Ohio State became the first FBS team to defeat five 10-win opponents in a season in Navy, Wisconsin, Penn State, Iowa and Oregon
Losing a wealth of experience on both sides of the ball, many thought 2009 might be a rebuilding year for the Ohio State Buckeyes. The team didn’t think so, however, winning its fifth consecutive Big Ten title, defeating arch-rival Michigan for a sixth consecutive season and winning the 96th Rose Bowl Game to finish the season 11-2 and ranked No. 5 in the polls.
The Buckeyes opened the campaign with a hard-fought victory over the U.S. Naval Academy. Junior linebacker Brian Rolle intercepted a Navy two-point conversion late in the fourth quarter to seal a 31-27 OSU win. The game took place on Military Appreciation Day in front of an Ohio Stadium opening game record 105,092.
Ohio State welcomed No. 3 Southern California to the Horseshoe the following week for a much anticipated prime time re-match from the previous season. In a back-and-forth game witnessed by an Ohio Stadium record crowd 106,033, USC defeated the Buckeyes, 18-15.
The following week, in a rare neutral site contest, Ohio State battled the Toledo Rockets in Cleveland Browns Stadium. On a record-setting day for sophomore quarterback Terrelle Pryor, the Buckeyes recorded their first of two consecutive shutouts, winning 38-0. Pryor was 17-of-28 for 262 yards, all personal bests at the time, with three touchdown passes. He also rushed 12 times for 110 yards, including a career-long 43-yarder in the third quarter, with one touchdown. In all, he had 372 yards of total offense.
The Buckeyes started the Big Ten schedule with a 30-0 dismantling of Illinois. History was made in Ohio Stadium that afternoon; the Tressel family became only the second family in college football history to win 500 games.
Following a 33-14 win at Indiana, the Buckeyes hosted undefeated Wisconsin. Behind 21 points from defense and special teams, Ohio State knocked off the No. 24 Badgers 31-13. Senior co-captain Kurt Coleman and junior Jermale Hines returned interceptions for touchdowns and senior Ray Small had a 96-yard kickoff return.
The Buckeyes didn’t have enough heroics the next week and fell at Purdue, 26-18. Entering the fourth quarter, Ohio State trailed 23-7. Thanks to 177 fourth-quarter yards, the Buckeyes almost pulled off a gritty comeback. The loss snapped Ohio State’s school-record 16-game Big Ten road winning streak, just one shy of the all-time conference record.
After a 38-7 Homecoming victory over Minnesota and a 45-0 victory over non-conference New Mexico State (the third shutout of the season for the “Silver Bullets”), a Herculean November test was straight ahead.
First up was a trip to No. 11 Penn State. In front of 110,033 screaming fans, Pryor delivered his best performance, leading the Buckeyes to a resounding 24-7 win. Pryor accounted for three Buckeye touchdowns, including a back-breaking 62-yard strike to sophomore wide receiver DeVier Posey in the third quarter that extended OSU’s lead to 17-7. The Ohio State defense limited a Penn State offense (averaging 35+ ppg in its previous five games) to a season-low seven points and just 201 yards of total offense.
The following week, Ohio State and league frontrunner Iowa battled in an Ohio Stadium showdown, with the winner clinching a Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl invitation. Playing one of the more dramatic games in recent Big Ten history, the teams were tied 24-24 at the end of regulation. After a huge stop by the Buckeye defense, walk-on back-up kicker Devin Barclay booted Ohio State to Pasadena and its first Rose Bowl appearance in 13 years, with a 39-yard field goal in overtime.
The Buckeyes finished off their daunting November to Remember with a sixth straight win over Michigan, defeating the Wolverines 21-10 in Michigan Stadium.
Ohio State took on the favored Oregon Ducks New Year’s Day in the 96th Rose Bowl Game, winning 26-17. Pryor had a career-high 266 yards passing and two touchdowns, rushed for 72 yards and earned Rose Bowl MVP honors. Oregon featured one of the most efficient offenses in the country, but the Buckeye defense was able to bottle it up much of the day. Duck QB Jeremiah Masoli was just 9-of-20 for 81 yards with an interception and had six rushing attempts for nine yards. Ohio State had a Rose Bowl record 41:37 time of possession.
The 19-member senior class closed out its tenure with a four-year school record 44 victories. Senior co-captain Kurt Coleman and Justin Boren took home first-team all-Big Ten honors. Brandon Saine, Thaddeus Gibson, Cameron Heyward and Ross Homan were second-team selections. Coleman was also voted the team MVP and a first-team All-American by Sporting News.
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