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6. The 1944 Ohio State Buckeyes

The year 1944 was the height of World War Two, and the United States was fighting on three fronts - in Italy and France against the Germans, and in the Pacific against the Japanese. With patriotism running high (and the draft in full force and effect), many young men were leaving college campuses to join the war effort. For that reason, most college football teams that year were comprised solely of freshmen who were too young to enlist or be drafted, together with a few older players who were physically unable to serve in the military and were granted "4F" status. With 31 of its 44 players being freshmen, Ohio State was no exception.

In fact, the only colleges that were unaffected by the war effort were the military academies, whose students were obviously exempt from immediate military service because they were in school for the express purpose of receiving officer training. Led by future Heisman Trophy winners Felix "Doc" Blanchard (1945) and Glenn Davis (1946), and coached by the renowned Earl "Red" Blaik, the Army Black Knights were particularly strong in 1944, defeating their opponents by a combined score of 504 to 35 en route to a perfect 9-0-0 season and an AP national championship. But Army wasn't the only perfect team that year....

On April 12, 1944, Paul Brown left Ohio State to join the Navy, and interim coach Carroll Widdoes was left with a young team with little hope of competing for a Big Ten championship, much less a national title. However, the Buckeyes received some good news in August of that year when all-purpose back Les Horvath was granted an extra year of eligibility. Horvath, then a 24-year old student at Ohio State's School of Dentistry, had last played football for the 1942 national championship squad. In addition to Horvath, three other notable Buckeyes – linemen Bill Hackett (All American in 1944), Jack Dugger (All American in...
7. The 1942 Ohio State Buckeyes

The greatest football coach of all time was Paul Brown. Brown's record as a high school coach during the 1930's (primarily at his home town school, Massillon Washington) was 92-10-3 (.890 winning percentage), with seven state titles and four national championships. As the head coach of the Cleveland Browns from 1946 to 1962, Brown turned the fledgling franchise into the greatest power in professional football, with a record of 111-44-5 (.709 winning percentage), with seven titles (4 AAFC, 3 NFL). Brown even had a winning record with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Between high school and the pros, Paul Brown was briefly (1941-43) the head coach of Ohio State. Although he was on the job for only three seasons, Brown led the Buckeyes to their first national championship in 1942. The Ohio State offense was led by a pair of All Americans, fullback Gene Fekete (910 yards, 10 TDs) and halfback Paul Sarringhaus (618 yards rushing, 517 yards passing, 15 total TDs); future star Les Horvath (1944 Heisman Trophy winner) chipped in with 785 total yards and 6 touchdowns. The Buckeyes' line had three more All Americans: end Robert Shaw; tackle Charles Csuri; and guard Lindell Houston.

The season began well with a 59-0 rout of the Fort Knox Army Base service team. With World War Two in full swing, many young men were in the armed forces, and several military bases fielded football teams comprised of officers in training. The new Fort Knox squad was clearly unprepared for their opener, and the Buckeyes outgained them in total yards, 507 to minus-five, in a game that wasn't even as close as the blow-out score would suggest. In fact, Ohio State's second- and third-stringers scored 40 points in the second half of the game.

After the easy victory in the opener, Ohio State faced a surprisingly tough Indiana team that was led by quarterback Lou Saban, who like Paul...
8. The 1957 Ohio State Buckeyes

In 1957, a mediocre team from Texas Christian (5-4-1) once again cost Ohio State a perfect season and a chance for a consensus national championship. The Buckeyes began the season unranked, so expectations for that team were not very high. But after playing poorly in an 18-14 loss to the Horned Frogs in the opening game, it seemed that the 1957 season was going to be even worse than anticipated.

However, under the guidance of head coach Woody Hayes, the Buckeyes quickly righted the ship and ran off nine straight victories to close out their schedule. The highlights were road wins against Washington, #19 Wisconsin, and archrival Michigan, and a hard-fought home victory against #6 Iowa. The Buckeyes capped off their surprising season with a 10-7 triumph over #17 Oregon in the Rose Bowl, and they were named national champions in the coaches poll and by the FWAA.

In looking back on the 1957 season, it is difficult to see greatness in that Ohio State squad as there were no real stars on either side of the ball. The leading rushers were Don Clark (737 yards, 8 TDs) and Bob White (645 yards, 1 TD). Quarterback Frank Kremblas completed just 20 of 47 passes (42.6%) for 337 yards and 3 touchdowns. The lone All American was guard Aurealius Thomas, although Jim Houston would soon emerge as a star and become an All American in 1958 and 1959 and a first round selection in the 1960 NFL draft.

Several members of the 1957 Buckeyes are best remembered for their exploits after leaving The Horseshoe. Halfback Dick LeBeau had an undistinguished career at Ohio State (727 yards from scrimmage, 9 touchdowns), but he played 14 seasons in the NFL as a defensive back for the Detroit Lions, recording 62 interceptions and eventually becoming enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. After his playing days were over, LeBeau became one of the foremost defensive...
9. The 1961 Ohio State Buckeyes

For Buckeye fans, 1961 was the year of almost: Fullback Bob Ferguson almost won the Heisman Trophy (he finished a mere 53 points behind Syracuse running back Ernie Davis, the third closest ballot of all time), thereby almost becoming the first black player to win that award (Davis, who was also black, did earn that distinction). The Buckeyes almost went to the Rose Bowl, but an Ohio State faculty committee voted (28-25) to keep the team out of that "commercial venture" lest the school become an "athletic factory" where "the football tail is wagging the college dog." And the Buckeyes almost finished with a perfect record and almost won a consensus national championship.

The 1961 Buckeyes got off to a slow start, playing a hapless Texas Christian squad (3-5-2 final record) to a 7-7 draw in Columbus in the opening game. Behind the running of two-time All American fullback Bob Ferguson (1961 Maxwell Award winner), who led the Big Ten with 938 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns, and halfbacks Paul Warfield (540 yards, 6 TDs) and Matt Snell (258 yards, 1 TD), the team quickly rebounded from that early disappointment, beating their next seven opponents by an average score of 23 to 8. In the season finale, Ohio State blew out Michigan, 50-20, to win an undisputed Big Ten championship. This version of The Game was notable for the fact that Buckeye head coach Woody Hayes deliberately ran up the score against the overmatched Wolverines: with just five seconds left in the contest, Ohio State threw a 10-yard touchdown pass and followed that up with a two-point conversion to reach the half-century mark.

The Big Ten was tough in 1961, with Minnesota (8-2-0) finishing #6; Michigan State (7-2-0) finishing #8; and Purdue (6-3-0) finishing #12. However, due to the quirks of scheduling, the Buckeyes somehow managed to avoid each of those ranked...
T-10. The 1996 & 1998 Ohio State Buckeyes

2-10-1: That's about the only thing most Buckeye fans remember about the John Cooper Era, although the hardcore cynics are quick to point out that his teams were also 3-8 in bowl games. But lost amongst those dismal numbers is the undeniable fact that Coop lead Ohio State to a pair of second-place finishes in both major polls.

The 1996 Buckeyes had lost all their offensive superstars to the NFL – first round picks running back Eddie George (Heisman trophy), wide receiver Terry Glenn (Biletnikoff Award), and tight end Rickey Dudley had combined for 4,363 yards and 49 touchdowns in 1995, and third round selection quarterback Bobby Hoying set many single-season and career records (since broken). But the Buckeyes still had All-World left tackle Orlando Pace (1995-96 Lombardi; 1996 Outland) to anchor the offensive line and a Silver Bullet defense headed by All Americans defensive end Mike Vrabel (career sack leader) and cornerback Shawn Springs (1996 Big Ten defensive POY), and freshman phenom Andy Katzenmoyer (1997 All American and Butkus Award winner) at middle linebacker.

Ohio State rolled through their first ten games by an average score of 43-10. Then came Michigan. Even though the Buckeyes dominated the first half statistically (220 yards and 19:39 TOP to 62 yards and 10:21 TOP), they consistently got bogged down in the red zone and led only 9-0 as the teams entered the locker room. On the second play of the third quarter, Shawn Springs slipped in single coverage and Wolverine wide receiver Tai Streets took a short slant 69 yards for a touchdown. The Ohio State offense got completely stymied in the second half (84 yards, 10:29 TOP), while Michigan was able to kick a pair of field goals down the stretch to make the final score 13-9 in favor of the bad guys.

Even after the heartbreaking loss in The Game, #3...
Even though it was the middle of the offseason, July was a very good month for the Ohio State football program. The Buckeyes landed seven verbal commitments during the month:

DE Nick Bosa (Class of 2016; Ft. Lauderdale FL St. Thomas Aquinas; 6' 3" 265 lbs) is one of the best prospects in the country, earning a five-star, top-20 ranking from Rivals, Scout, and 247Sports. Nick is the younger (but not little) brother of current Buckeye All American defensive end Joey Bosa.

DT Jerron Cage (Class of 2017; Cincinnati OH Winton Woods; 6' 2" 275 lbs) is currently the "sleeper" recruit in this class because only two of the three recruiting services lists him as a four-star prospect (Rivals has him at three-stars). Rankings aside, Cage fills a position of need for the Buckeyes.

DB Wayne Davis (Class of 2016; Norfolk VA Lake Taylor; 5' 11" 170 lbs) is a consensus 4* cornerback prospect who was a high school teammate of current Buckeye DE Jalyn Holmes. Davis continues the Buckeyes' recent run of success in the Chesapeake region (3 signees in 2015, 3 verbals in 2016).

TE Luke Farrell (Class of 2016; Perry OH; 6' 6" 240 lbs) is ranked as a four-star, top-7 tight end prospect, and a top-200 overall...
This top ten list is late - absurdly so. As the 2015-16 season draws near, this may be the last list of its kind to get published. Like you though, I'm an Ohio State superfan and I know that we don't stop talking about this stuff just because it's old and everybody else has moved on. So here it is, a long overdue look at the top plays from last season:

10.) Joey Bosa & Darron Lee - forced fumble and return for TD vs. Navy

It was the season's first touchdown for the Buckeyes, and it came at a key moment. While they would get upset by Virginia Tech the next week, that wasn't nearly as big of a black eye as losing to Navy would have been. While we can scarcely imagine that possibility now, it was a very real one coming out of halftime of this game with the Buckeyes trailing 7-6. Joey Bosa, a leading player on the Buckeye defense, caused the miscue by penetrating into the backfield to force an early option pitch. Lee announced his arrival as a key player by completing the scoop and score. While the Buckeyes would relinquish the lead for a time before putting Navy away, this huge play gave them the momentum boost they needed to eventually get the win.

9.) Michael Thomas - 79-yard touchdown reception vs. M*ch*g*n State

The Buckeyes, having improved vastly over the course of the season but not having been tested by a top team yet, went to East Lansing to face the team the beat them in the previous season's B1G title game. Both teams traded haymakers thoughout the first half, but it seemed the momentum was mostly with the men in green. At one point late in the second quarter, Jeremy Langford appeared to have scored a touchdown to put MSU up two scores. The play was called back for holding, and MSU would subsequently miss a field goal attempt. On the very next play, Thomas would catch J.T. Barrett's pass on a slant, break a tackle, and...
Here's our recap of Friday Night Lights 2015, which saw the Buckeyes hosting dozens of top prospects from around the country - here's a partial list, including the twenty Buckeye commitments who were in attendance. We will provide more updates as they become available.

Two Verbal Commitments

Ohio State earned a pair of verbal commitments at Friday Night Lights (July 24th). The first was long expected, namely tight end Luke Farrell (Perry, Ohio; 6' 6" 240 lbs; Rivals 4*, #7 TE; #158 overall; Scout 4*, #7 TE, #195 overall; 247Sports 4*, #5 TE, #147 overall) who finally pulled the trigger after favoring Ohio State for months. Farrell becomes the third tight end in the Buckeyes' Class of 2016, joining Jake Hausmann and Kierre Hawkins, although the lanky Hawkins seems destined to spend more time split outside than either of the other two prospects. Farrell is very athletic as well a being a great blocker, and he reminds us quite a bit of current Buckeye tight end Nick Vannett.

The second verbal was rather surprising, considering that the prospect entered Friday Night Lights without a reported offer. Place kicker Blake Haubeil...
Key Matchups at FNL (RB07OSU)

By now, everyone is likely aware that FNL will be stocked with talent spanning from the class of 2016 all the way down to the class of 2018. With so many Ohio State commitments and prospects with the Buckeyes high on their list, this Friday may well give a glimpse into the future of matchups in practice. Regardless, there will be a number of elite matchups that will catch the attention of our loyal recruitniks here at BP. In particular, here are the matchups I cannot wait to see unfold (bear in mind that the visitor list morphs almost every day, so the list is subject to change and certain players may not end up actually competing if they do attend):
  • 2016 WR Austin Mack vs. 2016 DB Damar Hamlin: With Mack (Buckeye verbal) opting to participate, there will be plenty showdowns to watch with the great talent on hand at the defensive back position. The big matchup in my eyes is with Hamlin, who the Buckeyes are rumored to lead for (I have him all but penciled in this class). I love this matchup because while both players are athletic, they both have great intangibles and play the ball well in air. With Mack lighting it up recently at The Opening, I am very anxious to see if Hamlin can contain him. This is a big Midwest battle and I have both players in the top 5 for their respective positions nationally.
July 24th (Friday Night Lights)

2016 RB Demario McCall (North Ridgeville, OH) - Ohio State verbal
2016 RB George Hill (Hubbard, OH) - Ohio State verbal
2016 WR Austin Mack (Ft. Wayne, IN) - Ohio State verbal
2016 WR Ahmir Mitchell (Egg Harbor City, NJ)
2016 WR Donnie Corley (Wyandotte, MI)
2016 WR/TE Kierre Hawkins (Maple Heights, OH) - Ohio State verbal
2016 WR Trey Fullwood (Tampa, FL)
2016 TE Jake Hausmann (Cincinnati, OH) - Ohio State verbal
2016 TE Luke Farrell (Perry, OH) - verballed to Ohio State at FNL
2016 OL Gavin Cupp (Leipsic, OH)
2016 OL Terrance Davis (Hyattsville, MD)
2016 OL Tyler Gerald (Brandenton, FL) - Ohio State verbal
2016 DE...