Mike Nugent Reflects On Game-Winning Kicks, Best Performances At Ohio State Hall Of Fame Induction

By Colin Hass-Hill on September 11, 2019 at 11:05 am
Mike Nugent
Credit: Ohio State Athletics

Mike Nugent rewrote the kicking record books at Ohio State, earning his spot in the program's lore.

On Friday, Nugent and nine other former Buckeye athletes and coaches were inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame at the Ohio Union.

Nugent still holds a variety of program records, including career points (356), single-season field goals (28 in 2002), career field goals (72) and career 50-yard field goals (eight). The Centerville native, widely known as “Nuge,” became the first Ohio State kicker to earn consensus All-American honors, doing so in both 2002 and 2004. As a senior in 2004, he made 24-of-27 field goals and won the Lou Groza Award. 

A couple hours before Nugent's induction on Friday, he spent some time with Eleven Warriors remembering some of his best kicks and games at Ohio State.

Oct. 26, 2002 – Two Field Goals In 13-7 Win Against Penn State

Just a little more than two months before the Buckeyes beat Miami to win the national championship, Nugent kicked a pair of field goals in Ohio State's victory against the Nittany Lions, who were ranked 18th at the time.

Nugent, who went 2-for-2 and made his only extra-point attempt, scored seven of his team's 13 points in the win. His kicks were both good from 37 yards.

“I'm pretty sure that was my sophomore year,” Nugent said. “I just remember it being just kind of a dreary, cloudy day. But I do remember it just coming down to the wire. It was one of those games where it was like if we don't get out of this game with a win, you know ... And it's like any college team, one loss, you start to think, 'Hey, are we going to be able to make it? Are we going to make to the national championship?' These guys now, 'Are we going to make it to the playoff?' You just get one loss. That's something that obviously plays a big role.”

Nov. 9, 2002: “Holy Buckeye”

In a game remembered for Craig Krenzel's game winning touchdown pass and Brent Musburger's “Holy Buckeye” call on television, Nugent only kicked one field goal.

The Buckeyes beat Purdue, 10-6, winning the game in the final two minutes with Krenzel's 37-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins. The play came on 4th-and-1 from the 37-yard line, but as Nugent explains, he didn't expect to kick a field goal in that situation.

Nugent's only field goal in the victory came on a 22-yard make with 19 seconds remaining in the first half.

“I remember it being a real windy day,” Nugent said. “That would've been 50, 55. I do remember before halftime, a lot of teams in the NFL call it different stuff, like maybe the latest one you called hurricane, everyone's just sprinting on the field. Because it's fourth down and you don't have any timeouts. I remember we snuck in a little 22-yarder but just barely got it in. I forget what the final score was. If we didn't get that touchdown, we would've lost. It was 10-6. The little things you think about, like, 'OK, we got one, snuck one little field goal in, so that was good.'

“I just remember being on the sidelines and seeing Craig throw it and be like, 'Oh my God. We're throwing it?' The only person on the whole planet could see what Craig saw. And you're throwing it to Michael Jenkins, so it's like, how could you argue with the guy for making a decision like that? But I saw him step up and I'm like, 'Let's go.' And I see him catch it, I'm going crazy. But I'm like, 'I've got to go in and kick the extra point.'”

Nov. 15, 2003: Game-Winning Kick Against Purdue

Nugent kicked a 36-yard field goal in overtime to give the Buckeyes a 16-13 win against Purdue.

At the end of regulation, Nugent had a shot at winning the game with a 41-yard field-goal attempt. However, Bobby Iwuchukwu blocked the try, sending the game into overtime, where the Buckeyes came out victorious due to Nugent's kick.

“We practiced all week, and coach Tressel had somebody hold a leaf rake up high because they had a guy who was just a freak,” Nugent said. “He was not only tall but could jump through the roof. So we practiced that all week and of course one kick he tipped and basically blocked it. And then luckily he didn't block it on the second one, so that was good.”

Sept. 11, 2004: Game-Winning Kick Against Marshall

In Ohio State's 24-21 win against Marshall, Nugent only attempted one field goal and it happened to be the game-winning attempt.

As the time ran off the clock, Nugent lined up and hit a 55-yard field goal to give the Buckeyes the win. The kick was one of his five makes from at least 50 yards in his senior season.

“It was one of those days where I think Marshall was playing really, really well,” Nugent said. “I don't want to take anything away from the kind of day they were having. It was kind of early in the season, probably second or third game. It was either Justin or Troy who was our quarterback throwing to Santonio Holmes, which is always awesome. So that was good always having him on your side. Like, you want guys like that on your team. Seeing those guys zip down the field back and forth, and I'm just like, 'Oh my gosh, this is it. I might get that opportunity to kick the game winner.' And then we got in field-goal range and I remember thinking to myself like, 'No matter how far it is, don't try to kill it.' It's like golf. You get up there with your driver, you try to destroy it, it's probably not going to go straight. It's probably not going to go where you want it to. Kicking's the same way.

“So I was just thinking the snap and the hold are always perfect, so I don't have to worry about that. My protection is always perfect. To me, I was thinking, 'Just hit it. Put your foot on it. It's going to go. It's going to have the distance.' Unless you're back at 65, you've got to put more on it. A 55-er, you're just like, 'Just hit it and it'll be fine.' It was one of those kicks, we call it a double breaker. Like, when you hit it real well, it kind of goes back and forth in the air. So it started off dead center, went outside the uprights a little bit, came back and I was just like ... Because at that moment I was like, 'Oh, shoot. I missed it.' And then it came back and I went, 'Oh my gosh.' It snuck in. So that was cool.”

Sept. 18, 2004: Five Made Field Goals Against North Carolina State

In 2003, Ohio State beat North Carolina State in overtime, 44-38. In the victory, Nugent's role was minimal, making all five extra points and hitting a 22-yard field goal to beat Philip Rivers' team.

The following year, though, the Buckeyes needed a big performance out of their kicker.

Nugent went 5-for-5 in Ohio State's 22-14 win against the Wolfpack. He hit field goals from 50, 30, 33, 46 and 47 yards, also knocking in an extra point. Nugent's 16 points were the most he ever scored for the Buckeyes.

“One game I always definitely, definitely remember, I was lucky enough I had five field goals at North Carolina State,” Nugent said. “It was one of those stadiums where a 50-yarder felt like a 25-yarder. Just the depth perception of the stadium. It was one of those days where you're kind of in a zone where you just put your foot on the ball and it just goes. I think it was my senior year; my junior year, I played Phillip Rivers at home, and then we were at North Carolina State after that. Kind of a wet, rainy day. But it was just one of those days where I was really proud after the game because I really, really, really felt like I contributed a lot to the day. Having at least 15 points and maybe a couple extra points after that. I just felt like I really feel like I helped my team out today.”

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