illinois' only victory over a top-ranked OSU team came in 1950.
Juice Williams' four runs for first down in the fourth quarter are ingrained in the memories of Ohio State fans. What is forgotten is that both teams scored on the first four possessions of the contest. Also overlooked are two plays that arguably changed the outcome.
On the game's first play from scrimmage, Boeckman connected with Hartline for a 65-yard gain to the Illini 11. Wells took the second play to the end zone and with only 23 seconds off the clock, Ohio State led 7-0.
Illinois came charging back and on its second play from scrimmage, Daniel Dufrene rushed up the middle for 80 yards to the Ohio State 3-yard line. This was the first pivotal play as it appeared Dufrene fumbled the ball before he hit the ground and Kurt Coleman recovered in the end zone. Officials did not review the play, however, and the Illini scored on the very next play.
Did Dufrene fumble? You make the call:
The second pivotal play in the game came after another gaffe from the referees. Brian Gamble scored on an 8-yard touchdown pass to the left side of the end zone. Williams had his receiver wide open because Arrelious Benn laid out Chimdi Chekwa to spring him. Officials missed an offensive pass interference call, and Illinois led 21-14 with 17 seconds left in the first half.
Watch Chekwa near the middle of the goal line get a shoulder to his chin from Benn:
Two egregious errors by the referees gave Illinois 14 points. However, Ohio State's defense had to carry some of the load as it allowed 230 yards and 21 points in the first 30 minutes.
Heading into the fourth quarter, Tressel's team trailed 28-21. Amazingly, the Buckeyes only had the ball for once and for a total of 1:14 in the final quarter. The Illini offense ran 27 plays, converted seven third downs and one fourth down.
Following the loss, many assumed the Buckeyes' chances of making the National Championship game were over.
November 17th • #23 Michigan • Michigan Stadium
Talk of Lloyd Carr's seemingly imminent exit as head Michigan head coach dominated headlines before No. 7 Ohio State took on the No. 23 Wolverines. The veteran coach only had one win in five tries against Tressel's Buckeye teams and the fans in Ann Arbor grew restless.
Details of The Game from USA TODAY:
On the one-year anniversary of famed Michigan coach Bo Schembechler's death, a coin with his likeness was on one side and an image of Ohio State's late great coach Woody Hayes was on the other.
The Buckeyes, of course, went with Hayes for the coin toss, won it and went on to physically beat up the Wolverines in a way he would've been proud.
A win would've put the 23rd-ranked Michigan (8-4, 6-2) in Pasadena for the fourth time in five years, but the loss might send it to a bowl game prior to New Year's Day.
The Game could be Carr's last regular-season game at Michigan, where the national championship he won in 1997 is a distant memory while his loss to Appalachian State this year and 1-6 record against Tressel are often mentioned.
Perhaps for the last time, Tressel got the best of Carr by keeping things close to his sweater vest on a wet day.
Tressel let Todd Boeckman throw just two passes in the second half after the junior quarterback threw an interception and fumbled twice, neither of which Michigan recovered.
Wells had a career-high 39 carries, the most by a Buckeye against Michigan, and he ran for more yards than anybody had for Ohio State in the history of the series.
''He wanted to take this game on his shoulders and carry us,'' Tressel said. ''And, that's what he did.''
The Buckeyes held Michigan to 91 yards, the first time the Wolverines failed to reach 100 yards since 1962. That same year, the Wolverines were shut out by Ohio State and they had scored at least at least six against Ohio State until Saturday.
"Our defense was not going to let Michigan control the game on the ground,'' Tressel said. "I wish our offense could have scored more, and that we could have been a little more consistent, but today, 14 points was enough to win the Big Ten."
Tressel was now the only coach in Ohio State history to win six of his first seven games against the Wolverines. Running back Mike Hart and quarterback Chad Henne finished their Michigan careers 0–4 against the Buckeyes.
January 7th • #2 LSU • BCS Championship Game
When Ohio State faced Michigan it was ranked seventh in the BCS. As the Buckeyes sat at home watching the rest of the top teams play out their schedules and play in conference championship games, the improbable happened.
Oklahoma and Oregon lost the same day Ohio State defeated Michigan. This pushed the Buckeyes to No. 5. The following week, No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Kansas lost and Ohio State climbed to No. 3. The last week of the regular season No. 1 Missouri and No. 2 West Virginia both lost and Ohio State backed into the BCS Championship Game.
A summary of the title game from the 2015 Ohio State Team Guide:
Making its second straight appearance in the BCS championship game, and its third in six years, No. 1 Ohio State was unable to contain No. 2 LSU in a 38-24 loss at the Superdome. LSU rallied from an early 10-0 deficit, taking a 24-10 halftime lead that held up.
Ohio State (11-2) had little to celebrate after Chris “Beanie” Wells, who finished the game with 146 rushing yards, broke loose for a 65-yard TD run on the fourth play of the game.
Ohio State made it 10-0 on its next possession. Todd Boeckman hit a wide-open Brandon Saine, setting up Ryan Pretorius’ 25-yard field goal. Later, tied at 10, Wells delivered a stiff-arm on a 29-yard romp, and Ohio State seemed poised to retake the lead. Instead, Ricky Jean-Francois crashed through the middle, swung his big right arm and blocked Pretorius’ 38-yard field goal try.
Matt Flynn’s perfect pass to Brandon LaFell in the back left corner of the end zone put the Tigers ahead for good, 17-10.
Ohio State made it to the title game in consecutive years and lost the championship to SEC schools each time. In an era of college football that perception was as important as play on the field, many believed the Buckeyes would have to wait a long time before getting back into BCS version of the national championship game.
- No. 11 Ohio State defeated Youngstown State 38-6. Todd Boeckman threw for 225 yards and two touchdowns against Jim Tressel's former team.
- Akron's John Stec set a school record with 14 punts in a 20-2 loss to the Buckeyes.
- Beanie Wells rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown, and James Laurinaitis made a key sack and interception in the 33-14 win over Washington in Seattle.
- Todd Boeckman threw four touchdown passes as No. 8 Ohio State routed Northwestern 58-7.
- The Buckeyes rushed for 250 yards and Brian Robiskie caught a 52-yard touchdown pass as OSU outpaced Minnesota 30-7 in Minneapolis.
- Points in every quarter propelled No. 4 Ohio State past Purdue in West Lafayette.
- Kent State finished with 62 passing yards in the 48-3 defeat to the third-ranked Buckeyes.
- Beanie Wells rushed for 221 yards and a score as No. 1 Ohio State beat Michigan State 24-17. OSU's defense held the Spartans to 59 rushing yards.
- Todd Boeckman threw three touchdowns and the Buckeyes never trailed in a 37-17 pasting of Penn State in Beaver Stadium.
- Wisconsin had a 17-10 lead halfway through the third, but Beanie Wells' three second-half touchdowns gave Ohio State a 38-17 victory. Bill Willis had his No. 99 retired in a ceremony during this game.
- Juice Williams picked up first down after first down to eat away the clock in Illinois' 28-21 upset of the No. 1 Buckeyes.
- No. 7 Ohio State defeated Michigan 14-3, and Jim Tressel became the first OSU coach to defeat the Wolverines in six of his first seven games. This was the last time the Buckeyes faced Lloyd Carr, who retired at the end of the season.
- Ohio State wound up No. 1 and playing No. 2 LSU in the BCS Championship game after mayhem took over the top teams in the polls. Matt Flynn's four touchdown passes gave the Tigers a 38-24 victory.
- Kirk Barton, Vernon Gholston, Malcolm Jenkins and James Laurinaitis earned All-American honors. This marked Laurinaitis' second honor.
- Vernon Gholston, Larry Grant and Kirk Barton were selected in the NFL Draft.
- Ohio State started the season ranked No. 11, climbed to first, but finished fourth.
Jim Tressel and the 2007 Buckeyes won the Big Ten title for the third straight year and the 32nd time in the program's history. The inexperienced team surprised many with its impressive 11–1 regular season. Tressel improved to 6–1 against Michigan and that was a factor in Llyod Carr's retirement. Ohio State lost in the BCS Championship Game for the second straight year.
James Laurinaitis won the Butkus Award and the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year award. Vernon Gholston was honored as the Big Ten defensive lineman of the year and Bill Willis had his No. 99 retired.