Welcome to “That Happened” where we dig deep into the who, why, and how of outliers in Ohio State athletics history.
In the 1990s, Ohio State was defined by its star players. David Boston, Orlando Pace, Mike Vrabel, and Antoine Winfield are just some of the names that come to mind when mentioning one of the most talented decades in program history.
The list is not complete, however, without Eddie George. As the 1995 Heisman Trophy winner, he rushed for a school-record 1,927 yards and 24 touchdowns, earning our pick as the greatest rushing season in Buckeye history.
Before his Heisman-winning senior season, No. 27 was proving to be a menace in his first year as the starting tailback in 1994. Through eight games, he was over the 1,000-yard mark while averaging 5.75 yards per carry. In a three-game stretch earlier in the season, he ran for 549 yards on nearly 100 attempts, acting as the clear workhorse of a Buckeye team that still possessed a chance to win at least a share of the conference title.
Against No. 1 Penn State, however, those dreams would be destroyed.
After failing to touch the ball on No. 21 Ohio State's opening three-and-out, the Nittany Lions jumped out to an early lead. George recorded two carries on the next drive that ended with a missed field goal. He rushed the ball three times on the following possession, which again ended without points as a field goal sailed wide left.
With another Penn State touchdown to kick off the second quarter, George rushed up the middle for no gain. The Bucks punted three plays later, and Eddie's day was all but over. He recorded zero carries for the final 40 minutes of the contest, ending his day early with six rushing attempts and 25 yards.
Pepe Pearson, a true freshman, came in after the Nittany Lions' next drive, ending the three-play sequence with a receiving target and a rushing attempt, a higher single-drive target share than George had in any the previous four. Pearson ended the game with more rushes and yards than the future Heisman-winner.
As the Buckeyes strayed away from its workhorse, the offense collapsed. Ohio State passed for just 94 yards on 13/28 passing with three interceptions. In the biggest game of the season thus far for the 6-2, second-place Buckeyes, Eddie George had the fewest yards and opportunities of his starting career.
The nation's top-ranked team continued its rout of the Buckeyes, winning 62-14 on a day all Buckeye fans have tried to forget (if you really want a low-light video of the game, here you go). The Nittany Lions were pushed out of the top spot, however, by Nebraska, who defeated No. 3 Colorado on the same day. The Cornhuskers held onto the No. 1 spot in the AP Poll for the rest of the season.
Against Wisconsin the following Saturday, the Buckeyes continued to limit Eddie's touches in the opening, fruitless drives of the game, giving him just one carry in the first 11 offensive plays. Finally, the offense started to feed the junior tailback and he ended the contest with 104 yards and a touchdown on 22 attempts. In the final four games of the season, George averaged over 22 attempts and 95 yards per game while beating three consecutive conference opponents.
George ended his junior year with 1,442 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. The Buckeyes came back a little more experienced the following year as George, Orlando Pace, and Mike Vrabel became second-year starters, producing one of the greatest Ohio State squads of all-time.