100 Teams in 100 Days: In 2009, Ohio State Wins its Fifth Straight Big Ten Title and Smells Roses

By Matt Gutridge on August 27, 2016 at 11:40 am
The 2009 Ohio State University football team.
Ohio State University Archives

Jim Tressel and Ohio State continued to get a reputation that they could not defeat top teams on the big stage.

7 days and counting.

A Sept. 12 meeting in Columbus with USC in Week 2 allowed Tressel a chance to get rid of that moniker. With Terrelle Pryor, Dan Herron, Brandon Saine and DeVier Posey returning, the team appeared ready to make some noise in the Big Ten.  

The 2009 Buckeyes
Record 11–2
B1G Record 7–1, 1st
Coach Jim Tressel (9th year, 94–21)
Captains Kurt Coleman, Austin Spitler,
Doug Worthington

Games of Note

September 12th • USC • Ohio Stadium
No. 8 Ohio State hosted the third-ranked Trojans in the biggest game of Week 2. The atmosphere surrounding Ohio Stadium and Columbus felt national championship-like. The fans anticipated the Buckeyes making up for the ugly 35-3 loss in California the year before.

Before the game, talk centered around the quarterbacks of each team. The Buckeyes had three-year starter Terrelle Pryor at the helm and freshman phenom Matt Barkley was set to make just his second start for USC. 

Pryor's night started shaky, as Chris Galippo intercepted his second pass of the game. The sophomore linebacker returned the ball 21 yards to the Buckeyes' 2. Ohio State's defense held its ground and forced Southern Cal coach Pete Carroll into making a decision on 4th-and-1. Carroll didn't hesitate and Stafon Johnson scored to give the Trojans a 7-0 lead just over three minutes in. A silent nervousness fell over the record crowd of 106,033.

The Buckeyes immediately responded on their next drive to tie the game. Dane Sanzenbacher ran a slant over the middle and Pryor hit him for a 56-yard gain to USC's 3-yard line. Two plays later, Dan Herron hit pay dirt to tie the game at seven. 

Near the end of the first quarter, Pryor again found success in the middle of the Trojans' secondary. This time, he hit Posey and 33 yards later Ohio State was on the 2. Following and incomplete pass and two Herron runs, the Buckeyes faced 4th-and-goal from the 1. Unlike Carroll, Tressel made the conservative decision to send Aaron Pettrey out for an 18-yard field goal. Four seconds into the second quarter, Ohio State led 10-7.

Southern Cal's offense dominated the second quarter. The Buckeyes were outgained 178-12 in total yards but put the same amount of points on the scoreboard. The Trojans had 44-yard field goal attempt hit off the cross bar. At the end of the quarter, Jordan Congdon connected on a 21-yard field as time expired and tied the game at 10.

Ohio State's defense and special teams created the next score in the third quarter. Forced to punt deep in his own territory, a snap flew over USC punter Billy O'Malley's head resulting in a safety. Pryor and the offense used the short field after the free kick to quickly get back in the red zone. The Buckeyes had 1st-and-goal from the 10, but could only get to the 5-yard line. Tressel turned to Pettrey again, and his 22-yard kick extended the lead to 15-10.

With 7:15 to play, Southern Cal started from its 14-yard line. Barkley proceeded to lead his team on a 14-play, 86-yard 6:10 touchdown drive. The Trojans converted two third downs and a fourth-and-1 to keep it alive. At the 1:05 mark, Johnson rushed in from a yard out to give his team a 16-15 lead. Barkley connected with Joe McKnight for a successful two-point conversion.

Ohio State had 1:01 to get in scoring position to tie or win the game. On first down from his own 36, officials whistled Pryor for intentional grounding as USC brought pressure. The penalty pushed the ball back to the 18 and created 2nd-and-28. Pryor ran over the right end for a gain of 14 and threw a 4-yard pass to Posey to set-up 4th-and-10. With the game on the line, Pryor's deep pass to Duron Carter fell incomplete and Ohio State lost 18-15.

2009 Schedule
SEP. 12 NO. 3 USC  OHIO STADIUM L, 15–18
      11–2, 377–163

October 17th • Purdue • Ross-Ade Stadium
Following the difficult loss to USC, Ohio State ran off four straight victories over Toledo, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. Next up was a trip to West Lafayette to take on Purdue.

The Buckeyes entered the contest on a 14-game Big Ten road winning streak.

Ohio State's offense struggled to gain yards and committed five turnovers. On the second play of the game, the Buckeyes fumbled and set the tone for the rest of the day. The running game only produced 66 yards. After three quarters, the Buckeyes had 110 yards and trailed 23-7. 

The fourth quarter started with Pettrey and Purdue's Carson Wiggs kicking field goals to make the score 26-10. 

The final 10 minutes according to the 2010 Ohio State Team Guide:

Pryor marched the Buckeyes down the field once again, highlighted by a 24-yard catch over the middle by Duron Carter to the Purdue 25. Then on 3rd and 10, Pryor scrambled and passed back across the field to find his favorite target, DeVier Posey, for a 25-yard touchdown. Pryor then added a two-point conversion run to make the score 26-18. Ohio State and Pryor would get the ball back one more time, getting inside the Purdue 40 with less than 3 minutes to go. But the Boilermaker defense would not break and Ohio State would eventually turn the ball over on downs. 

The loss dropped Ohio State's record to 12–7 in games played at Ross-Ade Stadium.

Posey finished with a then career-high nine catches for 87 yards and a touchdown and Pryor completed 17-of-31 passes for 221 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

NAVY W4 4–0
USC  L7 9–13–1
ILLINOIS W2 62–30–4
INDIANA W15 66–12–5
WISCONSIN W3 59–18–5
PURDUE L1 41–15–2
IOWA W3 45–14–3
MICHIGAN W6 43–57–6

November 7th • #11 Penn State • Beaver Stadium
No. 15 Ohio State needed to defeat the 11th-ranked Nittany Lions in order to keep its Big Ten championship hopes alive.

The fourth largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history turned out to witness the teams combine for 18 punts. The Buckeyes' defense forced PSU into seven three-and-outs and Cameron Heyward, Ross Homan and Brian Rolle all recorded double-digit tackles.

Ray Small put Ohio State in scoring position early as he returned a punt 41 yards to the Penn State 9-yard line. Two plays later, Pryor rushed in from 7 yards out to give the Buckeyes a 7-0 lead at the 11:47 mark of the first quarter.

The halftime score was 10-7 in favor of Ohio State after Penn State's Darryl Clark touchdown and a 37-yard field goal from Devin Barclay.

Late in the third quarter, the Buckeyes broke the game open. On 1st-and-10 from his own 38, Pryor connected with Posey for a 62-yard bomb that gave the visitors a 17-7 cushion. 

In the fourth quarter, Small struck again as he returned Jeremy Boone's 56-yard punt 45 yards to the Nittany Lions' 47. Ohio State took 10 plays to find the end zone, with Brandon Saine catching a 6-yard pass from Pryor to end the scoring at 24-7.

"This was my first time to lead the team and lead the offense and score some touchdowns against another big team,” Pryor said. “It felt pretty good to lead the team.” He finished the night completing 8-of-17 passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns.

Ohio State's record against Penn State in Big Ten games moved to 11-6 and the Buckeyes remained in position to win their fifth straight Big Ten title.

November 14th • #15 Iowa • Ohio Stadium
The winner of this unseasonably warm, Saturday afternoon battle would walk away with the Big Ten title and a trip to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl. The temperature at the 3:37 kickoff was 65 degrees with clear skies.

Iowa was without starting quarterback Ricky Stanzi due to an ankle injury, replaced by redshirt freshman James Vandenberg.

Following a Jon Thoma 26-yard punt, Iowa put the first points on the board. Daniel Murray's 32-yard field goal capped an 8-play, 42-yard drive that was extended by an Ohio State pass interference call on 3rd-and-2. 

On the ensuing kick, the Buckeyes ate 8:52 off the clock and made it to the Iowa 12, before Barclay was called upon to tie the game at 3-3. The defense forced a three-and-out and OSU took over at its own 22.

Tressel called for six straight rushes and moved the ball to the Hawkeyes' 34. Following the drive's only pass play, Saine ran in from 22 yards out for the first half's final score. The Buckeyes led 10-3.

Iowa started the second half with two consecutive 9-yard rushes. On the third play of the half, Vandenberg hit Derrell Johnson-Koulianos for a 55-yard gain to the Ohio State 7-yard line. The Hawkeyes gained three yards on two rushes, then had an incomplete pass to set up a 22-yard field goal. This time, Murray's kick sailed wide right and Ohio State maintained its 10-3 lead.

Following several punts, Iowa tied the game with a 9-yard Marvin McNutt touchdown reception near the end of the third quarter. The big play of the possession was McNutt's 33-yard catch that put his team at the Buckeyes' 13.

For the second time in the game, Ohio State immediately answered an Iowa scoring drive with one of its own. Early in the fourth quarter, Pryor faced 3rd-and-10 from the Hawkeyes' 30. Tressel called quarterback draw and the 6-foot-6 signal caller rushed for 19 to take the ball to the 11. On the next play, Herron ran over right end to put the Buckeyes back on top 17-10.    

Ohio State appeared to lock things up two minutes later when Ross Homan intercepted a Vandenberg pass and returned it 21 yards to the Hawkeyes' 34, but an illegal bock took the ball back to the 49. On the next snap, Saine raced over left end to the end zone to give his team a 14-point lead with 10:56 on the clock. 

The margin didn't last long as Johnson-Koulianos took Barclay's kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. In a span of 39 seconds, 14 points were point on the board. 

Barclay had a chance to give Ohio State a two-score lead, but his 47-yard attempt went wide left and Iowa took over at its own 30. The drive should have ended on Thaddeus Gibson's interception, but the Buckeyes were called for being offside and Iowa had new life. Six snaps later and the game was tied after McNutt's 10-yard touchdown reception.

With the 14-point lead gone and momentum was on the side of the visitors, the game headed to overtime.

Vandenberg threw incomplete on first down, and Austin Spitler stopped running back Adam Robinson for a 6-yard loss to make it 3rd-and-16. Doug Worthington then sacked Vandenberg for a 10-yard loss. Instead of attempting a 58-yard field goal, Kirk Ferentz relied on his offense to convert on 4th-and-26. Anderson Russell picked off Vandenberg's deep pass to end Iowa's overtime possession.

Tressel knew he only needed a field goal to win and fed the ball to Herron on three straight plays for a net of three yards. Barclay – who was in for the injured Pettrey – was called upon to put the ball through the uprights and send his team to Pasadena for the first time in 12 seasons. The walk-on kicker did his job and the celebration ensued.  

Saine finished with a game-high 103 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and Herron added 97 yards and a score. Homan led the team with eight tackles and Russell had two interceptions.

After nine seasons, a Tressel-coached team was heading to its first Rose Bowl.

November 22nd • Michigan • Ohio Stadium
Ohio State already secured a trip to the Rose Bowl, but a victory over its rival would earn the team the outright Big Ten title. The Buckeyes honored the 1954 team in this game with a special "modern classic" jersey.   

On Michigan's third play from of the game, quarterback Tate Forcier was chased into his own end zone where he lost the ball. Heyward pounced on it and the Buckeyes led 7-0.

A recap from the 2010 Ohio State Team Guide:

The Buckeyes intercepted Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier four times, including two by Kurt Coleman and one by Devon Torrence when Michigan was driving in Ohio State territory and trailing, 21-10.

Ohio State relied on its resurgent rushing attack to force its offensive tempo throughout the game. The Buckeyes, behind 96 yards from Dan Herron, 84 from Brandon Saine and 74 from Terrelle Pryor, powered for 251 yards on the ground against the Wolverines. The total was the eighth 200-plus yard rushing game of the season for Ohio State, an all-time high in the Tressel era.

Twice, after Michigan crept to 7-3 in the first half and to within 14-10 in the third quarter, Ohio State rushed its way to long touchdowns to retake momentum and extend leads.

The Buckeyes marched 80 yards for a second quarter score after a Michigan field goal cut into Ohio State’s 7-0 lead. Pryor gained 34 yards rushing on the drive, including a 25-yarder, and Saine netted 46 rushing yards, including the final 29 around left end, for the touchdown.

In the third quarter, after Michigan intercepted Pryor and drove 49 yards for a touchdown (a Forcier 18-yard pass to Vincent Smith), Ohio State came right back with an 89-yard drive to go up by a 21-10 score. The Buckeyes gained 77 of those yards on the ground with Herron gaining 33 on the drive and Saine gaining 27. On third and goal from the 12, Pryor lofted a screen pass over the Wolverine defensive line and Herron reached the end zone for the touchdown.

Following the loss, Michigan fell to 5–7 overall and 1–7 in the Big Ten.

"I'm tired of being humbled," coach Rich Rodriguez said. 

Tressel moved his record against the Wolverines to 8–1 and won his fifth straight Big Ten title.

January 1st • #7 Oregon • Rose Bowl
Ohio State returned to the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 1997 season. The fifth-ranked Buckeyes were set to take on No. 7 Oregon with many pundits believing Tressel's team could not be able to compete with a high-flying Duck offense. Compete they did.

A recap of the Rose Bowl from the 2015 Ohio State Team Guide:

Terrelle Pryor propelled No. 8 Ohio State toa 26-17 victory over No. 7 Oregon. Pryor earned MVP honors, completing 23-of-37 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns. He also led Ohio State in rushing with 72 yards for 338 yards of total offense. 

Ohio State’s offense held the ball for 89 plays and a Rose Bowl record 41:37 to keep the high-powered Duck offense on the sideline.

Pryor led a 10-play, 74-yard drive on Ohio State’s first possession. Then after Oregon came from 10 down to tie the score at 10, Pryor and the OSU offense went on a 19-play drive that chewed up 8:03 on the clock, leading to a Devin Barclay 30-yd FG.

A Ross Homan INT with just 25 seconds remaining before intermission gave Pryor just enough time to set up a 45-yard Aaron Pettrey field goal as time expired.

Pryor saved his best for last, directing a 13-play, 81-yard fourth quarter touchdown drive for a 26-17 lead, finding DeVier Posey in the end zone from 17 yards out for the touchdown.

Equal credit goes, too, to Ohio State’s defense, which limited the Ducks to a mere 260 offensive yards.

Ohio State won its first bowl game since 2006, shifting Tressel's postseason record to 5–4. 

2009 Recap

  • Navy gave No. 6 Ohio State a scare as the Buckeyes won 31-27. This was the first game between the two schools since 1927.  
  • Freshman quarterback Matt Barkley led USC to an 18–15 come-from-behind victory over the Buckeyes in Columbus.  
  • Ohio State scored in every quarter in the 38-0 blanking of Toledo.
  • For the second straight week, the Buckeyes kept an opponent from scoring. This time, it was Illinois who lost 30-0. This was the first time Ohio State kept consecutive opponents from scoring since 1996.
  • Terrelle Pryor threw three touchdown passes, Brandon Saine rushed for 113 yards and the defense limited Indiana to 18 rushing yards in a 33-14 victory.  
  • Kurt Coleman returned a Scott Tolzien interception 89 yards to give Ohio State a 7-0 lead. Jermale Hines also had an interception in the 31-13 win against Wisconsin.
  • Five turnovers and an inept first three quarters led to Purdue's 26-18 victory. The loss snapped Ohio State's 16-game winning streak.
  • Terrelle Pryor threw for 239 yards, rushed for 104 and was responsible for three touchdowns in Ohio State's 38-7 win over Minnesota.
  • The first game between the Buckeyes and New Mexico State ended as expected, a 45-0 Ohio State victory. 
  • DeVier Posey's 62-yard touchdown reception was the turning point in the Buckeyes' 24-7 win over Penn State.
  • It took overtime for Ohio State to beat Iowa, but Buckeyes were going back to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1984.
  • Cameron Heyward, Brandon Saine and Dan Herron were responsible for the Buckeyes' 21 points in the 21-10 win over Michigan.
  • Jake Ballard caught a 24-yard pass on 3rd-and-14 on a drive that ended with the Buckeyes beating Oregon 26-17 in the Rose Bowl.
  • Kurt Coleman earned All-American honors.
  • Thaddeus Gibson, Doug Worthington, Kurt Coleman and Austin Spitler were selected in the NFL Draft. 
  • Ohio State started the season ranked No. 6, fell to 18th, but finished fifth.

The 2009 Buckeyes won the school's fifth straight Big Ten title and Ohio State played in its first Rose Bowl since the 1997 season.

Ohio State also defeated Penn State, Iowa and Michigan. The win over the Wolverines was a program record sixth straight.

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