Saturday, Ohio State opens the 2007 Big Ten season vs. Northwestern at 3:30 p.m. The game not only is significant because the Buckeyes kick off their defense of two-consecutive conference titles, but the contest Saturday also serves as the 500th game in Ohio Stadium history.
The Buckeyes have posted an all-time winning percentage of 77 percent at the “Horseshoe,” compiling a record of 375-104-20. As impressive as the win total has become, the experiences have trumped the victories. From the inaugural game vs. Ohio Wesleyan in 1922, to the first Script Ohio in 1936, to the Snow Bowl in 1950, the first night game in 1985 and the record crowd of 105,708 that saw the Buckeyes outpace Michigan to win the Big Ten title last season, Ohio Stadium’s lore continues to grow each and every Saturday.
A landmark year for Ohio State football. Thomas E. French, a professor and member of the athletic board, and Lynn Wilbur St. John, director of athletics, decided it was time to take advantage of the soaring interest in Ohio State football. The growth and popularity of the game had outgrown Ohio Field, mainly because of the high-level of play the Buckeyes had reached behind three-time All-American Chic Harley.
An extensive stadium campaign was launched in the fall, with hopes of building a new football facility. With the campaign in full force, head coach John Wilce’s team kept interest levels high by finishing the regular season 7-0 and capturing the school’s third Western Conference title. The undefeated season drove Buckeye football into the national spotlight and earned Ohio State its first Rose Bowl bid.
The fact Ohio State went 5-2 and collected its third-consecutive win over Michigan was dwarfed by the construction occurring just a few blocks from Ohio Field in 1921. On Aug. 3, Ohio Governor Harry Davis joined a crowd of over 2,500 to officially break ground on the new stadium. The massive project was scheduled to take only 14 months and originally was to be completed at a cost of $1,341,017. After speculation the new stadium would seat about 35,000, it was officially announced it would actually seat over 60,000, a figure that drew harsh criticism from many. Upon completion, the final cost of the stadium exceeded $1,500,000. More than $1,000,000 of that cost had been pledged by proud and dedicated Ohio State football fans.
Those that cited concerns of Ohio Stadium being too large looked on in awe as the stadium was dedicated prior to the Michigan game Oct. 21. Temporary stands were erected in the south end of the stadium, and a crowd of 72,500 was estimated. The dedication game against the Wolverines was actually the third contest played in Ohio Stadium. Ohio State christened its new home with a 5-0 win over Ohio Wesleyan in front of 25,000 people.
Ohio State collected its second-consecutive 7-1 season under Schmidt, claiming the first Big Ten title. Ohio State and Notre Dame played what was hailed as the “greatest college game ever played,” for many years after. The Buckeyes held a 13-0 lead entering the fourth quarter, but Notre Dame scored three times in the final stanza twice in the last two minutes for an 18-13 win at Ohio Stadium.
The Ohio State Marching Band performed “Script Ohio” for the first time vs. Pittsburgh (Oct. 10, 1936).
Though World War II loomed over the nation, Ohio State football fans reveled in one of the most glorious seasons. Under head coach Paul Brown, the Buckeyes captured the school’s first national championship as well as a Big Ten title, finishing the year 9-1 and ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll.
In one of the stranger games during the 1900s, Ohio State was afforded three plays after time had expired because of Northwestern penalties and came away with a 7-6 victory in Ohio Stadium.
Vic Janowicz puts on arguably the greatest individual display in college football history against Iowa at Ohio Stadium. He sent two kickoffs out of the endzone for touchbacks, recovered two fumbles on defense, scored on an 11-yard touchdown run, returned a punt 61 yards for a touchdown, threw a 12-yard scoring strike, and kicked three extra points all in the first five minutes of the game. The famous “Snow Bowl” game with Michigan was played at the Shoe in late November. Somehow, between the swirling winds and zero visibility, Janowicz booted a 38-yard field goal in what would later be called one of the “Greatest Feats in American Sports” by a panel of sportswriters. To no one’s surprise, Janowicz won the Heisman Trophy.
After a highly-scrutinized selection process, Wayne Woodrow “Woody” Hayes begins his 28-year tenure as head coach with a 7-0 victory over SMU in Ohio Stadium.
Arguably the finest Ohio State team in history uses a dominating 50-14 win over Michigan at Ohio Stadium and a 27-16 come-from-behind victory over Southern California in the Rose Bowl to earn the school’s fifth national championship.
Ohio State rolls to nine-consecutive wins including a 20-9 triumph over Michigan that has been called one of the most emotional games in Ohio Stadium history. Ohio State was awarded a national championship by the National Football Foundation.
Freshmen are eligible to play for the first time, signaling the start of the Archie Griffin era. In a reserve role against North Carolina at Ohio Stadium, Griffin rushes for a then-Ohio State record 239 yards in only his second collegiate appearance. Ohio State uses two goal-line stands one in each half to beat Michigan, 14-11, at the Shoe and claim a share of the Big Ten title and a trip to the Rose Bowl.
Ohio State goes unbeaten, finishing 10-0-1 including a 42-21 trouncing of USC in the Rose Bowl. With five Big Ten titles, two national championships, and four Rose Bowl trips in a six-year span, Ohio State football popularity hits an all-time high. Columbus becomes known as the “Capital of College Football.”
The first night game in Ohio Stadium history thanks to portable light standards ends in a 10-7 Ohio State win over Pittsburgh.
Ohio State celebrates its 100th season of intercollegiate football in 1989. Natural grass returns to Ohio Stadium in 1990.
Thanks to 5,000 new bleacher seats, home total (654,500), average home (90,500) and single game (95,357 vs. Iowa) attendance records fall.
A then Ohio Stadium record crowd of 95,537 is on hand for Ohio State’s 45-26 win over Notre Dame.
Athletics Director Andy Geiger announces the retirement of Archie Griffin’s No. 45 at the 1999 Iowa game. It is the first number retired in any sport in Ohio State history. The jersey numbers of former Heisman Trophy winners Vic Janowicz (31) and Howard “Hopalong” Cassady (40) are retired at home games against Penn State and Michigan in 2000, respectively.
The three-year, $194 million stadium renovation is completed. Jim Tressel becomes the Buckeyes’ 22nd head football coach. The jerseys of Les Horvath (22) and Eddie George (27), Ohio State’s first and sixth Heisman Trophy winners, respectively, are retired.
Ohio State captures the school’s seventh national championship by compiling a 14-0 record and defeating Miami in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. The 14 victories set an NCAA Division I-A record. The Buckeyes worked their way up to the No. 2 spot prior to their showdown at the Shoe with Michigan. Typical of a heart-pounding season, the Buckeyes scored the go-ahead TD in the fourth quarter and held off a late Michigan threat for a 14-9 win.
A record-crowd of 105,708 watched Ohio State and Michigan trade blows in what was billed the “Game of the Century.” The top-ranked Buckeyes outscored No. 2 Michigan 42-39 on the arm of Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith’s four touchdown passes. Buckeye fans stormed the field to celebrate Ohio State’s 31st overall Big Ten crown.
A crowd of more than 75,000 attended Ohio State’s spring game in April. After the game, the natural grass playing field was replaced with FieldTurf, a synthetic surface.