Picking the Greatest Ohio State Football Game of All Time: The G.O.A.T. Game Tournament, Championship

By D.J. Byrnes and Matt Gutridge on August 29, 2017 at 9:00 am
Ohio State G.O.A.T. Game Tournament, Championship

Welcome to the G.O.A.T. Game Tournament, Eleven Warriors' quest to crown the greatest Ohio State football game in history. We move on to the championship round featuring two tournament juggernauts.

Let's meet our final contestants:

  • Michigan #1: 2006 vs. Bowls #1: 2003 Fiesta. "The Game of the Century” vs. Jim Tressel's masterpiece.

Somebody's '0' has got to go!

#1: 2006 — No. 2 Michigan at No. 1 Ohio State

Tournament Recap: In the first round, The Game of the Century demolished Earle Bruce's final game, 92 to 8 percent. It continued its dominance in the second round, rolling over fourth-seeded 2016, 75 to 25 percent.

2006 rolled 2002 in the Elite 8, 73 to 27 percent. It faced similar competition in the Final 4, eliminating 1942 Iowa Navy, 88 to 11 percent.


  • Score: 42-39
  • T. Smith: 29-41, 316 YDS, 4 TD, 1 INT
  • A. Pittman: 18 CAR, 139 YDS, 1 TD
  • T. Ginn: 8 REC, 104 YDS, 1 TD

Now known as "The Game of the Century," Lloyd Carr's and Jim Tressel's offenses both scored on their opening possessions, with the Wolverines drawing first blood on a one-yard Mike Hart touchdown run, and the Buckeyes rebutting when Troy Smith found Roy Hall for a two-yard touchdown reception.

Ohio State true freshman Beanie Wells, a five-star recruit from Akron, Ohio, gutted Michigan on a 52-yard touchdown run to start the second quarter. The subsequent extra point from Aaron Pettrey made it 14-7, and the Buckeyes would never surrender the lead again.

Troy Smith went to work shortly thereafter, using his arm to mince the Wolverines defense. He finished with 29 completed passes for 316 yards and four touchdowns to four different receivers.

#1: 2003 Fiesta Bowl — No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 1 Miami

Tournament recap: The 2003 Fiesta Bowl mollywhopped the 1974 Rose Bowl, 98 to 2%. It made quick work of the 2015 Sugar Bowl in the second round, 62 to 38 percent.

The 2015 CFP championship proved even a lesser foe in the Elite 8, as the 2003 Fiesta triumphed, 85 to 15 percent. 2002 Purdue proved no match, either, in the Final 4, losing to the tournament's biggest juggernaut, 95 to 5 percent.

Jim Tressel's Ohio State team entered the 2003 Fiesta Bowl ranked No. 2 in the country over heart-pounding wins over Purdue, Illinois, and Michigan to close the regular season at 13-0 for the first time in school history.


  • SCORE: 31-24
  • C. Krenzel: 7-21, 2 RUSH TD
  • M. Clarett: 23 CAR, 47 YDS, 2 TD
  • M. Doss: Defensive MVP, 1 INT

The Buckeyes faced their tallest task in the title game against defending national champion Miami, an undefeated team that had outscored opponents 503-217 and featured future NFL standbys like running back Willis McGahee, wide receiver Andre Johnson, tight end Kellen Winslow II, linebacker Jonathan Vilma, cornerback Antrel Rolle, and safety Sean Taylor.

Despite the disadvantage in future pros, the Buckeyes battled the Hurricanes to a 14-7 halftime lead behind two touchdown rushes from Craig Krenzel and Maurice Clarett. 

With the Hurricanes trailing 17-14 and McGahee sidelined by a Will Allen tackle, kicker Todd Sievers boomed a 40-yard field goal as time ran out to to send the a national championship game into overtime for the first time ever.

Dorsey found Winslow for a seven-yard touchdown pass on the ensuing drive to draw first blood. After a controversial (but ultimately correct) pass interference call extended the Buckeyes' rebuttal drive, Krenzel dove into the endzone to tie the game at 24.

Clarett's five-yard dash gave the Buckeyes a 31-24 lead on the next possession, which became the final score when linebacker Cie Grant threw Dorsey to the turf on 4th down after a goal line stand by the Silver Bullets.

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