On a mild Tempe, Arizona night in January, 2003, Ohio State's defensive line brought a college football dynasty to its knees.
The No. 2-ranked Buckeyes were heavy underdogs to top-ranked Miami, which came into the BCS National Championship Game riding a 34-game winning streak and looking to defend the title it captured the previous year.
The outcome was supposed to be a foregone conclusion. Former Miami running back Clinton Portis and a number of Hurricanes alumni planned a celebratory party before the game had even kicked off.
The Buckeye defensive front had a different outcome in mind, and that became immediately clear on Miami's first offensive snap, when defensive end Will Smith blew by the Hurricanes offensive line and sacked Ken Dorsey with one arm.
It was just the ninth time Dorsey had been sacked all season. By the end of the night, Ohio State's defensive line harassed the Miami signal-caller so thoroughly that he collapsed on the Sun Devil Stadium turf as confetti fell around him and the Buckeyes celebrated their first national title in over 30 years.
When you look back at Ohio State's prestigious history, a common thread develops throughout the program's biggest games. When the Buckeyes are on the winning side of things, their defensive line usually caused most of the damage.
The most notable recent example of that came in January, 2015, when Ohio State won its latest national title by suffocating Oregon's high-powered offense at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas.
And on Saturday night, the Buckeyes return to that very stadium for a matchup against TCU — hoping it's a path to the College Football Playoff glory they captured four years ago.
Ohio State is a significant favorite in the game —13-point favorites, at the time of this writing — and much of the focus is on Dwayne Haskins and a revitalized passing attack. The Buckeyes' biggest advantage against TCU, however, will be Nick Bosa, Chase Young and a defensive line that has looked unblockable through two games.
According to Pro Football Focus, Ohio State's defensive line has been the best in the country after two weeks of action. The Buckeyes have elite pass-rushers at every spot on the line, led by Bosa, who's tied for first nationally with three sacks despite only playing in the first half of both games against Oregon State and Rutgers.
Nick Bosa's quick pass-rushing snap shot after 2 weeks pic.twitter.com/CHYx75TI76
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 11, 2018
Young has been a cheat code when paired with Bosa and has a pair of sacks to prove it. Dre'Mont Jones is wreaking havoc on the interior and also has two sacks to his name. And Robert Landers, knower of all the snap counts, initiates the action on seemingly every play he's a part of.
Then there are the backups who would start on most teams around the country.
It's an embarrassment of riches, and that edge could prove definitive against TCU.
The Horned Frogs are working through a lot of turnover on offense after sending four of last year's starting offensive linemen to the NFL. They also lost their 3,500+ yard, 30-touchdown quarterback to graduation. That's a lot of new faces to send out against "the best defensive front in the nation."
To TCU's credit, it hasn't had much trouble putting points on the board this season, ranking 14th nationally with 48.5 per game. Their first two opponents — Southern and SMU — haven't generated much pressure at all, as TCU has yet to surrender a sack.
Essentially, the Horned Frogs are capable, but untested. And for the Buckeyes, who blew through their figurative gimmes in weeks one and two, they're eager to face a stiffer challenge.
“We haven’t had a big game yet. We haven’t really had a true test yet,” Bosa said this week. “We know that they’re going to take their best shot at us. So we got to be ready.”
The same can certainly be said for TCU, and in so many words, it was by the Horned Frogs' head coach.
"A big test," Gary Patterson said of facing Ohio State's defensive front, according to Chuck Carlton of Dallas News. "We've got some work [ahead]. Bosa is probably playing at the highest level he's played at."
So is the rest of Ohio State's defensive line, and if that trend continues Saturday night, Bosa and Co., will likely pave the way to another big win.